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Crunchyroll and Funimation merger: What does it mean and what happens next?

Two giant anime streaming services just merged into one.

naruto
Naruto currently appears on both services.
Funimation

Sony Pictures Entertainment officially acquired anime streaming service Crunchyroll from AT&T on Monday for $1.175 billion and outlined plans to combine it with its own Funimation offering to create one service.

For the the rapidly growing group of folks who love anime, this is game-changing news. Imagine Hulu or Disney Plus picking up HBO Max. Only anime.

The plan is to create one anime streaming service to rule them all.

"With the addition of Crunchyroll, we have an unprecedented opportunity to serve anime fans like never before and deliver the anime experience across any platform they choose, from theatrical, events, home entertainment, games, streaming, linear TV -- everywhere and every way fans want to experience their anime," Tony Vinciquerra, chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, said in a statement. "Our goal is to create a unified anime subscription experience as soon as possible."

"Anime is a rapidly growing medium that enthralls and inspires emotion among audiences around the globe,"  Kenichiro Yoshida, chairman and CEO, Sony Group, added in the statement. "The alignment of Crunchyroll and Funimation will enable us to get even closer to the creators and fans who are the heart of the anime community."

All of which is business speak for, let's create a mega anime streaming service as soon as humanly possible.

What is Crunchyroll?

Crunchyroll is an anime streaming service that currently has 5 million paying subscribers along with 120 million registered users. It licenses and distributes popular anime like Naruto and One Piece, but also distributes manga -- the Japanese comics these shows tend to be based on.

What is Funimation?

Funimation is a company very similar to Crunchyroll, in that it distributes subbed and dubbed anime in the western countries like the US. It currently has the license for huge shows like Dragonball Z and Attack on Titan. 

What happens next?

Sony will look to consolidate both services under one umbrella. Whether that involves folding Crunchyroll content into the Funimation service, or the creation of a whole new service completely, remains to be seen. Most likely it'll be the former. Worth mentioning: Many major anime shows actually already stream on both Crunchyroll and Funimation.

The deal was probed by the US Department of Justice, in lieu of the worry this deal would create a monopoly over anime streaming in the West. But given major streaming services like Netflix are currently investing heavily in anime, this was judged not to be the case. 

The most likely immediate move would be to add additional content to Funimation.

"We know you may have questions," read a statement published on Crunchyroll. "Today we begin the work of bringing two awesome teams together to bring you more of what you love. Thank you for your trust and support!"

The reaction

Despite the positive spin from both Crunchyroll and Funimation, there is a certain amount of anxiety among anime fans subscribed to either service. As of right now it's unclear what will mean for anime content coming to the West.

There's also worry for those who translate the shows for western audiences. 

The potential to pay for one anime streaming service instead of many is an alluring one, but some anime fans are worried about the effects such a monopoly might have on the quality of translations.

We'll update this story when more information becomes available.