Anime in North America has come a long way from being relegated to a dozen VHS tapes in the corner of a rental store in the “Japanimation” section. Not only are there now multiple streaming options for anime fans, but the genre has pierced the mainstream in a number of substantial ways, like Adult Swim’s popular Toonami block and theatrical releases of titles. Competition only continues to heat up between distribution channels like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, but the latter has just made a major power play that should substantially shake things up and also make it a lot easier for people to get the best anime content.
Hulu and Funimation have already been in cooperation with each other, but their latest deal proves they are in it for the long haul.
In the new details of their partnership, Funimation is now Hulu’s first and number one source for subtitled and dubbed content. Basically, when Funimation gets a new title, Hulu gets first refusal if they want to carry it or not. This deal will cover literally hundreds of titles and millions of hours of anime, but it’s also worth noting that A+ titles like Attack on Titan, My Hero Academia, and Tokyo Ghoul will only be available in the US through Hulu and Funimation. This deal will also cover simulcast streaming series from Japan, which means that Hulu and Funimation will truly be the most current and up to date resource for many new and upcoming titles.
Hulu and Funimation were already killing it, but this deal basically means that they want to prove that they’re serious and rise above the impressive competition, like Netflix, which made a solid name for themselves in the anime department, especially in regard to original content.
This pact between Hulu and Funimation makes Netflix’s library look a lot less impressive, especially when big titles like My Hero Academia will be exclusive to them. It’s also surely no coincidence that this deal was announced right after Netflix’s momentous announcement that they’d be the home for Neon Genesis Evangelion in 2019. Hulu saw their hand and raised the ante.
There have been a handful of anime streaming services that have come and gone, but maybe this move will knock out some of the stragglers and make the landscape a little less proliferated. It should be interesting to see if services like Amazon try to make some flashy play to stay in the game. In the meantime, it looks like everyone’s New Year’s resolution for 2019 should be: watch more anime.
Daniel Kurland is a published writer, comedian, and critic whose work can be read on Den of Geek, Vulture, Bloody Disgusting, and ScreenRant. Daniel knows that the owls are not what they seem, that Psycho II is better than the original, and he’s always game to discuss Space Dandy. His perma-neurotic thought process can be followed at @DanielKurlansky.