Anime Central 2005
Anime Central - Funimation

by Mikhail Koulikov,
Funimation Entertainment
(Jon Baumgardner, Christie Heiskell)

1. Slayers

In a move that, while not unprecedented, is certainly unusual, Funimation has acquired the home video rights to the three Slayers TV series, which were previously released in the US by Central Park Media. This announcement does not cover any of the Slayers movies and OVAs licensed and produced by ADV Films. It was not also immediately clear whether CPM had lost the rights or was unable to extend the license after an expiration point, or whether Funimation bought the license directly from CPM.

The first DVD volume will be released sometime in late 2005 to early 2006. Until then, CPM is still allowed to distribute its own version of the series, but distribution of the CPM DVDs must stop once the first Funimation volume is released.

While a majority of the original dub prepared for the CPM release will be reused, one or two characters will be voiced by new talent who were not involved in the original release. Other actors that did have parts in the original may be asked to re-read specific lines or segments of the script. The dub text may be rewritten or edited slightly - for example, chants and spell names may be left in the original Japanese, rather than translated. While the CPM release of Slayers was subject to a slight amount of content editing (no more than several minutes cut per twenty-six episode series), the Funimation release will be completely unedited. The DVD cases will feature new artwork and logos, rather than any version of the materials used for the CPM release. Some "new" music, such as official remixes of the series openings that appear on soundtrack CDs, may be used within the series, as appropriate.

Although nothing definite can be announced at this time, Funimation is actively interested in developing a new Slayers videogame that would be 100% original and not in any way a version of any of the Slayers videogames available in Japan. On the other hand, the Funimation representative was not able to make any comments on the possibility of Slayers returning to either broadcast or cable television, or confirm whether Funimation now holds the TV rights to Slayers.

In the near future, Funimation will definitely be considering acquiring other older properties, both those that have not been licensed in the U.S. to date and those that had been at some point, but saw treatment that was far from ideal. The overall reason Jon Baumgartner gave for this step on Funimation's part with respect to Slayers was a desire to "maintain the integrity of the property."

2. Other items

The upcoming DVD release of Sakura Wars: Ecole de Paris will feature some 45 minutes of bonus materials taken directly from the Sakura Taisen and Sakura Taisen 3 videogames. Funimation is "doing what they can" to bring at least the first and third games to the U.S., and are exploring various options for presenting the dialogue in the games without having to dub all of it.

While the current market climate may be causing some problems for certain anime companies, according to Baumgartner, Funimation is not experiencing any particular difficulties. This is primarily due to the fact that while Japanese animation makes up a significant percentage of Funimation's business, it is only one component of the overall revenue stream, and the company is diversified as a distributor and producer of other non-anime video content, such as the Degrassi: The Next Generation TV series.

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