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New York Anime Festival 2009

by Bamboo Dong,

Panelist: Adam Sheehan

New York Anime Fest's lineup of industry panels started early Friday afternoon with Funimation. The panel opened with some statistics about their viewership; according to user surveys, the majority of fans prefer to watch dubs. In light of this, Funimation will continue to release all of their titles in both subtitled and dubbed formats, and has no plans of following the growing industry trend of releasing subtitled-only products.

Anime fans also tend to be early adopters when it comes to new technology. Roughly half of the surveyed fans said they owned an HD television, and 33% had Blu-ray players—more than the national average of 16%. Funimation will continue releasing select titles on Blu-ray; upcoming titles include Burst Angel, Ichi, Tsubasa (season 1), Basilisk, Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shamballa, Samurai Champloo, Witchblade, and Evangelion 1.0: You Are Not Alone.

For fans who are looking to stream anime online, free episodes are available on Hulu, YouTube, Gaia, and Anime News Network. Episodes are also available for purchase from Xbox Marketplace, Playstation Network, Amazon, and iTunes. Currently, Funimation has the most TV series available on both Xbox and PlayStation, while on iTunes, they are fifth, behind MTV, Warner Brothers, CBS, and NBC.

Other news included the announcement that the One Piece simulcast was back, with new episodes streaming every Saturday at 9PM, one hour after airing in Japan. Funimation also congratulated Shigemi Ikeda, who received an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation for his art direction in Afro Samurai: Resurrection. It's the first anime to receive an Emmy.

Towards the end of the panel, Funimation had three major announcement, including the English voice cast for Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Although most of the major roles will be reprised by the original actors, the voice of Alphonse Elric will be voiced by Maxey Whitehead, Scar will be voiced by J. Michael Tatum, and Isaac McDougal will be voiced by Bryan Massey. Aaron Dismuke, the former voice of Al, will make an appearance later in the series as a major character, but no details have been released yet.

Funimation will also be releasing the X TV series and the X OVA, titles formerly licensed by Geneon. The DVDs, which will be released starting in 2010, will include the original Geneon dub.

Initial D will also be getting a new release, complete with a new English dub. The license includes the first four Stages, as well as the Extra Stage. Previously released by Tokyopop, the lack of a faithful dub was largely panned by the anime community. Instead, there was a “tricked out” version, which replaced the show's trademark Eurobeat soundtrack with domestically-produced music, and Americanized the characters' names. The Funimation release will be uncut, and will feature the original music.

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