This year’s deal between Neon Genesis Evangelion and Netflix has brought Gen Fukunaga, founder and long-time president of the Funimation dubbing and distribution platform, to voice his disapproval during a recent interview with Polygon.
This comes just days after we reported that Netflix is stuck between a dispute involving the voice actors from Evangelion’s original release, such as Spike Spencer and Amy Winn Lee, and the re-dub director who may be bringing in a new cast.
This matter immediately caught fire with passionate fans of the original series, and as of today, a petition to use the original cast in the re-dub has reached over 5,000 of the 7,500 target signatures.
Lee, the original voice actor of Rei Ayanami, did her best to ensure everyone that the re-dub is in great hands with a recent tweet. Nonetheless, fans of the series remain hopeful that Netflix will be open to involving any of the original cast who show interest.
Throughout Netflix’s anime acquisitions for their 2019 lineup, there’s been an underlying sentiment that this may not be the best thing for anime fans. Funimation’s president confirmed that he’s aligned with that outlook on the situation, specifically regarding Evangelion, stating:
“Honestly, Netflix is willing to significantly overpay for something like [Evangelion] and outbid anybody by multiples, no matter what their ROI is. I’m 100-percent sure that we’d have done a much better job brand-managing it and turning it back into what it was.”
While it’s no surprise that Fukunaga isn’t pleased with losing the iconic, 26-episode series to another distributor, he brings up points that confirm the worries of many. The idea that a series so important to anime history will be lost in a sea of titles under Netflix’s extensive library is one that he takes particular issue with, saying:
“Take a title like [My Hero Academia]. Had My Hero Academia gone onto Netflix, it would have just dropped on the platform with any number of titles and probably would have died as a brand. It would have just been another brand on the platform.”
It’s tough to imagine the community siding against Fukunaga, having co-founded Funimation in 1994 with massive success since then.
After expressing these concerns, Netflix will be under more pressure than ever to make the right call on how they’ll move forward with next year’s re-dub of Evangelion. A mistake handling this situation could heavily influence the way fans view anime on their platform as a whole.
Securing the hearts of the anime community will prove to be a tough task for Netflix heading into 2019, and they have much more than just Evangelion to worry about as Rilakkuma and Kaoru, Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac, 7Seeds, and Ultraman will also debut.
Netflix has made a long-term commitment to securing anime series, also announcing a new iteration of Ghost in the Shell that is coming to their platform in 2020.