Earlier this week anime publisher FUNimation Entertainment and social entertainment leader Milyoni announced the FUNimation Social Cinema app for Facebook and curious to see how it worked we decided to give the app a try for ourselves.
The way FUNimation Social Cinema works is that it allows anime fans the opportunity to rent episodes or whole series of some of FUNimation’s anime titles, including “.hack//Quantum”, “Dance in the Vampire Bund” and “Fairy Tale” as well as a few live action titles like “City Under Siege”. The episodes are offered in bundles that can cost between $0.99 and $2.99 as well as some full series, such as Trigun which was priced at $22.49 with rentals lasting 48 hours.
When trying out the app we purchased a bundle of the first four episodes of “Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple” which ran $2.99. While I admit that I would rather purchase a complete set of DVDs the FUNimation Social Cinema is a great way to check out a few episodes of the anime before going out and buying them, that way you know if you’re going to like it before purchasing. Users can pay with either their credit card or via PayPal if it makes you feel a little safer.
The picture quality was surprising good as well, one thing that was always frustrating with using Netflix’s streaming service was that with my internet connection it was always the lowest quality but with FUNimation Social Cinema it was perfect, had a clear image and no stops for buffering. There was a drawback however, there seemed to only be the option for the English dub of the series, though that may not be a big deal for many.
When I first heard about FUNimation Social Cinema I had one question, “what makes FUNimation Social Cinema better than FUNimation.com, Netflix or Hulu+ for finding anime titles from the publisher?” FUNimation and Milyoni answered with this.
“Unlike other online-streaming sites, Milyoni’s Social Cinema offers FUNimation users an interactive and social experience within the Anime community, providing them the ability to chat with other fans and tag their favorite clips.”
I have to admit, I was a bit curious about this. Users can leave comments about episodes for others to read, giving them an idea of what to expect and they can also post to their Facebook wall that they are watching a certain series, also noting if they like it or not. This idea is actually pretty interesting, you don’t have to do this if you don’t want to, fans always have the choice to skip posting their status but if you would prefer to maybe you’ll find that a few of your friends actually enjoy similar types of anime, giving you more to talk about and maybe even leading to recommendations about other series to try.
FUNimation’s setting up an app like this was a bit of a surprise and I did wonder if they thought it was a good way to increase interest in anime from a larger audience.
“Close to 100 percent of FUNimation users are Facebook users; a fact which makes the partnership between Milyoni and FUNimation very complementary. Fans get both a direct channel for online-streaming their favorite entertainment, and the convenient option to do so right from their Facebook account. As users communicate and comment on FUNimation footage on to their personal Facebook pages, this activity is reflected on their Facebook feed, which helps with making it go viral and can help with the discovery and increased viewership of FUNimation’s Anime collection.”
At the moment there doesn’t seem to be a lot of different series to choose from, but it was noted in the announcement that more than 430 episodes of FUNimation titles would be available, so in time anime fans will have plenty to keep them entertained. The app does work well though and the ability to share and comment on anime is a nice touch, helping to provide a bit more interaction between fans.
All-in-all I will still purchase physical copies as opposed to renting them online, but if there is something I haven’t seen and am curious about FUNimation Social Cinema will likely be something I will consider using, renting a few episodes and looking at some of the comments from other fans to see what they think. The bundle prices aren’t really that bad either, four episodes for $2.99 is a fair price and given the picture quality with my internet speed compared to other places I’d be fine with paying.
If you’re curious about the FUNimation Social Cinema app you can check it out for yourself at FUNimation’s Facebook Page.