The flaws with FUNimation's SAVE and Classics labels

Several weeks ago, I wrote a list of items that people don't seem to understand about Licensing Companies. One of which is how sets are priced for consumers, and I brought up, briefly, the difference between FUNimation's SAVE and Anime Classics labels. Cut to this past weekend and MomoCon when Toonami announces that Michiko & Hatchin will be joining Toonami later this June. It got me thinking about that large SAVE and Classics difference even more and I decided I needed to go a little bit further with this subject. Because, let's be honest here, their selection system is rather flawed.

If you did not previous read my licensing company article, here's a quick run down on how this system works: sales determine what eventually ends up on the SAVE label and the Classics label. Ideally, outstanding sales equate a Classics release later on while poor sales equate a SAVE release. The exception to this rule are series that are picked up as license rescues as they may automatically be released on the Classics label. Hellsing and Haibane Renmei are fairly recent examples of this. For the sake of this column, here's the list of titles under the Anime Classics label:
      • Ai Yori Aoshi
      • Arimitage III
      • Baccano
      • Black Butler
      • Blue Gender
      • Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040
      • Burst Angel
      • Chobits
      • Claymore
      • Darker Than Black
      • Deadman Wonderland
      • Eden of the East
      • Ergo Proxy
      • Excel Saga
      • FLFL
      • Freezing
      • Fruits Basket
      • Full Metal Panic! (The Second Raid only)
      • Gantz
      • Gungrave
      • Gunslinger Girl
      • Haibane Renmei
      • Heaven's Lost Property
      • Hellsing
      • Hetalia (Axis Powers only)
      • Is This a Zombie?
      • Kenichi: the Mightiest Disciple
      • Kiddy Grade
      • Last Exile
      • Love Hina
      • Master of Martial Hearts
      • Noir
      • Ouran High School Host Club
      • Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt
      • Peacemaker
      • Rin ~Daughters of Mnemosyne~
      • Samurai Champloo
      • Serial Experiments Lain
      • Shigurui: Death Frenzy
      • Spice and Wolf
      • Steins;Gate
      • Tenchi Muyo! Ryo Ohki
      • Texhnolyze
      • The Slayers (Revolution & Evolution R only)
      • Trigun
      • Trinity Blood
      • Vandread
      • Witchblade
      • Yu Yu Hakusho
Currently not listed, but set for release in the coming weeks for the Classics label include X and Basilisk. And this is the current list of series on the SAVE label:
      • Ah! My Goddess: Flights of Fancy
      • Air
      • Air Gear
      • Aquarion
      • Baka & Test - Summon the Beasts -
      • Baldr Force Exe
      • Bamboo Blade
      • Bing Windup!
      • Birdy the Mighty: Decode
      • Black Blood Brothers
      • Black Cat
      • Blade of the Phantom Master
      • Blassreiter
      • Case Closed
      • Casshern Sins
      • Cat Planet Cuties
      • Chaos;Head
      • Chrome Shelled Regios
      • Chrono Crusade
      • Comic Party Revolution
      • Corpse Princess: Shikabane Hime
      • Coyote Ragtime Show
      • D.Gray-man
      • Devil May Cry
      • Dragonaut -The Resonance-
      • El Cazador de la Bruja
      • Gad Guard
      • Ghost Hunt
      • Girls Bravo
      • Glass Fleet
      • Gun X Sword
      • Guyver: The Bioboosted Armor
      • Heat Guy J
      • Heroic Age
      • Ikki Tousen
      • Initial D
      • Jing King of Bandits
      • Jinki: Extend
      • Jyu-Oh-Sei
      • Kaledio Star
      • Kanon
      • Kaze no Stigma
      • Kurau Phantom Memory
      • Le Chevalier D'Eon
      • Linebarrels of Iron
      • Magikano
      • Michiko & Hatchin
      • Mongolian Chop Squad
      • Moonlight Mile
      • MoonPhase
      • Mushi-Shi
      • My Bride is a Mermaid
      • Nabari no ou
      • Negima!? Magister Negi Magi
      • Pani Poni Dash!
      • Peach Girl
      • Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom
      • Princess Jellyfish
      • Project Blue Earth SOS
      • Pumpkin Scissors
      • Ragnarok - The Animation
      • Red Garden
      • Romeo X Juliet
      • Rumbling Hearts
      • Sands of Destruction
      • Sasami Magical Girls Club
      • School Rumble
      • Shakugan No Shana
      • Shangri-la
      • Shattered Angels
      • Shiki
      • Shuffle!
      • Solty Rei
      • Speed Grapher
      • STRAIN: Strategic Armored Infantry
      • Strike Witches
      • Suzuka
      • Tenhi Muyo! GXP
      • The Count of Monte Cristo: Gankutusuou
      • The Galaxy Railways
      • The Wallflower
      • Tokyo Majin
      • Tower of Druaga
      • Tsubasa RESEVoir CHRoNICLE
      • UFO Ultramadien Valkyrie
      • Utawareumono
      • Venus Versus Virus
      • Vexille
      • Welcome to the NHK
      • xxxHolic
      • Yamada's First Time: B Gata H Kei
As you can see there's a large amount of series on the SAVE label, and a lot are surprisingly really amazing series, in my opinion. Currently not listed on this and are up for release in the coming weeks are Origin: Spirits of the Past, CLAMP Double Feature, TO, Sacred Blacksmith, and OniAi. Also, if you haven't noticed, Michiko & Hatchin is listed among the SAVE label and was one of the recent additions to this in the last month or so. Here's where my inspiration for this article comes from. This is the second SAVE series from FUNimation to take part in the Toonami block, the other being Casshern Sins at the time of it's revival. Otherwise, it's been rather high profile series FUNimation has provided for the block such as Attack on Titan and Space Dandy.
Why? Why? WHY?!?!
Honestly, the big problem I find with the selection process is the system in place. Those sales, while very important, don't necessarily mean the product in question is of great quality. While many of the series on the Classics label make some amount of sense such as Baccano, Trigun, and even FLCL there are others that seem, to me, to not really fit that well. Granted I haven't seen Master of Martial Hearts or Witchblade but honestly I don't want to see them. Especially MMH because I do know what that series is, and it just baffles my mind that it somehow made it's way onto the Classics label! Meanwhile, there are several series on the SAVE label that are wonderful, quality wise, that deserve a place on the Classics label before probably a third of the current series do. From the animation, the story line, the characters it's a shame that some just don't make the cut! If I were to choose I would take Gankutusuou, Chevalier D'Eon, Michiko & Hatchin, Mongolian Chop Squad, Mushi-Shi, Princess Jellyfish, Romeo X Juliet, Shiki, and NHK from the SAVE label and put them on the Classics label. Hell, two shows that had dubs directed by Mike McFarland (Shiki and Case Closed) were sent to the SAVE label. And, seriously, the man can't do no wrong when it comes to his dubs!

Then there's the issue of license rescues getting the Classics treatment right away and the ones that get a regular or premium release before landing on the label. While Haibane Renmei, Texhnolyze, and Hellsing are three released right away on the Classics label, Lain had a separate release before being released as a Classic. Yes, that reason was to promote the remastered Blu-Ray as well as the artbook into the set, however what about recuses such as Eureka Seven that were not released on a specific label and do not have amazing extras? I don't quite know what the qualifications are for series to jump instantly to the Classics label, but this is one where it confuses me. You would think certain series they pick up would be shoe ins, and yet they aren't. While the excuse of premium releases with tons of goodies is a very valid reason, the ones that don't are a little more confusing. I mean, let's be honest, Haibane Renmei wasn't extremely well know prior to being relicensed by FUNi and automatically released as a Classic. Same idea with Texhnolyze.
So, FUNi... When is this gonna happen?
How about the series that have been in FUNi's hands for years and have yet to even receive a Classics label? Prime example being Full Metal Alchemist both the original 2003 version as well as Brotherhood. While the latter is still fairly recent, the original FMA has been around for over a decade and has yet to land on the Classics label, hell I don't think they've been doing anything with it since Brotherhood was released! You would think that a franchise as big as FMA would have landed on that label by now, but for some reason it's not.

If I was given the chance to fix their system, here's what I would do. Either A) I would get rid of the SAVE label entirely and just lower the price of original releases or B) fix what makes a SAVE a SAVE and a Classic a Classic. What do I mean by all this? In terms of point A, by getting rid of the SAVE label, you get rid of the system that label currently uses. It would save many good quality shows from being subjected to this last ditch title, and consumers would be able to get the high quality products by buying cheaper versions of their original releases. In fact, this could save FUNi money in production costs in order to create both versions of the same series. To be fair, I have no clue how much it would cost to make a standard edition compared to a SAVE, but if both were made, it would cost some money to keep up production. Also, to be fair, once the standard releases are out of stock than they would be gone forever. When I was looking to get the original version of Princess Jellyfish, I couldn't cause it was none existent so I got stuck buying the SAVE version. This change would also mean a change in the Classic label, as I believe someone, perhaps a panel, could watch the series in question and judge the quality of it in order to determine it's validity as a Classic series.

As for point B, take what I just said for the Classics label in point A and then add the same idea to the SAVE label. By having people who know anime rather well and are able to tell a really wonderful series from a poor one could help determine which series fully deserve the title of Classic and which SAVE. By having panels conduct the decision based on story, characters, and other points this could help determine which shows are better suited for which label.

While I may seem to be ranting about this entire subject, to be clear, I really love FUNimation as a company! They seem to get their hands on the shows I love and create some of the most solid dubs and releases out of all the North American licensing companies. I'm not trying to be mean and rude and tell them what to do because, at the end of the day, it's their business and they can do with it as they please. But as someone who sees anime in a different way, just basing these two labels on sales just gives a kind of middle finger to the shows that, I feel, don't belong on one label or the other. I would say that 80% of the time, FUNi gets it right, however the other 20% they do have some problems in determining which goes where. Believe me, I love the company, but can we please do something about these two labels? Cause people are missing out on some great series because they aren't considered classics and, instead, are thought to be cheap...

But I'll still always be salty about Master of Martial Hearts.... Just.... Why?!


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