Funimation’s Recent Problematic Physical Releases

So, I am a pretty small time anime collector. If you’ve read my OWLS post from May, you can see everything that I’ve collected over the years. Yeah, I haven’t sold a single thing from it yet. What I’ve noticed through some trends in where I’ve been getting my physical releases. I used to be a big Bandai and Funimation only person because they used to sell decent releases for slightly more decent prices. Lately, I’ve been leaning in the direction of Sentai Filmworks/Maiden Japan and Discotek. This isn’t just a question about what each company has, because I like a lot of Funimation’s catalog. They either sell their discs at too high of a price now days or they just screw up what they are releasing in general. Maybe I am being spoiled by the amount of love that Discotek has put into every single one of their releases, but I don’t think that’s completely the case here.

And no, this post isn’t supposed to be a huge dunk on Funimation as a whole. I honestly feel like they’ve done a lot of great things for the anime community. For one thing, they’ve made a lot of their releases more widely available then you would expect. No really. Their dub simulcast work model is ground breaking even if, according to what I’ve heard at a convention from a voice actor’s mouth, that it’s over working their personnel. The fact that they’ve stuck to it for so long is great. We can talk about how they are releasing their seasonal anime. Not all of it is on their lousy app. You can watch their seasonal stuff on Hulu and some of their simuldubs on Toonami. I’ve also heard that they have services in other english speaking countries. Correctly about that if I’m wrong, though. I could be way off base. So in general, Funimation is great at getting their seasonal anime out to different audiences in varied ways and that’s fantastic.

(I am not an expert at business strategies at all, so take what I’m about to say even less then a grain of salt. All I can see are some trends that I’ve noticed and analyze my perception of them. Once again, I can be completely off base so please call me out on it if what I’ve seen is completely wrong.)

I think Funimation’s business model of gaining a profit off of nice physical releases to simulcasting and simuldubbing anime hasn’t gone as planned. If you’ve looked at their simuldubbing schedule, they are simuldubbing almost their entire seasonal catalog. The fact are doing all of them in a somewhat timely manner consistently with a lot of dub actors in a very compressed time space must be taking a toll. Why? Because release a subtitled version takes so much less effort and money then scheduling and hiring dub actors for a lot of different roles, placing their voices into the anime in a timely manner, then keep going. In order to get a continued revenue for this venture and keep it’s audience invested, they’ve changed how they sell physical releases. Their focus is either going for very glossy limited editions with some standard releases on the side OR they sell lackluster releases for high prices. Possibly both of them. Here are some examples.

Crest of the Stars and Banner of the Stars release

I was lucky to preorder these releases when I did, because the price I got for it was way cheaper then every single price point I’ve saw since then. I was able to get both of them for about $50, which I thought was pretty expensive back then. Of course, I didn’t care at that point. I wanted to see it. Then wandering around the convention, I noticed that Banner of the Stars by itself went for $50 and Crest was about $40. Crest is only 13 episodes while Banner only had 24. What’s going on here. I wouldn’t be shocked if there was any effort into remastering this series and clean it up, but they didn’t. Also, the release itself was so minimal with a cheap menu and no special features in it at all. It felt like they wanted to just get the release out the door as soon as possible with no love or effort behind it. Gah, it’s so frustrating. Nobody is going to buy this release now because of this. It’s so bad that this series got released like this, because Crest and Banner is just so amazing. It didn’t deserve what happened to it.

Dragon Ball Z 30th Anniversary Edition Release

If there wasn’t a clear sign that something is wrong with Funimation, it’s how they are selling Dragon Ball Z to audiences again. No, I don’t mean the visual frame for frame break down about how Funimation ruined this release visually. I have no expertize and knowledge about the editing and clean up process of video, so that’s not what I am focusing on here. What I am going to focus on the announcement of minimal unit sales they needed to guarantee that the release is actually going to happen. This is Funimation we are talking about. In the United States, them and the Dragon Ball brand name are almost synomous with each other. Before Funimation changed it’s icon to the purple smiley face, it’s logo had Dragon Ball colors with an almost Dragon Ball font. The fact that Funimation had to even consider a unit limit because of this fact says something. There is a feeling wrongness here and it has to be a reason.

Dragon Ball Super: Broly and Anno Releated Movie Releases

These next couple of examples are more nit picky then the others, but I still think they are completely valid. From what I’ve seen on twitter from massive fans of the Dragon Ball Super: Broly release, they screwed up their release. Putting a green filter over the release doesn’t sound bad, but all the screen shots that I’ve seen completely ruined the amazing visuals from the film itself. It makes everything awkward and off putting. It’s such a questionable decision that just doesn’t make any sense. Makes me really nervous about all the decisions they are going to make from this point on.

Then Shin Godzilla and other Evangelion Film releases the traditional title cards at the beginning of each film. Once again this is a nitpick, but english subtitles along Japanese standard titles is a pretty standard practice for Japanese films finding their way to America. Funimation just trampling over that fact is yet another questionable decision that they’ve done recently. Especially since it ruins the context of a lot of the elements each film like the jokes in Shin Godzilla. Nitpicky yes, but it still diminishes some of the value of what they are doing.

Funimation General Releases

Ok, I could be shooting a lot of blanks for this point, so please point it out if I do, but it seems like they are doing everything they can to turn a profit with their releases. Now, that’s not an unusual thing because company centered around selling anime releases does that with anime these days. They also release high profile anime in separate parts these days. I’m just wondering when Funimation starting doing that for almost every series that has a decent following. Attack on Titan used to be a special case because of how explosive that show’s popularity was in 2013. There was a very limited release for both cours of season 1. It feels like Funimation is trying to replicate off the success of that. I guess they are able to get releases out faster because of the lesser amount of episodes, but people are still paying quite a lot for an entire series from this value. If it works and allows Funimation to make money, that makes complete sense. That’s their goal after all. It just shows that they don’t have the customer in mind as much as they used to.

I think the most offending thing was the digital release of their titles. I know that you can purchase some of their titles digitally through difference services, but I’m talking about the Funimation Digital Copy that comes with their discs. Having a digital copy come with the release itself is cool and makes a lot of since considering that most physical movie and television releases actually do that these days. It’s just the fact that this is connected directly to Funimation’s website. You know, the one that is horrible, slow, and has tons and tons of problems? Yeah, that one. Whether or not the system is going to work is completely up in the air. Especially when it comes to movies. There is just so many unknowns about that at the moment.


I guess I don’t know how exactly to end this post other then, it seems like something odd is going on with their business model. I didn’t even mention the Escaflowne kickstarter, which at least made some sense considering they didn’t know what kind of audience and interest would be attached to it. There is a lack of quality control and thought process or just a change of thought process behind each of their releases that their image of being fandom friendly like they were back in the day is put into question when it comes to physical releases. I still blame the Simuldub model for changing how they’ve changed their focus because they have had to do a lot of things to continue that extensive process as hard as they’ve been doing. That’s where their true customer service values have gone. A company can have multiple sides or be horrible on both of them.

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  1. I’ve noticed it too. Rather than waiting it out, there seems to be a Part 1 for everything in their catalogues and it’s frustrating, especially when certain buyers don’t have the kind of cash to keep up with the purchases. Then when the series is over, there’s the *big* collected release of the whole serial. I feel as anime is getting more and more popular, many companies like Funimation and CR are utilising it to their benefit of making more money rather than giving consideration for the consumers, which sucks. Newer anime lovers won’t notice the disparity between then and now, and it makes them really easy marks for making that extra cash. At least that’s kind of how my cousin and I view things (we had a chat about this a few days ago when I noticed the BR for Fruits Basket Part 1 Limited Edition).

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh man, I’m not even surprised about the Limited Edition release. I guess that’s another reason why I have been focused on buying older releases during sales. At least they usually come in one edition.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yup, me too. With the new ones, I know there’s always going to be a more *complete* version releasing later on, it’s just a matter of holding out for it.What sucks even more is that each Part is the cost of a whole series in of itself, and it seems so ridiculous.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I know this feels weird commenting on this given my most recent post, but those are valid complaints. For starters, I agree when it comes to buying things from Sentai or Discotek. My Grave of the Fireflies DVD was great and Discotek did a phenomenal job remastering the Jungle Emperor Leo movie on Blu-Ray (that movie has sakuga quality animation and looks better than most Disney or WB movies made in the same decade and after). I feel like Funimation focuses too much on the big name series and not the other several series they own and have rescued over the years. Next to Discotek, they’ve rescued a ton of former ADV, Geneon, and Bandai releases for a decade now, but I feel like their re-releasing jobs haven’t been on par compared to other companies.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks for understanding. I’m not dropping the things I like, but was more of me thinking about it from an existential point of view. There was no malice towards anyone at all.

        Yeah, and that’s sad for Funimation. They have so many titles even after their license rescuing spree. I wish they cared about their other properties instead of making it all about DB, AOT, or MHA to name a few.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Back in the old days (like 10-15 years ago), Funimation had three levels of releases. First level was the regular full-price releases with all the extras and stuff. Once a show had been out for a while, it would get released as a “Viridian Collection” set, which were cheaper box sets in thinpak/litebox packaging. At the bottom was the barebones S.A.V.E. line, where shows that didn’t sell well at the first two levels eventually ended up, typically with any extras from the more expensive sets stripped out. It seems like they’ve kind of gone to a four-tier version now. You have the limited collector sets at the top, then the regular editions (new releases), the “Classics” line (equivalent to the old Viridian line) and the “Essentials” line (equivalent to the old S.A.V.E. line), except that it seems like these days the only sets that get extras are the limited editions, which makes the regular editions kind of redundant. The only thing you’re really paying extra for with those is the privilege of owning it now instead of two or three years from now (a dilemma that video game players are only too familiar with).

    As far as prices go, right now the typical price for “Essentials” Blu-rays on RightStuf is $22.49. In 2007 dollars, that’s about equivalent to $18.21, which is pretty close to what I remember paying for S.A.V.E. DVDs back then (maybe $15-16). But OTOH, 2007 was also still the era when if you wanted to buy the nice new full editions with all the extras right when the show first came out, it meant you had to buy 6-8 individual discs for a two cour series (and the majority of series were 24-26 episodes back then, unlike today), at $25-$30 per disc. For instance, my ADV Noir DVDs if I’d bought them new back in 2003 would have cost me somewhere north of $200 + tax for the whole set, which is closer to $300 in today’s dollars. Unless you’re importing from Japan (or buying that behemoth Legend of the Galactic Heroes set), you’re not going to pay $300 for an anime series these days unless it’s one of those deluxe Aniplex box sets. So I’d say price-wise it’s maybe that the budget releases are still comparably priced to what they used to be, but even with modest price increases the higher-end releases are still way cheaper in either inflation dollars or real dollars. And it’s not like Funimation’s doing these two-part sets or limited editions with every show. It’s the popular shows that get the limited edition offerings, and it’s the infrequent two-cour shows that get the two-part releases. Looking at their upcoming releases, for instance, the new Fruits Basket is getting the two-part/limited edition treatment, but that’s both a two-cour series and a very popular title. Run-of-the-mill new releases like Hanebado and Island, OTOH, are just getting regular editions, and new older titles like Tatami Galaxy are already pre-selling at the lower “Classics” price point.

    I’m not bringing all this up to defend Funimation. I’ve had my own issues with them from time to time. I just hoped I could add a different perspective to the conversation, at least where pricing is concerned (quality control issues are an entirely different kettle).

    Liked by 3 people

    1. No, what you are saying is completely fine. this is the kind of talk that I wanted. I did mention that everything that I am saying is probably wrong and nitpicking except for a few things. I’m still upset about how the Anniversary DBZ Set needed to hit a certain unit limit. It’s Funimation and DBZ. That’s the biggest complaint that I had.

      Their other lower, cheaper units are fine and what I think are expensive or not have changed that much. I just don’t really appreciate that how they handle some other units I guess.


      1. I hear you. I backed the Escaflowne kickstarter because that’s my favorite series ever and I wanted the nicest possible set of it that I could get, but I also understood the complaints from people who felt like it wasn’t the most…professionally managed kickstarter (especially compared to, say, AnimEigo’s campaigns). And I know I would’ve been pissed if I’d spent good money on Escaflowne and it had come out with the same kind of picture problems as the Broly movie or the first part of Re:Zero, so I’m not about to knock anyone who has a bone or two to pick with them over stuff like that.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Somewhat off topic, but I’m actually quite satisfied with the new Classics and Essentials divisions. They’re Blu-ray only, and somewhat plain to look at, but to purchase a practically brand new title for just $11 is incredible. (Plus, we don’t have to deal with the SAVE labels, ughhh.)

    As for physical quality, I’m so sick and tired of purchasing a Funi LTD ED set and having either:
    A. A chipped Blu-ray case
    B. A crooked box
    C. The clear plastic of the Blu-ray all warped and bubbly
    D. An envelope for art cards that DOESN’T FIT IN THE BOX

    If they could at least fix one of these quality control issues, I’d definitely be more satisfied. But otherwise, this has easily become a big turnoff for a collector such as myself who is expecting $60 quality after paying for a $60 release.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve actually had more issues with Sentai’s packaging over the years than Funimation’s. A few years ago Sentai switched to thinner, flimsier Blu-Ray cases for their non-premium titles that have locking flaps along the side you pop open before you can open the case, and about one out of every three of those flaps in my collection is bent or broken and won’t snap shut. It’s not a big deal, just slightly irritating.

      Ironically, the one time I ran into problems with stuff not fitting in a box was actually with a Japanese import. I bought the first Lyrical Nanoha movie, which the set has two bonus books crammed into the chipboard box along with the Blu-Rays, and the front of the Blu-Ray case is now warped because everything is packed in so tightly. I noticed when I imported the second Nanoha movie that it came in a wider box, so even though it also has two bonus books it’s not overstuffed.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I haven’t gotten any of the releases with a digital copy yet, but I do like how Funimation is moving away from DVD copies. I know it probably costs them pennies to make, but they still add to the price. Hopefully they can improve actually redeeming them though.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Buying blu-rays and dvds of anime, any anime is always a fucking nightmare for how fucking expensive all that shit is.

    Seriously it feels like we are paying double, almost triple sometimes.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I can’t help but feel like physical media is dying and anime is going to be the first area where we see it fall, which is depressing. I do really like to own physical copies of the shows I love and maybe it’s just that the UK distribution is shocking, but it feels like it takes forever for a release to reach us and even then its likely to be a subtitle only blue ray or a super expensive collectors edition. Funimation is one of the few companies that will still release a relatively cheap (for anime) dvd release over here, which is all I really want. Then again that’s only for their bigger titles, there’s plenty of series that Funimation has that I have yet to see over here, but these are the trials of an anime collector.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I wonder if we’re seeing some of the influence from Sony’s purchase (they are the one who own Funimation now, aren’t they?).

    “It’s just the fact that this is connected directly to Funimation’s website.”

    It feels like big corporations don’t really want us to “own” anything — fair use comes into play, and they don’t want that. They’re prefer we only stream; and if we the digital copy we bought is tied to their streaming service, they win by appearing to sell us a copy, when in reality they just gave us another link to a stream.

    Remember UltraViolet? The company that hosted digital copies for so many studios?

    In your response to Dewbond, you said that some series are worth holding onto forever. I absolutely agree! I buy m favorites on Blu Ray and rip them to digital. I keep the original on a shelf and I backup the digital. That’s not fool-proof, but it’s the closest I can get to forever.

    Streaming? Not so much. Too many series aren’t available at all; others change streaming services (in the middle of my review of The Devil is a Part Timer! That was a pain to re-label my screen caps…).

    I think you’re right about Funimation. My biggest worry? Now that they’re part of a huge corporation, feedback from fans will have less impact. That’s just the nature of huge corporations, despite what their marketing tries to say.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh dang, I haven’t even gotten as far as digitizing my collection yet. That’s so cool.

      And I think you’re probably right and Funimation since being bought by Sony. I mean, Sony is pretty bad at doing a lot if things. I just hope they don’t get swallowed.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I agree completely. While I haven’t been using their website for streaming I will note that as a physical collector their prices have gotten extremely expensive over the last few years. I can’t even buy whole seasons anymore everything is broken into pieces unless its a 12 episode season.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I haven’t bought a physical copy of anime in years. Mostly because I don’t collect that way, and the only stuff I collect really is Studio Ghibi movies because I lend those to friends/re-watch all the time.

    However, I can say that they are taking plays from Japan’s books when it comes to DVD releases. Japan is frankly, terrible about marketing anime DVD’s. They will release four or three episodes on one DVD, release the whole series that way as it airs, then make a boxed set which may or may not be pre-order only, and maybe if those previous DVD sales did well enough consider doing a nicer box set which are usually ridculously overpriced and oh, pre-order only. Which may more may not be Blu-ray. If they feel like messing with people they’ll do a region locked DVD to keep foreign fans from buying. It just sounds like an adapted version of Japan’s model, but will adjustments to the west for better or worse. But this is only coming from an expat who buys no anime in Japan, and hasn’t bought a boxed set of anime in America…. ever.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. At least for the general releases, that’s nothing new. They have been doing that for several years. What is new, is the move away from offering cheaper alternatives earlier. Those typically come 2 years after the primary release, though sometimes you get lucky and get them within a year. However, they have moved to offering far greater value in their, well, value sets. You now get Blu-ray only but they also give you a digital copy. While I prefer the 3-in-1 deal, I can’t say that is poor value. $20-30 for blu-ray and digital is not bad for an entire show, but that doesn’t quite measure up to the old $15 sets.

    Anyway, your other examples, you are totally write. They do need to take a harder look at things because it has cost them several customers.

    Liked by 1 person

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