Funimation (previously known as FUNimation Productions and later as FUNimation Entertainment) is an American entertainment company headquartered in Flower Mound, Texas, U.S. It was formed 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.
Funimation owns the rights to the One Piece anime in North America for streaming and home video, and record their own in-house English dub which is also used in Britain and Australia. They have released the majority of the series on streaming services with English subtitles, and have released the first 574 episodes, TV Specials eight onward and five Movies in subtitled and dubbed formats. As the parent company of Manga Entertainment, Funimation also owns the British home video rights to some of the series and movies.
Funimation began dubbing the series in English in in June 2007 with the Skypiea Arc, continuing from where 4Kids had left off and following many of the trends established by the old dub for broadcast. They released the series on home video from the very start in Uncut volumes of 12, 13, or 14 episodes. Each set so far includes an episode with alternative audio featuring a commentary from people working in the dub, denoted by a red background in the episode number. After releasing the first three seasons, Funimation began releasing 4-disc collections containing two previous volumes in new packaging at a cheaper price; apart from the labels, the discs themselves are identical to the previous Voyage releases.
Funimation's English VersionEdit
Funimation was one of the bidders in the original war over the rights to One Piece. Funimation was noted to have registered the URL for One Piece, despite not owning the rights to the series at the time (along with other anime). A later announcement stated that though Funimation had discussed and mentioned One Piece, the company had not received the license but remained in the top companies still in negotiations.Following the cancellation of the 4Kids dub of One Piece, on April 12, 2007, Funimation Entertainment announced they acquired the license to One Piece, and would produce an English version of the series to premiere on Cartoon Network in August. In an interview with AnimeOnline, marketing director Lance Heiskell claimed that the company had been aiming to license the series since before 4Kids had acquired it.
The series was given a brand new dub cast, the original background music, and lighter edits. Due to Cartoon Network's standards, the practice of altering Sanji's cigarette into a lollipop was changed to it being removed entirely. Premiering on September 29, 2007, the long-awaited Funimation dub has been well-received for the voice acting, dialogue, and original music. Name changes such as "Zolo" used by 4Kids were only seen on the televised dub to keep continuity with casual viewers.
After the dub was cancelled on the North American Toonami block, it was being aired on Cartoon Network in Australia uncut. The last episode of the Skypiea Arc aired January 7, 2009, and has rerun once before being put on hiatus again.
Starting on May 19, 2013, Toonami added One Piece back to its schedule at 1 AM, starting with the Long Ring Long Land Arc (episode 206). The show airs uncut, but as per the new standard Toonami practice, the opening and ending are cut back to 30 seconds. Additionally, the previews for the following episodes are removed, also standard for the new Toonami. 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. As of March 17, 2017, Adult Swim's rights to One Piece have expired, thus ending the run at Episode 384 (Spa Island Arc), and being replaced by Tokyo Ghoul the following week.
Funimation began to distribute the series uncut on bilingual DVD box sets, retailing for $49.98 and containing 13 to 14 episodes each, on May 27, 2008. On July 26, 2011, Funimation began to re-release dub episodes on "collections" using a discounted MSRP of $24.99 for 26 episodes.
DVD and Blu-ray ReleasesEdit
FUNimation's DVDs and Blu-rays include both the uncut English dub and the original Japanese version. The English dub on the DVDs and Blu-rays do not use the censored dialogue or name changes that the initial American broadcasts used. The episode content itself is presented completely unedited, however there are a few edits to the overall presentation of the TV series: the Japanese logo is replaced by the FUNimation version (in some cases this involves removing a few seconds of the original animation), and in an odd error Zoro's original eyecatcher is edited to say 'Zolo' in the earlier episodes (This, however was an unintended mistake carried over from material provided by 4kids, and was corrected from episode 27 onwards). No explanation was ever given for the reasons behind the logo change, however most (but not all) of the DVD sets feature the original unaltered logo and animations for such in the "Creditless Opening/Closing" special features.
As is typical of an English release, the episode titles and credits are generally replaced with an English version that includes the cast for both languages and no set of credits in Japanese are available. However, a few of the movies include the unaltered Japanese credits and logos, as well as silent English credits that refer to both versions. From episode 361 onwards, certain captions (such as 'Five Minutes Earlier') were replaced with English translations too.
In addition to the full episodes, each One Piece TV Series release from FUNimation includes a Marathon Play option, which plays the whole disc with the opening and closing credits between episodes skipped. Each set of the voyage sets would contain commentary on 1 episode for seasons 1-3. Starting with season 4 each set would contain commentary on 2 episodes.
Starting with Season 4 Voyage 4, each sets also includes interviews with the English cast. The first of these, 'On The Boat: Behind the Scenes of One Piece', were around 15 minutes long and featured ADR Director Mike McFarland and a voice actor and discussing their respective character as well as their overall thoughts on the show. Each set contained 2 of these features. From Season Five: Fourth Voyage onwards, a single 'One Piece in the Booth' feature, lasting twenty to thirty minutes each, was included instead. These extras include cast and crew interviews, as well as footage of the English dialogue being recorded. Some of the movies include similar extras.
Funimation Simulcast and Online StreamingEdit
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". 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. 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 episodes initially did not include their next episode previews, but starting from Episode 671, they now include them. The simulcasts also skip the crossover episodes. Due to music licensing issues, Funimation's simulcast substitutes the opening Hands Up! with We Go! and the ending Mirai Kōkai with Eternal pose.
Other Streaming PlatformsEdit
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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
Video On DemandEdit
The series is available to purchase on Amazon Prime Video: Episodes 1-78 are available in English or Japanese and Episodes 337 to 371 are available exclusively in English. One Piece Film: Gold is available to rent or purchase in English or Japanese from Amazon, Playstation and Microsoft. In both cases, the English-dubbed and Japanese versions are listed as separate titles.
Funimation's announcement of replacing 4Kids as licensee of One Piece was praised by on-line 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". 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. Many critics were confused by Funimation's decision to release a continuity-heavy film before the series, and found the story difficult to follow, with Kimlinger also conceding that the release made an uncut version of Alabasta 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, and some critics noted the option of a 5.1 mix for the English version. 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. 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". Some critics were impressed with the consistency between the end of "Season Two" and Funimation's earliest dubbed episodes the beginning of "Season Three".
- One Piece Official Official Funimation site about One Piece. (Region-restricted site)
- Its Coming Back!