New York Anime Festival 2008
by Mikhail Koulikov,
After a burst of new announcements at anime conventions throughout the year, Funimation used their combined New York Anime Fest panels for the main company and the FUNimation Channel to summarize their activities in the months that have seen the company claim more than 30% of the market for anime sold in North America. After opening with a short jazz-tinged trailer for the first volume of Darker than Black, Adam Sheehan talked about how his company is viewing the state of the market for anime in the U.S. In Funimation's view, the ways American customers want to buy and watch video is undergoing a major shift. This actually presents the company with a whole set of new opportunities such as Blu-ray, series boxes, and online distribution. At the same tiime, even while some of these are clearly where the future for video is heading, DVD is also in no danger of disappearing any time soon.
Funimation is beginning to involve itself extensively in all of these new technologies and distribution channels. Vexille and Samurai 7 are the next two anime slated for Blu-Ray, while services as diverse as YouTube, Hulu, and Funimation's own website are being used to offer fans on-demand access to an ever-growing number of anime series. On Hulu specifically, Black Blood Brothers, Basilisk and Mushi-Shi are currently being offered, and more shows are set to be added over the next two months. The Funimation website is playing host to episodes of subtitled episodes of Baccano!, although no specific plans for how and when this will come to DVD have been made. And whil options for watching Funimation's anime series on mobile phones are currently limited to AT&T and Sprint subscribers, Funimation is working to expand these services to other wireless networks as well.
Going ahead with new anime that Funimation has licensed directly from Japan, the Negima OAV's are on track for next month, and the second season of the Negima!? television series for next year. Ghost Hunt and Ouran High School Host Club will be brought out as in two half-season boxes for each of those series. Ghost Hunt will be wrapped up by November, and Ouran, by January. On the other hand, both Claymore and Darker than Black are considered strong enough to make individual DVD's viable. There will be a total of six covering the Claymore series, with the first one also scheduled for October 14; the first Darker than Black DVD is due in November, around Thanksgiving. Then, the first part of 2009 will see the release of Afro Samurai: Resurrection, after it is screened on the Spike cable channel. Also on the release schedule are the sixth season box set for Dragon Ball Z and the first for Dragonball GT.
Regarding Funimation's agreements to "rescue" licenses for shows originally brought out in the U.S. by ADV and Geneon Entertainment, production is going ahead at full speed on the remainder of Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage and The Story of Saiunkoku. The last episode of the Hellsing OAV series is out already, and the concluding volume of Devil May Cry will be released on October 7. In general, if a volume or more of a series has already been brought out by either of those companies, Funimation will retain the cast and simply pick up with the next new DVD. In other cases, where no releases currently exist, it will treat the license as an entirely new product and make individual cast and format decisions.
Finally, even in addition to all of the new projects it has picked up since the beginning of the year, Funimation is going ahead and licensing Mushi-Shi, Katsuhiro Otomo's live-action adaptation of the manga of the same name which also inspired a Funimation anime series. In addition to the expected DVD release, Funimation is also working to give it a limited theatrical run.
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