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Anime Expo 2008
Funimation Entertainment

by Bamboo Dong,

Panelist: Adam Sheehan

Funimation started the panel with their take on the state of the anime industry. As Sheehan made the audience chant in unison, their mantra was, “Don't Panic!” He went on to talk about how Funimation was responding to the changes, such as marketing to the “non-anime market” by selling 13-episode season boxsets of new shows. They're also trying to embrace new technology by releasing select titles on Blu-Ray and offering digital downloads.

Two new shows will be added to the iTunes Store in late July—Aquarion and Witchblade. Each episode will be dubbed, and can be bought for $1.99 per episode. Funimation is also offering mobile downloads of anime for video-capable AT&T and Sprint phones. Viewers will be able to buy either Gunslinger Girl or Moon Phase episode packages for $4.99 a month. With either package, the first season of Galaxy Railways will be included for free. The episodes will be split into five minute chapters.

Funimation is in a partnership with YouTube to provide full length episodes of Blue Gender, Slayers, Peach Girl, Mushi-Shi, and Kiddy Grade. More series will be added later.

Sheehan then went over a few recent and upcoming releases. Several titles are available on Blu-Ray, including Afro Samurai, two Dragon Ball Z double features, Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, Shinobi (live-action), and Vexille. The next few months will also see boxsets of Case Closed s.1 and Yū Yū Hakusho s.1. One Piece s.2 part 2 will be released in September, with the sixth season of Dragon Ball Z coming later in the year. Dragon Ball GT s.1 will be released in late 2008. Other titles for this winter include Ouran Host Club and Darker than Black.

A slew of new acquisitions were announced, all of which had been mentioned in previous press releases. Funimation has the rights for several shows, including Save Me! Lollipop, Kenichi, Gunslinger Girl: Il Treatrino, Strain: Strategic Armored Infancy, Shigurui: Death Frenzy, Romeo X Juliet, Heroic Age, and Big Windup!. They will also be marketing and distributing several Geneon titles. Geneon will be finishing the production of the shows, including the dubbing. The shows will be completed on individual discs, but will eventually be released as boxsets.

Funimation has also acquired the distribution rights for over 30 titles previously held by ADV Films. According to Funimation CEO Gen Fukanaga, they are in talks to have ADV finish the production of the series.

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