ANIME TODAY #59: Interview with FUNimation Founder & C.E.O. Gen Fukunaga

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Episode run down:

Thanks for tuning in to Anime Today, episode 59! In this show, we’re excited to be featuring music from the Fresh Cuts from Japan CD2! Special thanks to for letting us feature some of these great tracks!  A full list with the times each song was played will be posted at the bottom of this episode’s show notes at

Continuing our coverage on the current state of the anime industry, we were very privileged to get Mr. Gen Fukunaga, Founder and C.E.O. of FUNimation Entertainment on the phone for an in-depth 45 minute interview. Listen in as we chat about release formats, upcoming FUNimation titles and the double-edged sword of the Internet.

But first catch up with Chad in What’s Hot in the world of anime and then test your knowledge with an all new Uso Deshou mystery plot. Shawne’s been offering some incredibly “Super Saving” on a select list of ADV Films DVDs so be sure to take advantage of this sale before February 6th. Next, we’ll begin our interview with Mr. Fukunaga where we discuss the beginnings of FUNimation and how it’s adapting to the current releasing trends and DRM restrictions in the North American market.

In the Anime and Gamer’s Guide to Japan, Kris and Judy are going to give us some insight into Japanese slang. Marie will then spotlight The Twelve Kingdoms. Gen Fukunaga rejoins us for the second portion of his interview, talking about the move from single DVDs to box sets, trends in the types of shows that are licensed, and the purchasing habits of different groups of fans. Nick and Rich then bring you the winners of the Viz Pictures Love*Com contest and kick off a new New York Anime Festival contest with some great con merchandise. Judy-sensei returns with a Japanese 101 lesson covering slang that’s commonly used in anime. We’ll then be talking with Chad Diederichs from Katsucon, which is coming up in Washington DC on February 15th through the 17th. In the third and final part our interview with Gen Fukunaga, we’ll talk about their award winning dubbing studio, and take a look ahead to the remainder of 2008. And finally, we’ll bring you a few featured customer reviews from our online store.

What's Hot?

Masamune Shirow’s stunning vision of the future returns in Appleseed: Ex Machina, the John Woo-produced sequel to the hit CG film, Appleseed. This time, the close bond between Deunan and her long-time partner Briareos is tested when a Bioroid clone created from Briareos’ DNA joins the force and shows feelings for Deunan. Larger problems await however, as a rash of Cyborg crimes sweep the city of Olympus in the days leading up to a monumental political summit. Now Deunan must fight to unmask the menace that threatens Olympus’ delicate peace and fight her feelings for the two men that love her. Catch all of the explosive drama when Appleseed: Ex Machina makes its debut on March 11th in your choice of limited edition DVD, HD-DVD, and Blu-Ray formats..

Eleven years ago, the shadow angels returned to earth, utterly ruining the planet and killing most of the population. All is not lost, however, as humans unearth three ancient fighting machines that can only be piloted by special humans called, “elements.” When these machines combine, they form Aquarion, a being able to destroy the shadow angels that have enslaved humanity. As Aquarion fights for the freedom of the human race, the elements question where the Shadow Angels came from, and what happened when the Shadow Angels arrived eleven years ago. Find out, when the Aquarion Season 1 DVD Box Set 1 arrives on March 11th.

Deep within the Scub Coral Command Center, a reunion takes place and secrets are revealed. Meanwhile, Dewey is prepared to destroy a world he has judged as being beyond redemption. Can the two races – human and Scub Coral – learn from the follies of the past and create a united future? Find when the concluding chapters of Eureka Seven unfold on March 18th with a special edition that includes the series’ “complete best” music CD, a T-shirt and the second volume of the Eureka Seven video game manga!

Arusu, a young girl who believes in magic with all her heart, is shocked to be suddenly transported to a realm of magic beyond her wildest dreams. Her wonderment turns to anger, however, when she learns what gives the witches their magic: captured faeries. After a wild broomstick ride, she finds herself and her newfound friends charged with an unusual punishment: recapturing all the faeries in the realm! But it’s a difficult thing to do when Arusu keeps freeing them! Join Arusu and friends as they encounter rival witches, wizards, pirates, and all manner of faerie-freeing magic in Tweeny Witches DVD 1, which streets on March 18th in regular and art box versions.

Save 25% or more on these titles by preordering them from at least 10 days before their street dates. Get another 10% off by joining the Got Anime purchasing club for Frequent Buyers.

Check out the PREORDERS and the Got Anime? Purchasing Club!

Shawne's Specials and Super Savings!

Shawne's Specials and Super Savings!

The Big Game is coming up soon, and everyone will be glued to their sets to see who will take this year’s crown. In the meantime, however, thru next Wednesday you can take "Super Savings" on selected fan favorites from ADV Films! After all, you need something to watch once the bowl game is over!

From now through February 6th, take your pick from our hit list of ADV titles and stock up on stuff to watch (and avoid the dreaded winter repeats and filler reality shows)!

Choose the deal that’s best for you:

- Get 10 ADV titles for $50 (Use coupon code ADVsuper10); OR

- Get 25 ADV titles for $100 (Use coupon code ADVsuper25)

** Keep in mind that BOTH offers will net you FREE economy shipping to U.S. and Canadian destinations!

** Get your orders in – all titles are "while supplies last" – and check back because we working to restock items before the sale ends!

To use these coupons, you cannot have any other items in your cart aside from items that qualify for the sale, PLUS you must have the exact number of items for the coupon you plan to use. (In other words: If you’re looking to purchase some other items in addition to your "Super Savings" coupon selections, you’ll need to place a separate order.)

You cannot have duplicate items or multiple quantities of any single item in your cart. (This way no one customer can load up on all of the available inventory of a specific item. Fair for all and more savings to go around!)

* To get started, just click on the "Super Savings" graphic on It will take you to a list of the DVDs that are included in this promotion! And remember, this sale runs while supplies last - so if we run out of a certain title, you might grab the rest and check around for the holes, you still may save big overall!

See all of Shawne's Weekly Specials!
Check out the Bargain Bin!

Gen Fukunaga, FUNimation Founder and CEO

Gen Fukunaga, FUNimation Founder and CEO

FUNimation Entertaiment:

The Anime and Gamer's Guide with Kris and Judy

Yuryo bukken
Kakurenbo oji

Girls employ secret lingo to fool the guys

Origin: The Movie DVD (Hyb) Special Edition

Marie's Spotlight: Twelve Kingdoms

One thing I’ve learned about anime over the years is you can never really rely on the first episode to tell you what the series you’re watching is actually going to be like. Case in point: if I tell you The Twelve Kingdoms opens with an ordinary high school girl being told she’s special just prior to being sucked into another word, what kind of anime do you picture? One focused primarily on romantic triangles, comedic mishaps, and sparkly backgrounds? Or one that digs deep into character and politics and isn’t afraid of bloodshed? If you guessed the former, thanks for helping me prove my point. The Twelve Kingdoms is, of course, the latter.

Youko Nakajima is the name of our high school student, but she isn’t just swept away into another world. First, a strange man named Keiki appears and swears fealty to her. Then a pack of beasts called youma destroy half her school in while attempting to kill her. Instead of protecting her, Keiki gives her a sword and tells Youko to do the killing. However, since Youko has spent all her life trying to be a “good girl,” the idea of slaughtering things with a sharp object kind of freaks her out, to put it mildly. To save her, Keiki lends her a “hinman,” sort of a spirit that joins with Youko’s body and takes control of it in order to protect her whenever her life is in danger – as long as she keeps her eyes open. But Youko’s not really thrilled with having something living inside her, especially when it’s the reason she literally has the blood of a giant bird on her hands. Then she’s swept into another world, along with two of her friends.

Of course, her troubles have only just begun. Once she’s in the other world, she’s not only separated from her friends and Keiki, but quickly discovers her strange new world is distinctly unfriendly. Whether it’s someone alerting the guards she’s a foreigner who should be executed, people trying to sell her as a courtesan, or simply shady politicians trying to kill her because she’s the true destined ruler of a land in turmoil, everyone seems to have an unpleasant agenda for her future. Youko may not like having the hinman inside her, but its ability to slaughter her foes comes in handy more than once, even if ruining her peace of mind to the point of a mental breakdown.

 When I said the anime was complex, I didn’t mean that in terms of just one aspect. Everything about Twelve Kingdoms, from the geography and politics to the characters’ individual emotional journeys is deeply thought-out and interconnected. Part of that comes from the rich amount of material the animators had to draw on in the form of Fuyumi Ono’s original novels. The plot only gets deeper the farther you get, and every time you think you’ve got a pretty good grasp of everything that’s going on, you find out, wait, no, there’s a whole other facet of life on top of what you’ve already discovered.

Character development and complex backstories are huge in Twelve Kingdoms. Youko starts out as a girl who’s never tried to do anything except what’s expected of a typical good student. Once she washes up on the shores of Kou, the first of the Twelve Kingdoms Youko visits, she must adjust to, in succession, being torn from everything she’s ever known, murder, betrayal, responsibility, and even becoming the leader of an entire country. But despite it all - and even because of what she has to go through - she’s able to realize some fundamental truths about herself and the way she wants to live her life. It’s a remarkably convincing and detailed transformation that takes place at times both gradually and suddenly.

And Youko’s not the only one facing tough revelations of character. One of her friends who was sucked into the other world along with her is Sugimoto, who never really felt like she quite belonged in Japan. Sugimoto thinks she’s finally found her place, and jumps into survival mode with zeal. When she finally has to come to terms with her real, negligible role, she rejects it and transforms into a sort of crazed villain, unable to cope with the reality of her situation. Later, as Youko meets more and more of the inhabitants of the kingdoms, their stories are brought out as well, some even via long arcs of plot and history. No one is left one-dimensional, and if you think they are, it’s because you haven’t seen enough episodes yet.

Twelve Kingdoms is also remarkably gritty. If anyone ever tries to tell you shoujo is all pink bubbles and sparkles, you might show them this. Trust issues are rampant, especially as Youko discovers how foreigners are regarded and learns about betrayal the hard way. And while she may have her hinman, she doesn’t have a supernaturally powered love interest protecting her every step of her journey. If she’s going to survive, it’s all up to her. She gets into quite a bit of trouble, and it isn’t always pretty. Blood and death are everywhere, along with characters who aren’t afraid to look out for their own interests at the expense of others.

Other reviewers have noted that the real turning point of the series is episode six, and they’re spot on. This is the episode where Youko – and the audience – first meet someone truly likable in the form of Rakushun, a half-human, half-rat character. It’s also where the audience is finally introduced to the deeper plot that’s going on behind the scenes, including the first hints of the crazy political intrigue that later becomes a full-blown hurricane. In short, it’s the episode that fully illustrates everything that anime will be.

Despite some initial similarities in plot, there aren’t too many other shows or manga out there quite like The Twelve Kingdoms. If you’re a fan of Red River or Basara, or if the political aspects of Saiunkoku intrigued you, you’ll find The Twelve Kingdoms an oasis. Heck, there are also bits that reminded me quite a bit of Narnia. Fully fleshed out from every angle, The Twelve Kingdoms is an example of why fans know anime isn’t just “cartoons,” it’s a fantastic story-telling medium.


Right Stuf Contests and Updates

Contest Winner! We’d like to give a hearty congratulation to the lucky winner of last episode’s Viz Pictures Love-Com gift pack contest: Michael J of Quincy, Massachusetts! He will soon be the recipient of a Love-Com gift pack including the first volume of the super-popular manga by Aya Nakahara, an issue of Shojo Beat featuring the series, and a copy of the Love-Com live-action DVD before it’s even released to North American store shelves.

New Contest!In celebration of Right Stuf becoming the online home for the New York Anime Festival’s official store, Anime Today is giving you the chance to snag a Manhattan-sized prize package including: a NYAF limited edition commemorative sake set, a 2008 cosplay calendar and a plushie version of the NYAF mascot!

To enter, and have a sneak peek the prize package, check out our Contests page, in the “What’s Hot” bar at, and get your entry in before February 28th! We’ll be announcing the winners on our February 29th episode of Anime Today!

Cowabunga, dude! Next up, we have a new contest celebrating the new season of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – starring one our favorite anime voice actors, Sam Regal, as the voice of Donatello – and five lucky winners will receive a copy of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Video Game for the Wii!

Visit our Contests Page and be sure to get your entry in before February 14th. You can check out the newest episodes, as part of the 4Kids TV Saturday morning block, on most FOX affiliates. (And remember, you can pick up past seasons on DVD here at!)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Contest!Click the banner to enter!

Mini Japanese 101 with Judy-sensei!

Katsucon 14 Feb 15-17, 2008

What our customers are saying

This episode features music from:

  • Fresh Cuts from Japan CD 2

    Fresh Cuts from Japan CD 2

    0:00:00 --- 4. Rocket K – Video Killed the Radio Star

    0:02:35 --- 9. Swinging Popsicle – Clash

    0:05:46 --- 3. Dogg Bone – Make Money

    0:08:00 --- 2. Auroranote – Chinjaoro-su

    0:22:26 --- 7. Budo Grape – Aijou Kyuraku

    0:29:06 --- 15. advantage Lucy – Everything

    0:36:20 --- 2. Auroranote – Chinjaoro-su

    0:53:35 --- 1. ketchup mania – Number 1 / Always Great Days

    0:55:24 --- 6. TsuShiMaMiRe – Tea Time Ska

    0:57:05 --- 5. Silk Road – Animal Funk

    1:06:00 --- 2. Auroranote – Chinjaoro-su

    1:22:50 --- 10. MECHANiCAL PANDA – MUGEN

    1:23:34 --- 8. Guitar Vader – AGE

    1:25:24 --- 12. Goofy Style – Seikyuu no Saibou

    1:25:25 --- 14. mothercoat – potofu