Funimation Panel

Funimation’ panel was simply hilarious and I just had to sit and write about it. Johnathon was pretty cool to be on the show yesterday, but watching him crazy it up at the panel was pretty awesome. They mentioned everything from offing babies to actually licensing a new show, which was Hell Girl (aka Jogouku Shoujo) btw, and they also gave a bunch of details on fancy new stuff if you can actually afford that sort of thing. They also went over how they were making things available via itunes' online store, which of course I and I know Irma as well abhor for its DRM garbage, but nevertheless unlike ADV’ nonsense they are selling them at somewhat reasonable prices per episode ($1.99 USD) as well as tapping into one of the most successful online digital content retailers. It according to them has resulted in brisk sales of DVDs, which is pretty much obvious as this has been, and still remains, one of the biggest arguments of the free copyright movement in that giving people a taste leads people to buy because of the social aspect of the marketing. Funimation, and Bandai for that matter, are even taking this to different levels with new "viral marketing" ploys such as Haruhi Suzumiya having a myspace page, or in Funimation’ case, as they discussed at their panel, teaming up with Gaia Online, this enormous messageboard/virtual chatroom that is popular with anime fans of various ages and mental capacities. Apparently they are going to be offering Tsubasa like gear for people to dress their online characters in and have anime based games tied in with Tsubasa. Nevertheless, it is still in the end about the shows and their quality that is inevitably going to sustain any of this buzz some of these savvy and extremely genius and innovative marketing techniques create. Then there is also the problem of dealing with the original show holders back in Japan, whom are cited by these North American execs as not really being with it in terms of new media and new techniques of advertising a show. For example, according to Funimation, the itunes thing again is completely foreign to the Japanese brass and other assorted bigwigs. It really is like watching smaller more market conscious companies comprised of fans and young up and comers against an older sedentary and traditionalist bureaucracy, a la the music business. Add to this of course the culture clash of East versus West and it forms a very interesting paradigm and dilemma with in how shows are marketed and distributed in terms of Anime in North America and Japan as well. Again however, it still comes down to shows, and Funimation has got a pretty good roster of proven winners, which there are more coming like my personal favourite, Rozen Maiden, that are sure, no matter the strategy and the format are going to sell oodles. But you still have to give credit for the energy and enthusiasm these guys show in places like fan panels at conventions like this one or in radio interviews like ours last night. Through most of the panel they had the audience in stitches as they proceeded to mock each other, crack lewd jokes, and inject life into the usual tedious process of going over release notes for dvds coming out in the next few months, such as the most excellent release of the digitally souped up, widescreen Dragonball Z box set #2!!! It shows how much as a company these guys are in touch with their fans and although there is a lot of marketing BS that seems to fly when they talk about certain shows, they still manage to build a strong relationship with fans and other types that seem to come out of the woodwork every time one of these things goes down….