On Friday evening, Spider and I were able to go to the Funimation Panel. We were drawn to it, along with a quarter of the convention attendees. First off, the one presenting our panel was our favorite Funi-Staffer, Adam. He also had a new Funi-Staffer with him. Unfortunately his name escapes me, and I did not make a note of it. Sorry, new dude! The reason I mentioned the new Funi-Staffer is that it was as if he was getting his con cherry busted; Adam was not going easy on him! It made for some funny commentary.
The panelists started it out with an update on the Funimation company’s health and status. The panel had the feel of a business meeting, but I think that it was good approach; it helped kill the rumors and calm the fans. There were a good bit of interesting facts, and they touched on various subjects like their growth of new titles (which had gone up to 17%). Funimation also announced a new market segment of ages 13 to 17, which was something that Spider and I had to disagree with Funimation on. It’s not that the segment is not there, but after listening more, I can understand why they are targeting that age range. It is mainly to capture the market share, but it is also to convert and keep them from pirating shows to actually purchase them. We only assumed that it was that particular age range that is pirating the most, since they usually cannot afford to buy it. They then proceed to tell us that this age range is only 11% of their consumer base. So, why in the hell would you concentrate most of your energies to build that market share, when I, personally, do not think it will have the rewards? Although, since I am not within the corporate working, we are going to have to trust Funimation; they have not let us down yet.
They have really made huge efforts in hearing what the fans have to say. Going from the Social Networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, to totally re-working their main website to be a social networking hub that has integration with all of the other social network giants. Their social network will be released later this year, with beta testing starting in September. When the beta site becomes live, they are going to be offering what they call ‘Elite Membership Subscriptions.’ These subscriptions will provide members with some pretty cool features such as Early Access to English Dubs, No Ads, Exclusive Forums, and Privileged Contests. Along with the social networking, they have up’ed the game as far as the Simulcasting and Video on Demand (VOD) for their licensed titles. Although the one thing that they really focused on was their Anti-Piracy campaign. They went into details on their procedures and teams that are dedicated to finding piracy groups and shutting them down.
Funimation, as predicted has an arsenal of titles coming out in the next 6 months, as would be expected from the current anime industry giant. Some of the titles are very interesting and others not so much, well at least to Spider and I. Well, I guess we will start with the disappointing news first, in which they have announced that Funimation will not be aquiring anymore Case Closed licenses. They didn’t comment on the reason why. On the bright side they mentioned a slew of titles for release, such as ‘My Bride is a Mermaid‘, ‘Master of Martial Hearts‘, ‘Casshern Sins‘, ‘Corpse Princess‘, ‘Hetalia‘, ‘Eden of the East‘ and ‘Strike Witches‘. Of course these series’ release dates can be found on Funimation’s Website.
The current projects that Funimation is working on are very exciting for fans of anime. At the panel, they went through some titles that they were currently casting for, or titles that have already been casted for the English Dub. ‘Oh! Edo Rocket‘, ‘Phantom‘, ‘Black Butler‘, ‘Blessing of the Campanella‘ which is currently being Simulcasted, and will be released in early 2011. ‘Okamisan’ is yet another title to be on Simulcast in early 2011. Of course, they also have seasons 3 & 4 for Hetalia including the movie slated for release on the first half of 2011. Two titles that Spider and I are very much looking forward to in 2011 are ‘Summer Wars’ and ‘Evangelion 2.22.’ Both are incredibly awesome and are a must have in your collection.
After all of that, they moved into the Q&A segment of the panel, so you know that Spider and I took our leave then. All in all, I have to say that Funimation is doing a fantastic job of trying to stay on top of the industry and setting the pace for other companies to follow.