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Otakon 2007
Funimation Entertainment

by Mikhail Koulikov,

Representatives: Adam Sheehan, Lance Heiskell, Jonathan Brands, Christopher Bevins

Sheehan and Heiskell opened the panel with the same pie chart they have shown at several previous panels, which shows the breakdown by company of the total market for anime on DVD in the US over the past three years. During this period, Funimation captured 31.2% of the market; its closest competitor has 13.9%)

They then went down the list of Funimation's major upcoming releases, such as the third-season box set of Dragon Ball Z (due out on September 18), Mushi-Shi, Witchblade and Glass Fleet. The first volume of Mushi-Shi, which will be officially released on July 31 will contain extensive extras such as interviews with director Hiroshi Nagahama and voice actor Yuto Nakano, who plays Genki, the main character. The DVD will also include a tour of Artland, the production studio behind Mushi-Shi, and at least one easter egg. The first volume of Witchblade, set for September 25, will be available as both a standalone DVD and in a premium set packaged together with a series soundtrack. Both releases will feature original covers drawn by Top Cow artists. Glass Fleet: La Legende du Vent de l'Universe, which Funimation first announced at Anime Expo 2006, will finally go into release starting on October 16. Extras will include exclusive interviews with the cast.

Funimation has been working with Gaia Online to give Gaia users access to unique items related to Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles. So far, over 320,000 users have received Mokona hats, and almost 280,000 have gotten Syaoran's cape. Another promotion Funimation is running is related to the upcoming release of Beck. In cooperation with Gibson Guitars, Funimation will be giving away an authentic Les Paul guitar. Additional details about this sweepstakes are available at www.gibson.com/funimation.

In November, Funimation will be releasing a two-disk collector's edition of Robotech: Shadow Chronicles. This package will feature over 90 minutes of extras, including the only available footage for Robotech 3000, a new all-CG Robotech series that was in pre-production in 1999-2000.

At this point, Heiskell and Sheehan were joined by Funimation brand manager Jonathan Brands and ADR Director Christopher Bevins, who went over the cast lists for the Witch Blade and One Piece dubs, as well as Funimation's new acquisitions from Anime Expo (the Love Hina TV series and OVA's, the second season of Tsubasa, xxxHOLiC TV, Jyu-Oh-Sei and Darker than Black). While most of the Witchblade cast is already known, Monica Rial has been confirmed for the role of Maria, and Caitlinn Glass will be voicing Aoi.

Finally, the stage was set for Funimation to unveil its Otakon license announcements. The first opening they showed was generally met with blank stares, at least until the familiar figure of Ryo-Ohki appeared on the screen. Starting in 2008, Funimation will return to the Tenchi Muyo! universe by releasing the first season of Sasami Mahou Shojo Club. This 13-episode series, which ran on Japanese television from April to July of 2006, puts yet another twist on the long-running franchise by putting fifth-grader Sasami into a magical school setting. Funimation also has a right of first refusal to Sasami's second season,

The trailer for Funimation's second new license, on the other hand, was met with thunderous applause and loud cheers. No details other than that "it's an anime, and Funimation will be releasing it" are available at this time, but FUNimation Entertainment has acquired the distribution rights to Ouran High School Host Club. The full deal for Ouran was signed as recently as two days before the convention.

With the two announcements out of the way, the panelists opened the floor to audience questions.

The Negima! license covers the twenty-six episodes of the TV series only, not any of the OVAs. Because of licensing difficulties, Funimation will not be able to include the tarot cards that came with the Japanese DVDs.

When asked about the total number of Dragon Ball Z season box sets that will be released, Sheehan mentioned that there would be seven total, but he was not absolutely sure of the number. Because of how well the first two have been selling, Funimation is considering giving the same uncut, full-season box set treatment to the original Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball: GT. More news about this should become available as the end of the DBZ box set release approaches. Towards the end of 2007, Funimation also plans to finalize the details for a DVD release of Crayon Shin-chan, while although no exact date has been confirmed as of yet, Shuffle! will see a release towards the middle of the fall.

Finally, at next week's San Diego Comic-Con, Funimation will announce the details of its first high-definition (Blu-ray) release.

This report has been confirmed by the studio representative.

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