Tag: FUNimation

Funimation Being Eyed By Sony, Universal 2

Funimation Being Eyed By Sony, Universal

In 2006, the North American anime industry burned to the ground. Standing on the ashes was Funimation, the stalwart distributor best known for bringing for bringing perennial hit Dragon Ball Z to the West. Fast-forward eleven years, and anime is doing better in America that it arguably ever has. Funimation still sits at the top, with staying power far greater than ever anticipated. That staying power is starting to attract a number of high-profile companies – chiefly Universal and Sony.

As per Bloomberg, Funimation has received several acquisition offers from a number of large media companies. In an official statement, however, it appears that the company isn’t currently interested in being acquired.

“The Funimation management team is more immediately focused on continuing to create compelling experiences for anime fans through physical, digital/streaming and theatrical efforts with goals of continuing to expand globally and maximizing shareholder value,” the statement read.

The intent behind this statement is pretty clear. Funimation is focused first and foremost on the industry they’re sitting at the top of, and don’t want to put that at risk by being taken into a large company.

But why, exactly, would Sony and Universal have an interest in Funimation? The answer’s simpler than one might imagine, and it basically boils down to brand loyalty. The home video market is hemorrhaging money, in many capacities, but don’t tell Funimation. Since 2013, they’ve experienced double-digit growth in both their digital and physical sales. That growth has happened at a rate of ten percent per year since then, with an annual gross of around $100 million. They know how to offer something that other, bigger companies don’t and can’t. On paper, this expertise looks like a valuable asset.

That said, there’s something a company like Sony or Universal would be ignoring when looking at just the numbers. Funimation is in the anime business, and in the anime business, selling overpriced trinkets is the name of the game. Anime fandom is practically built around selling expensive collector’s sets and ludicrously expensive hunks of plastic. There’s a kind of slavish devotion to the medium that doesn’t really exist outside of anime fandom, with the exception of perhaps American comics. This kind of dedication doesn’t translate to selling copies of large Hollywood blockbusters. At least, not yet.

Still, one does wonder if Funimation will take a company up on the offer. After all, they owe part of their current success to Universal – the media giant has home video distribution rights to Funimation’s output, and even relied on them to get licenses for shows like Serial Experiments Lain and Tenchi Muyo!. They’re still an anomaly in an industry that’s had to make a lot of changes to maintain relevance, and this writer suspects that alone is enough reason for interested parties to keep an eye on the house that Dragon Ball built.

Funimation Resurrects The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya in 2017 1

Funimation Resurrects The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya for 2017

Popular anime series Haruhi Suzumiya will soon see its film The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya return to North America on Blu-ray and DVD. According to Anime News Network, Funimation licensed the film and plans to release it during the first half of 2017.

The film, which was originally released in Japan in 2010, follows the fourth light novel from Nagaru Tanigawa. The story centers on main character Kyon’s struggle to set his world straight after Haruhi Suzumiya suddenly goes missing amidst planning for the SOS Brigade’s Christmas party. Along with the anime series, the film was originally licensed by Bandai Entertainment, with a DVD and Blu-ray release published on Sept 20, 2011. However, copies of The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya have since grown somewhat rare. As Anime News Network’s Michael Toole explains, this is partly because the movie landed just as the anime community’s obsession over Haruhi Suzumiya began to fade, so the movie went out of print: and subsequently, prices grew expensive online for the North American version of the film.

Funimation later brought The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya back for the series’ 10th anniversary by rereleasing season one and season two onto Blu-ray and DVD in North America, essentially bringing the series into print with the edition’s Sept 13, 2016 release. The rerelease featured “the same rebroadcast order used on the Japanese Blu-ray release,” along with a “guide in the release of how to watch the entire two-season series in various other orders, including the super-popular broadcast order, chronological order, and DVD order!” Funimation also licensed The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya and The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan and provided them in an “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” Blu-ray set, as well as releasing these titles separately.

Funimation’s move to license The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya suggests the North American distributor is interested in bringing back the entire series, not just its anime highlights. This means revisiting the series is becoming easier than ever for Haruhi Suzumiya newcomers and veterans alike. No release date has been set yet for the Blu-ray and DVD.

Your Name Passes Princess Mononoke, Earning 19.4 Billion Yen in Japan

Your Name Passes Princess Mononoke, Earning 19.4 Billion Yen in Japan

Makoto Shinkai’s 2016 coming-of-age anime film Your Name has been one of the greatest box office releases in Japan during 2016. But reports suggest that the anime feature is surpassing one of Hayao Miyazaki’s classics. As of Nov. 28, 2016, Your Name has landed 19.4 billion yen in the Japanese box office, surpassing Princess Mononoke‘s 19.3 billion from 1997.

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Shin Godzilla (Movie) Review

Shin Godzilla (Movie) Review

Anime is often looked down upon by hoity-toity snobs. “It’s too melodramatic.” “It’s silly.” “Their eyes are too big.” I’ve heard riffs on those statements for years at this point. Yet few people ever try to challenge their preconceived notions enough to give it a shot. If they did, they’d see all of the advantages certain series and films have on Tinsel Town movie and television productions. One particular example that comes to mind is Neon Genesis Evangelion, which to this day is one of the most intricate, layered, and nuanced examinations of the human psyche I’ve ever witnessed.

Shin Godzilla (Movie) Review 9It’s interesting, then, that the director of that landmark series is at the helm of a Godzilla flick, Shin Godzilla. Unless, that is, you are familiar with Mr. Anno’s background in kaiju fandom and his slavish devotion to all things Ultraman and Kamen Rider. This is a man who loves big buildings getting levelled by even bigger monsters, but also devotes a significant portion of his work to thoughtful ruminations on the human condition. A thoughtful, introspective nerd, for all intents and purposes. This results, then, in his truly epic Shin Godzilla being part classic kaiju film, part intricate critique and examination of the global sociopolitical scene.

Just by doing this, he’s made a better movie with Shin Godzilla than I’ve seen come out of Hollywood in possibly a decade, with the sole exception of Mad Max: Fury Road.

The set-up of Shin Godzilla is simple enough. A giant geyser of water shoots out of the ocean surrounding Japan, and shortly thereafter, a strange reptilian creature crawls out of the water and starts terrorizing a small town. The Japanese government doesn’t do much of anything, however. Instead, they hold several board meetings talking about board meetings they need to plan, and start kicking around the idea of what ought to be done. Meanwhile, buildings are being levelled, people are dying, and whole populaces are being uprooted. By the time a smidgen of a plan is formulated, it’s too late—the strange creature has already fled back into the ocean. Then, weeks later, it comes back. Only this time it’s twice the size, bi-pedal, and capable of incinerating whole city blocks with radioactive breath.

Anno, however, doesn’t handle this the way Michael Bay or any of his many two-bit imitators would. Most of the movie isn’t focused on Godzilla smashing cities or blowing things up. Instead, it’s steeped in detailed discussions of international relation snafus and intricate depictions of scientific methods. Doddering old men stick to the rigid confines of bureaucracy. Foreign powers try to strong-arm Japan while they’re undergoing a national emergency. Female scientists suggest possible solutions about the threat, only to be dismissed by their male peers. Instead of fatigue-inducing, minutes-long bits of CGI chaos, we get sobering discussions on post-WWII Japan and long explanations about using Godzilla’s genetic make-up against it.

Shin Godzilla (Movie) Review 3While this could be fatiguing, Anno’s decades-long experience with anime prevents it from even coming close. Dialogue is punchy, close-ups are extreme, and exposition unravels in the blink of an eye. All the information that drives the plot forward is delivered concisely and at a rapid fire pace, giving the film breathing room for more philosophical discussions at several points. Discussions about pros and cons of certain governmental structures, questioning the validity of Japan’s reduced say in global affairs, and the dubious ethicality of letting foreign bodies dictate your country’s actions in emergency situations. What’s so great about these bits of philosophizing is that Anno never posits himself as someone who has an answer to any of it. He’s merely observing, poking and prodding at the state of the world and the people who run it.

Meanwhile, the cinematography of Shin Godzilla makes even the most dialogue-heavy bits of the film visually arresting. Each shot is composed like a cel of animation—interesting stills that express mood and tone even in total silence. Action sequences feel artistically composed in their depiction, with little details like vibrating shingles on roofs or close-ups on Godzilla’s eyes interspersed between buildings collapsing. Even when the focus is on pure chaos, it never feels like the tiring, cluttered trash found in low-rent productions like Avengers: Age of Ultron or Jurassic World. Every explosion feels timed and purposeful, every fallen building an exclamation point rather than background noise. It’s been a long time since a movie made me feel what was happening on screen, but Shin Godzilla managed it with every passing minute. The final shot of the film will stick with me for years to come, as will many others.

Shin Godzilla (Movie) Review 10Everything is tied together by Shiro Sagisu’s masterful score. He manages to implement musical leitmotifs throughout the entire film, something completely absent from pretty much every big-budget picture these days. A familiar rhythm, itself a callback to his work on Evangelion, beats during crucial moments, with additional instruments layered on top of it depending on the situation. The rhythm and the timing of it drives home the mood, and the additional instruments add context. Further pieces of music are direct callbacks to kaiju flicks of the 50s and 60s, giving certain moments distinct old-school flair.

Shin Godzilla (Movie) Review 2There’s so much to unpack in Shin Godzilla. Its fantastic narrative, filled with interesting characters and important questions about social upheaval, governmental responsibility, and science’s role in solving natural disasters. Its beautiful cinematography, with its pitch-perfect grasp of shot composition and mise en scene. Its subdued, humanistic and deeply anti-triumphant tone. Everything in Anno’s masterpiece could have a whole essay written on it.

Yes, I did say the “m” word. Make no mistake—Shin Godzilla is very much a masterpiece, a cinematic triumph of the highest cailbre. Whatever Hollywood tells you is hot, or whatever the Academy tells you is “art,” will most likely pale in comparison to this stellar example of film craft. It’s a master class in film as an artform, and a reminder of how great the medium can be. Don’t miss it.