Friday, 8 April 2016

Random Topic: Funimation Now UK Launched! My First Impressions

After many months of waiting, the new beta version of Funimation's re-designed website is now live for the United Kingdom and Ireland. I've been messing around with it since the moment it went up so here's my first impressions.

So a quick round-up over the recent events. The re-designed site was announced back in early January and it wasn't until recently where the UK & Ireland finally got confirmation on the launch date. You can check out the previous posts I made here and here.

The Line-Up

First let's talk about the most important part of the streaming service - the line-up. I had initial doubts and hopes about this because we all knew that Funimation had UK & IE rights to a lot of titles over the years and with the final result - I'm mostly satisfied for the most part. The line-up contains just over 170 anime shows/films, most of them have English dub support and are available to stream in HD. Now I knew there were licensing restrictions from companies like Gonzo, Kadokawa Pictures, NBCUniversal Ent. Japan and Toei Animation so I can understand why certain shows didn't make it but for the rest I was pleased to see their appearance.

For starters one of the titles is Fairy Tail. This shonen series has had a rough time over the past few years due to under-performing sales, Blu-ray support dismissed and lack of streaming access for the first 175 episodes. Thanks to Funimation, the UK & Ireland can now watch the entire series in Japanese as well as English (the simulcasts aren't dubbed yet) - to be specific that's all 175 episodes from Series 1, all 90 episodes from Series 2, all 12 episodes from Fairy Tail Zero and even the Phoenix Priestess movie. All legally available. Another perfect example is Hellsing Ultimate, the OVA re-adaptation of the Hellsing manga series. The UK & Ireland never got the chance to see the final 2 OVA episodes and with Funimation Now they can! Unfortunately due to Geneon acquiring the first 4 OVA episodes the UK & Ireland only have access to what Funimation had licensed (which was OVA episodes 5-10) but nevertheless it's better than nothing!

The line-up also contains a ton of well-known anime shows ranging from the newer series like Attack on Titan, Dimension W, Garo: Crimson Moon, Ghost in the Shell Arise, My Hero Academia, Overlord, Prison School, Shimoneta and Yurikuma Arashi, all the way back to the older anime titles from the 2000s era like D.Gray-man, Ikki Tousen, Initial D, Mushi-Shi, Suzuka, Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki, Utawarerumono and Welcome to the NHK. The full-list will be shown at the bottom of this post.

Main Menu, Show section and Search

As for the site itself it's rather clean and simple in contrast to its older design. The main menu displays a quick slide that shows the latest popular shows like Attack on Titan and My Hero Academia, while there's also a section below that shows what titles you selected for your Queue and episodes you were in the middle of watching (so you can return back to that point). It's quick and simple so I have no problems with that. When you hover the mouse on each title you can select/de-select them to your Queue list.

On the shows section they cleaned it up by displaying 20 titles per page. The filtering has moved from the top to the left column side, where you can sort by audio options, genre and year of release. Currently the shows are listed at random and are not in alphabetical order, nor can you sort it that way so it'll be hard to find the show you want unless you keep scrolling back and forth. There are also shows duplicated when you move between pages so that doesn't help at all, and neither does the fact that only 160 are shown (technically less due to the duplication) instead of all of them. There is also a search tool that you can use to find the show/film you want however it's currently not in its best form as it tends to list zero results on shows already on the site like Hellsing Ultimate and Initial D. Listing only 2 letters can get a couple results; the best result tends to be the most accurate one while there's a few more that are displayed in small text on the right hand side. The search tool will also list the episodes that contain the letters/words in their title name. It's aright but it needs a lot of work since it's clearly not finished yet. Overall it's doable for now but I hope Funimation can improve it even further before the final version goes out.

Setting up an Account & Subscription

When the beta went up, everything was a bit broken. When you subscribe you have the option to see what subscriptions are available (Basic Pass: Free, Sub Pass: £3.99 a month, All-Access Pass: £6.99 a month ~ Ireland users are 4.99 and 7.99 euros respectively) as well as being able to log in or create an account. Setting up an account starts off with your E-Mail and Password which is simple enough, however I noticed the page itself was constantly loading (I like to call it lag since it's actually done and sorted but the page hasn't updated yet) so the best way to fix it is to check your E-Mail to see if it got through fine and then open a new tab back to the main page. You'll know when you're in when you see a new drop down menu with settings as such.

The settings is where you can create your username (which can't be changed afterwards) as well as adding your name, date of birth and also allowing you to change E-Mail and Passwords if necessary. It's quick and easy, updated fast and I had no problems, which is good. Now what about the subscriptions you ask? Well simple enough you go back to the Subscribe page and add in your existing details to the 'Existing Account' part. Now here's the kicker - Funimation clarified that PayPal support is not available at launch so you can only add in Card details for now. If you're not a fan of this then I suggest you wait it out until they add the support. If you aren't bothered then just add in the details and make sure you pick the right subscription you want to pay for.

Since the UK never got the previous version of the Funimation site, they are providing everyone with a 30 day free trial to the All-Access Pass content and they'll charge you once it runs out. Like the sign up page, the subscription details did get stuck in the loading screen for a long time so I checked my E-Mail and opened a new tab to make sure it got through okay. Overall this part is perfectly fine for UK customers, though I've heard some folks having card problems while Ireland users had trouble related to the currency. The loading part I hope gets fixed though.

The Video

Funimation's player contains a bunch of things for the user to modify. They can change the audio to either English or Japanese (if both are available), turn the sound up/down, share the video to social media like Facebook and Twitter, and also go straight into another episode. Video will auto-play to the English dub and in HD so bare that in mind when you start a video. Now in terms of the video quality, while I have no issues in terms of buffering (though it may differ for those with weaker connections) the shows do still suffer from the color correction issue that is plaguing the US version. What I mean is that the videos are darker than the usual so it makes shows like Psycho Pass much harder to actually see and that isn't a good thing at all. Granted most won't notice unless they have good eye on the quality part, don't worry this issue isn't affecting the home release discs it's just the online streaming part.

Another issue many folks have is hard subs. Now Funimation is working on adding soft subtitles support but at this time they aren't available so we will have to put up with hard subs. In fact when you change audio the video re-buffers to affect this change instead of keeping the video going like VLC would do. Overall it's doing a good job getting the shows going but the color and hard subs issue can be a pain depending on the show you're watching.

UPDATE: It appears they added some updates to the website. On the account settings you can now manually sort out how you want the video to play out. While the Mature Filter option was already there (to keep minors away from sexy yuri like Valkyrie Drive or violent vampires from Hellsing Ultimate), they now added manual options to Audio and Video Quality. That way you can select how the video should start out (English or Japanese) and the resolution it should use when playing (Auto, Low [SD aka 480p], Medium [HD 720p] or High [HD 1080p]). You can also toggle auto-play on/off. These features (minus quality) can be modified during video playback. While it works during playback, if your connection isn't spot on you may experience the video stopping at times and even see the resolution get reduced but it does auto-correct itself after a few seconds.


So is Funimation Now worth subscribing to? I say yes for the most part. There are anime fans out there who prefer to have the video quality in the best original form as much as possible and I completely understand that, but Funimation isn't going to fix that at any point so if they feel that they don't want to support the site then that's fine by me. But for the others who just want to see the shows whether its in Japanese or dubbed in English then go for it! This site is literally one of the few anime sites you need (the other being Crunchyroll) and while the catalogue may be only half of what the US has received, it's going to expand thanks to the future simulcasts and potentially more catalogue shows (Funimation have rescued a whole bunch of shows and it's possible UK rights may have been included for them).

If you could only choose between Crunchyroll and Funimation then I suggest you decide based on how you watch your shows - if you prefer English dubs then go for Funimation but if you like the more niche type of anime then Crunchyroll will help fit that slot. Funimation mainly goes after the big shows so that's another note you should be aware of - if you see a potentially huge deal in the upcoming season then chances are Funimation will go ahead and license it.

You can check out Funimation Now here (for UK) and here (for Ireland).

Now that I've covered my thoughts, here's the full-list of anime available on Funimation Now UK/IE:
 - Absolute Duo
 - Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero (Hagure Yuusha no Aesthetica)
 - Ah! My Goddess: Flights of Fancy (Aa! Megami-sama!: Sorezore no Tsubasa)
 - Air Gear
 - Aquarion Logos
 - Aria the Scarlet Ammo (Hidan no Aria)
 - Aria the Scarlet Ammo AA (Hidan no Aria AA)
 - Assassination Classroom (Ansatsu Kyoushitsu)
 - Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin)
 - Attack on Titan: Junior High (Shingeki! Kyojin Chuugakkou)
 - Baka & Test: Summon the Beasts (Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu)
 - Baldr Force EXE (Baldr Force Exe Resolution)
 - Bamboo Blade
 - Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad
 - Ben-To
 - Big Windup! (Ookiku Furikabutte)
 - Bikini Warriors
 - Birdy the Mighty Decode (Tetsuwan Birdy Decode)
 - Black Blood Brothers
 - Blessing of the Campanella (Shukufuku no Campanella)
 - Blood Blockade Battlefront (Kekkai Sensen)
 - Blue Gender
 - Blue Gender: The Warrior
 - Cat Planet Cuties (Asobi ni Iku yo!)
 - Chaos Dragon (Chaos Dragon: Sekiryuu Sen'eki)
 - Chobits
 - Code:Breaker
 - Concrete Revolutio (Concrete Revolutio: Choujin Gensou)
 - Corpse Princess (Shikabane Hime)
 - Coyote Ragtime Show
 - Cute High Earth Defence Club Love! (Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love!)
 - D-Frag! (D-Fragments)
 - D.Gray-man
 - Dagashi Kashi
 - Dance in the Vampire Bund
 - Dance With Devils
 - Danganronpa the Animation (Danganronpa: Kibou no Gakuen to Zetsubou no Koukousei The Animation)
 - Death Parade
 - The Devil is a Part-Timer! (Hataraku Maou-sama!)
 - Devil May Cry: The Animated Series
 - Dimension W
 - Divine Gate
 - Doamayger-D
 - Dragonar Academy (Seikoku no Dragonar)
 - Eden of the East (Higashi no Eden)
 - Eden of the East: Air Communication (Higashi no Eden Soushuuhen: Air Communication)
 - Eden of the East: The King of Eden (Higashi no Eden: The King of Eden)
 - Eden of the East: Paradise Lost (Higashi no Eden: Paradise Lost)
 - El Cazador de la Bruja
 - Endride
 - Eureka Seven: Astral Ocean
 - Fafner: Dead Aggressor
 - Fafner: Dead Aggressor: Heaven and Earth
 - Fairy Tail
 - Fairy Tail (2014)
 - Fairy Tail Zero
 - Fairy Tail: Phoenix Priestess (Fairy Tail: Houou no Miko)
 - Freezing
 - Freezing Vibration
 - Fruits Basket
 - The Galaxy Railways (Ginga Tetsudou Monogatari)
 - Gangsta.
 - Garo: Crimson Moon (Garo: Guren no Tsuki)
 - Ghost Hunt
 - Ghost in the Shell: Arise
 - Ghost in the Shell: Arise Alternative Architecture
 - Gonna be the Twin-Tail!! (Ore, Twintails ni Narimasu.)
 - Good Luck Girl! (Binbougami ga!)
 - Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash (Hai to Gensou no Grimgar)
 - Guilty Crown
 - Gunslinger Girl
 - Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino
 - Guyver: The Bioboosted Armor (Kyoushoku Soukou Guyver [2005])
 - Haganai: I Don't Have Many Friends (Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai)
 - Haganai: I Don't Have Many Friends NEXT (Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai NEXT)
 - Haruchika: Haruta & Chika (Haruchika: Haruta to Chika wa Seishun Suru)
 - Heaven's Lost Property: Forte (Sora no Otoshimono: Forte)
 - Heavy Object
 - Hellsing Ultimate [Volumes V-X]
 - Hero Tales (Jyuushin Enbu: Hero Tales)
 - Heroic Age
 - Hetalia: Axis Powers
 - Hetalia: Axis Powers: Paint it, White
 - Hetalia: The Beautiful World
 - Hetalia: World Series
 - Hetalia: The World Twinkle
 - High School DxD BorN
 - High School DxD New
 - Ikki Tousen
 - Ikki Tousen: Great Guardians
 - Ikki Tousen: Xtreme Xecutor
 - In Search of the Lost Future (Ushinawareta Mirai wo Motomete)
 - Inari Kon Kon (Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha.)
 - Initial D: 1st Stage
 - Initial D: 2nd Stage
 - Initial D: 3rd Stage
 - Initial D: 4th Stage
 - Jormungand
 - Jormungand: Perfect Order
 - Junjo Romantica 3
 - Jyu-Oh-Sei
 - Kanon [2006]
 - Karneval
 - Kiddy Grade
 - Kumamiko - Girl Meets Bear
 - Kurau Phantom Memory
 - Laughing Under the Clouds (Donten ni Warau)
 - Le Chevalier D'Eon
 - The Legend of the Legendary Heroes (Densetsu no Yuusha no Densetsu)
 - Level E
 - Luck & Logic
 - Magikano
 - Master of Martian Hearts (Zettai Shougeki: Platonic Heart)
 - Mikagura School Suite (Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku)
 - Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
 - Moon Phase (Tsukuyomi: Moon Phase)
 - Murder Princess
 - Mushi-Shi
 - My Bride is a Mermaid (Seto no Hanayome)
 - My Hero Academia (Boku no Hero Academia)
 - Nabari no Ou
 - Negima!
 - Negima!? Magister Negi Magi
 - Ninja Slayer From Animation
 - Noragami
 - Noragami Aragoto
 - Okami-san and Her Seven Companions (Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakama-tachi)
 - OniAi (Oniichan dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!)
 - Ouran High School Host Club (Ouran Koukou Host Club)
 - Overlord
 - Pandora in the Crimson Shell: Ghost Urn
 - Pani Poni Dash!
 - Peach Girl
 - Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom
 - Prince of Stride: Alternative
 - Prison School
 - Project Blue Earth SOS (Project BLUE Chikyuu SOS)
 - Psycho Pass 2
 - Psycho Pass: Extended Edition
 - Puchimas!: Petit iDOLM@STER
 - Puchimas!: Petit Petit iDOLM@STER
 - Pumpkin Scissors
 - Rage of Bahamut: Genesis (Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis)
 - Rainbow Days (Nijiiro Days)
 - Rainy Cocoa (Ame-iro Cocoa)
 - Rainy Cocoa: Welcome to Rainy Color (Ame-iro Cocoa: Rainy Color e Youkoso!)
 - Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace
 - Red Garden
 - RideBack
 - Robotics;Notes
 - Rumbling Hearts (Kimi ga Nozomu Eien)
 - The Sacred Blacksmith (Seiken no Blacksmith)
 - Samurai Warriors (Sengoku Musou)
 - Samurai Warriors: Legend of the Sanada (Sengoku Musou SP: Sanada no Shou)
 - Sands of Destruction (World Destruction: Sekai Bokumetsu no Rokunin)
 - Sankarea
 - Sasami Magical Girls Club (Sasami: Mahou Shoujo Club)
 - Save Me! Lollipop (Mamotte! Lollipop)
 - School Rumble
 - School Rumble 2nd Semester (School Rumble Ni Gakki)
 - Seiyu's Life! (Sore ga Seiyuu!)
 - Sekirei
 - Sekirei: Pure Engagement
 - Selector Spread WIXOSS
 - Sengoku Basara: End of Judgement (Sengoku Basara: Judge End)
 - Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings
 - Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings - The Last Party
 - Senran Kagura: Ninja Flash!
 - Shattered Angels (Kyoushirou to Towa no Sora)
 - Shigurui: Death Frenzy
 - Shiki
 - SHIMONETA: A Boring World Where the Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn't Exist (Shimoneta to Iu Gainen ga Sonzai Shinai Taikutsu na Sekai)
 - Shomin Sample (Ore ga Ojousama Gakkou ni "Shomin Sample" Toshite Gets♥Sareta Ken)
 - Shonen Hollywood -Holly Stage for 49-
 - Show By Rock!!
 - Shuffle!
 - Sky Wizards Academy (Kuusen Madoushi Kouhosei no Kyoukan)
 - Snow White with the Red Hair (Akagami no Shirayuki-hime)
 - Starmyu
 - Strike Witches
 - Suzuka
 - Tales of Vesperia: The First Strike
 - Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki
 - Tokyo Majin (Tokyo Majin Gakuen Kenpucho)
 - Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle: Spring Thunder Chronicle
 - Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle: Tokyo Revelations
 - UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie (UFO Princess Valkyrie)
 - Ultimate Otaku Teacher (Denpa Kyoushi)
 - Unbreakable Machine Doll (Machine-Doll wa Kizutsukanai)
 - Utawarerumono
 - Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid
 - Venus Project: Climax
 - Venus Versus Virus
 - We Without Wings - Under the Innocent Sky. (Oretachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai: Under the Innocent Sky.)
 - Welcome to the NHK (NHK ni Youkoso!)
 - xxxHolic
 - Yatterman Night (Yoru no Yatterman)
 - Yona of the Dawn (Akatsuki no Yona)
 - Yu Yu Hakusho
 - Yurikuma Arashi

Funimation did point out that some won't be available at launch first so I have no idea what they could be besides Jing: King of Bandits: Seventh Heaven and Tenchi Muyo! GXP. Other simulcasts like Haifuri and Shonen Maid are also not yet available since they haven't aired yet.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.

About this blog

My photo
Member of the Anime UK News forum, and also once part of the Sheffield Hallam Visual Arts society throughout 2013-2017. Been collecting anime since 2012 and supported the anime distributors ever since. Also been hanging around on the Blu-ray forum and Fandom Post forums.

Blog Archive