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Funimation is a United States entertainment anime 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. The word "Funimation" is a portmanteau of the English words "fun" and "animation". It is the company that produced and distributed the English subtitled and dubbed releases of the anime adaptations of both Soul Eater and Soul Eater NOT!
The company was founded as Funimation Productions in Silicon Valley, California, on May 9, 1994, by Japanese-born businessman Gen Fukunaga and his wife Cindy Fukunaga. Fukunaga's uncle was one of the producers for the popular anime series Dragon Ball; he approached Gen about bringing the series over to America. He proposed that if Fukunaga could start a production company and raise enough money, Toei Animation would license the rights to the show. 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.
Eventually, Funimation relocated to North Richland Hills, Texas, to a facility shared with other tenants. The company initially collaborated with other companies on Dragon Ball Z, such as BLT Productions, Saban Entertainment and Pioneer. By 1998, after two failed attempts to bring the Dragon Ball Z franchise to a United States audience, it finally found success on Cartoon Network's action-oriented programming block Toonami. Dragon Ball Z eventually became a popular series in the United States, leading Funimation to license other anime to the United States.
On May 11, 2005, Funimation was acquired by the now-defunct Navarre Corporation for $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, Texas, with a facility double the square footage of the previous space and without having to share with other tenants. Funimation moved into the Lakeside Business District with a ten-year lease.
Acquisition of Geneon and ADV licenses
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. ADV Films-licensed anime already featured acting by current and future Funimation actors and staff, including actors from Soul Eater such as Vic Mignogna, Monica Rial, Luci Christian, Chris Patton, and John Swasey.
In 2009, Funimation signed a deal with Toei Animation to stream several of its anime titles online through the Funimation website and video website Hulu. Additional anime from other animation studios, such as Studio BONES's Soul Eater and Soul Eater NOT! have been streamed to both the Funimation website and Hulu.
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. 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.
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.
In May 2013, Funimation consolidated its divisions under its new holding company Group 1200 Media.
On June 22, 2015, Funimation and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment announced a multi-year home video distribution deal, to to manage distribution and sales of Funimation's catalog of titles. Universal began distributing Funimation's titles in October of that year.
In January 2016, Funimation announced a new streaming service, Funimation Now, along with a new logo. The service also is available in the United Kingdom, the first time the company has expanded beyond North America.
Funimation does not directly release its properties in non-North American (English language-speaking) markets, instead sublicensing to other companies such as Manga Entertainment in the United Kingdom and Madman Entertainment in Australia and New Zealand. Funimation's former United Kingdom 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 has licensed, distributed, and dubbed hundreds of animated films and series from Japan. These include films and series acquired from Geneon and ADV, and dubs completed by other companies such as Ocean Group in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
One of Funimation's most popular properties is Toei Animation's action-adventure series Dragon Ball Z, which has been re-released on DVD and Blu-ray several times since.
Funimation has distributed many of its properties through Toonami, an action-adventure animation programming block on the United States cable channels Cartoon Network and Adult Swim. In addition to Soul Eater, other Funimation anime that have aired on Toonami include Dragon Ball, Tenchi Muyo, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Yu Yu Hakusho, One Piece, Deadman Wonderland, Cowboy Bebop, Samurai 7, Black Lagoon, Attack on Titan, Hellsing Ultimate, Michiko and Hatchin, and Samurai Champloo, as well as films such as Trigun: Badlands Rumble and Summer Wars.
Funimation also has distributed properties through other United States cable channels, such as Dragon Ball Z Kai on Nickelodeon and Is This A Zombie? on Chiller.
Funimation has licensed numerous anime from Studio BONES, the animation studio for Soul Eater and Soul Eater NOT!, and based on properties by Square Enix, the publisher of both Soul Eater series. Square Enix series animated by Studio BONES and distributed by Funimation include Fullmetal Alchemist, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, and Space Dandy, all of which have also aired on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim or Toonami. Additional anime from Studio BONES dubbed and distributed by Funimation include Ouran High School Host Club and Eureka Seven.
Funimation hires actors, many who also work in various additional roles in the process of dubbing Japanese properties into English, including as ADR directors, line producers, and scriptwriters. While many of these actors currently reside in Texas, the state in which Funimation is based, the company also has actors come in from out of state, including actors who also work in Los Angeles, California, or New York.
Actors and staff at Funimation who worked on the Soul Eater and Soul Eater NOT! dubs include: