Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Funimation Commentary +_+

Dubs and the hope for a better future, these are what all living things need.

And maybe some more free time. I've been swamped lately. I've taken a few short breaks to surface the web or post a comment but haven't had a long break to blog lately. (Who knew law school involved so much actual work? Perhaps I should reconsider the ministry.)

So there's been some fun news about English dubs that I'm sure you already know because you probably read the same news articles I do. Of course, you wouldn't be coming to this blog if you didn't want to read someone else's opinion on those reports! I have a duty to satisfy my readers! I must find something worth adding to the conversation, even if only to provide a cheap laugh at my own expense.

First, lets talk about Funimation: As you know, the company has been sold by Navarre to a group of investors for an all-cash bargain price of $24,000,000. Gen Fukunaga, known to those who work under him as "Lord of Nightmares Fukunaga"* lead a group of rich investors in taking Funi off Navarre's hands. Navarre will continue to handle distribution.

So what exactly does this sale mean for we the anime consumers? Will this buy-out mean the dawn of a dark age or a new era of glory? Well, that's largely in Gen Fukunaga's hands if you ask me. Given how cunning he is, I expect Funimation will remain strong post-sale. According to Robert of the Anime Corner Store:
Gen really is the smartest guy in the room in the R1 Anime biz, and is one of the few people who has actually gotten rich from it. He put together this little Anime company with the help of a some private investment money, built it up with the help of his family connections in Japan, and sells it a few years later at the top of the market to Navarre for $142 Million, and then (with the help of a little more private investment money) buy's it back from the same now debt laden company six years later for $24 Million - 17 cents on the dollar - and got to run the thing the whole time. Unreal. In the end, Gen had to round up a group of investors who could easily afford to loose a few million.

Robert notes that Navarre's corporate commentary shows they've lost their taste for the R1 anime industry and see it as a big waste of money. Frankly, I'm neither surprised by that nor am I willing to disagree with them. Thanks to the "anime should be free!" crowd, the bad economy and a general unwillingness by many fans to just be nice and open-minded, the R1 industry is in decline.

I do think the fact that Gen Fukunaga still wants to be a part of the industry is a good sign though. I also expect that we will see many more deals like this one in the future.

That's right anime lovers, because of all those people who love anime too much to pay for it, we're going to see more "based on X" productions for profit. Nothing wrong with that necessarily but I think we're all too familiar with the failures that have happened. Even decent efforts have often suffered from a severe case of they just didn't care.

On a better note: Funimation has gotten additional rights to Fractale and Freezing! That means we're going to see them get DVD/Blu-Ray releases, which also means English dubs will be made for them!

So long as Funimation doesn't change their "no sub-only" policy following the sale, which I don't expect them to do, we can look forward to these two series and more. If the policy does change, I think it will signal the end of English dubs in R1 because the biggest brain and pocket said "nah, not worth it."

Anywho, Fractale and Freezing dubs are expected. I haven't had a chance to watch much of Fractale due to working on my legal memo but what I've seen was interesting. A bit odd but interesting.

Freezing has my attention more at the moment. I do enjoy bloody battles and fanservice sharing time and space. Plus I find the heroine Bridgette L. Satellizer to be just awesome. Her character design and personality just push my buttons in all the right ways. Plus I love the core plot of invasion and desperate struggle. I love stories where humanity has to fight against terrible odds since it tends to result in scenes of sacrifice that display the best traits of the human species: love for others, willingness to fight and die for higher ideals and the lives of others and the sacrifice in general.

My inner cynic must be suppressed at all costs, lest I lose faith and do things that would only get me on the nightly news broadcasts. (Don't worry, I won't blame anime. It'll totally be society's fault! ;) )

She doesn't do VA work very often but I'd kinda like to hear Alese Johnson as Satellizer in Freezing. Anyone want to voice an opinion on that one?

A few other issues with Funimation you may be thinking about:

First, we've all probably taken a moment to feel some emotion over the legal headache 4Kids is in. Amazingly, I can actually make some sense of the legal jargon popping up and I can tell you that, at least from what I'm reading, 4Kids's only hope is that they drafted a really good contract and that there's no evidence they planned something like this from the start.

Also, for those concerned, nothing I've read would suggest a strong case against Funimation for their role in 4Kids little fun and games. I haven't seen a link to the actual documents filed with the court (which would be REALLY informative and nice to see) but the cited Hollywood Reporter would seem to suggest that 4Kids is the bad actor here.
4Kids conspired with Funimation to fraudulently hide from Plaintiffs more than 45% of the total income Funimation paid to 4Kids from the sale of the home videos," the complaint states.

Allegedly, 4Kids not only licensed YGO, but also several other Japanese animation series it didn't own. Under the terms of this supposedly secret deal, which allegedly included a strict confidentiality clause, 4Kids didn't have to do much besides perform certain marketing services. It was Funimation's job to produce and distribute the series, and for this right, Funimation paid a $1.3 million advance and gave over nearly $4 million in a service fee, which was allegedly then hidden from the plaintiffs.
Emphasis added my me. This is the part that I think is the reason we're not seeing Funimation already being sued considering they've got a lot better pocket to go after considering 4kids has gone the route of Chapter 11. (They'll still die but now their creditors are humped along with them.)

Since Funimation doesn't appear to have had any contractural obligation to inform anyone of anything they paid 4Kids. I'm not seeing anything so far that even says they knew 4Kids was pulling the wool over the Japanese owner's eyes. A confidentiality clause isn't exactly an unknown thing in contracts, in fact it's standard boilerplate for some types of contracts. That clause alone does not a "conspiracy" make.

Again though, without seeing the actual complaint filed and such, I'm unable to really analyze the matter. Anyone got a link to the court filings?

Another issue I wanted to mention to everyone: Funimation's charity auctions for Japan are nearing their end! I don't know if they are planning more but now is the time to bid on some sweet English dub VA sigs! (I'm eyeing one particular item myself.)

Last thing I wanted to talk about is Strike Witches is getting a DVD/Blu-Ray combo release soon and Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts will also come out dual format with a fraking ton of extra content! The LE's got the chipboard art box, Right Stuf will throw in a bonus gift with purchase and on the discs will be:
Special Features: Mission: Impossible: Baka Preview, Baka-Only Cross-Dressing Contest, Mission: Impossible: Baka Mission 01, Mizuki Himeji Girls' Meal, The King Game in Fumizuki Academy, Special Christmas Footage, Promo Videos, Original Commercials, Original DVD Spots, Textless Opening Song, Textless Closing Songs.
Dang that's a lot. You all know how much I love Strike Witches so I'm actually going to double-dip on that one! (Well, actually first dip as I got the first DVD set from ANN for review and thus it was free.)

Now I leave you blog readers with these parting links: Alter's Shirley Yeager figure, Alter's Minna-Dietlinde Wilcke figure and a sweet figure of Katejina Loos!

Why Katejina you ask? I say, why not? Her English VA in Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2 is Nicole Oliver and she's AWESOME as her. God I love her line after you shootdown 1,000 enemies in a mission. DWG2 is a highly addicted game for me, I've got over 200 hours play time on it! (Yes, I know, I should get more sun and be more productive with my life.)

Well, that's it for this blog post. I've written this a bit late at night so please forgive any typos. I may clean it up later.