Stream Police: The Funimation Edition
Welcome back to our tour of the internet and its various streaming services. Today we'll be looking at the service offered by Funimation, arguably the premiere anime distributor in North America. Funimation has come a long way in the last two decades from the studio responsible for the English version of Dragon Ball Z to today, where they possess one of the largest catalogs of Japanese animation outside of Japan. In today's Stream Police, I'd like to take a look at the best this service has to offer and see if it's worth the price for anime fans, both casual and hardcore.
Dragon Ball Z
You can't mention Funimation without talking about this iconic shonen series. Dragon Ball Z is the series that helped Funimation get where it is today and it is arguably the most popular series in their catalog. For the uninitiated, Dragon Ball Z follows a group of warriors who try to protect the Earth from an alien invasion. The show starts with a fairly simply premise, but soon becomes so much more intricate as the team eventually travels through space, faces a time traveling android from the future, and an ancient evil that was sealed away on Earth for thousands of years. While the show can be a bit long winded at times, watching it via stream makes it much easier thanthe shows original airings on television years ago. The entire series is available on the service with both the unedited English language dub and the Japanese language version with English subtitles. Fans of the series maybe happy to know that the service also features the prequel series, Dragon Ball, and the follow up, Dragon Ball GT, in their entirety. Unfortunately, Dragonball AF is surprisingly absent.
Attack on Titan
Humanity has been driven to the brink of extinction by the Titans, a race of giant humanoid creatures who have driven what remains of the human race into three walled cities. The humans continue to fight back against the Titans, but they seem to be fighting a losing battle. Attack on Titan is one of those shows where it's impossible for the audience to get comfortable. Every time things start looking up for the humans, something horribly depressing happens to bring the characters back down to earth. With a second season of the show coming in early 2017, now seems like the perfect time to check out the latest anime to really catch on outside of Japan. It's an action packed (albeit depressing) ride filled with interesting characters and beautiful animation.
The Slayers follows the exploits of Lina Inverse, a young wizard, and is set in a fantasy world full of swords and sorcery. Serving as both an action show and a bit of a parody of high fantasy as a whole, Slayers holds up remarkably well considering it's been more than two decades since its release. This is thanks in large part to solid writing, likable characters, and spot on satire of many fantasy tropes. Over the course of its five season run, The Slayers manages to keep a great balance between serious story telling and light heated comedy. The Slayers was one of the first anime series I ever watched and it is still among my favorites. This comes highly recommend it for any fans of high fantasy and animation.
An early staple of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block, Trigun is likely well known to anyone who watched Adult Swim during that period. Trigun tells the story of Vash the Stampede, a wanted criminal with a bounty of 60 million double dollars (120 Million?) on his head. Vash has come to be known as “The Humanoid Typhoon” as many places he visits in the wasteland the planet has become are destroyed in his wake. The series starts with two agents of the Bernadelli Insurance Society hunting for Vash in order to minimize the damages caused by “The Humanoid Typhoon” to help their company from losing so much money on insurance claims. However, the two never expect what they find when they meet Vash, and where their involvement with him will take them.
Trigun is a great series with interesting characters, a great soundtrack, and fantastic characters. An easy recommendation for anime fans and sci-fi fans alike. The show's 26 episode run is a great ride and one I have been happy to take multiple times.
Helalia is a show that I expected to hate when I first watched it, but it has quickly become one of my favorite modern comedies. While the program doesn't have an overarching plot, much of the show involves retelling notable events from world history as if each of the counties involved were an actual person. A strange premise yes, but the show's first episode consisting of the human representations of Germany, America, Russia, Italy, Japan, France, China, and England arguing over nonsense at the G8 Summit only sets the stage for what the show will bring.
Over the course of its six seasons, the show has introduced dozens of counties and covered historical events including World War I, World War II, and The War of Austrian Succession among others. While the show does attempt to throw some lessons about history in, this isn't a show for the little ones. The language can get a little blue and there are plenty of racial slurs thrown around. A good goofy comedy, and with each episode only running around 5 minutes each, it's easy to watch without a huge time investment.
I've enjoyed my time with Funimation's streaming service. It's large catalog is filled with plenty of shows to keep my interest, and with more added daily there's no shortage of shows to watch. Offering the same price as a comparable services like Crunchyroll, Funimation gets the edge due to its larger library of shows and the fact that a majority of the shows on the service are available with an English dub. While I can't really recommend the service to nonfans, this is a great deal for anime fans to get some of the latest and many classic shows that may not be available through other services.