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Manga Entertainment UK Rebranding as Funimation in UK & Ireland

It's truly the end of an era. Starting from Monday, April 19,  veteran anime distribution label Manga Entertainment UK will begin merging with Funimation, gradually rebranding as Funimation across new releases, social media and online in the UK and Ireland. Funimation acquired Manga back in 2019, joining a suite of Sony-owned anime brands including Aniplex, Wakinim in Europe and Anime Lab in Australia and New Zealand and soon to include Crunchyroll if the deal isn't blocked by the US authorities.

Tim Anderson, VP of Funimation's International operations says:  

By unifying our brands, it will be apparent to fans, creators and the entire ecosystem that it is a winning formula to deliver more content, more experiences and more community in service to anime. By fully leveraging the global Funimation brand, it’s a win for fans.

In real terms, not a lot is about to change for anime fans in the UK and Ireland. Manga have been essentially been operating as Funimation's UK arm for some time now, releasing UK editions of Funimation product under Manga branding. Manga's hard-working team isn't going to change, so really all that's about to change is the name. They also promise it will mean "more anime, more often"- presumably because they will no longer need to produce UK specific editions and can move to dual-region discs.

Manga also have a lot of licences that Funimation don't have in the US, so it means that more exclusive Manga licences can be added to Funimation Now for UK customers. The UK version already has numerous series not available in the US, but this is set to increase in the coming months. Blue Excorcist has been added to the UK catalogue to mark this occasion. It also hopefully means that Funimation won't get any licences for the US they don't automatically get for the UK, from now on.

Still, for long time UK fans this news is bittersweet. By May the transition will be complete, and the brand that has existed as long as mainstream UK anime fandom will be no more. The label- originally Manga Video- was launched in 1991 off the success of Akira, the company has survived changing owners multiple times, enduring through the VHS era, into DVD, Blu-Ray and now digital and 4K. The company was successful enough to establish a US branch in the '90s, but it never had quite the foothold across the pond. Manga Entertainment US actually still exists as a separate company, mainly as the rightsholder of Ghost In The Shell and as a Twitter account that tweets memes.

Sometimes controversial, as a 'big brand', it was always destined to be hated by a certain stripe of anime fan (outside the UK, Funimation and Crunchyroll get similar treatment). The days of UK-made 'fifteening'-heavy dubs is long gone. The company of 2021 is a very different beast to its 90's self, and is a very fan-friendly company staffed by a team who genuinely care.

And they won't actually be going anywhere (thankfully) and will continue to serve fans in the UK and Ireland with the best in anime. But their iconic black cross logo has been a familiar sight for fans for more than three decades and it will be strange and sad to see that as of May, it will be gone for good.

Thanks for the memories, Manga!