Last week, FUNimation revealed that they were allowing several licenses to lapse. In particular, the following will join When They Cry – Higurashi and The Familiar of Zero in permenant moraturium:
- Paradise Kiss
- Kyo kara Maoh!
- The Story of Saiunkoku
- The Law of Ueki
The company didn’t state the exact reason for these license lapses. However, the company has no plans to re-acquire any of the titles.
License expirations and renewals are a rare and valuable opportunity to learn several of the more important lessons of the greater market. In particular, what sells and what doesn’t. The fact that these shows are being left to the ether, and that FUNimation doesn’t plan to pursue them for another go reveals that they may not have sold close to enough copies to profit, if they even broke even in the first place. This becomes especially more likely, given the fact that the company specifically cited low sales as the key reason for Higurashi and Familiar of Zero’s June expirations.
These were all “fan favorite” shows, Law of Ueki aside. They all had their own vocal, dedicated customer-bases who would defend said titles to the death for some reason or another. However, they all went completely over the heads of the greater market. They didn’t interest the larger market, and didn’t cater to many aside from the niche.
While “cold” titles like these may be nice complements to a larger market, they certainly don’t have the same staying power or selling power of their more mainstream brethren. While these smaller titles are neede to maintain a healthy overall landscape, they need to prove themselves in the market, all the same.