Otakon 2008

by Mikhail Koulikov,

Since it gained access to several million dollars in venture capital investments earlier in the year, the controversial digital distribution service Crunchyroll has been making strong moves to legitimize itself in the eyes of the anime industry and Japanese animation fans. At the Anime Expo convention last month, Crunchyroll's Vu Nguyen made the first public appearance on behalf of his company, and at Otakon, he again faced a room full of reporters, anime industry professionals, and potential viewers to talk about Crunchyroll's current and future plans. Overall, Crunchyroll's goal is to continue a transition from a user upload model for its existence to a model based on content licensing and distribution.

Sometime in the fall, Crunchyroll will host the world premiere of the CG animated film Eggman, based on Japanese writer Yumeaki Hirayama's critically acclaimed mystery short story. It has also began to sign content deals with both North American and Japanese anime distributors. Media Blasters has agreed to place six of its titles on Crunchyroll: Girl's High, Ramen Fighter Miki, Kite: Liberator, and the live-action films Flesh for the Beast, Machine Girl, and Shadow: Dead Riot. ADV anime that Crunchyroll will be distributing include Angelic Layer, Best Student Council, Chance Pop Session, Nadesico, Parasite Dolls, BastOf Syndrome, Sin, Lady Death, and Saiyuki. Japan's Gonzo will work directly with Crunchyroll, without going to an American intermediary, to use Crunchyroll to bring up to 100 total hours of anime, including Kaleido Star and Peacemaker Kurogane, to fans looking for digital downloads. Other companies that Crunchyroll has already completed content agreements with, even if the details of those agreements have not been finalized yet, include DLE, Speed Racer Entertainment, Think, Fireworks, and TO Entertainment.

In terms of site initiatives, Crunchyroll is continuing to develop the Crunchyland online community section of the website. A Flash-based manga player is also being launched. Initial content for this will be provided by Udon Productions, the Canadian comics publisher known best for their work on manga based on Capcom video games.

During the brief question-and-answer portion of the panel, Nguyen stated that Crunchyroll is not interested in hosting adult content on the service, primarily because it does not limit its users' ages. He also talked about Crunchyroll's desire to create ways to reward users who contribute to its community subtitling function and other parts of the site without having to actually pay them.

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