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The Fun(imation) is over and you own nothing

Graphic by Ethan Nelson

Funimation, a popular anime streaming service, announced its merger with Crunchyroll on Feb. 7. The app and website’s function will be terminated on April 2.

Being two of the largest anime platforms, it is not a surprise that a conglomerate would eventually emerge. While the transition from Funimation to Crunchyroll may be simple, the sea of issues this unification will cause is endless.

The effect some users feel right now is the impending subscription price hikes. This price increase is not happening for all users, only those with old Funimation plans that were grandfathered in. That old rate will be discontinued and matched to a current rate appropriate for the plan.

The increase is sharp, though, for those who have been living the high life with a cheaper plan. From $45.95 to $99.99 for an annual subscription is a huge jump, and not everyone will want to continue a premium subscription at that price.

The price increase isn’t even the worst part. Funimation used to offer digital DVD and Blu-Ray sets, which required a one-time payment to watch. These digital mediums are not supported by Crunchyroll and will be lost.

Even if you paid for this media, you will no longer own it.

Discontent about this soon-to-be reality has been echoing through the internet in recent weeks. More and more companies are demonstrating just how little control the consumer has over what they purchase.

It began with the new Ubisoft+ subscription program and what Phillippe Tremblay, director of subscriptions for Ubisoft, said about it.

He believes gamers are too used to owning their games and need to become more comfortable using subscription and streaming services for games, much like they do for TV and films.

This has sparked major controversy because that is not the way it should be at all. There have been major flaws with these online services and no one wants more of it.

There are certain episodes of, say, “SpongeBob SquarePants” that you cannot watch anymore because they are deemed inappropriate. Any online platform can remove an episode, season or whole show whenever and you could never watch it again.

If you owned the disc, though, you could pop it in and enjoy your media whenever you want.

Streaming may be convenient, but over the last month companies have shown they can not only take away our right to own, but will do so gladly. So here we are, the consumers, funding these platforms at the mercy of Funimation, Ubisoft, Steam and whatever else to let us use what we pay for.

If consumers don’t want to pay the fee or use physical media, the next step is piracy. Nobody wants to be a pirate, but sometimes it is the easiest way for people to access what they want to watch, play and listen to.

We are so disconnected from viewing these products as art because of the greedy plays made by corporations that we wonder if “supporting the artist” is even worth it. So, why not get it for free and be able to have it forever, on demand?

Funimation and Ubisoft are just the faces of a much larger issue which stems from the impermanence of the web and how much control a corporation has over our media.

Don’t pirate, but do consider if all of these streaming services are saving you more money than the cost of just buying the physical copies to keep forever.

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