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SakuraCon 2008 FUNimation Panel - Claymore and More

FUNimation representative Adam Sheehan lead off this year’s panel with a sentiment anyone familiar with the works of Douglas Adams could appreciate:

DON’T PANIC!

Yes, in this past year of industry upheaval, FUNimation seems to be taking the official view that it’s mainly an issue of adapting to changes in the market, and that they seem to be ahead of the curve on adapting. Their digital downloading projects through services like iTunes, XBox Live, and their own website have been doing very well. Also, their experiment with releasing a series in a boxed set from the start, Aquarion, has been selling exceedingly well. Even more traditional releases, like xxxHOLIC, managed to sell out at Anime Boston. Convention growth, convention sales and overall DVD sales for them have been great. In short, for them, the industry is fine.

Of course, they have tons of new titles coming out, though the largest piece of news was the official announcement of Claymore, a Shonen Jump anime title that (in Adam’s own words) is “Berzerk with Chicks.” Beyond that, it was the usual upcoming release news. Shuffle has been going better than expected, and if the sales stay good, it will probably get a closer set with volume six. Dragon Ball Z continues to the pay the bills as the best selling anime of 2007, and shows no signs of slowing at all in 2008. They’ll be releasing a couple complete OVA series with the upcoming DVDs for the Baldr Force EXE and School Rumble OVAs. One Piece will be getting original art for the DVD boxsets, but at the moment extras are up in the air as Adam didn’t know off the top his head what all Toei had made available for the DVD. Also coming soon is Vexille, a full 3D CGI film from the same studio that did Appleseed: Ex Machina with a soundtrack by electronic music superstar Paul Oakenfold.

They also talked about their other company infinitives, such as FUNimation Green, their new DVD line made using recycled packaging and environmentally friendly manufacturing practices; the Viridian Collection series where popular FUNimation series are released in a boxed set or reissued as singles at a reduced price; and their Operation Anime program where FUNimation works with anime clubs to provide them with free anime and promotional materials in exchange for a few surveys being filled out. They’ve also expand Operation Anime into a project called No Con Left Behind, where FUNimation works with smaller anime cons in need of content to screen.

The Q&A yielded a lot of good news too. FUNi’s relationship with IFC continues to flourish as Speed Grapher airs. They are actively looking at picking up Geneon titles, though as to whether they’ll be able to finish half-finished or be forced to restart them is in the hands of the Japanese rights holders. Finally, their Japanese partners are beginning to better understand the needs of the US market and thus becoming more accepting of things like releasing boxed sets from the start.

In short, things are looking up in Ft. Worth, TX.

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