Funimation now owns Crunchyroll, bringing two of the biggest anime streaming services underneath Sony’s control.
The announcement was made in a press release on Sony Pictures’ website with the deal being worth $1.175 billion. The agreement was first announced in December 2020 but was delayed when the United States Department of Justice stepped in to investigate the deal for antitrust violations.
Apparently, the acquisition was deemed okay by the U.S. government.
With this purchase, Sony Group now has a massive catalog of anime shows under its control with the two streaming services as well as the Japanese production company, Aniplex. Sony said in the press release that this deal will provide “the opportunity… to broaden distribution for [its] content partners…” And broaden it shall as Crunchyroll has more than 5 million subscribers.
Biggest hope for the merger today: that our translator friends at Crunchyroll can be hired as direct contractors and paid a fairer wage for their hard work.
— Katrina Leonoudakis 🎭 WATCH KAGEKI SHOJO 🌠 (@katrinaltrnsl8r) August 9, 2021
Needless to say, Crunchyroll is looking forward to this new business venture.
Social media reactions to the acquisition are mostly negative, with some people being neutral and fewer being positive. There are two main issues that concern people the most: censorship and monopolization. When the Department of Justice investigated the deal, it was to determine whether this deal would give Sony a monopoly over streaming anime. The DoJ may have okayed the deal, but fans aren’t so welcoming.
Do you truly believe that Sony doesn't have monopoly over anime distribution at this point after buying Crunchy? pic.twitter.com/vgajZoD2IN
— Namaryu (CEO of Tanmoshi) (@Namaryuu) August 9, 2021
It has been reported that Sony has censored video games in the past. One report states that the company is asking developers to remove violent depictions in new games. In the past, Sony limited sexual content in its games, much to the chagrin of developers and fans alike.
Funimation has also been accused of censorship but such claims don’t really hold water. The arguments for this are flimsy in my opinion, although there have been strange script changes when Funimation has dubbed certain series.
Haven’t We Seen This Before?
Astute anime fans may be thinking of the streaming service, VRV, which is owned by Crunchyroll. It once hosted Funimation under its banner before leaving late 2018. Now the roles have been reversed in an ironic turnaround.
The Battle for Anime
The battle for anime is heating up among the various streaming services. As stated before, Sony now has unprecedented control over the Japanese form of media.
Other services like Netflix have been investing heavily in anime, hosting original and exclusive content like the upcoming JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Part 6 adaptation. Netflix also released the film Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop on its platform the same day it was released to Japanese theaters.
HBOMax even managed to score the licensing and streaming rights to the illusive Studio Ghibli films. And the anime-only streaming service Hi-Dive has some unique offerings as well such as exclusivity to Legend of the Galactic Heroes and Cobra the Animation.
— Daniel Limjoco 🏴☠️👸 (@AnimeSavior) August 9, 2021
It’s currently unknown if Sony has plans to combine Crunchyroll and Funimation into one mega streaming service, but it’s certainly within its ability to do so.
So what do you think of Crunchyroll’s acquisition? Looking forward to what Sony will offer or are you dreading the deal?