YOU NEED TO KNOW…
|THE BALL’S IN HIS COURT: Gen Fukunaga, CEO of FUNimation Entertainment, has the no. 1 and 2 best-selling anime titles with the hugely popular Dragon Ball Z and Fullmetal Alchemist series.
photography by Dan Sellers
Company: FUNimation Entertainment
Title: President and CEO
Stats: 120 employees, $37.2 million in net sales for fiscal 2006, founded in 1994, based in Fort Worth
Why you need to know him:
Industry trade publication ICv2 named him the most powerful man in North American anime. “I don’t feel any stronger,” Fukunaga says of the honor. “But I’ll have to ask for a raise now.” His FUNimation Entertainment is the leading producer-marketer-distributor of Japanese animation in America. Born in Japan but raised in Indiana, Fukunaga got hooked on the fantasy-themed cartoons after a yearlong stay in his native country when he was 13. After professional stints in computers and consulting, the adult Fukunaga listened to his inner child and in 1994, began licensing anime titles, importing them, and dubbing them into English. The domestic brand manager for over 100 popular titles—ask your kids (or grandkids), for instance, about Dragon Ball Z—FUNimation outsells competitors two or three times to one per release. Now, Fukunaga, 45, is having some fun of his own with several original projects: He’s celebrating the release of a motion-capture animated Tony Hawk DVD and a highly anticipated Fullmetal Alchemist movie (the second all-time best-selling anime series behind Dragon Ball), while expanding the reach of a new 24-hour FUNimation Channel and finishing work on the Spike network’s upcoming Afro Samurai—an innovative show American in concept, produced in Japan, and voiced by Samuel L. Jackson. Despite such an impressive lineup, the power hasn’t gone to Fukunaga’s head. But that doesn’t mean he can’t flex his muscles now and then.