Wednesday, July 12, 2006

:anime: Company The Company: FUNimation is North America's Best?

ICv2 recently formulated a listing of the ten most powerful forces in the North American anime industry, with FUNimation's CEO/President Gen Fukunaga coming out on top. This outcome is a very deserving adulation, one that seemed very far from a possibility years ago. The company had the dubious label of being "Dragonball Z-only," the only title they had for a long time (and one whose handling irked many fans). Blue Gender became their first non-DBZ title and other properties soon followed. Fan-favorite anime of the likes of Fruits Basket and Kiddy Grade helped build FUNimation's reputation among the community, although they continued to rely on a few of their more unfavorable tactics (dubbing and translation issues, DVD structuring). However, it has been in the last two years that a renaissance can be seen in the company. A major partnership with popular studio GONZO and the acquisition of Fullmetal Alchemist, one of the most highly-praised works in the last decade, as well as improving business and release tactics, has made FUNimation a darling in the eyes of many fans and a significantly larger force in the industry than when it first started.

I was never a fan of the company during its DBZ years, nor was I one afterwards for their first couple of series. Though I saw improvement all around, they held onto far too many irritating quirks to make them likable. Now in this present-day, if a particular title is licensed by them, I actually feel relieved about it in the almost the same manner as if it were Geneon or Bandai Ent. making the announcement. It is amazing to see the progress made in FUNimation over the years, from a despised, little-known entity, to one of the most acknowledged and liked companies in North America. Fukunaga has done a great job at changing the course of the distributor and is a very deserving choice at the top spot.

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