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Anime Weekend Atlanta 2008
Funimation Entertainment

by Mikhail Koulikov,

As Funimation Entertainment, which now controls at least a third of the market for Japanese animation in the U.S., gears up for their New York Anime Fest panel next weekend, there was not much to be mentioned at their AWA session that already has not been announced. Adam Sheehan, the presenter, devoted much of the hour to showing trailers and answering audience questions, but nonetheless, there were a few new pieces of information to come out of the panel.

Funimation is continuing to look beyond DVD for ways of getting the anime series it has licensed to fans. Distribution of series to cell phones is proceding with episodes of Gunslinger Girl, Moon Phase, and Galaxy Railways offered at $4.95 for a monthly plan available to Sprint and AT&T customers. And Funimation is continuing its strategy of communicating to fans directly through the Funimation Update series of video podcasts, hosted by voice actor Todd Haberkorn. These are available on the Funimation website, on YouTube, and now, through iTunes. Sometime in the next few weeks, Witchblade will be added to iTunes as well. And while the first episode of Baccano has been subtitled and is available on the Funimation website, there are no details yet about this anime's English-language cast.

As a responnse to fan demand for more Japanese animation in high definition, Vexille (November 11) and Samurai 7 (December 9) will be the next two Blu-Ray releases from Funimation. The company is also going ahead at full speed with bringing out shows that had originally been licensed in North America by either ADV Films or by Geneon Entertainment. The first three volumes of Saiunkoku are all due out simultaneously on October 7. The second three are set for the beginning of December, and the final set on January 27. October 7 will also be the street date for the three volumes of the "action, action, and more action" Devil May Cry, the first half of Ghost Hunt (with the second to follow on November 18), and the full 11-episode Jyu-Oh-Sei: Planet of the Beast King.

Other titles in the pipeline are the two single-episode Negima! OVA's (October 14), Claymore, whose special edition will contain a 24-page collectible booklet, among other extras, and Ouran Host Club. October 28 will be the date for the first half of that series, and January 6 for the second. The first volume of Darker Than Black, the dub of which is scheduled to be premiered at NYAF, is set for November 25. And looking further into 2009, one of the biggest projects Funimation will be working on is Afro Samurai: Resurrection, the sequel to the single best-selling anime DVD release of the last year. Samuel L. Jackson will reprise his role as the titular Afro, with Lucy Liu also cast.

(Reporting for this article was provided by Patrick Jefferson)

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