Funimation Entertainment, Toei Animation, Shueisha and Fuji Television Announce Online Simulcast of One Piece

May 29th 2009
Update: The simulcast described below has been cancelled.





Anime Leaders to Stream Episodes of Popular Anime Series Immediately Following Japanese Television Debut

Flower Mound, Texas – May 14, 2009 -- FUNimation® Entertainment and the Japanese powerhouse consortium of producer Toei Animation Co., Ltd., publisher Shueisha, Inc. and broadcaster Fuji Television Network, Inc. have entered into an agreement giving the American anime leader exclusive rights to the U.S. and Canadian online simulcast of the studios' signature animated series “One Piece”.

Starting Saturday, May 30th at 9:00 p.m. CDT, just one hour after airing in Japan, FUNimation and the consortium will stream the first, free, professionally-produced, accurately English-subtitled “One Piece” series episode beginning with episode 403 via the official One Piece website www.onepieceofficial.com followed soon thereafter by FUNimation partner sites.

Each new episode of the current season will be rolled out weekly as “One Piece” continues its Japanese television run.

In addition, beginning Thursday, May 14th FUNimation will stream episodes from the Sabaody Archipelago Saga story arc starting with episode 391. FUNimation will also offer both its produced uncut, English-tracked and English-subtitled adaptations of the hugely successful series beginning with the first episode.

This decision was made by the production consortium for the North American, English-language One Piece DVDs, which is comprised of Toei Animation Co. Ltd, Shueisha, and Fuji Television Network, Inc., with the goal of maximizing the business potential of package media and merchandising in North America, among other things, in consideration of the growing online viewer market in the United States in recent years.

“With digital technology drastically changing the media environment surrounding broadcasts, we've gained the understanding and cooperation of Shueisha, the publisher of the original manga, and Fuji Television, which broadcasts the show in Japan, the primary target audience. With help from FUNimation, our One Piece partner in North America, we've managed to make a One Piece simulcast a reality. With this simulcast, we'll be able to deliver a version of One Piece with much “fresher” excitement and greatness than ever before to even more viewers in the United States than ever before. It's incredibly exciting.” Said Kanji Kazahaya, director of Toei Animation Co., Ltd.

”This simulcast is a turning point for FUNimation, our One Piece partners and the U.S. anime industry,” said Gen Fukunaga, president and CEO of FUNimation Entertainment. “Thanks to our close partnership with Toei, Shueisha and Fuji Television, together we have effectively closed the longstanding gap between the Japanese broadcast and U.S. distribution of a series. As One Piece continues to be one of the top rated anime still in production, we can assure U.S. fans that new episodes of One Piece will not only make the voyage overseas, but will do it virtually instantaneously.”

ABOUT ONE PIECE
One Piece” is a story of a time when pirates ruled the seas. With several bands of pirates battling over the great hidden treasure called “One Piece” which was left by the legendary pirate king, Gold Roger. One day, Monkey D. Luffy - a young boy who admired pirates - mistakenly ate Cursed Fruit turning himself into a rubber man. Ten years later Luffy set out to sea to become King of the Pirates and launch his own quest to discover “One Piece.”

After Eiichiro Oda's original manga debuted in Weekly Shonen Jump in 1997, this monstrous hit has gone on to surpass 50 volumes and has consistently remained a best-seller; the latest volume, Volume 53, sold 2.6 million copies in its first printing. In 1999, Toei Animation created a popular animated version of One Piece for television which currently airs on Fuji TV affiliates.

In North America, the original manga appears in the Monthly Shonen Jump magazine (www.shonenjump.com) sold by Viz Media, LLC, which also sells the individual volumes. In addition to this anime simulcast, plans are underway for the latest chapters of the Japanese manga, which are ahead of the anime story, to appear in SHONEN JUMP starting in the fall of 2009. FUNimation, a Toei Animation license holder, will be streaming the animated version in North America.

FUNimation Entertainment will release the next home entertainment volume of the series, “One Piece: Second Season, First Voyage” on DVD on June 30th.
About Toei Animation
Toei Animation Co., Ltd. (Jasdaq:4816) (http://www.Toei-anim.co.jp or http://www.Toei-anim.co.jp/english/index.html) is the largest animation production company in Japan since 1956, and have produced many celebrated TV series such as Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon, Zatch Bell, Digimon Adventure, and One Piece. With headquarters in Tokyo and sales offices in Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Paris, Toei Animation ranks amongst the world's most prolific animation production studios. Toei Animation's operations include animation development and production, and worldwide marketing and program licensing. Since its founding in 1956, Toei Animation has produced more than 9,900 episodes of TV series (181 titles) and 192 long feature films as of September, 2008.
About Shueisha, Inc.
Shueisha, Inc., founded in 1926, is the Japan's top sales publisher and publishes 40 magazines including comic magazine, women's, men's, sports, literary, etc. as well as trade books. Its most successful comic magazine, "Shonen Jump", is printed 3 million copies weekly in Japan alone and many animations such as "ONE PIECE", "NARUTO", "Yu-Gi-Oh!" and "Dragon Ball" are based on Shonen Jump. Beyond publishing, Shueisha strategically works with other media and carries out many activities such as producing animation and merchandising for its strong properties. To learn more, please visit http://www.Shueisha.co.jp/
About Fuji Television Network, Inc. Since commencing broadcasts in 1959, Fuji Television Network, Inc. (http://www.fujitv.co.jp/en) has continually produced high quality dramas, variety programs, sports, news programming, motion pictures, as well as animation. As Japan's top commercial broadcaster, Fuji has not only been able to remain the country's top revenue gainer, but has been able to capture the number one position in all three ratings categories over the past four years. Thanks to the continued close relationship with Shueisha and Toei Animation, Fuji TV has been able to broadcast anime hits such as Dragon Ball and One Piece.

About FUNimation Entertainment
FUNimation® Entertainment, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Navarre Corporation, is the leading company for home video sales of Japanese animation in the United States. FUNimation has a proven formula for launching and advancing brands, and manages a full spectrum of rights for most of its brands including broadcasting, licensing, production, internet, and home video sales and distribution. For more information about FUNimation Entertainment and its brands, visit www.funimation.com.

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