Funimation

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FUNimation
Type Private
Industry multimedia entertainment
Genre Anime, Japanese cinema, Asian cinema
Founded May 9, 1994 as Funimation Productions[1]
Founders Gen Fukunaga
Cindy Fukunaga
Headquarters Flower Mound, Texas, United States
Key people Gen Fukunaga President/CEO
Subsidiaries Giant Ape Media
GameSamba
Website www.funimation.com

FUNimation (former letter case Funimation) is an American television and film production company based in Flower Mound, Texas.[2] The studio is the largest distributor of anime and other foreign entertainment properties in North America. Perhaps their most popular property is Toei Animation's action adventure series Dragon Ball Z, which had a successful run on Cartoon Network's Toonami block from 1998 to 2003, and has been re-released on DVD and Blu-ray several times since. Funimation began on May 9, 1994 by Gen Fukunaga and his wife Cindy as Funimation Productions, with funding by Daniel Cocanougher and his family, who became investors in the company. Funimation was sold to Navarre Corporation on May 11, 2005 and the company was renamed Funimation Entertainment. In April 2011, Navarre sold Funimation to a group of investors including Fukunaga for $24 million.[3] Around the same time, the company's trademark ball, star and blue bar were dropped from its logo and the company was renamed to simply Funimation.[4] Funimation is a portmanteau of the English words fun and animation.

History[edit]

The company was founded on May 9, 1994 by Japanese-born businessman Gen Fukunaga.[5] Fukunaga's uncle was one of the producers for the popular anime series Dragon Ball; he approached Gen about bringing the series over to America. He proposed that if Fukunaga could start a production company and raise enough money, Toei Animation would license the rights to the show. Fukunaga met with co-worker Daniel Cocanougher whose family owned a feed mill in Decatur, Texas and convinced Cocanougher's family to sell their business and serve as an investor for his company. The company was originally formed in Silicon Valley, California as Funimation Productions in 1994, but eventually relocated to Flower Mound, Texas, located near Fort Worth.[6] By 1998, after two failed attempts to bring the Dragon Ball franchise to a U.S. audience, it finally found success on Cartoon Network's action-oriented programming block Toonami, and the Dragon Ball phenomenon quickly grew in the United States as it had elsewhere. This led Funimation to begin licensing other anime to the U.S.

Purchase by Navarre Corporation[edit]

On May 11, 2005, Funimation was acquired by the now-defunct Navarre Corporation for US$100.4 million in cash and 1.8 million shares of Navarre stock. As part of the acquisition, the president Fukunaga was retained as head of the company, transitioning to the position of CEO, and the company's name was changed from Funimation Productions to Funimation Entertainment.[7][8]

In 2007, Funimation moved from North Richland Hills, Texas to Flower Mound; the standalone Flower Mound facility has double the square footage of the space Funimation occupied previous North Richland Hills facility; in the North Richland Hills facility Funimation shared the building with other tenants.[9] Funimation moved into the Lakeside Business District with a ten-year lease.[10]

Acquisition of Geneon and ADV licenses[edit]

According to an interview in February 2008 with Navarre Corporation CEO Cary Deacon, Funimation was in early stage negotiations to acquire some of the titles licensed through Geneon's USA division, which ceased operations in December 2007.[11] In July 2008, Funimation confirmed that they had acquired distribution rights to several Geneon titles, including some that Geneon had left unfinished when they ceased operations.[12]

At Anime Expo 2008, Funimation announced that it had acquired over 30 titles from the Sojitz catalog that had previously been licensed by ADV Films.[13]

In 2009, Funimation signed a deal with Toei Animation to stream several of its anime titles online through the Funimation website, and Hulu.[14]

Sale from Navarre and Nico Nico partnership[edit]

In the first quarter of 2010, Navarre Corporation reclassified Funimation as "discounted operations" and began preparations to sell the company. Navarre released a statement in April 2011 confirming that Funimation has been sold to a group of investors, including original owner Gen Fukunaga, for $24 million.[3] It is speculated that Funimation was sold at such a low cost (in comparison to how much it was originally purchased for, almost 100 million in cash and 15 million in stock in 2005) because Navarre wanted to continue distributing goods in relation to the products, but not handle the publishing. Navarre will remain as exclusive distributor of Funimation's titles.

On October 14, 2011, Funimation announced a permanent partnership with Niconico, the English-language version of Nico Nico Douga, to form the 'Funico' brand for the licensing of anime for streaming and home video release. From this point on, virtually all titles simulcasted by Niconico were acquired by Funimation.[15]

Legal actions[edit]

Anti-piracy[edit]

In 2005, Funimation's legal department began to pursue a more aggressive approach toward protecting the company's licensed properties, and started sending "cease and desist" (C&D) letters to sites offering links to fansubs of their titles. This move was similar to that taken by the now-defunct ADV Films several years before with several of the major torrent sites.

Funimation's legal department served C&D letters for series that had not yet been advertised or announced as licensed, including Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, Black Cat, and SoltyRei, with a few known series also mentioned in the letter.[16] Funimation revealed more licenses on 6 October 2006 when it sent letters to torrent sites demanding that distribution of xxxHolic's TV series, Mushishi, Ragnarok the Animation, and other series cease.[17]

Since October 2009, Funimation has routinely filed DMCA takedown notices to get unauthorized distributions of its and its partners' properties removed from Google search results.[notes 1]

In January 2011, Funimation filed a lawsuit against BitTorrent users in the U.S. for allegedly downloading and uploading[18] One Piece. Funimation dropped the suit in March after a Northern Texas judge, having already indicated that the court would appoint attorneys for the defendants,[19] ruled that the defendants were not "acting in concert" and thus couldn't be sued as a group; each would have to be sued separately.[20]

The One Piece film at issue was a fansub, an unauthorized copy distributed with fan-produced, translated subtitles. Soon after the lawsuit was abandoned, Funimation was reported to have long been deriving dubs from fansubs.[21] Funimation nevertheless maintains that fansubbing is harmful to the anime industry, stating "The practices of illegal downloads and 'fansubbing' are very harmful to our Japanese partners and [...] we have been asked to monitor and take action against unauthorized distribution of these titles. Because we believe that this will benefit the industry, we have agreed to do so."[22] Sites which distribute fansubs or separate fan-created subtitles remain a frequent target of civil actions by Funimation and other anime companies, as well as criminal prosecution in at least one case.[23]

Two months after the failure to sue BitTorrent users en masse in the North Texas district, Funimation engaged in forum shopping and proceeded to sue 1,427 defendants in the neighboring East Texas district for acting "in concert" to infringe copyright on The Legend Is Born – Ip Man. This case was allowed to proceed.[24]

Disputes with partners[edit]

In November 2011, Funimation filed a lawsuit against A.D. Vision, AEsir Holdings, Section23 Films, Valkyrie Media Partners, Seraphim Studios, Sentai Filmworks, Artisan Entertainment and Switchblade Pictures for a sum of $8 million, citing "breach of contracts" and other issues. Funimation said that ADV's transfer of assets were made with "the intent to defer, hinder or defraud the creditors of ADV [Films]." Funimation is seeking ADV's sale of assets as void.[25] The lawsuit was settled in mediation in 2014. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.[26]

Foreign distribution[edit]

Funimation does not directly release its properties in non-North American (English language-speaking) markets, instead sublicensing to other companies such as Manga Entertainment in the United Kingdom and Madman Entertainment in Australia and New Zealand. Funimation's former UK outlets include Revelation Films and MVM Films. Funimation has also attempted to distribute Dragon Ball Z to Spanish speaking audiences, and has released a number of Spanish-language DVDs of the series.

Funimation Channel[edit]

Main article: Funimation Channel

Funimation Entertainment with Olympusat launched the Funimation Channel, the second 24 hour anime digital cable network in North America (the first being A.D. Vision's Anime Network). Olympusat is the exclusive distributor and the Funimation Channel is now available to video service providers.
Since its launch in September 2005, Funimation Channel has expanded into more homes and continues to expand via digital cable, fiber optics, and DBS systems.
When the channel first launched, it was available to a few cities via UHF digital signals.[27] The service was temporary as the channel was trying to gain a foothold in the already crowded digital cable landscape. Another short-term service was the syndication of a Funimation Channel block to one of OlympuSAT's affiliate networks – Colours TV.[28] Both services were discontinued in favor for a more successful expansion on digital cable, fiber optics and DBS systems. The channel launched its HD feed on September 27, 2010. At this time it looks like Government Fiber and Cox Cable users are not on the radar, but Hulu Plus and their online VOD system just may help in that case.

Alternative distribution[edit]

In July 2008, Funimation and Red Planet Media announced the launch of a mobile video-on-demand service for AT&T Mobility and Sprint mobile phone subscribers.[29] Three titles were part of the launch, Gunslinger Girl, Tsukuyomi: Moon Phase, and The Galaxy Railways, with entire seasons of each made available.

On September 19, 2006, Funimation created an official channel on YouTube where they upload advertisements for box sets, as well as clips and preview episodes of their licensed series. In September 2008, they began distributing full episodes of series on Hulu and Hulu Plus.[30] In December of the same year, Funimation added a video section to their main website with preview episodes of various series. In April 2009, they began distributing full episodes of series at Veoh.[31][32] Full episodes are also available on the YouTube channel as well as on Netflix, the PlayStation Network (PSN) Video Store and Xbox Live/Zune Marketplace.[33]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ As of October 2012, the Chilling Effects search engine is broken, but Google search results for site:chillingeffects.org funimation reveal the DMCA notices received and processed so far.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "20 Years of the Best in Anime". 
  2. ^ TV Tropes. "Creator:FUNimation". TV Tropes Foundation, LLC. 
  3. ^ a b "Navarre Corporation Announces Sale Of FUNimation Entertainment". GLOBE NEWSWIRE. 2011-04-04. Retrieved 2011-04-04. 
  4. ^ "Navarre Sells Anime Studio FUNimation". Asia Pacific Arts. 04/08/2011.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  5. ^ "Interview with Gen Fukunaga, Part 1". ICv2. 2004-11-01. Retrieved 2008-02-08. 
  6. ^ Name * (2012-05-13). "Animerica October 1995 - Sailor Moon Dragon Ball TV Edit News & scans". Practicemakesawesome.com. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  7. ^ "Navarre Corporation Acquires Funimation, and Provides Financial Update and Guidance" (Press release). Navarre Corporation. 2005-05-11. Retrieved 2006-07-08. 
  8. ^ "Navarre Completes Funimation Acquisition" (Press release). ICv2. 2005-05-12. Retrieved 2008-02-08. 
  9. ^ Wethe, David (2007-06-07). "Funimation moving headquarters to Flower Mound". Fort-Worth Star Telegram. Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  10. ^ "FUNimation Entertainment scripts HQ move". Dallas Business Journal. 2007-06-08. Retrieved 2008-06-20. 
  11. ^ "Navarre/FUNimation Interested in Some Geneon Titles". ICv2. 2008-02-08. Retrieved 2008-02-08. 
  12. ^ "FUNimation Entertainment and Geneon Entertainment Sign Exclusive Distribution Agreement for North America" (Press release). funimation.com. 2008-07-03. Retrieved 2008-07-03. 
  13. ^ "Funimation Picks Up Over 30 Former AD Vision Titles" (Press release). animenewsnetwork.com. 2008-07-04. Retrieved 2008-07-04. 
  14. ^ "Funimation Adds Toei's Air Master, Captain Harlock - News". Anime News Network. 2009-04-03. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  15. ^ "Funimation, Niconico to Jointly License Anime". Anime News Network. 2011-10-14. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  16. ^ "Funimation Enforces Intellectual Property Rights (ANN)". Retrieved 2006-10-14. 
  17. ^ "Funimation Sends out Cease & Desist Letters For Multiple Anime (ANN)". Retrieved 2006-10-14. 
  18. ^ Manry, Gia (2011-05-09). "Interview: Evan Stone". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2012-10-19. 
  19. ^ McSherry, Corynne (2011-02-15). "Don't Mess With Texas: Another Texas Judge Scrutinizes Mass Copyright Litigation". EFF. Retrieved 2012-10-19. 
  20. ^ "Funimation Dismisses Its One Piece BitTorrent Lawsuit". Anime News Network. 2011-03-24. Retrieved 2012-10-19. 
  21. ^ "Downloaded Sora no Otoshimono Copy Shown at Funimation Studio". Anime News Network. 2011-03-22. Retrieved 2012-10-19. 
  22. ^ "3 Titles' Fansubs Pulled on Behalf of Japan's d-rights". Anime News Network. 2008-08-18. Retrieved 2012-10-19. 
  23. ^ Enigmax (2012-06-08). "Student Fined For Running Movie & TV Show Subtitle Download Site". TorrentFreak. Retrieved 2012-10-19. 
  24. ^ "The RECAP Archive: FUNimation Entertainment v. DOES 1 - 1,427". Retrieved 2012-10-19. 
  25. ^ "Funimation Sues A.D. Vision, Sentai, Others for US$8 Million". News. Anime News Network. January 13, 2012. Retrieved January 13, 2012. 
  26. ^ "Funimation v. ADV Lawsuit Settled, Dismissed". News. Anime News Network. May 20, 2014. Retrieved May 29, 2014. 
  27. ^ service on UHF signals
  28. ^ syndicated block
  29. ^ "Full Seasons of the Best Anime from FUNimation Channel Launch on JumpInMobile.TV – The New Mobile Video-on-Demand Service from Red Planet Media". Anime News Network. 2008-07-09. Retrieved 2008-07-09. 
  30. ^ Hulu.com Launches Channel for Free, Legal Anime Streams (Update 2)
  31. ^ Rojas (2009-04-01). "Legal Anime Watching on Veoh.com". The Funimation Update. Funimation Entertainment. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  32. ^ "Funimation Adds More Anime to Veoh Video Website". ANN News. Anime News Network. 2009-04-02. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  33. ^ "Funimation Publishes on XBOX". ANN News 2. Anime News Network. 2012-02-06. Retrieved 2012-07-23. 

External links[edit]