It can take quite a long time for anime to get US distribution. According to Funimation brand manager, Adam Sheehan, the process takes an average of 9 months. Here’s how it works.
Funimation looks at about 100 titles each month and debates the pros and cons of bringing each over to the US. An Anime Acquisition Manager takes a look at what is currently out in Japan and then does lots of research including the history of the show, who’s writing/directing/producing it, what distribution rights the companies are asking for, how much they will be willing to pay, what the fan buzz around the show is like, etc.
Once Funimation decides on a title, they must negotiate the usage, distribution, and merchandising rights with the Japanese company. Do they get the first season but not the second? Can they release dvds or air the show on tv? Can they offer digital distribution (maybe iTunes) download? What toys, specials, box set promos, etc can they offer?
The next step is to announce that they’ve acquired the title at anime conventions and through press releases and generally build hype around the title. They want to get the word out that this is an anime worth watching and to make sure you look for it in a few months.
They then turn to translating and producing the dubs. Translators comb through the script and translates it from Japanese to English. They need to make sure that not only the translation accurately represents the Japanese meaning but that the characters sound their age and the dialog flows. A director and producer then start picking out voice actors and recording the dub.
Next up comes marketing. Here they must decide who is most likely to buy the show and where they need to advertise to get the word out. They usually screen the titles in conventions, post on message boards, announce titles in their newsletters, send advanced copies for review sites to screen, and make sure the packaging is up to the Japanese standards.
Finally, they release the titles and start watching sales and tweaking their marketing results. If a show does well, they look to get the second season.
Category: Conventions & Events