SPT’s Funimation to Lead Joint Venture With Aniplex Under New Sony Initiative

It looks like things in the anime industry are getting shaken up in the U.S. Today, a brand-new report went live which confirmed Funimation will be working with Aniplex to create a consolidated, joint venture with global reach. The news came from Funimation earlier in the morning, and the U.S.-based company is set to lead the venture moving forward.

According to Variety's report, this joint venture combines Funimation with Aniplex's French and Australian divisions. It also gives the company access to major creators in Japan in the music and video game industries. Funimation will also be able to distribute more anime globally as it will continue its reign over the U.S. and add more territories like France (Wakanim) and Australia (Madman Anime Group).

“Anime is a growing area of importance for us at Sony Pictures Television,” SPT chairman Mike Hopkins said in a new statement regarding the venture. “By combining these businesses, we immediately increase our global reach and expertise in [subscription] VOD, theatrical, home video, merchandising, events and more.”

This isn't the first major venture which Funimation has toed into. Just earlier in the year, the company took fans by surprise when it bought Manga Entertainment, the leading distributor of anime in the U.K. and Ireland. This addition hugely expanded how far Funimation reached overseas, and this new joint venture doubles that. Now, Funimation will be operating in 49 countries worldwide.

“It just became clear when we looked at the global view of anime at Sony, these things should really be together,” Colin Decker said who is heading up the joint venture for both Funimation and Aniplex.

“Aniplex is one of the most respected names in anime and strategically this positions us to deliver more value to fans and creators.”

Overseas, the president of Aniplex released their own statement on the joint venture, and Atsuhiro Iwakami seemed excited about Sony's merge.

“Through Sony Group’s integration of anime-related streaming services, we are thrilled that numerous Japanese anime titles will be distributed globally through its digital platforms. We hope our partnership will contribute to the further development and expansion of the Japanese anime industry," he said.

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For now, fans are waiting to see how Funimation's new deal will impact other streaming networks operating in the U.S. For instance, Crunchyroll continues to be one of the largest streaming services for anime in North America, but its catalog of Aniplex titles could be impacted by this announcement. Previously, both Funimation and Crunchyroll had a cross-content deal with one another, but the partnership closed last year.

What do you make of this new joint venture? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB to talk all things comics and anime!