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Greg Ayres Gives His Thoughts On The Crunchyroll-Funimation Merger

As anime grows more popular than ever internationally, big business has gotten more and more involved in the licensing and distribution of anime. Today, one mega-corporation in particular holds particular power over American distribution of anime: Sony, which already purchased anime licensor/streamer Funimation in 2017, recently completed its acquisition of Funimation's biggest competitor, Crunchyroll (formerly part of WarnerMedia), and merged the two anime companies. This isn't the only big American anime business shift-up in 2022: Sentai Filmworks, which runs the HIDIVE streaming service, was acquired by AMC Networks.

Looper got to speak with Greg Ayres, a voice actor who has worked with Funimation, Crunchyroll, and Sentai Filmworks, at his Anime Boston 2022 press panel. We asked him his thoughts about the Funimation-Crunchyroll merger and what it means for the future of the industry. While acknowledging there are inevitably going to be some negative issues, Ayres chooses to be optimistic about the future.

Greg Ayres is hopeful about the anime business

Ayres says, "You can always look at it one of two ways. You can always look at it as being owned by an overlord, or, 'I now work for people that have much deeper pockets.' I'm trying to look at it from the much deeper pockets aspect, because along with Sony comes a much greater reach in Japan ... I want a Japanese company that has dealings with and existing relations with Japanese companies because it's better for licensing."

He emphasized that, while there have been metaphorical "slings and arrows" involved in making the Crunchyroll-Funimation-Sony and Sentai-AMC mergers happen, the results should be mostly positive for anime fans: "That means more anime. That means different options. When I first started working, there was no streaming, and now you can watch anime 24 hours a day, provided you have a decent internet connection — legally — and sometimes things that have just come out in Japan." He says there are "good things coming of licensing from both mergers," and praised Crunchyroll's new recording offices as "a beautiful studio, really cool campus, very weeby and nerdy."