Gen Fukunaga (1994–)
Group 1200 Media
FUNimation Productions (1994–2005) FUNimation Entertainment (2005–2011)
Anime Japanese/Asian cinema Foreign entertainment etc.
Gen Fukunaga (President and CEO)
Flower Mound, Texas, United States
9 May 1994, Fort Worth, Texas, United States
Gen Fukunaga, Cindy Fukunaga
Encore, Inc., animeOnline, Ltd
Funimation is an American entertainment, anime, and foreign licensing company based in Flower Mound, Texas. The studio is one of the leading distributors of anime and other foreign entertainment properties in North America alongside Viz Media, Sentai Filmworks and Aniplex of America. Their most popular property is Toei Animation's action-adventure series Dragon Ball Z, which had a successful run on Cartoon Network's Toonami block from 1998 to 2003, and has been re-released on DVD and Blu-ray several times since. It was founded on May 9, 1994 by Gen Fukunaga and his wife Cindy as FUNimation Productions, with funding by Daniel Cocanougher and his family, who became investors in the company. Funimation was sold to Navarre Corporation on May 11, 2005 and the company was renamed FUNimation Entertainment. In April 2011, Navarre sold Funimation to a group of investors including Fukunaga for $24 million. Around the same time, the company's trademark ball, star and blue bar were dropped from its logo and the company was renamed to simply Funimation. In May 2013, Funimation consolidated its divisions under its new holding company Group 1200 Media. Funimation is a portmanteau of the English words "fun" and "animation".
- The history of funimation entertainment 1995 2012
- Purchase by Navarre Corporation
- Acquisition of Geneon and ADV licenses and online streaming
- Sale from Navarre Nico Nico partnership and distribution deal
- FunimationNow and Partnership with Crunchyroll
- Anti piracy
- Disputes with partners
- Foreign distribution
- Funimation Channel
- Alternative distribution
The history of funimation entertainment 1995 2012
The company was founded on May 9, 1994 by Japanese-born businessman Gen Fukunaga. Fukunaga's uncle, Nagafumi Hori, was working as a producer for Toei Company; Hori approached Gen about licensing Dragon Ball to the United States. He proposed that if Fukunaga could start a production company and raise enough money, Toei Animation would license the rights to the franchise (which also currently included the English subtitled version of Digimon Adventure, Digimon Adventure 02, and Digimon Tamers). Fukunaga met with co-worker Daniel Cocanougher whose family owned a feed mill in Decatur, Texas and convinced Cocanougher's family to sell their business and serve as an investor for his company. The company was originally formed in Silicon Valley, California as Funimation Productions in 1994, but eventually relocated to Flower Mound, Texas, located near Fort Worth. They initially collaborated with other companies on Dragon Ball, such as BLT Productions, Ocean Studios, Pioneer and Saban Entertainment. By 1998, after two failed attempts to bring the Dragon Ball franchise to a U.S. audience, it finally found success on Cartoon Network's action-oriented programming block Toonami, and the Dragon Ball phenomenon quickly grew in the United States as it had elsewhere. This led Funimation to begin licensing other anime to the U.S.
Purchase by Navarre Corporation
On May 11, 2005, Funimation was acquired by the now-defunct Navarre Corporation for US$100.4 million in cash and 1.8 million shares of Navarre stock. As part of the acquisition, the president Fukunaga was retained as head of the company, transitioning to the position of CEO, and the company's name was changed from Funimation Productions to Funimation Entertainment.
In 2007, Funimation moved from North Richland Hills, Texas to Flower Mound; the standalone Flower Mound facility has double the square footage of the space Funimation occupied previous North Richland Hills facility; in the North Richland Hills facility Funimation shared the building with other tenants. Funimation moved into the Lakeside Business District with a ten-year lease.
Acquisition of Geneon and ADV licenses and online streaming
According to an interview in February 2008 with Navarre Corporation CEO Cary Deacon, Funimation was in early stage negotiations to acquire some of the titles licensed through Geneon's USA division, which ceased operations in December 2007. In July 2008, Funimation confirmed that they had acquired distribution rights to several Geneon titles, including some that Geneon had left unfinished when they ceased operations.
At Anime Expo 2008, Funimation announced that it had acquired over 30 titles from the Sojitz catalog that had previously been licensed by ADV Films.
In 2009, Funimation signed a deal with Toei Animation to stream several of its anime titles online through the Funimation website, and Hulu.
Sale from Navarre, Nico Nico partnership and distribution deal
In the first quarter of 2010, Navarre Corporation reclassified Funimation as "discounted operations" and began preparations to sell the company. Navarre released a statement in April 2011 confirming that Funimation has been sold to a group of investors, including original owner Gen Fukunaga, for $24 million. It is speculated that Funimation was sold at such a low cost (in comparison to how much it was originally purchased for, almost $100 million in cash and $15 million in stock in 2005) because Navarre wanted to continue distributing goods in relation to the products, but not handle the publishing. Navarre remained as exclusive distributor of Funimation's titles until 2013 when the company shutdown.
On October 14, 2011, Funimation announced a permanent partnership with Niconico, the English-language version of Nico Nico Douga, to form the 'Funico' brand for the licensing of anime for streaming and home video release. From this point on, virtually all titles simulcasted by Niconico were acquired by Funimation. The deal has since been severed.
On June 22, 2015, Funimation and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment announced a multi-year home video distribution deal. The deal will allow UPHE to manage distribution and sales of Funimation's catalog of titles. Universal began distributing Funimation's titles in October of that year.
FunimationNow and Partnership with Crunchyroll
In January 2016, Funimation announced a new streaming service, FunimationNow, along with a new logo. The service also is available in the UK and Ireland, the first time the company has expanded beyond North America.
On September 8, 2016, Funimation announced a partnership with Crunchyroll. Select Funimation titles will be streamed subtitled on Crunchyroll and select Crunchyroll titles will be streamed on FunimationNow, including upcoming dubbed content. In addition, Funimation and Universal will act as distributors for Crunchyroll's home video catalog.
In 2005, Funimation's legal department began to pursue a more aggressive approach toward protecting the company's licensed properties, and started sending "cease and desist" (C&D) letters to sites offering links to fansubs of their titles. This move was similar to that taken by the now-defunct ADV Films several years before with several of the major torrent sites.
Funimation's legal department served C&D letters for series that had not yet been advertised or announced as licensed, including Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, Black Cat, and SoltyRei, with a few known series also mentioned in the letter. Funimation revealed more licenses on October 6, 2006 when it sent letters to torrent sites demanding that distribution of xxxHolic's TV series, Mushishi, Ragnarok the Animation, and other series cease.
Since October 2009, Funimation has routinely filed DMCA takedown notices to get unauthorized distributions of its and its partners' properties removed from Google search results.
In January 2011, Funimation filed a lawsuit against BitTorrent users in the U.S. for allegedly downloading and uploading One Piece. Funimation dropped the suit in March after a Northern Texas judge, having already indicated that the court would appoint attorneys for the defendants, ruled that the defendants were not "acting in concert" and thus couldn't be sued as a group; each would have to be sued separately.
The One Piece film at issue was a fansub, an unauthorized copy distributed with fan-produced, translated subtitles. Soon after the lawsuit was abandoned, Funimation was reported to have long been deriving dubs from fansubs. Funimation nevertheless maintains that fansubbing is harmful to the anime industry, stating "The practices of illegal downloads and 'fansubbing' are very harmful to our Japanese partners and [...] we have been asked to monitor and take action against unauthorized distribution of these titles. Because we believe that this will benefit the industry, we have agreed to do so." Sites which distribute fansubs or separate fan-created subtitles remain a frequent target of civil actions by Funimation and other anime companies, as well as criminal prosecution in at least one case.
Two months after the failure to sue BitTorrent users en masse in the North Texas district, Funimation engaged in forum shopping and proceeded to sue 1,427 defendants in the neighboring East Texas district for acting "in concert" to infringe copyright on The Legend Is Born: Ip Man. This case was allowed to proceed.
Disputes with partners
In November 2011, Funimation sued A.D. Vision, AEsir Holdings, Section23 Films, Valkyrie Media Partners, Seraphim Studios, Sentai Filmworks and its CEO, John Ledford and Switchblade Pictures for a sum of $8 million, citing "breach of contracts" and other issues. Funimation said that ADV's transfer of assets were made with "the intent to defer, hinder or defraud the creditors of ADV [Films]." Funimation sought ADV's sale of assets as void. The lawsuit was settled in mediation in 2014. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
Funimation does not directly release its properties in non-North American (English language-speaking) markets, instead sublicensing to other companies such as Manga Entertainment until it was transferred in 2015 to Anime Limited in the United Kingdom and Madman Entertainment in Australia and New Zealand, Melanesia Region (PNG, Solomon Islands, Fiji). Funimation's former UK outlets include Revelation Films and MVM Films. Funimation has also attempted to distribute Dragon Ball Z to Spanish speaking audiences, and has released a number of Spanish-language DVDs of the series.
Funimation Entertainment, along with Olympusat, launched the Funimation Channel in September 2005, the second 24-hour anime digital cable network in North America (the first being A.D. Vision's Anime Network). Olympusat was the exclusive distributor of the channel.
When the channel first launched, it was available to a few cities via UHF digital signals. The service was temporary as the channel was trying to gain a foothold in the already crowded digital cable landscape. Another short-term service was the syndication of a Funimation Channel block to one of OlympuSAT's affiliate networks – Colours TV. Both services were discontinued in favor for a more successful expansion on digital cable, fiber optics and DBS systems. The channel launched its HD feed on September 27, 2010. On December 31, 2015, Funimation & Olympusat ended their deal and no longer broadcasts Funimation titles on the channel. The channel relaunched as Toku, while Funimation announced plans to relaunch Funimation Channel in 2016.
Back in 2007, Funimation Entertainment licensed Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Movie, the Record of Lodoss War series, Roujin Z, the Project A-ko series, Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer and Grave of the Fireflies from Central Park Media and played them on the Funimation Channel on television in the United States. In 2009, they licensed Buso Renkin, Honey and Clover, Hunter × Hunter, Nana and Monster from Viz Media (their fellow rival) for the channel. They also licensed Ninja Nonsense and Boogiepop Phantom from Right Stuf Inc.'s Nozomi Entertainment division for it as well. The only title licensed for Funimation Channel which was not licensed by Funimation, neither Viz Media, nor Nozomi Entertainment or Central Park Media was Haré+Guu, which was licensed for North American distribution by AN Entertainment and Bang Zoom! Entertainment and had its North American DVD release published by Funimation, while its licensors were the producers. The only Enoki USA titles Funimation licensed for Funimation Channel were Revolutionary Girl Utena and His and Her Circumstances.
In July 2008, Funimation and Red Planet Media announced the launch of a mobile video-on-demand service for AT&T Mobility and Sprint mobile phone subscribers. Three titles were part of the launch, Gunslinger Girl, Tsukuyomi: Moon Phase, and The Galaxy Railways, with entire seasons of each made available.
On September 19, 2006, Funimation created an official channel on YouTube where they upload advertisements for box sets, as well as clips and preview episodes of their licensed series. In September 2008, they began distributing full episodes of series on Hulu. In December of the same year, Funimation added a video section to their main website with preview episodes of various series. In April 2009, they began distributing full episodes of series at Veoh. Full episodes are also available on the YouTube channel as well as on Netflix, the PlayStation Network (PSN) Video Store and Xbox Live/Zune Marketplace. The application launched for PlayStation 4 in March 2015.
For the anime Space Dandy, Funimation dubbed episodes and broadcast them on Adult Swim's Toonami block a day earlier than the "original" Japanese broadcast. After the method gained success, Funimation announced in October 2014 a "broadcast dubs" program, which would be exclusive to subscribers on their website. For the anime series, getting "broadcast dubs" confirms that the anime series will get USA home video releases from Funimation. These dubs are based on the broadcast versions of select licensed shows currently airing, which may include censorship depending on how it was originally aired, and differs from the final dubbed version included on home video releases on a case-by-case basis. The program first began with broadcast dub versions of Psycho-Pass 2 and Laughing Under the Clouds, episodes of which were streamed roughly a month following their original Japanese broadcast.