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Why Does Funimation License Shows They Won't Dub?

by Justin Sevakis,

Steven asks:

Until recently, Funimation dubbed everything they ever released. So now that some shows like Buddy Complex and OniAi are going to DVD as subtitle-only, why do they bother?

Funimation has stated outright, on ANNCast among other places, that they are really only after shows that will be popular enough to bother dubbing. And unlike most of the other anime publishers, their release history tends to support this. Except for those two shows (EDIT: And [email protected] and Inari Kon Kon), everything they've put out has gotten a dub. Dubs are expensive to make, so any company has to believe a show will be at least somewhat popular if they're going to invest in making one. So why would they license a show they don't believe in?

The easy answer is that anime companies don't always want all of the shows they end up with. Often, a licensor will tell them, "Oh, you want that really popular blow-the-doors-off hit next season? Then you also have to take this B-list show as well!" That show might be a decent show that just appeals to a narrow niche of fans, or it might be a total dog and everyone knows it. But the licensor will insist on the two being sold together.

This is a common tactic for companies trying to sell content. Usually, there's some behind-the-scenes politics that makes it really important for the less popular show to get a release. Or the licensor wants to be able to tell their boss that every show they were in charge of managed to find a buyer. Regardless, this is also how new cable channels nobody wants are sold to cable providers. It's known as "bundling."

At any rate, if a publisher wants the good show, they have to take the one that isn't going to sell very well. They might as well release it -- if it's ever going to make back the license fee, they have to make it available for sale, and throwing some subtitles on it and having some discs made isn't really all that expensive to do. Surely some fans will want that lesser show, right? But spending even more money to dub it? That doesn't make a whole lot of business sense.

Thanks to John for the title additions.

Got questions for me? Send them in! The e-mail address, as always, is answerman (at!) animenewsnetwork.com.

Justin Sevakis is the founder of Anime News Network, and owner of the video production company MediaOCD. You can follow him on Twitter at @worldofcrap.

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