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Aug 1, 2013 11:49 AM
Anime Relations: Fullmetal Alchemist, Baccano!, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Highschool of the Dead, Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica, Ao no Exorcist, Tiger & Bunny, Persona 4 the Animation, Zetman
Now, anime in general is still very niche in America (and in Japan, too.) and we should be lucky that a few anime distributors still exist in America, although like any business, most of them tend to go under and left a legacy or thousands of anime unlicensed and forever lost in the abyss of OOP (out of print) prices on eBay or hopefully if they’re cheap enough once it’s announced. However, as much as most people want more anime distributors to exist, not many people are going like them and believe me, I’ve been on the internet long enough to know what’s being said about which company does it right or wrong and I’m going to laid my opinion, the pros and cons, of the top anime distributors in North America. Oh yeah, I’m only counting companies whose main specialty is anime, so Disney is out of the running since they are the biggest company in the world, but their anime films is only a very small percentage on their earnings.

So, let’s start out with the most well-known name in anime today that’s still in business.


OK, we should all know the deal with FUNimation. They are the biggest and most well-known anime distributor in the US to date for almost 20 years running, which is longer than most anime companies thrive to do, even Bandai Entertainment didn’t last that long, Plus, it helped that most of their anime series was very popular among viewers, such as the very famous Dragon Ball series, Fullmetal Alchemist, Yu Yu Hakusho, Case Closed and they also rescued a lot of titles from Geneon & ADV Films (or at least the most well-known ones) when they went out of business.

Now, to me, FUNimation is that company that can appeal to the anime-loving masses, even to people that might not even watch much anime, considering some of their titles like Afro Samurai, Mass Effect: Paragon Lost, Tony Hawk in Boom Boom Sabotage are often content specifically made for American audiences and there’s the fact that they are often the top contributors of the Toonami block, past and present. Plus, their English dubs (Examples: Baccano, Fullmetal Alchemist, Panty and Stocking w/ Garter belt) are always top-notch and considered to be the best of all anime.

However, when it comes to quality anime, they tend to go back and forth on it. Whenever there’s something like Attack on Titan, Baccano, Last Exile, and Eden of the East, some of their titles they chosen are often the cash-grab lazily-written and underwhelming anime like Rosario + Vampire, Heaven’s Lost Property, Fractale, Witchblade and often the stuff they licensed falls into that category like Girls Bravo and Ikki Tousen (the first season). Now, I get that most of the stuff they licensed are due to financial reasons and I can’t fault them for that. It’s a business after all but for innovative reasons, it seems that all their anime is either fan service schlock that gets boring too quick and shows with potential that falls flat on their ass.


With Sentai Filmworks, they are the rebirth of ADV Films as the same staff, ADR writers, ADR directors, voice actors (with a few either retired or moved to either FUNimation or LA) and they do grab anime from Geneon, also (just titles that get overlooked, that is) and like ADV, they licensed anime that most of the fans want them to get and are often the most interesting anime. I, personally, think their selection of anime is mostly up-to-par or a bit higher with FUNimation’s choices. Titles I like from them include Persona 4: The Animation, Kids on the Slope, Mahoromatic, Towanoquon, and…..yes, I happen to find High School of the Dead an acquired taste.

But the biggest problem of the company is, well, their dubs.

They’re not god awful like earlier ‘90s schlock like Garzey’s Wing but the quality of it is below FUNimation’s standard and as I research, most of the dubs are courtesy of ADR director Stephen Foster, which is where I hear most hate for Sentai’s dubs. However, some of their dubs of theirs are still tolerable and in actuality, some of the shows they licensed, they often outsourced them to either Bang Zoom Entertainment, like ­K-On!!, Fate Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works and Persona 4) or most recently NYAV Post for Queen’s Blade: Rebellion. OK, maybe that title isn’t the best example (I saw the first Queen’s Blade and that’s enough of that shit) but it’s nice to see that specific studio get some work under their belt, thankfully they are dubbing 009 Re: Cyborg with FUNi distributing in the U.S.

Sentai Filmworks only been on the anime circuit for about 5 years to date and maybe their dubs could be better in quality as the years go by. After all, FUNimation didn’t get their best dubbing company status overnight.


Now with Viz Media, they are often more manga-centric than anime to be precise since they are an anime and manga distributing company but it doesn’t mean they ignore it or don’t do justice to it. It’s pretty much the opposite of how TokyoPop was operating; it’s more of an equal joint effort, especially recently as Viz Media brought on some anime titles that weren’t just Bleach or Naruto, which does help them time-to-time financially despite my personal opinion on both titles (I just lost interest in Bleach, Naruto was painful to watch from the first episode) but most of that is due to bringing their new anime streaming service called Neon Alley, which streams English-dubbed anime 24/7 and something like that was much needed for those who like to watch anime in English dub, considering most sites often don’t do that. The newer anime from Viz like Tiger and Bunny, Zetman, Accel World, the Berserk Golden Age movies & LaGrange definitely made me want to get a subscription to Neon Alley, especially anime titles from another company which we’ll get into.

As for their dubs, they have more variety on who they cast and what company they are from, whether in the past, it’s Ocean (Ranma ½, Nana, Inuyasha, Death Note), Studiopolis (Bleach, Naruto, K, Tiger and Bunny), NYAV Post (Berserk movies, Zetman) and most notably Bang Zoom! (LaGrange, Accel World, Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan). Their pronunciation is a bit off but that’s more of a nitpick issue than something huge to complain about since this is an English dub. It’s not always going to be like the Japanese language.

My point with Viz Media is that in the past, their count of anime was lacking in both quality and quantity but later on, they actually got back into the anime grid, especially licensing Gargantia and Blood Lad. I just hope they continue their progress like this.


Ah, yes, the one that every anime fan always like to bitch out, although I can see why. Everyone knows that Aniplex of America is a division of their Japan branch and they produce much quality anime and often they are the middleman as it does get distributed by other companies like FUNimation (Fullmetal Alchemist, Baccano!, Sekirei, Guilty Crown) and Sentai Filmworks (Angel Beats, Persona 4, No.6) but nowadays they often want to get into the licensing business for themselves but with a twist. They would license anime if their Japan branch were the producers of it or part of whatever anime committee the show is associated with.

And that one thing people will bitch about them? Their insane prices on anime and the type of anime they brought to DVD and Blu-ray and here’s the thing about that. Their stuff is specifically catered to the hardcore anime fan and also a lot of extras packed in there, such as the anime soundtrack, artbooks, etc. I can definitely see why it’s expensive although their imported anime (fresh from Japan) are definitely the most expensive, like $300-400, and to me, I would rather wait for a domestic release (and possibly a dub for it if they got it) and speaking of their anime, most of their content they have and licensed……I’m more into them than most FUNimation stuff.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know Attack on Titan and some of their other stuff is awesome but it’s as of recently and with shows like Durarara!!, Blue Exorcist, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Fate/Zero and possibly Magi (I hope it doesn’t suck like Valvrave did or be disappointingly dull like Sword Art Online), I was hooked and possibly I should thank Viz Media and Neon Alley for that because instead of paying $100 or more for the DVD/Blu-ray, you could watch it for about $21-42 for 3-6 months and for their dubs, I’m glad that Bang Zoom is still around to make English dubs as from most Aniplex shows I watched, they are the go-to studio they used and they really need the work since a lot of the companies they used to be associated with or work for (Geneon, Bandai, Manga) are dead in the dirt.

My point with Aniplex of America is that they are the Kobe beef of anime companies. If you desperately want their anime, you better have some primo cash…..or are well-off. (That Gurren Lagann Blu-ray costs a mighty grip.)

Now I know there are other anime companies in the west, mainly the ones who just handled distributing rather than dubbing the work and I’m not going to leave them in the dust.


Now as of late, they had to reinvent themselves as an anime company after letting go of some people and most of their anime licenses expired. To me, they are 50/50 when it comes to anime. For one thing, I love Squid Girl, Berserk, Kite, & Mezzo Forte but on the other hand, I really hated Kanokon, Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl, Queen’s Blade, later iterations of Ikki Tousen and Eiken…….oh, I really don’t like Eiken. I don’t think they might dub much anime in the future or possibly get lesser-known dubbing studios to do it.


This company handles distributing retro style anime; shows made in the early ‘70s, 80s and 90s with some recent 2000s shows. If you are an old-school anime fan, you’ll love them.


They are about the same as Discotek, finding obscure shows from dead distributors or titles that became overlooked. Also they have their own online store that sells anime, manga, merchandise, all that good shit. Either way, it’s a win-win.


Now I need to admit, the two reasons why I don’t value NIS America as an anime company much is because some shows I have no interest in and of course, they hardly ever dub their anime (they dub their videogames but not their anime). Yes, people, I prefer English dubs over subs but I don’t oppose subs but I don’t see the purpose of owning a sub-only anime that I can watch on Crunchyroll for free or with a premium subscription. But, NISA have confirmed during Anime Expo 2013 that they could be dubbing future titles but never said which one.


This one is a newer anime distributor based in Georgia. The title they licensed recently is Looking up at the Half-Moon, a 6-episode series from 2006. I’m hopeful they can become the rising anime company that’s needed in this industry.

And that is it for me.

But, tell me, what do you think of these anime companies overall and their status?

Until then, I’m MAK2.0 aka Blue Hybrid, bringing all the elements in one format.
Posted by HybridMedia | Aug 1, 2013 11:49 AM | Add a comment