A member of FUNimation‘s acquisition team confirmed that the company will not renew their licenses for When They Cry – Higurashi or The Familiar of Zero. In addition, they will not pursue licenses for sequel projects for either title. FUNimation cited poor sales as the reason for dropping both titles. In addition, the member confirmed that the company never acquired Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni Kai or the related Umineko no Naku Koro ni, nor would they seek out any title title “that bears even a minor resemblance.”
The post comes about as a rare moment of blunt, dream-crushing honesty from FUNimation. People are going to cry, people are going to proclaim the company as dickish and petty. And, furthermore, people are going to scream about how mean the company is for not acquiring the rest, because they obviously hate us as much as they hate anime. After all, that’s obviously why they never got the rest of Hell Girl, right?
It definitely stings when shows When They Cry meet the axe – they’re often wonderful shows with dedicated followings. However, as a business, the company has to consider the bottom line as well as customer satisfaction. These titles were retail disappointments, and re-licensing would hurt more than it would help. It’s not the first time that FUNimation came out and admitted to low sales harming a show’s license – they openly admitted that Big Windup sold poorly enough to not warrant a re-license. It’s never happy news, but I have to admit that it’s news that publishers should be able to divulge from time to time.
Frankly, it’s rare moments of this that I appreciate the most. To be able to tell a customer bad news without sugar-coating, without dancing around the issue is a sign of respect toward him. It’s far more courteous, both from a service and from a buyer standpoint, to be told that something did not sell well enough to continue than it is to allow the market to wait and expect more.
Rather than stomp our feet and complain that FUNimation are terrible for doing what is best for the bottom line, we should begin asking the larger questions. While the answers may not always come about, those that do will usually be larger and more informative than anything the small question can gather.