FUNimation’s Licensing Blitz

FUNimation just spent a week on a licensing tear, first licensing a title a day last week and then two more at Anime Central 2008. Let’s see what they have.

Mamotte! Lollipop (Save Me! Lollipop) — I had heard of this title and knew that Del Rey had the license, but beyond that, I knew nothing of this romantic comedy title. The story is about a girl who swallows what she thinks is a lollipop but in fact is some magic artifact known as the Crystal Pearl. So now two boy mages, Zero and Ichii, have to protect her while they wait for the Crystal Pearl to do its thing. There’s nothing here that really makes me want to take time out of my busy schedule to watch this anime (or read the manga for that mater).

KenIchi the Mightiest Disciple — This is a shounen action title with some comedy and romance apparently thrown in. A guy named Kenichi, who gets bullied, meets a girl named Miu, who gets him to train at the dojo where she lives. Thus, Kenichi starts on the road to getting stronger as he learns different martial arts from different masters of those arts. The manga is currently unlicensed and runs in Shounen Sunday, which is where Inuyasha, Hayate no Gotoku, and other shounen titles run. There had been a fair amount of speculation that if licensed, Viz would score it, but I guess not. While I’ve liked some shounen titles, I can’t say I’m that interested in this one. FUNimation only has the first season at present.

Gunslinger Girl -Il Teatrino- — As the sequel to Gunslinger Girl (which was about a government organization using a bunch of “forgotten” cybernetically enhanced young girls as trained assassins), which FUNimation has the license for, it is no surprise FUNimation would score Il Teatrino. I’ve blogged a few episodes and while the show isn’t bad, for some reason, I’m having a hard time wanting to enter this world. The change in character designs makes the girls cuter IMO, but that also adds to the horror of the world they are in. I may try to rent this to finish the story, but I can’t see myself having it on my anime DVD case. I’d never watch it again no matter how good it is.

Soukou no Strain (Strain: Strategic Armored Infantry) — This is a mecha title which is loosely based on some non-mecha, western novel (I haven’t bothered to track that aspect down). Despite the number of mecha titles I have seen (including the one I’m currently watching as of this writing — Macross Frontier), I’m not a mecha fan. The story about a girl from an elite military family in an elite military squad having her brother disgrace her by turning traitor, forcing her to basically start over as a soldier, is a theme that’s been explored before, but is still interesting. Despite that, I don’t think I’ll take the time to catch this.

Shigurui: Death Frenzy — I’d never heard of this title before, but it does interest me as it is a historical samurai anime. I don’t know how many liberties are taken with the story (or if the samurai end up having special abilities). It looks to be very violent and bloody, but if FUNimation does this as a single release (with all 12 episodes), I think I might take the risk and watch it.

Romeo × Juliet — Announced at Anime Central, this has to be the least-surprising license announcement coming from FUNimation. After all, whenever the Japanese have tagged FUNimation to send out cease and desist letters to fansub groups for a specific title, I think it has always been a title that FUNimation eventually licenses (despite FUNimation’s official statement which says that their sending C&D letters does not mean they’ve licensed the title in question). Regardless, this Japanese remake of the Romeo and Juliet play by Shakespeare has received mixed reviews that I’ve seen. I hated reading Romeo and Juliet as a teenager and I just haven’t been keen on seeing this Japanese take on it. Since this is a GONZO title, I wonder if some in the fandom will start saying that all GONZO titles will go to FUNimation again.

D. Gray-man — When FUNimation had a forum (Ah, remember those fun days?), a thread was started (I believe by me) for people to state which titles they’d like FUNimation to license. I pinned it to the top of the forum so that (1) it wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle and (2) it would allow the powers that be at FUNimation to have easy access to what fans were wishing for. D. Gray-man came up quite often in the wish list on FUNi’s boards and other places as well. Heck, in a speculation thread on some forum or other, while many were predicting that FUNimation would have no new license announcements, one guy stated his continued wish for a D. Gray-man. He’s a happy fellow right now, more so that Viz didn’t get it. The show has a fair amount of positive buzz (and I believe it is still ongoing in Japan) but I can’t say it is gripping me.

So of all the titles, Shigurui is one I want to see most followed by the Gunslinger Girl sequel. That said, I do hope FUNimation does well with all their licenses.

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