Originally Posted on 11/01/2009 by Jeff Harris
You know how I said that Japanese animation has reverted back to its underground roots in North America? A recent announcement by one of the so-called leaders of the current incarnation of the anime industry pretty much cements it.
Funimation's parent company CEO announced that the company once famous for Chuck E. Cheese videotapes and some franchise called Dragon Ball Z has pretty much become the leader in anime and has a "first look at all opportunities in terms of licenses." It's a pretty big pointy-headed executive comment that really doesn't mean much. They pretty much said that when it comes to certain shows (and I wonder if this also includes the titles from Shueisha and ShoPro Japan, who owns Viz Media), Funimation has a first-look advantage for anything that comes along or already done. And they've admitted that they're pretty selective with what they pick up.
Do you know what that means?
Funimation are going to look at titles that are out there and pick up those that interest them. In other words, business as usual. It's nothing special, nothing unique. It's what Funimation has always done the moment they picked up their first title that wasn't Dragon Ball-oriented. It's not a new mission statement from the company. It's just pointless chestpumping to facilitate interest in a smaller industry that is pretty much three companies now, Funimation, Viz Media, and Bandai. People tend to read a lot more into that comment of "first dibs" than they should.
Do you teally think that if a new Gundam series comes along, Funimation is immediately a frontrunner to pick it up before Bandai? The thing is, that whole "first dibs" comment is a lot of fuss over nothing.
However, if there are still folks trying to find something positive in that comment, think about this. If Funimation truly has "first dibs" on everything out there, then a lot of titles are going to remain only in Japan. On the positive side, Funi will get on their game and pick up quality shows, leaving the junk only in Japan. On the negative side, being selective means you have your own biases, and some great shows may remain in Japan because some executive might not like it. Plus, tastes are like opinions, and opinions are like buttholes. Everybody has them. What one person may find enjoyable, another may see as an unmitigated mess that makes you wonder why they picked it up in the first place.
Still, Funimation calls itself the defacto leader in the anime industry. My cynical mind tells me it's like being the leader in audio tape manufacturing, but I'm not going there. I'm not really fond of monopolies, and if Funi's comment about them being the go-to company, that's not necessarily a good thing. One company having all the power or even claiming to have all the power makes the whole anime industry look bad. It makes companies like Viz and Bandai look like they're picking up Funimation's rejects rather than them picking up titles they feel deserve an audience Stateside. It's not a good thing to build yourself up by knocking your competitors down, especially in an industry that has already seen many strong companies collapse in half a decade's time and others barely hanging on.
Look, Funimation, I love you guys. You do have a lot of great titles out there, but I have to put it out there. It's one thing to create interest in your properties, but it's an entirely different thing to make the other distributors and the industry you claim to rule look weak when doing so.
Creator/Webmaster, The X Bridge.
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