Okay guys, we have another bit of breaking anime news…and once again, it ain’t good. You know, I went into 2012 optimistic about what the future would bring. I mean, surely the news that Bandai was going to stop producing anime DVD’s and Blu-Ray disks in the US was the worst that could happen and that things couldn’t POSSIBLY get any worse or more bizarre. Then I get this bit of news in my inbox which blew my remaining optimism clean out the window, into the street, and into the path of a loaded 18-wheeler.
According to Anime News Network, Funimation Entertainment, one of the largest distributors of anime in the US, is suing A.D.Vision, AEsir Holdings, Section23 Films, Valkyrie Media Partners, Seraphim Studios, Sentai Filmworks, Sentai Holdings, and Switchblade Pictures along with A.D.Vision co-founder John Ledford for eight million dollars due to breach of contract. The total amount they’re seeking is in the neighborhood of $8,000,000. Now, I read the article several times over, and this is the way I understand it in the simplest of ways [If I am missing something, I beg your pardon; I’m not a lawyer, nor do I want to be.]:
1. Back in the day, when ADV was all one company, there was a third-party anime license company called ARM Corporation. ADV purchased about 30 anime licenses from ARM Corporation with the agreement that ADV would pay ARM Corporation back. Those titles were:
[009-1, Ah! My Goddess: Flights of Fancy, Air Gear, Air movie, Air TV, Blade of the Phantom Master, Comic Party: Revolution, Coyote Ragtime Show, Devil May Cry Guyver: The Bioboosted Armor TV, Jing, King of Bandits: Seventh Heaven, Jinki:Extend, Kanon, Kyoshiro to Towa no Sora (once titled as Shattered Angels by ADV Films), Le Chevalier D’Eon, Magikano, Moeyo Ken TV, Moonlight Mile, Murder Princess, Nerima Daikon Brothers, Pani Poni Dash!, Project Blue Earth SOS, Pumpkin Scissors, Red Garden, Sgt. Keroro 1st & 2nd, Tokyo Majin, UFO Princess Valkyrie, Utawarerumono, Venus Versus Virus, The Wallflower, Welcome to the NHK, and Xenosaga]
2. Allegedly, ADV, acting like that stingy cousin you KNOW you shouldn’t loan money to, did not hold up to the payment agreement, and the licenses for the above series expired. ARM Company then went to Funimation Entertainment and said “Look, I have these licenses, but that fool ADV won’t pay me back. If you want ’em, you can have ’em. And in fact, since we’re getting out the game, I’m giving you the right to try to get money from that fool ADV.” Thus, the titles and the responsibility for collecting the cash from ADV fell to Funimation.
3. ADV caught wind of this and decided to do the honorable thing–SPLIT. In 2009, they sold off their remaining assets and split up the company under completely different names, but all the higher-ups kept their positions. Funimation cried foul, which brings us to today’s announcement.
A.D.Vison [Or, to be exact, Sentai Filmworks, Seraphim Studios, Sentai Holdings, Valkyrie Media Partners, Unio Mysteica Holdings, AEsir Holdings, and Section23 Films] filed a counter-suit alleging that the agreement made was between ARM Corporation and A.D.Vision. But, of course, as of late 2009, the company known as A.D.Vision no longer existed, so the agreement is null and void. In addition, not-A.D.Vision is crying foul themselves, claiming that Funimation is not only past the statute of limitations [the amount of time a lawsuit or claim can be filed], but they weren’t even involved in the original agreement between A.D.Vision and ARM Corporation so they can’t sue…neener, neener, neener!
And so there you have it. On October 5, 2012, both parties will begin the process of taking each other to court, and, unless the two parties work something out behind the scenes, I feel confident in saying that this will be one helluva messy battle. Funimation has requested a jury trial, which means that a group of approximately twelve jurors could hear the case.
My thoughts on the whole situation? Plain and simple; Funimation wouldn’t waste time or money even trying this stunt if they didn’t have a solid case. And just from the information provided, it looks like they do. And it does make the split-up of not-ADV all that more suspicious; I mean, why in the world would you suddenly divide up your company into separate pieces that does exactly the same thing with the same people? Normally, when some dishonest person owes you money that they can’t pay back, they’ll avoid contact anyway they can and find ways not to pay you. By the looks of things, not-ADV decided to take the extreme route by splitting up, completely dropping the company name, and starting up shop as mini-companies. So when Funimation comes around looking for their money, all these little companies look back at it, wide-eyed an innocent, shrugging their shoulders like “ADV? There’s no ADV here? It’s just me, little ol’ Sentai Filmworks…” That is, if that’s how it all went down. Like I said before, I’m no legal expert.
As for what the future holds? Heck, looking at how this year has been going so far, making a prediction would be a study in foolhardiness…and mama didn’t raise no fool. The only thing I can say for certain is that…EVENTUALLY…we WILL get around to our “Lucky Star” review!