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Funimation held an extended panel this year at Anime Boston in order to include some stories of how anime had affected fans‚Äô lives and helped them pull through hard times. They also used the time to announce several new streaming and DVD-release titles, as well as reiterate their social networking committment and online streaming presence.
The two Funimation panelists began by talking about their online presence on social networks and talking about all the places you can find Funimation online: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, Xbox Live, and Nikiniko Douga‚Äôs English website.
They also addressed their TV channel‚Äôs exclusion from Verizon Fios, and voiced their thanks to the fans for ‚Äėtrolling‚Äô Verizon on their behalf to get them included back in the programming.
They announced that they have acquired the rights to simulcast some shows on their Nikiniko channel, and if you have a subscription to their streaming service, you will get access to shows before their street-release date.
Their mobile app for iOS and Android platforms was released on the first day of the con, and allows for access to their entire online catalog. The free app includes commercials and banner ads, the paid app has no banner ads, and the paid up with the monthly streaming subscription of $8 has no advertising.
They also awarded prizes to fans who wrote in or came up on stage to tell their stories of how anime helped them or touched their lives. For one girl, the con, rather than high school, was her main source of friends. When she had a breakdown one year, con-goers–strangers–descended on her with hugs and support. Another girl, meek and depressive, learned to be strong from tenacious anime characters.
Many of the stories carried the gist that anime brought together kids who could not fit in with the normal crowd, and provided a community of support and shared hobbies and interests. From there, the Funimation panelists segued into their new dub release schedule, starting with Princess Jellyfish, about a girl learning to accept herself.
Next up was Heaven‚Äôs Lost Property, about a high-schooler who finds a wish-granting servant girl who falls from the sky; following that was Legendary Heroes, Black Butler, Fullmetal Alchemist: The Second Star of Milos (a new film), Cat Planet Cuties, about a race of cat-girl aliens who come to Earth to have fun, and then the creepy and mysterious Shiki.
They also spoke about Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker, which is Funimation‚Äôs first creation of their own. Funimation generally licenses, dubs, and adapts Japanese titles for the Western market, but in this case, they worked closely with BioWare to create a prequel story to Dragon Age II. The art style is almost three-dimensional, and looks quite a lot like a cel-shaded video game. It will have a worldwide release (another first for Funimation, who generally keep to North America) on May 29 for $35.
They briefly spoke about their Mass Effect project as well, another project done in cooperation with BioWare. They announced that The Future Diary will be getting a release in physical format, as it had only been available streaming until now. KenIchi, Shangrila, Sankarea, and Jormungand were also announced for streaming.
Funimation will also be handling the North American distribution of the second season of Kore ha Zombie Desu ka?, the excellent series that lampoons all of the tropes and trends in modern anime. There will also be new content in the Lupin III series, the first new story in 20 years.
Judging from the fan feedback in the room (which could be described as enthusiastic bordering on psychotic) while the panelists were presenting the new releases, Funimation can look forward to a lot of support from the anime fan base. Based on their lineup of titles as well as their foray into original content, we can expect Funimation to expand their customer base and international name recognition in the year ahead.
Image Courtesy of¬†¬† http://www.animeboston.com