Well first Anime Lab became Funimation and now Crunchyroll and Funimation are merging with ‘most of’ the Funimation library to move on to Crunchyroll. Where does that leave anime viewers with so many questions and so many articles and hot-takes on this situation?
I mean, we could take the more positive view of the situation. So many anime bloggers have to try to keep up multiple subscription services in order to be able to do decent seasonal coverage. One less player means one less subscription so we could simply say ‘yay!’ and call it a day.
However that would be a little bit simplistic.
Crunchyroll and Funimation merge – but what does that mean?
I guess one of the first questions I had when I first heard the news and starting seeing tweets and blog posts about this (all of which I saw before either Crunchryoll or Funimation sent me, a subscriber to both services, an email notification this was happening) was “when is Crunchyroll and Funimation merging?”.
And then I found from next season. So basically stop even looking at what service the Spring 2022 anime are airing on. They are either going to be on Crunchyroll, may show up on Netflix, or I’m not getting access. You have to admit that simplifies things a lot.
Though it also makes me wonder what happens to the remaining value of my Funimation subscription and the information out there isn’t exactly clear about how that actually works. Now sure, for Funimation only subscribers they can take advantages of the 60 day free trial for Crunchyroll being offered. Now this doesn’t apply to me nor do any of the FAQs they’ve provided so I’ve contacted Funimation asking them where that leaves the remainder of my subscription and I will wait and see what answer I get.
Why worry about a merger between Crunchyroll and Funimation?
Now I’m not actually saying the merger is bad. However, with HiDive not really being all the competitive, Netflix and Amazon barely dipping their toes into seasonal anime other than a few exclusives, this really does just leave Crunchyroll to bring anime to viewers in countries like Australia. And while I appreciate how much more anime is available to me now than ever before, I definitely have some concerns.
My biggest one would be on the issue of Censorship. Less streaming services means if Crunchyroll decides an anime goes against their ethos as a company and won’t stream it, that more or less leaves viewers with no real legal options to view it. And while there may be a good reason not to stream an anime, anyone watching the way of the world and cancel culture should be concerned that one company will get to decide which anime get a chance to be seen.
But, I’d rather not get too much into a concern that has yet to occur when I have some fairly grounded concerns about the Crunchyroll and Funimation merger.
Any long time subscriber to Crunchyroll knows there are issues with their platform. Particularly when large numbers of viewers try and access it simultaneously. Just look at premieres of shows like Attack on Titan when it takes Crunchryoll down and you get that obnoxious screen cap telling you the team of Shinobi are working on it (you know, rather than anyone with technical know-how).
Not to mention the Crunchyroll app just doesn’t work on at least half the devices I’ve ever tried to access it on.
Add into that their search engine is dreadful so finding an anime that isn’t airing right now is kind of like winning the lottery.
While that might sound like I am anti-Crunchyroll, I’m really not. They provide a fantastic anime library. So great that I was writing a post about my favourite anime on Crunchyroll when this announcement came out and kind of made that post utterly pointless. That said, there are issues and with more users and more content those issues are probably going to become more pronounced.
And now we’ve also got this whole Crunchyroll Beta thing which I’m not sure improves on anything but it looks nicer so lets go with that.
So is Crunchyroll and Funimation merging a good thing?
The optimist in me would like to believe that this merger will be good for anime viewers. Less subscriptions for more anime seems like a nice and tidy win. Honestly only time will tell if any of the concerns people have had about this actually amount to anything. The problem however is that by then it will be too late and there will only be one anime service that really provides much anime legally to viewers around the world.
Clearly this is a wait and see situation but I’d love to know what my readers think so if you have any thoughts on the Crunchyroll and Funimation merger be sure to leave a comment below.
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime. Join the discussion in the comments. Karandi James
As long as we all remember not to cross the streams, I’m sure we’ll be okay.
Real talk: I was born in the 80’s and was a teen in the 90’s (pre streaming services). I totally remember that sharing anime used to involve dodgy TV recordings getting copied to the point that they were almost unwatchable on VCR’s and passed by hand from fan to fan (the selection, particularly in Australia, was not impressive).
Then YouTube came and with it a brand new way to access so many dodgy fan-subbed series cut into shorter than ten minute segments and often plagued by missing episodes or at times entire chunks from the middle of an episode (for those not familiar with past posts on the topic, this was how I initially became a Bleach fan and believe me hunting down part b of episode whatever number and trying to find English and not Spanish subs was definitely not an easy feat at times and that was when the internet didn’t just drop out altogether).
Torrenting also became a thing and suddenly I had vast arrays of series at my disposal provided I was willing to constantly monitor my computer for nasty little intruders. However legal and consistent access to anime continue to be a challenge.
And then came streaming services.
I mean sure, poor internet connections and disruptions to service remained a thing and while that has slowly improved Australia still has a number of issues to work on in that regard (particularly for those of us who don’t live in capital cities). But now there were actual choices for watching anime. And a lot of them could be accessed for free provided you were willing to watch ads or put up with a release delay.
Suddenly being an anime fan became a lot more mainstream as people could suddenly actually see that anime was in fact more than just Pokémon episodes running during kids TV in the morning.
However, nothing is ever perfect. Each streaming service has advantages and disadvantages and they aren’t constant. Crunchy and Funimation had a brief period of togetherness before going their separate ways and AnimeLab in Australia is now pretty much just Funimation with a slightly different logo. There’s HiDive which does still have some series that aren’t accessible elsewhere, though I ultimately decided there wasn’t enough to keep an additional service on deck, Amazon of course for those willing to pay for it and Netflix continues to dabble in anime streaming though hasn’t quite worked out the whole simulcast thing that anime-fans really want.
There’s probably others, particularly elsewhere in the world, but those seem to be the main players that I have access to. Then again, assuming it isn’t over-ruled by the regulators, it seems Funimation will own Crunchyroll and then pretty much we’ll have Funimation streaming with a few different faces (unless they just consolidate the lot – though why would they if they can double charge their viewers) with a few other services that may have anime and HiDive trying to do its own thing.
The real problem with this of course is exclusive streaming where one service becomes the only one that can stream a particular series. The benefits to the company are clear as people either sign up or don’t have access. For viewers it means that one service isn’t actually enough to access everything.
Of course some people still just bypass this drama by watching wherever on the internet it becomes available. Common arguments include that the studios don’t receive the profits, they can’t watch everything in one place, or even that it costs too much to pay for ad free.
But, when I talk with most fans and the topic comes up most seem fairly happy to go through these services but inevitably struggle with the question of how many they have or need and whether it would be better to cut back or go all in. Interestingly when I asked my Twitter followers how many streaming services they were using (for anime) the majority actually only used one or two services though a few made comment that they had other services but not necessarily for anime.
Crunchyroll remains a staple but their app doesn’t work consistently on my TV (and won’t run at all on my friend’s TV) so that means it is pretty much exclusive to when I’m watching at my computer. Still, the selection of anime remains impressive and the price for a subscription so I can watch without ads is pretty good so I’ll continue with it.
AnimeLab has always had my favourite interface and player for streaming anime however the selection used to be a little on the weaker side. That’s most definitely changed and now the catalogue is very impressive and they also do a lot more dubbed anime (while I still prefer subbed when trying to talk others into watching a show with me being able to tell them they can watch in English is a definite plus). Again, a yearly subscription is reasonable and overall I’m very happy with this service at the moment.
Finally there’s Netflix which continues to have a relatively small catalogue of anime in its collection but some of those are titles that aren’t accessible elsewhere and I have the Netflix subscription for other watching anyway so it’s probably there to stay. I also subscribe to Stan but that is almost entirely for 90’s TV shows and bad horror movies and it doesn’t have any anime on it (at least as far as I can tell).
Looking into the future, it is difficult to know what streaming will be like. With so many countries now trying to catch their legal systems up with the online world and at times passing laws that have huge impacts on how companies can operate it is really impossible to know what is next for anime fans.
What I do know is that we can’t put the genie back in the bottle. All these changes in technology and access mean there’s now a whole generation who know about anime and will find ways to seek out new shows and watch them. It would be fantastic if we can find a system that allows studios to make a decent amount from their work so they can continue to produce anime, while keeping the cost barrier to fans reasonable, and ensuring the streaming services themselves remain profitable, but there’s a lot of complications to be worked through and its unlikely we’ll find a utopian style solution any time soon.
In the meantime though, I remain very glad that anime is now available at the click of a button.
Images used in title image:
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime. Join the discussion in the comments. Karandi James
I’m still shocked that My Hero Academia is no longer the global darling.
If you haven’t yet checked out the article on Crunchyroll or seen the infographics on about a dozen other blogs, here’s the link. Now assuming everyone has had a scroll through it let’s take a look at what this tells us about the most popular (or at least the most watched on Crunchyroll) anime from 2020.
Dissecting Crunchyroll’s Most Popular Anime List
Firstly, just from looking at the colours, it became clear that My Hero Academia’s strangle hold on the community has finally left after four seasons. That isn’t to say people aren’t still watching it, and given it is still the most watched show in a number of regions it is still pretty popular, but really the universal shine it used to have has kind of come down a bit. I would suggest that this demonstrates some fickleness in the community, but really Boruto, Black Clover, Attack on Titan, and Re:Zero are all either returning or long running anime.
Now the summation of how many countries each anime topped is available at the end of Cruncyroll’s article. However, it should be noted that Black Clover (87 countries) and Jujutsu Kaisen (71 countries) very much eclipsed even their next closest rival which was Boruto (only topping 32 countries). Colour me surprises given I dumped Black Clover early on and to be honest, even seeing this massive popular support isn’t enough to convince me it is worth going back and listening to Asta screeching. However, Black Clover has a hold on quite a selection of Europe and shares popularity with Jujutsu Kaisen in the Middle East and Africa.
Full disclosure, I haven’t watched any of Jujutsu Kaisen yet. It’s been firmly recommended to me as an anime I need to catch from 2020, but as it hasn’t finished airing yet, I’m leaving it on hold for the time being. So all I really have to go on is the genre tags and surprise-surprise both Jujutsu Kaisen and Black Clover are tagged as shounen and action anime. Black Clover has an additional fantasy and magic tag whereas Jujutsu Kaisen has the supernatural and school tags associated with it.
Looking at all the anime that made the list, the only one that didn’t get tagged as action is Re:Zero with shounen turning up in 5 of 9 titles and fantasy/supernatural/superpower turning up in 8 of the 9 (no idea about Onyx Equinox).
This shouldn’t really be surprising given shounen anime is a prolific genre giving a range of titles, the anime tend of be based on popular source material so have a pre-existing fan-base, there’s often tie-in games movies and a range of merchandise associated with them, and let’s not leave out the fact that even viewers like myself who wouldn’t list shounen in my top anime genres occasionally enjoys a good power fantasy.
Despite the jokes people might make about it as a genre, there’s a real wide ranging appeal for a lot of these titles as they have large casts, epic plots, tend to blend high powered action sequences with some occasionally solid emotional nuances and provide ongoing character development through series of progressive arcs in which the audience grows more and more attached to the cast. While someone might objectively point out there are ‘better’ stories or anime that display the range of possibilities with animation better, often the examples they will use have a very niche appeal which makes them unlikely to top a most popular in any country list.
There are some differences globally though. The Asian market being dominated by Boruto with Black Clover getting almost no love at all. Unfortunately without information such as how many viewers there are in each region or knowing what second or even third preferences were, it is hard to draw any conclusions about distinct differences with the western and eastern anime market.
Realistically, what the 2020 most popular anime information Crunchyroll has released told me was:
The ‘average’ anime fan is probably still male aged 16 to early 20’s. While there are definitely more female and older anime fans making their voices heard online, the market majority seems fairly clear.
Long running anime is definitely not dead. While there are plenty of anime that only run for a season or two, the long running shounen format still has a large fan following and so this format of anime is going to continue to be made.
Whether it was because it was 2020 or whether this is an ongoing trend I do not know, but clearly anime fans were after an escape or power fantasy. And who can blame them? 2020 seems like the perfect time to escape reality.
Despite vast cultural differences, ultimately the most popular anime were the most popular across multiple countries with only Re Zero and Onyx Equinox taking top in 1 country each. Seems anime fandom has some universals which should make us feel all nicely connected in a year where so many of us have been alone.
I appreciate that readers from elsewhere in the world probably don’t need to know what streaming is like in Australia, however with Amazon recently ditching Strike and adding their anime to Prime (and Prime being available in Australia even if much like other services the library is smaller than it might be elsewhere), it seemed like a good time to reflect on the access situation in Australia.
It used to be really hard trying to be an anime fan in Australia. Purchasing DVD’s off various websites and usually ending up with questionable quality, watching fan-subs on YouTube, or resorting to Downloads were more or less the only options.
Fortunately, we now have online streaming (and a lot more avenues for purchasing DVD’s once they finally get released).
Sure there are some barriers to online streaming. The two main ones seem to be dodgy internet or the fact that you need multiple subscriptions to access sufficient content to make it worth your while. And they are both legitimate issues still to be addressed, however for me legal streaming sites are fantastic. I’m never without new anime to watch and as much as I complain about various services, ultimately the access I have now is so far beyond what I could have even imagined even ten years ago.
So let’s go through the services I currently use and some points about them (keeping in mind some of the services aren’t for anime strictly speaking, they just happen to have some anime on them). This isn’t a definitive guide nor is it researched. Just my experience with the service. I will point out it might look like I’m tearing into Crunchyroll but it is the service that has the most anime on it so I have spent the most time on it. Obviously I’ll have found more issues with a service I use daily than one I might check in on once a month to see if anything new is out (Netflix). I will point out this is a fairly rambling post. Bottom line, all services have good and bad points and to get access to the largest range of titles you need multiple services.
This is the big one with almost all of my current watch list for the season coming off of Crunchyroll (I have one current show from HiDive that I might drop mid-season, and I’ve picked up one on Amazon but I haven’t picked any up from AnimeLab this season). It didn’t used to have quite that many titles but after their partnership with Funimation they now get the lion’s share of the anime I end up watching. They also have a fairly massive library of older titles and for the price you pay for a yearly subscription you more than get your money’s worth in content. However, probably because I use it the most often, Crunchyroll is also the service I have the most issues with.
01. Some titles don’t get released in Australia even though they are on Crunchyroll. What makes this particularly annoying is that Crunchyroll sends out an email to tell you about this great new title you can watch and when you click the link it takes you to a page that tells you the title isn’t available in your region. Seriously, get a decent email system and send those notifications to people who are in regions with access. Ultimately this is a minor annoyance.
02. The video player is not good. It doesn’t buffer a video so any internet disruption (and this is Australia and I’m in the country so there are a lot) stops the video in its tracks. Worse, when connection is restored (even if the glitch was just for a second) the video won’t just start. You normally have to reload the page and then it might start from approximately where you were up to but sometimes it just restarts the whole video (and don’t even try skipping forward – the video will crash and you will have to start over more often than not). Again, this is my experience with it but it is actually painful some days to get to the end of an episode. But that isn’t every day, it just happens more often than I would like.
03. The ‘help’ provided is more frustrating than helpful. Without getting into too much detail in the two years I’ve been streaming and reviewing I’ve had two issues I could not solve on my end at all (and believe me I tried with the second because I did not want to contact their help again). Neither issue ended up being solved in a satisfactory manner and the icing on the cake is after not resolving the issue in a timely or helpful manner I then got bugged for weeks after to provide feedback on how I found their help only the link they sent in those emails didn’t work. Very annoying. However, I could look at the bright side that I’ve only needed to access that kind of help twice and other issues I’ve been able to resolve after spending a few hours going through the very poorly organised help files.
04. Finally, Crunchyroll has been hacked and their site goes down when popular anime stream and their customers actually try to use the service on mass. This is a problem well discussed on Twitter.
Still, if you are in Australia and actually wanting to stay current with seasonal anime, despite all of those issues, Crunchyroll is actually the service that will give you the most access for your money and given the amount of anime I’ve reviewed I’m guessing I’m not too hard done by despite feeling frustrated regularly with this service.
I used to be really, really happy with my subscription to AnimeLab. Firstly they stream only in Australia and New Zealand. The player is fantastic, navigating between episodes when bingeing is awesome. You can even tell it that you haven’t watched a series so it removes all the places you’ve stopped watching and it will start all episodes from the beginning allowing easy rewatching without being bugged about whether you want to resume an episode or not. Plus, videos buffer so you can make sure you can get to the end of a show before starting it. Very little to complain about.
My biggest issue has come about since the Crunchyroll – Funimation partnership. Since Funimation partnered with Crunchyroll… well the last two seasons have not seen much coming out on AnimeLab. Last season I was watching UQ Holder on it (and I could have watched that on HiDive), and this season the only show I’m interested in watching is Record of Grancrest War and it is available on Crunchyroll. I’m subscribed until later in the year but if they aren’t getting seasonal anime then I will probably let this subscription go.
That said, if you are a casual anime fan in Australia, AnimeLab is a great service. They have quite a selection of big titles in their library and while the library isn’t massive it does get added to fairly regularly. I was very happy when they released Drifters as I hadn’t been able to watch it prior to AnimeLab picking it up and they regularly add titles and notify their users of what is in their library.
Okay, I only added this one late last year and it still hasn’t made it clear what the final price of a subscription will be as we are still on their introductory price. I’ll decide whether to keep this service or not then.
HiDive was a fantastic addition though as it gave me access to titles like Made in Abyss that I’d heard a lot about but hadn’t been able to access. Like AnimeLab, the existing library isn’t that big, but is getting added to, and they’ve recently got their apps up and working so I can now view on my television or anywhere else for that matter.
For the short time I’ve had the service, I’m more or less happy with it. It occasionally glitches and the menus are not great but for the most part I’ve had no major issues watching on this service. Still, I only watched three shows on it last season and I’ve only really watched 3 or 4 older shows from start to finish, so my experience here is limited.
This one I only just signed up for and I would not have for their anime collection. It isn’t overly impressive with what is available in Australia. While it has added 9 or so titles to my catch up viewing list for the year and I’m glad to have access, this can’t compare to the selection on any of the other services. This service was more for the movie catalogue than for anime.
Much like Amazon, though I’ve had this account for much longer. I watch the occasional anime title on it but the collection is not great and they don’t do current seasonal shows anyway. Netflix is definitely something you have for the other content and the few anime they pick up are just a bonus.
As I said at the start, this isn’t a definitive guide but more my thoughts on each service and my experience (or lack of it) with the services. What I do like is that there are only a few titles left each season that I can’t access, and even with all these services together, each month it is still cheaper than going to the cinema once with another person and buying a drink and popcorn combo (which actually seems pretty reasonable given how much content I watch across these services – or it means the price of cinema tickets and snacks is insane).
It is a very good time to be an anime fan in Australia as more becomes available every season and it is actually reasonably priced to get these services. The slow internet issue is something that needs to be addressed but not just for streaming anime.
So, if you read to the end of my rambling thoughts here I’d love to know if you are Australian what your experience is like accessing anime and if you aren’t Australian, what are your options?
Thanks for reading.
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A while back I wrote a feature on the cycle of love and hate in anime where pretty much anything that gained momentum through hype and popular appeal then became scrutinised to death and soon the negative bandwagon would start rolling down the hill trying to obliterate everything in it’s path (okay, I wasn’t that melodramatic but it kind of feels like that’s where this post needs to go). Because today I want to look at the fallout of Crunchyroll’s recent popular vote.
At the time I was commenting on the sudden popularity of Yuri On Ice and how I hadn’t intended to jump on the hype train but after watching it I was kind of dragged along (and of course we all know what happened next, I fully got on board because it was fun to be there).
Anyway, toward the end of the post I said the following wondering what the aftermath for Yuri On Ice would be:
It will be interesting to see where the love/hate split for this anime ends up once the anime has ended. Will the series fail to maintain its standard but still keep those on the hype train sitting there? Will it falter so that those of us who came in out of curiosity (who aren’t totally in the fan category but are really enjoying it) start to pull more of the faults apart? Or will the hate bandwagon gain momentum and eventually win out? Or, will it actually be an incredible anime from start to finish?
I was kind of hoping that we’d end up in a happy middle with the major fans enjoying their fan moment, the rest of finding something to enjoy even as we picked at it, and the few haters throwing rocks from the sidelines. And though it may not seem like it, we have kind of ended up there.
After Crunchyroll announced the winners of their anime of the year awards (other than the anime of the year) the results were clear. Yuri won every category it was nominated for. The fans were thrilled, others were a little more guarded in their response, not disliking Yuri so much but also not convinced that it should have taken out so many awards, and some people were pretty annoyed.
The problem of having a popular vote rather.
What followed on Twitter was an explosion of tweets both positive and negative either supporting the vote or tearing the result apart, though some were fairly level headed.
Before we get to the tweets, I want to put my own thoughts out there. Yuri On Ice was my ‘best’ anime of the year but my selection was entirely based on entertainment value. And while I loved the animation (it was pretty) as a general rule other than something being visually appealing or not I don’t really care or comment on the technical side of anime because I am hopelessly unqualified to do so (I can’t draw stick figures let alone actually animate something).
Yuri On Ice also won my reader’s poll by one vote. As no one had to justify their votes I’m certain most of my readers just voted for what they enjoyed most from the year.
So was I happy that Yuri On Ice won a lot of awards? Absolutely. It shows the fans of the show were active during the voting and that it was loved by a lot of fans. Do I think that from a technical point of view Yuri should have won all of those categories? Probably not, but it wasn’t a technical score but a popular vote so all anyone can do is accept the outcome.
If you made one of the tweets below and want it removed from the post, please contact me and I will remove it. These have been chosen as examples of the range of opinions that were on display and are not intended to pass judgement on any individual’s opinion. Any inappropriate language has been crossed out.
I’m listening to the Yuri on Ice ending and it’s so beautiful it deserved winning best ending award! Thanks! ^^ #yurionice
IF ####### YURI ON ICE COULD WIN BECAUSE IT USED CHOREOGRAPHY WHY COULDNT ALL-OUT WIN THE ANIMATION AWARD FOR THE #Crunchyrollanimeawards
yuri on ice is great but like it’s not great enough to win every anime of the year award? it was great but there were other amazing anime –
I’m still really upset that Yuri on Ice won the best animation of the year award instead of Mob Psycho but that won’t change anything
Okay which dumb### voted for Yuri on Ice to won most of the Crunchyroll award,get the #### out from my following list
I still can’t believe that Yuri on Ice has won so many undeserved award on Crunchyroll just because the fangirls are scary human beings
Congrat to Yuri!! On Ice won almost every anime award!! I’m so happy #teamviktuuri
I think this is reflective of the community at large, the issue being that those negative voice are getting louder and it isn’t the show they are criticising all of the time (which would be fine because there’s always some issues with a show you could point out) but there are a lot of posts attacking the fans of the show (and yes, I didn’t post some of the more offensive tweets I’ve come across because I don’t really want that sort of thing on my blog).
Amazingly enough in a popular vote, something that is popular (not necessarily good/or bad) will win. That’s a basic issue with awards being given through votes rather than some sort of criteria of selection panel (which is also able to become totally disconnected from the fans or just completely corrupt).
The other thing a lot of people haven’t considered is that for most categories people were given four choices that had already been selected (yes there was an other option but the likelihood of enough write in votes to overturn the options given is pretty low).
So the whole thing needs some perspective. These awards simply give the community a place to have their say about what they enjoyed, for whatever reason. Because it is a popular vote, whichever fandom has the most momentum at the time within the anime community is almost guaranteed to win. The only way for the results to be any different in a popular vote is for a concentrated PR campaign to mobilise other fandoms prior to the voting commencing and getting sufficient voter turn out. And at the end of the day, it’s an online poll of anime shows.
Your thoughts on the awards and the fall out?
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime. Join the discussion in the comments. Karandi James
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