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When Anime fans travel to a place where scenes from their favorite shows took place it is referred to as an anime pilgrimage, and enough people have been making those pilgrimages that all kind of cities have had their local economies seriously boosted across Japan. Enough so that a coalition has formed which includes Anime producer Kadokawa Corp., Anime/Manga magazine publisher Newtype, travel agency JTB Corp., Narita International Airport Corp. and Japan Airlines Co., with the goal of increasing that tourist business by catering directly to it. As their initial step, they have set up a web site for fans to log in and do a survey to vote for the sites they really want to visit at Anime Tourism 88, a reference to the 88 Temple Pilgrimage in Shikoku according to Otaku Magazine. Based on the results of the surveys they will be putting together packaged tours designed to bring tourists to a series of locations, including the more rural locations and smaller towns; most tourists to Japan tend to stay in the larger cities like Tokyo or Osaka. The organizations president is Yoshiyuki Tomino, best known for his Gundam series, but I am thinking what a hoot it would be to visit all my favorite places from the Ghibli Studios films. At the very least I would have to stop by the Ghibli Museum in West Tokyo at some point during my tour. They do bribe you with an Anime screen saver to fill out the survey, which doesn’t hurt.

Both sites have made the announcement front page news: Funimation is teaming up with (or perhaps merging with is more accurate) Crunchyroll. They will be sharing titles, with each side playing to their strengths; Crunchyroll continuing to bring you streamed subtitled shows within an hour of their airing in Japan, Funimation using their in house voice acting team to get them dubbed and available streaming in English in just a few weeks, and available for digital downloading or disc purchasing. I haven’t seen any mention of what happens to those of us who own premium memberships with both companies yet, I am hoping the new operation rewards us for years of loyalty with some kind of discount combo membership.

I am going to be seriously disappointed if this one never gets made, if only for the excellent cartoon versions of each of the characters Stephen Byrne managed to create. That can’t be too much of a surprise, since he is one of the artists actually doing the Serenity comic book with Joss Whedon. I don’t seem to be alone in that opinion; as Grasshopper said in the YouTube comments: If this isn’t real so help me I will hunt you down and MAKE YOU MAKE IT!!! Another good clue might be that Nathan Fillion immediately started following him when this video was posted; we might actually get some new stories out of this!