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Funimation Productions, LLC is an American entertainment and anime-dubbing company headquartered in Flower Mound, Texas, USA. It was founded by Gen Fukunaga and his wife in 1994 to produce, merchandise, and distribute anime and other entertainment properties in the USA and international markets. Funimation was owned by Navarre Corporation between May 11, 2005, and April 2017, and was subsequently acquired by Sony Pictures Television on October 27, 2017.[1]

Funimation holds the rights to the One Piece anime in North America for streaming and home video, and record their own in-house English dub which has reached episode 746. They have released every episode of the series with English subtitles (barring three crossover episodes) and stream new episodes the day they air in Japan. Additionally, they have released six TV Specials and five Movies in both subtitled and dubbed formats. Funimation's English localization is also used in Britain (through their subsidiary Manga Entertainment)[2][3] and Australia.

Funimation's English dub began airing in June 2007 with the Jaya Arc, continuing from where the edited 4Kids dub had left off. Funimation's home video release in May 2008 started from the first episode and by May 2010 they had re-dubbed of all of the episodes previously handled by 4Kids. While the version initially broadcast on Cartoon Network was edited to the channel's standards, the streaming and home video versions are uncensored and feature both English and Japanese versions.

History of Funimation and One Piece

Funimation's logo before 2016.

Funimation was one of the bidders in the original war over the rights to One Piece, even registering a URL for it (among other anime) despite not owning the rights to the series at the time.[4] In December 2003, Funimation dismissed rumors that they had licensed the series but stated that they "[remained] in the top companies still in negotiations" for it.[5] They were unsuccessful and, in June 2004, 4Kids Entertainment announced that they had licensed the series.[6]

After producing 104 English-dubbed episodes, cut down from 143 Japanese ones, 4Kids dropped the One Piece license in December 2006.[7] On April 12, 2007, Funimation Entertainment announced they had acquired the license to the series and would premier their own English version on Cartoon Network on September 29, 2007, with Episode 144. Although Funimation's dub would directly follow the 4Kids version for the series' Cartoon Network broadcast, the production team behind the new dub was entirely different. Consequently, Funimation replaced every cast member, used less strict editing than 4Kids and retained the original music (with the Japanese theme music replaced with an English cover of the same song). Funimation's dub was well received for its voice acting, dialogue and music.

Funimation's One Piece logo, with golden letters.

Episodes would still be edited to meet Cartoon Network's standards; for example, Sanji's cigarette, which 4Kids had re-drawn into a lollipop, was removed entirely. The broadcast version of the dub retained previously-established names and terminology from the 4Kids dub and video games, while the "Uncut" version intended for home video would use more accurate naming; for example, while "Zolo" was used on TV, "Zoro" was used in all other releases of the same episodes. In North America, Funimation's edited dub concluded with Episode 167 in March, 2008; the dub would continue to air in Australia, where it soon switched from edited to uncut versions. Episode 195, the last episode of the Skypiea Arc, aired January 7, 2009, and has rerun once before being put on hiatus again.

In May 2008, Funimation released their first uncut DVD of the series, starting from the first episode and catching up to "Season Three", the batch of episodes that they had initially dubbed. In April 2011, the DVD release of Funimation's Season Three was concluded. The release of new dubbed episodes continued in August 2012 with Episode 206, the beginning of "Season Four", on DVD.

One Piece returned to Cartoon Network on May 19, 2013, this time as part of Adult Swim's Toonami block. Adult Swim skipped ahead to Episode 207, the start of the Long Ring Long Land Arc, which had been available on DVD for several months. The series aired at 1 AM without edits for content; however, as per Toonami practice, the opening and ending credits were shortened to 30 seconds and the next episode previews were removed. An "Ask Toonami" segment established that most of the intro/outro material the block receives from Funimation and other sources is already cut down for broadcast, and was not their own doing. The series ran on Adult Swim until March 17, 2017, with the airing of Episode 384 (Spa Island Arc), and was replaced by Tokyo Ghoul.[8]

Localization

The uncut version of the English dub doesn't use the censored dialogue from the television broadcast and reverts the majority of the 4Kids terms to more accurate transliterations of the Japanese names. No in-episode footage is edited for Funimation's home video and online releases, but Mirai Kōkai and the animation associated with it are substituted with Eternal Pose due to licensing issues. For the dub, English covers of the theme music were initially used, but they were unable to continue this practice from Episode 207 due to licensing issues.

Kokoro no Chizu with the Japanese logo (top) and the American version (bottom).

While some of the subtitled versions released online use the unaltered Japanese footage, some minor branding and translation changes are made for the English dub presentation; the Japanese logo is replaced by a gold-colored variant and the credits and episode titles are replaced with English translations. From Episode 361, other captions, such as those introducing characters, were replaced with English versions too. The movies and TV specials swap between Japanese and English credits on a case-by-case basis, with Japanese-language credits generally followed by silent English ones.

As a consequence of the logo change, any of the logo's animation is recreated and in BON VOYAGE! a few seconds of footage behind the logo are substituted. The DVDs of the series only use the English credits, but from Kokoro no Chizu include the original unaltered logo in the "Textless Opening" special feature; for previous texless openings, We Are! and Believe swap between English and Japanese variants but Hikari e and BON VOYAGE! only use the English logo. The English opening credits omit the alternate variations of Brand New World and One Day.

For the first 574 episodes, the English-language credits reference the cast and crew for both languages, although not every credit from the Japanese version is translated. Additional credits covering the Japanese production, such as the theme music, are included from Episode 206. From Episode 575 onward, the translated credits only refer to the Japanese production and credit fewer people than previous episodes did; silent English dub credits follow each episode, again with fewer credited cast and crew than before.

For the first 26 episodes, a version of Zoro's eyecatcher is used which erroneously reads "Zolo".

DVD and Blu-ray Releases

All of Funimation's disc releases contain the uncut English dub and original Japanese audio with translated English subtitles. While the Japanese TV series and specials are mixed in stereo, the English dub was up-mixed to 5.1 for the first 628 episodes. Where applicable, the video track uses the localized English version of the credits.

Funimation's first DVD release of the franchise was the movie Episode of Alabasta on February 19, 2008, with a Blu-ray release following on January 27, 2009. Funimation categorized the TV series into "Seasons" which are generally longer than those used for the Japanese DVDs; for example, Episode 264 marks the begging of the Japanese "Season Nine" but the American "Season Four". Each season is divided into "Voyages" containing 10 to 14 episodes over two discs, which retail at $49.98. 'Season One: First Voyage', containing the first 13 episodes, was released on May 27, 2008. In 2011, after releasing the first three seasons, Funimation began releasing 4-disc "Collections" bundling two Voyages in new packaging at an MSRP of $24.99; apart from the labels, the discs themselves are identical to the previous releases.[9]

All movies and TV specials following Movie 8 would be released on DVD and Blu-ray simultaneously, mostly as DVD/Blu-ray 'Combo Packs' without a standalone DVD release. Initially, the series was only released on DVD, despite Episode 207 onward being animated in HD and Japanese Blu-ray releases being available for all episodes from 575. The Voyage and Collection releases changed format to DVD/BD Combo Packs with Episode 629, the start of "Season Eleven"; because Collection 26 bundles a DVD-only Voyage and a Combo Pack Voyage, it does not include Blu-ray copies for the first half of its episodes.

In addition to the full episodes, the TV series includes a "Marathon Play" option which skips the theme music and previews between episodes. Most Voyages also contain a episodes with audio commentary from the American cast and crew; Season 9 also featured Video Commentaries with picture-in-picture footage of the commentators. From 'Season 4: Voyage 4', Funimation began also including interviews with the English cast in different formats; 'On The Boat: Behind the Scenes of One Piece' features are around 15 minutes long and feature ADR Director Mike McFarland interviewing a voice actor and discussing their character and overall thoughts on the show. 'One Piece in the Booth' features, which last twenty to thirty minutes, include cast and crew interviews, as well as footage of the English dialogue being recorded. Later features use a similar format and feature multiple voice actors. Additionally, One Piece releases have featured convention panels, outtakes from the English dub and comedy sketches with the American cast.

Funimation Streaming

Funimation had planned to start simulcasting subbed One Piece episodes an hour after their original broadcast on their official website, starting May 30 with episode 403. On May 29 someone accessed their website and uploaded episode 403 before Funimation had agreed to put it online. As Funimation became aware of this they then shut down the video service and announced that fans will be "deprived" of One Piece for the "immediate future" and that they will also be trying to "locate and prosecute the perpetrators".[10] The perpetrator was later caught and charged.

On August 18, 2009 Funimation announced the return of the simulcast One Piece episodes starting Friday, August 21 with episode 391.[10] They released 3 episodes daily at 9:00 pm CDT, leading up to the August 29th release of episode 415 one hour after the Japanese release, after which they continued releasing one episode per week. The simulcast episodes are streamed in SD. Additionally, Funimation has also uploaded episodes 1-384 in both dubbed and subtitled formats. These episodes are available in HD (where applicable) for subscribers.

The simulcast skipped the crossover episodes; Episodes 492 and 542 were added to Crunchyroll in 2014,[11] but 590 remains unavailable in English. Due to music licensing issues, Funimation's simulcast substituted the opening Hands Up! with We Go! and the ending Mirai Kōkai with Eternal pose, although Hands Up! would later be restored. Prior to Episode 671, the simulcast also omitted the next episode preview at the end of each episode.

On August 30, 2014 both Funimation and Crunchyroll simulcasted the 8th television special 3D2Y.

Other Streaming Platforms

Funimation's One Piece simulcast is also available on Hulu from episode 391 onwards, originally with a two day delay from their Japanese airing. Starting from episode 736, the episodes were posted on Hulu on the same day as the original broadcast. Eventually, after years of DVD releases, all the prior episodes were eventually added in as well when the seasons they were grouped in were released. Also available are a regularly changed selection of dubbed episodes. These are identical to the Funimation.com versions, and are all in SD only. Hulu's license with One Piece was set to expire on April 28, 2017.[12] However the rights were later re-negotiated, allowing One Piece to remain on Hulu, although Hulu no longer has the rights to the series beyond episode 750 and as such the episodes for the Zou, Marine Rookie, and Whole Cake Island arc were removed. Eventually the series expired from Hulu on April 13, 2020.

Crunchyroll began simulcasting One Piece from episode 619 onwards in with English, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles, followed by HD versions a few hours later for premium members. These episodes would be identical to the ones on the Funimation simulcast, except they next episode previews were included. Eventually all Japanese episodes were added with the exception of episode 590 (the Toriko/Dragon Ball Z crossover), as well as HD versions of episode 207 onwards for premium members. Episodes 619 onwards were re-uploaded and reinstated Hands Up! (for episodes 591-628), as well as the next episode previews. In addition to the substitution of Mirai Kōkai, Crunchyroll has also substituted the opening Crazy Rainbow with We Are! (Straw Hat Version), and the openings We Are! (2008) and Share the World with Jungle P. From episode 671 onwards, crunchyroll began uploading the episodes with next episode previews. From May 2015, Crunchyroll also began streaming the "Special Edition HD" version of episodes 1-206 exclusively for premium members.[13]

Daisuki also streamed subtitled episodes, starting from episode 1 and adding a new episode each week, until it was later discounted when Daisuki officially ceased all operations on October 31, 2017.

AnimeState also started streaming subtitled episodes of One Piece with the crunchyroll player, having the same subtitle languages present. They are releasing the latest episode every week, while adding more episodes.

On June 12, 2020, Netflix started streaming both Funimation's One Piece dub and the subtitled version with the first four seasons

The movie Episode of Chopper + will be streamed in Japanese as part of the Virtual Crunchyroll Expo on September 4, 2020, alongside a "Voice Actor Showcase".[14]

Video On Demand

The series is available to purchase on Amazon Prime Video: Episodes 1-78 are available in English or Japanese and Episodes 337 to 371 and 575 -587 are available exclusively in English.[15][16] One Piece Film: Gold is available to rent or purchase in English or Japanese from Amazon, Playstation and Microsoft.[17] In both cases, the English-dubbed and Japanese versions are listed as separate titles. One Piece: Stampede is simarily available on these services, however only with the dub track.

Reception

Funimation's announcement of replacing 4Kids as licensee of One Piece was praised by online fans even before its release. While editing and censorship continued for the TV version, Funimation's statements that they would release uncut bilingual DVDs was taken positively by One Piece and anime fans. Funimation's English dub and DVD releases have generally received positively by critics, with many commenting on their uncut approach in comparison to the 4Kids version.

Reviews of Movie 8 were positive of the new English cast, with Todd Douglass Jr. of DVD Talk saying that Funimation "[did] a great job of capturing the spirit and personalities of the show's characters".[18] Other critics were similarly positive about the cast, although Carl Kimlinger still preferred the Japanese version, awarding the English version a C+ and the Japanese version a B- in his review for Anime News Network.[19] Many critics were confused by Funimation's decision to release a continuity-heavy film before the series, and found the story difficult to follow,[20][21] with Kimlinger also conceding that the release made an uncut version of Arabasta Arc available long before the DVDs of the TV series would reach that point.

Reviews of the TV series and later movie releases were similarly positive,[22][23] and some critics noted the option of a 5.1 mix for the English version.[24] Anime News Network would frequently award equal marks for the dubbed and Japanese versions of the series, and commented on the dub's improvement from "Season Four" onward, particularly Sonny Strait's Usopp and Stephanie Young's Robin during the Water 7 Saga.[25][26] Reviewing 'Season Five: Voyage Six', Rebecca Silverman summarized that "dub or sub is really going to come down to the viewer's personal preferences, with strengths and weaknesses on both sides".[27] Some critics were impressed with the consistency between the end of "Season Two" and Funimation's earliest dubbed episodes the beginning of "Season Three".[28][29]

References

  1. Funimation Agrees To Be Acquired By Sony Pictures Television Networks - Funimation
  2. Sony’s Funimation Acquires U.K. Anime Distributor Manga Entertainment - Variety.
  3. One Piece: Collection 20 (Uncut) - Manga UK.
  4. Funimation mentioned as of owning the One Piece URL.
  5. Funimation announces they do not have the Licence.
  6. Anime News Network – 4Kids announcement.
  7. 4Kids cancels production
  8. Crunchyroll
  9. One Piece: Collection One - DVD Talk.
  10. 10.0 10.1 The podcast noted
  11. Crunchyroll Adds 2 One Piece x Toriko Crossover Specials - Anime News Network
  12. One Piece Set to Expire on Hulu This Month (Updated)
  13. Crunchyroll adds the Special Edition episodes.
  14. Toei Animation: "Join us at Virtual Crunchyroll Expo" (via Twitter)
  15. 'One Piece' - Amazon Instant Video
  16. 'One Piece (Original Japanese Version)' - Amazon Instant Video
  17. One Piece Film: GOLD - Just Watch
  18. 'One Piece Movie 8' - DVD Talk
  19. 'One Piece: The Desert Princess and the Pirates (Movie No. 8)' - Anime News Network
  20. 'One Piece: The Princess and the Pirates - Adventures in Arabasta Movie #8 (Blu-ray)' - DVD Talk
  21. 'One Piece The Movie 8: The Desert Princess and the Pirates Adventures in Arabasta Blu-ray' - Blu-Ray.com
  22. 'One Piece - Season 1, First Voyage' - DVD Talk
  23. 'One Piece: DVD - Season 1 Part 1 Uncut' - Anime News Network
  24. 'One Piece: Collection One' - DVD Talk
  25. 'One Piece Season 4 DVD Part 3' - Anime News Network
  26. 'One Piece: 5 Part 2' - Anime News Network
  27. 'One Piece: DVD - Season 5 Part 6' - Anime News Network
  28. 'One Piece Season 3 DVD Part 1' - Anime News Network
  29. 'Shelf Life: Blue Moon Rising' - Anime News Network

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