We recently sat down with FUNimation founder and CEO Gen Fukunaga in his office in
Some genres have been much more successful in America than others. FUNimation has released a number of shojo series such as Kodocha and Peach Girl. Have those been successful? What do you see as future of those non-action/adventure type genres in the States?
Those genres still remain weak outside of action/adventure, with absolutely no indication that they're moving up as far as we can tell.
Why do you think that is?
Females watch anime, but when it comes to collecting a DVD, males are the ones who are reaching into their wallets. That's the pattern we're seeing.
Is that true in other categories, in other television shows or movies? Are males more buyers than females, or is that specific to anime?
I think the general belief in
Is that why Transformers, a young adult male title, was #1 last year?
It depends on what genre it is, because family titles are different. Females buy family titles because they're buying to share with their family and their kids. That's a little different buy than buying a female-oriented movie just for themselves. That's where it breaks down.
So they would buy High School Musical, but they wouldn't buy something to watch themselves?
Right. And with our genre, of course, most people aren't married with lots of kids so we have a little bit different demo. They're buying for themselves, and therefore males seem to dominant that market.
FUNimation has announced a number of interesting live action releases. How do you plan to distribute live action titles in
We expect to do more live action. In fact we've announced three of them that we haven't launched yet: Genghis Khan, which is a big budget Japanese film; Love and Honor, which is part of a trilogy that was nominated by the Oscars for Best Foreign Film; and then Hana. We have three coming down the pipe, so yes, we are continuing with the live action genre.
Right now we've been focused on Japanese live action though, not Korean,
One of the differences between 2007 and the last few years is that there hasn't been a breakout feature hit. There was no
(Chuckles) Well, is there another
And then we are hoping there will be a green light on another Afro Samurai. If there is a green light on that, it would be an important one, especially with the videogame coming out. The videogame is a major launch, and that could get it a lot more buzz with all the effort the videogame company is putting behind it.
Compared to previous years, how is the pipeline from
The pipeline, from our viewpoint, seems to be reasonably steady to down. We aren't seeing a dramatic drop-off.
Have weakening DVD sales in
Oh yes, the drop is DVD sales in
FUNimation is becoming more of a brand management company. What are your current biggest licensing hits and what do you see as your biggest property for 2008?
Dragonball Z still remains a big pillar to the company. We feel Shin chan has got a big breakout potential -- it's on Cartoon Network Adult Swim Comedy, which has generated lots of hits in the
You've talked about FUNimation's big releases in 2008, any other big releases that you haven't mentioned?
We are doing the One Piece movie. T his February we're going to do the remastered Dragonball Z movies, several of those, which should be huge sellers for us.
We are working on a couple of deals that could be pretty big. We haven't announced our biggest acquisitions yet for the year. The xxxHolic-Tsubasa movie is a big one that we have announced.
There's obviously a shakeout in the anime producers -- Geneon not releasing, which was one of the biggest releasers in terms of SKUs in a year -- do you see the market headed to further consolidation?
I think that the market will further consolidate, absolutely. We perceive difficulties on the ADV side -- who knows what's going to happen there -- and then with Manga switching hands, nobody knows. How dedicated is
You do business in