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Exclusive: Funimation Launches Kickstarter to Dub Escaflowne TV Anime Director's Cut

posted on by Karen Ressler
ANN interviews Funimation about upcoming project

North American anime distributor FUNimation Entertainment announced on Saturday that it is launching a Kickstarter campaign to gauge interest in and fund a new English dub for The Vision of Escaflowne anime series. The company plans to release the director's cut of the series in HD on Blu-ray Disc, including scenes that were not available when Bandai Entertainment's original English dub was released.

The Kickstarter campaign has a goal of US$150,000. If the goal is met, Funimation will release both a standard edition and a collector's edition for the series. The standard edition will be a Blu-ray Disc/DVD combo pack, and both discs will have the director's cut with the new dub. The collector's edition will have the new dub on Blu-ray Disc and the old dub on DVD.

The company has not yet made plans to release the original dub if the Kickstarter is unsuccessful, but will instead release the HD director's cut in a subtitle-only release.

ANN talked with Funimation's social media coordinator Lauren Moore and brand manager Jennifer Fu about the campaign.

Zac Bertschy, ANN: So, tell us about this project.

Lauren: So we have the HD materials for Escaflowne and they do not match the current dub. We've been hearing for a long time that people want to see Escaflowne dubbed. We hear it on forums or we hear it in person, but really what we want to do is gauge if there is a very real want for that. So what we decided to do is launch a Kickstarter and if we meet our goal of $150 thousand, which is not funding the entire production, that's just a part of it, that's just our benchmark number for making sure that there's a want for it, then we will have a full HD dub of The Vision of Escaflowne to kind of give fans that complete, definitive dub experience.

Do you know the technical details of why exactly the old dub doesn't match up with the new one? With the new transfer?

Lauren: For that—hang on, let me bring in brand manager Jennifer Fu.

Jennifer Fu: Hi Zac. So basically there was the original dub that came out and it's based on SD materials that, as you're aware, the director's cut, the HD Japanese version that was released on Bluray more recently, has scenes that were not in the original materials that the original English dub was based on. So because of that it's not possible for us to put the subtitled HD material which is what we've just received from Japan, on the same disc as the original dub, because otherwise it doesn't line up correctly and there are some points where the dub just won't have any dialogue or anything in it and it'd just be kind of strange.


Jennifer: So that, coupled with all of the forum comments and social media comments we've seen asking for those particular scenes to be dubbed, are the main reasons that we're looking to do this Kickstarter. So to clarify a little bit on the difference between this standard edition and the collector's edition, that standard edition—so first of all: if we do not hit the goal of $150k dollars on this Kickstarter to be able to actually create this new dub, then we're just going to be releasing the new HD material, so the new stuff based on the Japanese Bluray, subtitled only. In terms of what's going to happen with the dub release: right now we don't have any plans—by dub here I mean the original dub—right now we don't have any plans for that, we want to see what happens with the Kickstarter first before making a decision there.

So the standard edition is a Bluray/DVD combo pack. The DVD version in the standard edition will match the new dub and the HD materials just because we know there are still some people who prefer DVD to Bluray, that's something we've always done with the combo pack. With this collector's edition, what we're planning on doing is having the Bluray only, so the Bluray of the new dub and the new Japanese materials, and the original dub will be available on DVD discs that are in that release. At this time, and again this is only if we get this project budget, at this time we don't have any plans for a release of the original dub just on DVD yet and again that's because we do want to gauge a little bit of interest before just churning things out. So I hope that clears up a little bit of what the goals are, what we're trying to do here, so let us know if that's still a little bit confusing.

That was all the sort of nitty-gritty that I needed. The other big question is, of course, is the intention to get back and rerecord that dub with those actors, or are we gonna get a fresh cast?

Lauren: So we don't have a cast at this point, we're still obviously looking into that. That's something we'd really have to wait until it's funded before we start really sort of casting and testing that part out.

So here's the question that's going to be a little uncomfortable, but I feel needs to be asked. It wouldn't cost $150,000 to dub Escaflowne and nobody would consider the show a serious sales risk; Funimation is a big company that releases shows like this all the time. Why can't you just produce the new dub without needing to have the fans raise this money for you?

Jennifer: One thing is that we've been seeing a lot of forum comments saying, "oh I really want a new dub of this." And twitter and people coming up at conventions and stuff and they give their reasons and it makes sense to us, but with a lot of this stuff, you know, we don't know, let's say a hundred forum comments really translates to in true demand. So that's something that—I mean that's really the case with any company, right? We want to make sure that it's—I guess that's pretty much it. We want to make sure there actually is the demand for this in the first place.

Lauren: So it's not really looking at fans to help us do something that we couldn't do or couldn't achieve, it's more "hey! If you really want this, almost consider this a preorder." It's not that we see it as a risk, this is more we wanted to create something neat where fans could be a part of bringing it back to life, this thing they've asked us for, and we've heard, like Jennifer mentioned, through forums or in person, it's more kind of creating a platform where they can be a part of bringing it back.

It's more saying "I helped Kickstart this to make this happen, I was part of this tier or part of that tier," it's allowing a little more ownership, and maybe not going the traditional route and just redubbing something and putting it out, that works great for certain titles. We're basically going a bit of a different route that just allows fans a little bit more ownership.

Right. So presumably the Kickstarter launch will feature financial transparency that will give fans the full rundown of everything, like why you need $150k for this, and what that entails. This could be a look inside the cost of producing a Funimation Bluray, you know, sort of the industry standard. This could be a really informative look at that. So do you intend on opening the process, showing the fans, "hey, here's what this costs, here's why it costs this much, and we're going to show you the process in action?"

Jennifer: Unfortunately a lot of the cost of things like dubbing related or putting things out on Bluray or things like that, a lot of those are locked down via contract, so there's really no way for us to reveal this, the only thing we're saying is that the 150k is not actually the production costs. So I think that if we were in a world where that was not a concern, then it would be pretty interesting to look at it and get some more transparency, but unfortunately we're not at liberty to do that.

So it's just: that's the number, and that's what it's going to cost us to do and that's it?

Jennifer: Really, the 150k is not what it costs us to make it, it's more we benchmarked to get to that number and we think that's pretty reasonable. We're going to be funding the rest of it. We just can't really say how much more or less it is.

Lauren: Yeah, that's sort of our benchmark to show interest.

Jennifer: Unfortunately it's the case where we're not really at liberty to disclose that.

Understood. So if this is a success, will we see more of "well we licensed this show and now we're going to have a Kickstarter to redub it, or get a nicer package, or whatever" to plus up this release? Is this a test? Will we see this more?

Lauren: Honestly, that's something that we don't really know. It's a first for us and it's kind of an anomaly in the industry. It's something we'll have to test and see how fans feel about it. If it's something they really love and they enjoy being a part of it, then the experience for them, that's definitely something we'd take into consideration going forward, but right now we honestly don't have a forward projection for whether or not this will be part of our, I guess our MO.

Well it's an interesting experiment. I'm very curious to see how it turns out. Best of luck to you.

Lauren: Thank you.

Funimation had announced in 2013 that it had licensed The Vision of Escaflowne and Escaflowne: The Movie, along with several other titles previously licensed by Bandai Entertainment.

Bandai Entertainment first released the 1996 anime with an English dub from 2000-2001. Fox Kids ran an edited version on television in 2000.

The film is an alternate retelling of the television anime's story and it debuted in Japan in 2000. Bandai Entertainment released the film with an English dub on DVD in 2002 and on Blu-ray Disc in 2009.

Anime Limited is also planning an Ultimate Edition release for both the television series and the film with both the original dub and Japanese audio in the UK. Last March the company revealed plans to release the director's cut with the set as a subtitle-only bonus.

This article has a follow-up: Funimation's Escaflowne Kickstarter Goes Live (2016-02-28 05:00)
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