I know you probably all heard the news by now. Or at least you noticed it when you opened the Crunchyroll release calendar. Today I’m going to talk a bit about what the implications of fusing the Crunchyroll and FUNimation libraries could be…

You all remember when Sony bought Crunchyroll a little while ago. It was pretty big news for all of us Western Otaku. For a while, we were all talking about it. Some people were happy thinking that it would lead to improvements across both platforms, others were much more pessimistic believing that it was heralding the end of the golden age of anime or something like that. And then…nothing happened.

Steins;Gate 0 Ep 7 anime review
good, nothing to worry about anymore

At first, nothing at all happened. If it hadn’t been in the news, we wouldn’t have known. Then FUNimation’s player got a lot better. I’m not sure if that has anything to do with t but it did. And I was jazzed. Does anyone actually say jazzed… Now the player does this weird thing where it mutes every time a new episode starts. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s just me. But it’s still better than it was!

I had hopes that the acquisition meant that FUNimation and Crunchyroll’s libraries would merge in some way. But it didn’t look like that was likely to happen. I don’t really keep up to date with news of the anime industry. I try but somehow, I always end up being the last to know. So it came as a delightful surprise to me when I opened Crunchyroll on March 1t, and a whole slew of new anime had all of a sudden been added. I was…what’s another word for jazzed?

Of course, this piqued my curiosity and I quickly found out that Sony was finally consolidating the anime libraries to Crunchyroll. Good choice! It’s still the more popular platform and despite the improvement to the FUNimation player, Crunchyroll’s is still far superior.

don’t underestimate the importance of the player!

I’m writing this on March 2nd and from what I have read so far the plan is that starting this spring, all new seasonal anime will be streaming on Crunchyroll exclusively and by the end of March the lion’s share of FUNimation’s library will be available there as well. The news I found said that 80% of all FUNimation titles will be moved over to Crunchyroll, essentially making FUNimation obsolete.

Personally, I will be waiting until the end of the month, maybe even a bit longer, to cancel my FUNimation account. I want to see what the 20% left will be and make sure to watch everything I want before cutting it off.  But I’m generally happy about it. I like things to be orderly and it was getting a bit out of hand with like 6 streaming services.

But this latest move is bringing back up a lot of the questions we were having at the time of the acquisition. What does this mean for the consumer?

One of the biggest worries people were having was that this acquisition was going to give Sony a sort of monopoly of international anime distribution. And monopolies are bad. Now we could have a long discussion about whether monopolies are really as bad as people think or at least if they are bad for the reasons people think but let’s face it, this isn’t the place for serious discussion. And economics isn’t my area of expertise either.

if you google anime expert some guy named Gary Sivey comes up and I am confused

However, I would like to suggest that Sony does have a lot of competition when it comes to international anime distribution and we shouldn’t worry about monopolies. It isn’t one and won’t be one soon. And I’m not talking about smaller 3rd party platforms either. On a completely direct level, I don’t know about you guys, but I find myself watching anime on Netflix on an increasingly regular basis. Not only Netflix originals, they are also really growing their library of classic titles. I’m watching Den-noh coil right now. It’s getting really interesting. And although Crunchyroll’s player and resolution are way better than FUNimation’s, it’s nowhere near as good as Netflix. And Netflix has a lot to offer beyond anime.

Now you might be thinking to yourself, pffth yeah maybe for the casual fan, but no true anime aficionado is going to be satisfied with Netflix’s puny anime library in the long run. I don’t know about that. That library is constantly growing and changing so it remains to be seen but there’s also the unofficial competition.

Let’s face it, it isn’t exactly hard to find sites with huge pirated anime libraries you can watch for free right now. I regularly see new blogs pop up on WordPress that advertise watching anime for free on this site or that. It’s not legal but it’s also readily accessible. And these sites aren’t bound by licensing limitations or censorship laws. In theory, they can distribute any and all anime to every country in the world. For free. Now that is some intense competition. You have to make sure your service has considerable added value when your consumers can easily get the same thing, for free.

Free!

Despite how positively gargantuan the anime market has gotten, it’s still nowhere near as profitable as it should be so even with control of the two largest international specialized streaming platforms, Sony has got to be feeling some pressure to perform.

And I think this is why we’re seeing this change now. Administratively, it’s bound to be a lot easier to oversee and invest in a single platform than in two separate ones with considerable overlap. And the advantage for the consumer is obvious.

As I’m writing this, Crunchyroll has surprisingly not announced a price hike. I would have figured it would be inevitable, so I won’t grumble if they do so in the near future. But for now, the biggest inconvenience is that folks that only had a FUNimation account will have to go over to Crunchyroll if they want to continue watching seasonal anime. I don’t think that Sony will be shutting the service down immediately but I think it’s pretty obvious that they won’t be putting too many resources into upkeeping it either.

However, for someone like me, that had both services already, it does seem like I can simply stop paying for one without losing anything. Which is pretty awesome. I also like the fact that I will once again be keeping the bulk of my watch list on a single service.

my very reasonable image of Sony…

Mr. Sony, if you’re reading this, and I don’t see why you wouldn’t, please bring back the sorting option for Crunchyroll’s queue. I don’t know if you guys remember, but you used to be able to drag and drop titles in your Crunchyroll queue to whatever position you wanted. That functionality just mysteriously disappeared at some point, way before Sony was in the picture. And I’m still morning it. I use to create these great curated queues where I would know all the shows I was going to watch in advance and then have little groupings by category I could go into whenever the mood struck me. It’s a little thing but it made me really happy. Oh, and figure out your search. I often search the title of an anime and the word Crunchyroll in google to find a show instead of using Crunchyroll’s internal search. I hope it’s gotten better.

Sorry, I went on a tangent there. But these are just wish list items. It’s stuff we didn’t have before anyway. As it stands, it still seems like a great deal for us viewers. Almost too great a deal.

Maybe I’ve grown cynical but I’m sort of waiting for the other shoe to drop. It’s like everything is going too well. Prices aren’t rising out of control. We’re getting a big selection of diverse new shows each season. They haven’t dropped ecchi titles like some people feared. Heck, the most popular anime this season is an ecchi. It was the same last season as well. I’m not seeing the direct downsides yet and that makes me a little nervous.

Oh well, I guess I’ll enjoy the good times while they last! Do you guys have any thoughts on Sony’s handling of FUNimation and Crunchyroll so far? Is there more to the story that I missed? Do Crunchyroll’s updated terms of service state that they own my first-born son now? I might still consider it…

21 thoughts

  1. I was watching the discussion of this topic on Anime News Network forum, and the biggist concern people had there was the sensoring.

    …Yeah, that’s the only thing I could think of. I know, many people don’t care for the dub, but I wonder whether it’ll impact the voice actors in some way or not.

    1. Interesting. I have not thought about the voice acting angle at all. That will be something to look out for

  2. It’ll be interesting to see if the short term benefits of cutting down on sub costs (until they raise them) and having one website will outweigh the potential long term problems of a sole monopoly.

    1. It seems most people in the comments agree that monopoly is very unlikely to happen any time soon. I also can’t see how they would manage that

  3. I was actually hoping they would do this. I was subscribing to VRV, and Funimation. Then VRV dropped every channel I watched except CR, so I switched back to CR and Funimation. So when Sony bought CR, I was a bit worried (I always like CR best) but also hoped they would merge and let me pay one subscription. What can I say, $3 or $4 is actually a difference in my little life these days. That said, I expect them to raise the subscription price in a few months, after the people who only had Funimation get over the small hike they had when they switched and when everything is moved and sorted and working properly. But (I hope) it will still be less than paying for both of them. I have dropped Amazon Prime now for numerious reasons mainly to do with Amazon, but also because it seemed like any anime I wanted to watch there cost an additional $25 a season on top of my prime membership. Fuck, I’ll just BUY the DVD. (Not that I have anything left that will play one) Tubi is a cool source for older stuff – they get me with all the old kaiju and hubby introducted me because he’s constantly rewatching the TV he loved as a child. It’s kinda amazing what you can find on YouTube. And yeah, I’m actually watching anime on Netflix and Hulu – in fact, I make kind of a point of it because I’m wanting to put in my little two cents worth to encourage them to have more anime. So I think we still have a good variety of places to stream anime, just now I have one less website to manage log ins with, and apps for, and one less subscription to pay. I reserve the right to change my mind and cuss them thoroughly in a few months if they frag this up…

  4. At the end of this commentary I saw Irina’s moody icon. It’s almost as if Irina knows I’m coming, and is saying DONT!!… Yeah. I never listen. Anyway…

    – I’m disappointed that this isn’t an article about actual Anime Crunch (cereal)! I could go for a box of Elma’s Crunchy Puffs right about now.

    – Eehhh… I wouldn’t call this an Anime Crunch. It’s more of an Anime Booster. As you know, this year’s streaming flavor of the day is merging. Why? Because everyone is finally figuring out there are too many services, and too few people to spread amongst these services. And with limited budgets thanks to COVID and lockdown, everyone is finding ways to make ends meet. Merging combines the numbers of Crunchyroll and Funimation into one group, which adds eyes on the service and gives said service a fiscal shot in the arm.

    – Throughout the whole article, which I think is well written, you didn’t mention a few giant Red Pandas named Mei in the room… Don’t worry. I don’t need to be a young Asian girl to watch and maybecenjoy Turning Red… Also no critic mentioned that Turning Red is stealing from Aggretsuko. Only Teen Wolf, the Michael J Fox version not the reboot years later.

    Item #1. Isn’t Sony presently fighting a war on lewdness against Anime? Aren’t they censoring and outright banning some Japanese Light Novel games because of sex, or nudity, or implied sex or nudity, or sexy outfits, or stuff? U thought Anime Fans had some grievances with Sony.

    Item #2. Speaking of grievances that needs settling? Aren’t Anime Fans angry with Crunchyroll because they want to do the streaming thing and make their own original content? While Anime fans only want Anime? Yeah. Mind you Crunchyroll isn’t wrong. They need to diversify and create new content. One of the things that keeps bringing new people in is original content. Problem is they need to make content that people actually want. As opposed to content that clicks off diversity quotas.

    Yeah… Even in the best of times I wouldn’t be so eager to see the various Anime streaming services gobbled up and merged. Why? Because for the convenience of having everything under one service? The trade off is you lose variety and the ability to choose a service that beat fits your viewing needs.

    After all, for every 1 or 2 FUNimation series you want yo see? Odds are there is twice that amount that you don’t want to see. Also? The FUNimation fan? I’m pretty sure they were not clamoring to have their service made subservient to Crunchyroll. So, in theory, this is not a universal happy ending all around.

    And… Well… Wasn’t Crunchyroll in as dire straits fiscally as FUNimation before the merger? Artificially raising the potential followers of Crunchyroll via merger won’t guarantee everyone will roll over from FUNimation. Especially since you can buy FUNimation content from Amazon. Yes it’s more expensive than subscription, but once you buy it you own it. And you can pick and choose.

    I’m not dissing Sony. Or Crunchyroll. I’m sure this will be fine. Until the day comes when it stops being fine. I pray for you, the reader, that day never happens. However? Hope for the best, plan ahead for the worst. That’s my motto.

  5. That process sounds like the same process through which AnimeLab ported across to Funimation. I haven’t been ale to check completely, but I don’t think I lost anything in my watch/save list with the transition; and if the same happens this time around I won’t complain too much either (especially since I find the Funimation setup – particularly on a smart TV – very user unfriendly. And if Sony taking control of these platforms means I can access Viper’s Creed again (have not seen that show for ages!) and we folk here in Australia can at last get to see the “Sinners in the System” Psycho-Pass trilogy, then I will be even happier.

  6. If you have both a funi and crunchy account, it may be worth reaching out to the Funi costumer support. Over on the Animesuki forums, a European (French, I think) member has reached out to Wakanim (who have the Funi catalogue in Europe) and they’ve added the remaining Wakanim days onto the Crunchy subscription while also letting them keep the Wakanim subscription until it runs out. Might be worth it.

  7. While im not subscribed to Crunchy or Funimation yet,i have the option to download crunchy app on my PS4 which i am more than likely to do at some point. I do not know if it’s a good or bad thing these companies buying things left right and center, but i hope its for the better. I hate making an account everytime for every single thing. I recently watched Vampire hunter D and vampire D bloodlust on youtube with no problems apart from the english dubs sounding like the people were paid to just read of a script in front of a class… Ghost in the shell had a good series onNetflix and i also liked Castlevania that i watched on there. I am more of a casual Anime watcher, never realy plan my to watch list. I normally just see what is available where…

    Great post as always.

  8. I’ve honestly been watching more anime on Netflix and Tubi more recently then other services because they are just better and more solid players. Especially since Tubi is free and has some of the things that paid services have by for free and it’s great. So I don’t think that monopoly will happen soon as long as everyone else is going for the anime pie either even if that means paying or choosing more services.

    1. Oh no… I looked up Tubi. I already had too much anime to watch…. Just kidding, there’s never too much anime to watch

  9. I also miss the ability to sort the watch queue in any way I feel. Otherwise, I’m all for the merger. There’s also Amazon Prime which has a fairly large anime catalogue that can compete with services like Netflix.

    1. Amazon Prime I hear is pretty good in the states. For me though, it’s really not an option. I have had it for over 5 years and in that time, I think I only watched two anime on it…

      1. I’m in Canada too and use it mainly for the free delivery. The TV is a bonus. I find it has some harder to find titles, usually locking up exclusive deals so it’s handy to have. For the most part, most of my viewing is on CR and FUNI.

        1. I didn’t know you were in Quebec. Currently my Library on Prime is roughly 50 anime and a lot of them are different seasons of digimon and for the rest, and they have a handful of exclusive titles but only about 5 I think. at least that was it the last time I checked but that was back in 2021. Maybe I should check it again.

          1. I’m in Ottawa so we may have slightly different options. I know there’s different rules in Quebec. Occasionly my cell thinks I’m in Quebec and certain apps won’t work.

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