The Anime Insider announcement - not the first time for Funimation ...

So yesterday it was discovered that in the August issue of Wizard's Anime Insider magazine, Funimation Productions (best known for releasing Dragon Ball Z and Fullmetal Alchemist in the U.S.) was named as the distributor of Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles. On the forums, Kevin McKeever of Harmony Gold was quick to note that in reality, no such deal had been signed. Something about this seemed awfully familiar, but it wasn't until I was talking with my pal Ian about the "news" last night that I remembered what it was.

A few years ago, Funimation was in the running to acquire the rights to One Piece, the popular Shonen Jump title about a stretchy-limbed, thick-headed boy who wants to become King of the Pirates and seize the legendary treasure of Gold Rodger, the "One Piece." It's a lot like Dragon Ball Z in that it's kind of shrill, eye-catching, fight-oriented, and really, really long, so obviously this would have been a grand fit for Funimation, a company that was built on a show in that style. However, during an anime convention, someone from Funimation leaked that, oh yeah, they've got the rights to the show. There seemed no reason to doubt the validity of this claim. In fact, they owned the rights to the internet domain name "" and had acquired a U.S. trademark on the series title. However, in early 2003 Funimation announced to the anime news sites that they never really got the license locked down, and that they were merely in the running to acquire the show.

Ultimately, in early 2004, 4Kids Entertainment acquired the rights to the One Piece TV series, and continues to air their watered down version of One Piece on the Fox television network every Saturday.

I've heard that this period of perception that Funimation had acquired the One Piece license ultimately cost them the license; I'm not familiar with the details, but I can think of a handful of ways that could have become a mark against them, or given 4Kids an advantage. In any case, it sounds to me like an instance of the old saying being true: "Loose lips sink ships." I just hope that this Anime Insider news blurb doesn't sink this one.


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