The US Anime Industry

May 31, 2011

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It’s probably in large part thanks to the recent PHX Comicon that I now find myself buying more anime and I want to say Funimation may just be the greatest and yet worse thing to happen to our industry in years.

A lot has changed in the US since I started paying for anime. The most significant has been our move away from the Japanese standard 3-4 eps per DVD release, and now (outside of Bandai) pretty much every release is either the full season or maybe split into two releases.  We’ve got new companies throwing their hats into the game with sub only releases. There are international BluRay releases. Legal streams of most current anime through crunchyroll and Hulu, lets not forget the ever growing instant library on Netflix. And the greatest/worst of them has been Funimation, releasing many of their shows for free streaming and combo BlueRay/DVD releases for full seasons for only $60, though I can usually find them for 30-40 on Amazon or RightStuf (its almost like they hate money).

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For the last year, Funimation has received almost all of my anime budget, and their selection of shows still leaves me wishing I had more money to give them.  But I now won’t even consider paying for each DVD release for Bandai’s K-on.  I bought each special edition of Haruhi, but now I won’t even consider paying for anything less than 12 episodes at a time. I know I’m not the only one who has been spoiled by this.  It can’t possibly be good for the industry and with reports of Funimation’s parent company attempting to sell it I wonder how long things will last.

We’ve just had one of the largest manga publishers, Tokyopop, shutdown suddenly and it has only been a few years since Geneon shut their doors as well. Bandai has been extremely skidish over the changing market, and blew my mind when they actually released KuroKami on BluRay as dub only. Bandai then seemed to quickly disappear from the US market up to bringing over K-on and I worry that they could be following Geneon if K-on proves to be too great a loss for them… though, they do still have the Haruhi movie coming sometime soon (Wendee Lee said she had just finished her work in dubbing it and that it premiers at this year’s Anime Expo. I’m hoping the BluRay is not too far behind!)

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I love being able to buy my favorite shows, and Funimation has made me feel as if I’m actually getting a sweet deal and not being ripped off compared to the live action boxsets. I just hope this bubble doesn’t pop on us.

(First post using WordPress on my Android, not sure how well it’ll turn out..)