Anime Expo 2007
by Bamboo Dong,
Panelist: Adam Sheehan
Speaking to a packed room of excited fans, Sheehan announced that Funimation has been the number one market share leader of US anime DVD sales for the past three years, and is still going strong. The company is expanding into digital distribution as well; currently, several titles can be found on iTunes. Each episode is $1.99, while an entire season can be bought for $38.99. Titles currently available include Basilisk, Desert Punk, Gunslinger Girl, Samurai 7, Speed Grapher, Kiddy Grade, Rumbling Hearts, Burst Angel, Galaxy Railways, and Trinity Blood.
Fans then got the chance to learn about some of Funimation's upcoming releases. The third season of Dragon Ball Z will be released on September 18. It will include 750 minutes of uncut episodes, and includes the option to view the discs in “marathon play” mode. Sheehan then showed a trailer for Witchblade, the first volume of which will be released September 25. Packaging for the series will include artwork done by artists from Top Cow, the creators of the original Witchblade comic book series.
Information was also given for School Rumble, which will hit shelves on August 21. A “draw your own manga” contest is currently being run, details for which are available on the series' website. The grand prize includes items like a new computer, $500 worth of art supplies, and manga and animation software. A sweepstakes is also being held for Beck, the prize for which is a Gibson Les Paul guitar. The guitar is the same kind used by one of the main characters of the series; the first volume will be released on July 10.
Panel attendees were extremely excited to hear news of the One Piece cast, which was announced earlier during the day. The uncut DVDs for season 3 will be released next year, as well as the eighth movie.
Other notable upcoming Funimation releases include Mushi-Shi (July 31) and the 2-disc collector's edition of Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles (November). Also, every disc of Tsubasa allows Gaia Online members to give their characters special series-related items, such as hats and capes.
In terms of new licensing announcements, Funimation has picked up the rights for the Love Hina TV series, as well as the Spring and Christmas OVA specials. The license was previously held by Bandai Entertainment. No details are currently available as to release plans, or whether or not the English dub will be recast.
Funimation also announced the acquisition of Darker than Black, and Jyo Oh Sei. They are in the final stages of acquiring the first season of xxxHOLiC, as well as the second seasons of Tsubasa and Negima.
This report has been verified with a studio representative.
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