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Crunchyroll Announces New Series 'Dark Star Squadron', Passes 5 Million Subs

While mainstream companies like Netflix, Amazon and Warner Bros are increasingly a presence in anime streaming, they can't offer the deep and varied libraries of the specialist streaming services. The biggest name in the game internationally is still Crunchyroll, which has a global reach that nearest rival Funimation can't reach just yet. With anime's popularity continuing to grow so has the site's user base, which has now passed another impressive milestone.

Crunchyroll has announced that they have surpassed 5 million paying subscribers. Additionally, the site's registered user base (including all those on the free plan) has now surpassed 120 million. Some time ago, Sony-owned Funimation announced they were acquiring Crunchyroll in a reported billion-dollar deal with current owners WarnerMedia.  The deal is currently under investigation by US authorities, and with WarnerMedia splitting with AT&T and merging with Discovery, the company's future direction is looking unclear. But with those numbers, it seems to be looking bright.

The site has been increasingly getting into the production side of animation, with the growth of the Crunchyroll Originals line. Blade Runner: Black Lotus and Fena Pirate Princess (both co-produced with Adult Swim) are set to arrive before the year is out. 

The newest title to be announced to join the originals is Dark Star Squadron.  Pitched as an 'epic space opera' the series is being produced in association with Zoe Saldana's Cinestar Pictures. The series is to be written by Todd Ludy (Voltron: Legendary Defender) with Saldana as an Executive Producer, alongside Cisely Saldana, and Mariel Saldana of Cinestar Pictures. Also on board as producers are Sonia A. Gambaro and Maytal Gilboa from Pollinate Entertainment.  

The series is in early development, and it has not yet been revealed who will be handling the animation production. Crunchyroll has previously worked with Japanese studios including Production IG, Sola Digital Arts and MAPPA as well as establishing an in-house animation outfit Crunchyroll Studios.

The series will follow four unsuccessful cadets who return from a joyride in a stolen spaceship to discover their academy in ruins and everyone gone. The four now have to embark on a perilous journey across the galaxy to find where they went and to prove themselves.

Crunchyroll's general manager Joanne Waage said "The tremendous growth of our streaming service is indicative of the growing love for anime and its deserved spotlight in popular culture, Zoe and her team are bringing their own anime fandom to their storytelling and we’re excited to be a part of it."

Added Zoe, Cisely and Mariel Saldana: "As true animation and anime fans ourselves, we are so excited for the opportunity to partner with Crunchyroll to bring Dark Star Squadron to a wide audience, We can’t wait for everyone to meet the crew and follow the journey of our unlikely heroes.”

Saldana is the second Hollywood star Crunchyroll is developing a series with. In February of this year, just after reaching 4 million subs, they announced they were developing an Afro-Futurist Sci-fi series with Idris Elba and Sabrina Elba.