Anime North 2010
Funimation Industry Panel
by Lissa Pattillo,
FUNIMATION INDUSTRY PANEL
The Funimation panel was held by Lance Heiskell, director of marketing at the company. Though a presentation was prepared, technical difficulties halted its delivery to the presenter's hands but he made due with trailers on hand.
After a brief introduction, panel-goers were shown a couple trailers for upcoming Funimation releases. The highlight of the panel, based on audience reaction, was the playing of two Hetalia trailers, both utilizing the same music and clips but one providing an explanatory voice over. The song and music utilized in the trailers were created in-house and will be available as a downloadable bonus when the first DVD set is released. Funimation's marketing slogan on the project is “World War Fabulous” which elicited amused disbelief from the listeners.
Other trailers including Eden of the East (which was described at “Jason Bourne the anime”), Casshern Sins the anime, Strike Witches, My Bride is a Mermaid, Full Metal Panic! and a clip from Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. Dragon Ball Kai didn't have an accompanying trailer but in discussion was assured to the audience that it did not utilize the Rock the Dragon opening and instead has a theme performed by the English voice actors to match the original. The fan-favourite quote “It's over 9000!” has also been changed to “It's over 8000!” in the new dub, which promises a whole new wave of requests for its repetition from Vegeta's voice actor.
The panellist shared with readers the general process of obtaining anime for domestic release including a basic rundown of their facilities which include full-house production of licensing, dubbing, audio tracks, translation and DVD authoring. The Funimation office is over 50,000 square feet and its staffers “live off Redbull” and are considered the anime-equivalent of Disney's Rescue Rangers – swooping in to rescue all the latest and greatest. On that note, the panellist revealed there will be a number of new license rescues to announce over the convention season including more from Geneon at the upcoming Anime Expo.
Initial D Seasons 1-3 (Date TBA)
Kenichi Season One (May 2010)
Witchblade (June 2010)
X/1999 (June 2010)
Heroic Age (June 2010)
Romeo X Juliet Complete Series (July 2010)
Full Metal Panic! (August 2010, $50)
Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu (September 2010, $40)
During audience Q&A the Funimation representation was unable to give comment on the recent Manga UK acquisition of Summer Wars and whether Funi is providing the dub. When asked about any plans to dub series they're currently simulcasting, such as House of Five Leaves, they stated that at this point the rights are purely for simulcasting with subtitles but giving series a dub and a full release is always the hope. Funimation does not currently have the rights to either Hellsing Ultimate 5 or Evangelion 2.0 but is awaiting offers on both.
Funimation is currently pitching several of their series for broadcast in Canada, including Soul Eater and Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. Unfortunately no one has yet to show any interest, continuing to be indicative of the lack of anime available on Canadian television. Many of their series are currently available to download via iTunes Canada and soon to be for Canadians using XBox Live. Funimation is also currently working on switching their website over to YouTube streams instead of Hulu to allow more viewers around the world access to their simulcasts and trailers.
In regards Funimation's upscaled Blu-ray's, the rep assured that all their upscales are done frame by frame and are approved by the Japanese license-holders episode by episode. Starting later this season however, all future Funimation Blu-ray releases will be labelled whether or not they are upscales or are digitally mastered originals.
As a closing question, an attendee asked Funimation's rep what the company is doing to keep the anime bubble from bursting since they currently hold such a high percentage of the North American anime market. In response they believe that the anime market has seen such a large fluctuation because of a quantity over quality issue and they too felt the pressure of this with the requirement of releasing the ADV series they'd acquired in such a short period of time. They will be having fewer releases in the future compared to the recent year but will still have plenty of anime at consistent schedules and high quality for all their consumers.
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