The biggest names in anime do the Fusion Dance. AT&T has agreed to sell the production company and streaming service Crunchyroll to its rival, Sony-owned Funimation. The $ 1
According to Sony’s blog post, Crunchyroll and Funimation will operate independently until the merger is approved by regulatory authorities. What happens next is a mystery; Sony has not announced what it plans to do with the two anime brands.
The best scenario for this merger, at least for the average anime fan, is that the streaming services Crunchyroll and Funimation become one. Again, it would be like Netflix and Hulu are merging, and it could save people a lot of money. Still, many fans fear that a monopoly on anime could lead to less innovative shows, and that the sense of community developed by Crunchyroll might disentigrate as it merges with the more corporate Funimation.
For what it’s worth, the brands involved in this merger sound pretty optimistic! Check out Joanne Waage, GM of Crunchyroll, who muses that the merger is “a victory for anime’s incredible art form.” Colin Decker, Funimation CEO, calls the merger “a win for fans” and says he is “honored to welcome the amazing Crunchyroll team on a shared mission – to help everyone be part of the extraordinary world of anime . “
This merger will almost certainly be a “win” for someone, but until we get to the details, it’s hard to tell if it’s a win for the average anime fan. It’s also impossible to know what will happen to community-based programs like the annual Crunchyroll Expo, which could change under Sony’s supervision.