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New York Comic-Con 2011
FUNimation Panel

by Todd Ciolek,

FUNimation saved their biggest news for the end of their New York Comic Con panel. Already the dominant force in North America's anime scene, FUNimation kicked off a new partnership with Nico Nico, the English offshoot of Japan's highly popular streaming video site. The new venture, called Funico, aims to provided quick streaming of the latest anime series fresh from Japanese airwaves, and it's the largest such attempt at simulcasting anime yet.

This new juggernaut of the industry will air anime series over Nico Nico.com, the English version of Nico Nico Douga. According to FUNimation CEO Gen Fukunaga and Nico Nico CEO James Spahn, the currently streaming Guilty Crown will be joined by six other series. Announced at the panel were Last Exile -Fam, The Silver Wing-, Shakugan no Shana III (Final), Maken-Ki!, C Cube, Future Diary (Mirai Nikki), and Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai (I Don't Have Many Friends).

FUNimation had particularly high praise for Guilty Crown, the new series from writers Ichirou Okouchi and Hiroyuki Yoshino (both veterans of Code Geass) and director Tetsuro Araki (Death Note). In an arrangement not unlike Code Geass, Guilty Crow is set in a future where a plague-ravaged Japan is dominated by an international cabal called the GHQ. Teenager Shu Ohma ends up at the heart of a rebellion when he acquires the power to extract weapons from humans.

Guilty Crown's similarities to past series were not overlooked at the panel, where FUNimation marketing manager Adam Sheehan described the show as “Code Geass meets Ghost in the Shell.” Viewers will be able to compare the show quite easily; in addition to the currently streaming debut, the first two episodes will be screened at the New York Comic-Con, and a DVD and BluRay release is planned in 2012.

Also due out next year is Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror. A whimsical tale that Sheehan and senior social media manager Justin Rojas compared to this year's Summer Wars, Oblivion Island follows a young woman sent to a strange land by her deceased mother's prized mirror. The director, Shinsuke Satō, is better known for helming the live-action Gantz films and Princess Blade.

In yet another license rescue, FUNimation landed the Fafner TV series and movie. A mecha-action series in which teen-piloted robots defend an enigmatic island from creatures, Fafner featured scripts by Tou Ubukata during the second half of its 25-episode run. The film, Heaven and Earth, is set two years after the events of the series. Geneon Entertainment released the Fafner TV series in North America, but FUNimation's license marks the first time the film will be available over here. Both the TV series and movie will arrive in 2012.

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