Friday, June 11, 2010

Anime North 2010 - FUNimation Industry Panel

This panel was led by Lance Heiskell, marketing director at FUNimation who has been with the company since 2002.

Upcoming shows:

Eden of the East, from the creators of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Lance described it as being like Jason Bourne the anime. Release date: September 2010 on Blu-Ray and DVD.

Hetalia: Axis Powers, which has the tagline of "world war fabulous." The music from the trailer has been developed into a full song that will be available when the DVD is released. Release date: September 14, 2010.

Casshern SINS will be released on August 15th, 2010. Preview episodes are available on FUNimation's YouTube channel. Episode one is here (subtitled).

My Bride is a Mermaid will be available on July 20th. Lance described it as a gangster comedy featuring a boy and a girl with a heart of gold.

Shows Currently available:

Strike Witches is available now on DVD. It's an action series featuring girls in hot pants.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood part one is now available on Blu-ray and DVD. FUNimation is currently pitching this series to Canadian television networks, but it hasn't been picked up yet.

Full Metal Panic, which was acquired from ADV, is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray. The Blu-Ray has an extra interview with the creator and director, this same extra was on the Japanese Blu-Ray release. Episodes of Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu are also now available for viewing online.

Shows now available that weren't previewed included Initial D, Kenichi, Soul Eater, and X (the TV series, which was rescued from Geneon).

Lance gave fans a brief overview of the process for a company such as FUNimation acquiring anime. First, they can only contact the few Japanese companies that can sell international rights. They get pitched shows from Japan and, if they like them, they submit a bid. If the bid is accepted, they receive materials and can go into production.

Canadian fans will be interested to hear that FUNimation is actively pitching lots of shows to Canadian television networks, including Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and Soul Eater. So far, they haven't received any bites from networks, so fans are encouraged to contact television stations to express their interest in seeing particular series on their favourite stations. FUNimation is also working on expanding the availability of the FUNimation channel into Canada.

When asked about dubbing, Lance said that over 50% of buyers watch the dub the majority of the time, and about 26% watch subtitles the majority. This means that there is some obvious crossover, with buyers who watch both. Thus, FUNimation prefers to sell hybrid releases, to please as many fans as possible. Currently, FUNimation's primary focus is on DVD and Blu-Ray releases, but they also have video available for Canadian fans on iTunes Canada and will soon have videos available via Xbox Live in Canada.

There are currently no details available for Evangelion 2.0. It is still only in Japan at this time and not available for licensing yet.

When asked about music and soundtracks from anime, Lance mentioned that they are harder to bring over and put on CDs because of legalities and more parties needing to be involved. However, FUNimation does try to offer songs as extras and some music is available digitally via iTunes and other online services.

Near the end of the panel, Lance remarked that FUNimation is like the Rescue Rangers, because they keep rescuing series when licensing rights have expired. When someone in the audience asked if he's Chip or Dale, Lance joked that he's so busy he's just nuts!

Stay tuned for more Anime North convention coverage! There's lots more to come!

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