Don't Panic, One Year Later...

FUNimation Entertainment's Industry Panel at Sakura-Con 2009

It’s been a week since I actually attended Adam Sheehan’s FUNimation industry panel at Sakura-Con 2009, and it’s been a little over a year since I walked into his last one. Last year, the big message was “Don’t panic, there is no industry crisis,” and that the current anime industry’s troubles were also tied into the larger global economic issues. This year played on a lot more of those kinds of concerns as well as where the company was heading – or continuing to head, as the case tended to be.

The FUNimation panel picked up right where the State of the Industry panel left off (I sadly only caught the tail end of it, though the feeling of that one seemed to be a little more progressive, less finger-pointing and more “how do we actually fix the problem?”). Adam introduced his panel as “slightly different, more selfish.” I do need to say, the entire panel was extremely entertaining as well as informative, and Adam Sheehan is a funny, funny guy.

He kicked off with discussion about economic issues. Of interest was his contention that niche markets heal faster than mainstream ones, and that FUNimation had a “Plan A, plan B, plan C, plan Q…” ready to go as the rough times move in.

FUNimation has evidently released a lot of product this past year. Not surprising in itself, true, but as he described his “Geekonomics”, it turns out FUNimation has had a 17% growth of new product as opposed to just re-releases of Dragonball. Actually, while on the subject of re-releases, Adam mentioned how September was “The Geneon Release” month – immediate crowd pop for that one.

So that was the introduction, where we learned how much stuff had been released the past while. As for how people could watch it…

Online Anime Isn’t All Bad:

FUNimation is hitting the online streaming resources head-on. The slide showed a whole bunch of sites of which FUNimation is now taking advantage, like Hulu, Veoh, Gaia, Joost, and YouTube. They’ve worked out lots and lots of free, streaming, legal viewing. As for downloading to own, FUNimation is still sticking to their Amazon and iTunes, as well as expanding to gaming console services like Xbox Live and the Playstation Network (as a PS3 owner, I’m curious to see when they start implementing that).

Now, as a Canadian, I have a love/hate respect for Hulu. While they do indeed allow for an excellent high-definition service for online streaming television… they suck for me because they’re also region-locked and if you’re outside of the United States you’re hooped. This is why, when Adam mentioned that the FUNimation website’s streaming video works in Canada, I cheered out loud. That alone nets them massive points – from me, anyway.

Beyond online video, he also mentioned FUNimation’s blog at and their Twitter account at [email protected] for other ways to get news and updates.

So they’re keeping up with contemporary media and technology. That is never a bad thing.