Akemi's Anime World

Funimation Anime Company

A bit of info about Funimation.

Company Overview

Funimation (more properly FUNimation, but I refuse to write it that way) was a startup company initially founded to distribute DragonBall in the US. Its early years were inauspicious--they were generally known for commercial, edited, kid-centric material and uneven production values when it came to accuracy and quality. Sometime in the mid-'00s, however, that changed in a big way (around when the company sold itself to publishing company Navarre). Their translations got drastically better, their new title acquisition ramped into high gear, they started subtitling everything, and they all-around started giving fans nearly everything they could ask for.

Funimation is now without question the premier anime company in the US, a role cemented when they took over much of Geneon's catalog (and brand) when that company went belly-up in 2008. With releases spanning everything from Hello Kitty to high-class drama to the new otaku-targeted comedy of the moment, they do darn near everything but adults-only titles, and their web presence is second-to-none. They're also so on top of new releases that they've licensed, and started streaming, shows concurrent with their release in Japan.

Their Catalog

You name it, they've probably got it--their catalog is absolutely massive and runs the range from semi-classic to still-on-the-air-in-Japan. In addition to picking up the majority of Geneon's catalog, and buying a few titles off the late ADV during its pseudo-death and rebranding, Funimation has licensed shows of every size and shape. Their catalog does tend heavily toward newer TV series, though they do have a few movies and OAV series as well. The centerpiece of their catalog is probably the series they were literally born to release, the massive DragonBall (Z) franchise, periodically re-released in increasingly less-edited and flashier formats. They have also licensed a range of series by Japanese powerhouse studio Gonzo.

What Their Releases Are Like

Funimation's modern DVDs are top-notch productions; high-quality, nicely-packaged, and with at least decent special features. With the rare exception of a few kids' shows and things (like Afro Samurai) that were in English from the beginning, all their discs are bilingual. They've experimented with a variety of packaging, ranging from relatively common thinpak TV box sets to their "Veridian" collection--reduced price and packaged in environmentally-friendly cardboard cases rather than plastic. On that note, Funimation is unmatched when it comes to reasonable pricing--list price is usually among the cheapest in the industry, steep discounts aren't uncommon, and their assorted re-releases can be very cheap. In particular, their "S.A.V.E." line features re-releases of well-known TV series in a compact box set at ridiculously low prices--list price for two full seasons can be well under what a single disc (of eight) from Geneon used to cost, and street prices are often half that. We're talking 600 minutes of anime for under fifteen bucks.

Speaking of which, they're also very good when it comes to handling of TV series, usually bypassing the one-disc-at-a-time release entirely to dump the entire thing on a budget-priced box set from day one, and they had switched to this before it became the industry norm. They're even reasonable about keeping their back-catalog in print, re-releasing things on a regular basis, sometimes with added features as well.

Funimation is also the unquestionable leader when it comes to Blu-ray, releasing a few movies and a number of high-def TV series box sets. Even here their pricing is about as friendly as you could imagine--26-episode 1080p box sets that only take up two cases worth of shelf space and aren't priced any higher than a comparable DVD set (which is, again, less than a single volume of a TV series cost at list price in the old days). They've also handled the production and distribution of BDs for other companies. On the somewhat more questionable side, they've also started releasing "classic" (and very not-hi-def) shows on BD. Their upscaling looks very good (they use some sort of edge-smoothing algorithm, so there's no jagged edges or blurriness, just a lack of fine detail), and the prices are reasonable, but one has to wonder if the intent is to sucker people into buying (or re-buying) a Blu-ray release that isn't really any better than a DVD release.

Funimation also has a massive presence online; some series are only available online, and many new releases are available online long before the DVD or Blu-ray release. Most online shows are available subtitled and dubbed, though some of their VOD is only one or the other (with more otaku-targeted shows being sub-only, at least initially). To start with, a number of new series are available streamed free on Hulu and Funimation's own site (Funimation's site also uses Hulu), sometimes within days of the title being licensed (and at least with some shows, less than an hour after each episode aired in Japan).

Further, they have a wide selection of pay-for-download video for $1.99 an episode, with some discounts if you buy the whole season. A chunk of their catalog is available on both iTunes and Amazon's VOD services, and nearly everything in their catalog can be purchased directly off their website for download (sometimes almost immediately after they've licensed it); all of the above are in standard-def. The closest thing to a disadvantage is the paid downloads available from Funimation's own site are in DRM-locked WMV format, meaning it's not playable on anything but Windows or a portable device that supports Windows copy protection (which is to say no iPhones, iPads, or Android devices).


Other Releases

The company was also involved in some way with releasing these anime, though they're not the primary company.