Anime Supplier Funimation Acquires Manga Entertainment

Anime content supplier Funimation, a subsidiary of Sony Pictures Television, has acquired Manga Entertainment, the leading distributor of anime in the United Kingdom and Ireland, according to a Funimation press release.

Headquartered in London, Manga is a long-term partner of Funimation and serves anime fans across a wide range of channels, including Blu-ray/DVDs, broadcast, theatrical and digital (EST).

“Following its immediate consolidation of Funimation’s U.K. home entertainment business, Manga will become the largest distributor of anime Blu-rays/DVDs, offering fans more than 900 hours of subtitled and dubbed entertainment — the biggest catalog of titles available anywhere in the U.K. and Ireland,” according to the Funimation press release.

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The acquisition also will allow most of the titles — many for the first time — to become available for streaming to fans throughout the U.K. and Ireland on the SVOD FunimationNow service over the coming months, according to the release.

Titles include such series as “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood,” “Naruto Shippuden,” “Ghost in the Shell: Innocence” and “Sword Art Online.”

“With this acquisition, we will create a truly immersive anime experience for fans in the U.K. and Ireland. This begins with providing fans access to Manga’s library of titles to enjoy whenever and wherever they want on FunimationNow,” said Mitchel Berger, VP of sales and distribution for Funimation in a statement. “Together with the Manga team, Funimation will bring its fan-first omnichannel approach to serving anime fans — engaging with them directly through the widest array of touchpoints.”

“On behalf of Manga Entertainment, we’re thrilled to join Funimation and their expanding global business,” said Jerome Mazandarani, managing director of Manga Entertainment, in a statement. “We’re excited for the new opportunities that lie ahead and to serve anime fans in the U.K. and Ireland in a bigger way than ever before.”

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Funimation, which today provides streaming, home entertainment, theatrical and broadcast distribution, as well as merchandise licensing in many territories around the world. With a catalog of more than 600 titles encompassing more than 10,000 hours of subtitled and dubbed entertainment, Funimation directly serves consumers in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, Australia and New Zealand through its subscription service FunimationNow. In November 2018, FunimationNow became the first Sony Pictures Television service to launch on Amazon’s Prime Video in the U.K.

TiVo Inks Software Deal with Anime Provider Funimation

TiVo March 14 announced it is licensing software to Funimation, the anime content provider and a subsidiary of Sony Pictures Television. The software includes TiVo branded content search and recommendation technology.

The software will enable Funimation to test, manage and fine-tune search and recommendation performance in real-time to help improve the user experience and generate more engagement from viewer searches.

The software is now fully operational on Funimation’s website and on Funimation Now, the company’s streaming video platform, as well as across a wide range of over-the-top video platforms, including Apple TV, Google Chromecast and Roku streaming devices.

As part of the agreement, TiVo is also providing Funimation with an integrated product and merchandise search function that provides a single landing page for both viewable programs and relevant ecommerce merchandise including DVDs.

“Funimation provides an opportunity to showcase our personalization technology for content providers to help them make the consumer entertainment experience more engaging and streamlined,” Sean Moore, VP, content provider accounts, TiVo, said in a statement. “Through features like ‘More Like This,’ viewers will no longer have to search for content they might like; the content will now find them.”


Netflix Partners on Anime Productions

Netflix has entered into partnerships to create anime series with Anima, Sublimation and David Production.

Productions include the animated series “Altered Carbon: Resleeved”from Anima, based on Netflix’s original live-action, science-fiction series which launched in February 2018 and is currently in production on a second season. Netflix will also partner with Sublimation on “Dragon’s Dogma,” an original anime series based on the video game, and with David Production on “SPRIGGAN,”based on a manga series.

“Netflix aims to be the most compelling and attractive home for anime fans, creators and production studios,” said Netflix director of content (Japan) John Derderian in a statement. “We are creating an environment where production houses can do their best work and deliver their shows on a service where we connect anime fans from over 190 countries to content they love.”

“We’re particularly excited by the production line deal as this allows our creative team to focus on creating great content,” said Anima representative director Shinya Sasahara in a statement. “We are proud to work on a well-known title like ‘Altered Carbon’ as the first title from this partnership, and to have the opportunity to bring our creation to fans all over the world. Please look forward to anime unique to anima.”

“Sublimation team has long dreamt of working on our own title,” said Sublimation representative director Atsushi Koishikawa in a statement. “We have oftentimes worked with partner studios to create partial CGI portions within a given title, so we feel very fortunate to work with Netflix through this production line deal. We’re excited to bring our unique cel shaded animation that carries hand-drawn textures to anime fans around the world.”

“This deal opens us to story development for international audiences beyond Japan, as well as the chance to explore new technologies and creative expressions on a long-term basis,” said David Production president and CEO Koji Kajita in a statement. “With this new opportunity, we are ready to devote our creative passion as a player in the Japanese anime production space.”

Netflix inked anime deals with Production I.G and bones in 2018.

Right Stuf Hosts Weekend Nozomi Anime DVD Sale

The Right Stuf on Jan. 25 announced a weekend anime sale in which select DVDs from Nozomi Entertainment are available online at up to 80% off the list price.

The “DVD Blowout Sale” includes 71 titles, including the Yakitate Japan Complete Collection, the Cat’s Eye Complete Collection, Martian Successor Nadesico and Kimba the White Lion.

 The Right Stuf is an independent publisher and distributor of Asian entertainment, anime as well as live-action. The company, headquartered in Grimes, Iowa, has several divisions, including Nozomi Entertainment, Critical Mass, 5 Points Pictures and the online store, where the current sale is taking place.

Cinedigm Acquires Ad-Supported VOD Service Viewster

Home entertainment distributor Cinedigm Dec. 11 announced the acquisition of global over-the-top video service Viewster and its subsidiary Viewster Anime.

The services’ eclectic programming will be combined into Cinedigm’s library of OTT channels and content, with the company taking over operation of all content, applications, and social assets belonging to both platforms.

Ad sales will be handled in-house and through Cinedigm’s network of partners. Cinedigm expects the acquisition to be consummated in January 2019.

Founded in Zurich, Switzerland in 2007, Viewster has emerged as a competitive force in the AVOD industry. Cinedigm plans to make Viewster a core part of its ad-based content strategy, integrating the platform’s library featuring over 5,000 films and series curated by a community of video creators and pop culture enthusiasts.

Viewster offerings span across a wide array of genres, spotlighting cult classics, horror, comedy, gaming, documentaries, action, and more, including Night of the Living Dead, Fists of Fury, Gamers: Beyond The Game, American Grindhouse, Visioneers, Maricraft, Sparkles, Honest Trailers, and Happy Tree Friends.

Cinedigm will continue to distribute Viewster Anime as a standalone brand, featuring a selection of films and series from Japan.

Highlights include films such as Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, and Fist of the North Star, as well as series such as “Mononoke,” “From the New World,” and “Gate,” among others.

“In the OTT marketplace, there is an incredibly strong desire for the type of content [Viewster] specialize[s] in, and this presents a great opportunity for future growth, especially in the quickly expanding ad-supported realm, where we are focusing much of our growth efforts,” Erick Opeka, president of Cinedigm Networks, said in a statement.

Viewster and Viewster Anime are the latest offerings to join Cinedigm’s digital networks group, which plans, launches and manages both owned-and-operated networks as well as partner networks. Currently, the company operates factual network Docurama, fandom lifestyle network CONtv, K-pop and Asian pop culture outlet Hallypop, gaming lifestyle network Wham, family-focused Dove Channel, and combat-sports network Combat Go.

Hulu and Funimation Announce New Anime Deal

Hulu and Funimation, a subsidiary of Sony Pictures Television, have announced a multiyear partnership and output deal. The deal marks Hulu’s largest agreement for anime programming to date and will significantly expand its anime collection with new subtitled and dubbed titles from Funimation each year, according to a press release from the companies.

The deal grants Hulu a first look at U.S. streaming video on-demand rights to future anime series produced and released by Funimation beginning in 2019, and will make Hulu and Funimation the co-exclusive premiere destinations to certain new subtitled anime hits day and date with the worldwide premiere in Japan, according to the release. It also broadens Hulu and Funimation’s previously-existing agreement and will make both Hulu and Funimation the co-exclusive U.S. premiere homes to dozens of new anime titles each year.

Hulu and Funimation continue to be the only platforms in the United States to stream all subtitled and dubbed episodes of anime shows such as “My Hero Academia,” “Attack on Titan” and “Tokyo Ghoul,” according to the release. Funimation’s catalog of anime titles includes more than 600 shows offering over 10,000 hours of subtitled and dubbed entertainment.

“This expansive agreement, which symbolizes both companies’ shared commitment to anime, along with the support of SPT, further cements Funimation’s position as a global leader in anime distribution,” said Gen Fukunaga, president and CEO at Funimation, in a statement. “It will fuel the acquisition of new titles and provide both Funimation and Hulu subscribers with access to the very best in anime that Japan has to offer.”

“Funimation has been a longtime partner of ours, and together we have curated a full library of the most sought-after anime series from all over the world on Hulu,” said Lisa Holme, Hulu’s VP of content acquisition, in a statement. “With this new deal, we are doubling-down on our investment to continue growing our world class anime offering with even more shows that we know our viewers love to watch.”

Sony’s FunimationNow Added to Amazon Prime Video Channels in U.K.

Amazon has added anime service FunimationNow to its line-up of Prime Video Channels in the United Kingdom, becoming the first Sony Pictures Television service to launch on Prime Video there.

For a subscription fee of £4.99 per month with a seven-day free trial, Prime members who subscribe to FunimationNow have access to hundreds of new and classic anime shows and movies ad-free, with English subtitles and dubbing, according to Amazon Prime Video U.K.

At launch FunimationNow will bring Prime members anime shows such as “My Hero Academia,” “Attack on Titan,” “Black Clover,” “Overlord” and “Assassination Classroom.” New anime releases coming this autumn include “That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime,” “SSSS Gridman” and the final season of “Fairy Tail.”

Customers who subscribe to FunimationNow will also soon be getting access to new shows with English subtitles the day after they air in Japan, with English dubbed versions available a couple of weeks later, according to Amazon Prime Video U.K.

“It’s great that we can now offer U.K. Prime members access to popular anime shows with the addition of Sony’s FunimationNow on Prime Video Channels,” said Alex Green, European MD of channels and sport at Amazon Prime Video. “FunimationNow adds an incredible line up of anime to the wide selection of entertainment we offer customers on Prime Video in the U.K.”

“We are pleased to be working with Amazon to offer FunimationNow as part of their Prime Video Channels line-up,” said Gen Fukunaga, president and CEO at Funimation. “This will further expand our global footprint and enables us to bring the best in anime to many more fans in the U.K.”

FunimationNow joins more than 70 channels available on Prime Video Channels in the United Kingdom, including live and on-demand entertainment and sports, available as individual subscriptions.

Shout! Factory Signs Distribution Alliance With Anime Studio Eleven Arts

Multi-platform entertainment distributor Shout! Factory has signed a multiyear distribution agreement for new content from anime studio Eleven Arts.

“We look forward to presenting their anime title to fans and collectors across many entertainment platforms,” Shout! Factory founders and CEOs Bob Emmer and Garson Foos.

“We are so excited to be working with our friends at Shout! Factory. They are an awesome group of anime fans, dedicated to bringing the best anime to North America,” said said Ko Mori, CEO of Eleven Arts. “While we are still dedicated to the theatrical experience of anime, we understand that our fans want to watch our titles again and again. This partnership will help make that a reality.”

Eleven Arts Anime Studio is a Los Angeles-based company specializing in bringing anime from Japan to North America. Titles include Girls Und Panzer Der Film, Yo-Kai Watch: The Movie, “Digimon Adventure Tri,” “Evangelion,” “Naruto,” Sailor Moon R: The Movie and Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Dark Side of Dimensions, among others.

Netflix Announces New Series, Renewals at Anime Expo

Netflix announced two new anime series, the renewal of “Aggretsuko” for a second season, as well as dates and first look images for upcoming series as part of its panel at Anime Expo in Los Angeles.

New series and renewals include “Ultraman,” launching in spring 2019; “Kengan Ashure,” due in 2019; “Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle,” launching on July 18; “Dragon Pilot,” due Sept. 21; “Castlevania” season 2, premiering Oct. 26; and “Cannon Busters,” due April 1, 2019.

At the event, Netflix director of content for Japan and anime John Derderian moderated a panel featuring anime creators LeSean Thomas (“Cannon Busters”), Adi Shankar (“Castlevania”) and Shinji Higuchi (“Dragon Pilot”).

“As Netflix has grown around the world we have been astounded by the broad reach and great depth of anime fandom,” Derderian said of the upcoming projects, according to Netflix. “We are partnering with the best global creators to produce a diverse slate of shows that we hope will excite the boundless passion of anime fans and make Netflix a premier destination for this beloved art form.”

‘Osamu Tezuka’s Metropolis’ Blu-ray Steelbook Coming Oct. 30 From Mill Creek

The 2001 anime film Osamu Tezuka’s Metropolis will be released as a Steelbook Blu-ray and DVD combo  pack on Oct. 30 from Mill Creek Entertainment at $34.98.

With a screenplay by Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira) and directed by Rintaro (Galaxy Express 999, Astro Boy), Osamu Tezuka’s Metropolis is based on the classic manga inspired by the 1927 German silent film of the same name about an industrial, high-tech city of the future. Duke Red, the unofficial leader of Metropolis, plans to unveil a highly advanced robot named Tima, but his violent son Rock distrusts robots and intends to find and destroy Tima. A Japanese detective and his nephew, Kenichi, travel to Metropolis to apprehend a mad scientist, but they instead find the robot girl. While trying to navigate the confusing labyrinth beneath Metropolis and avoid the people chasing her, Tima and Kenichi form a strong friendship that is tested when Duke Red separates them, endangering not only Tima’s life but also the fate of the universe.

Special features include interviews with the filmmakers, “The Making of Osamu Tezuka’s Metropolis,” original Japanese audio (with English subtitles) and a concept art comparison featurette.