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Creator / Sentai Filmworks

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On September 1, 2009, longtime anime licensor ADV Films — which had spent the previous two years enduring a spectacular public collapse†  — announced that it sold most of its assets to five different companies, all of which are based in Houston. Industry observers generally believed that the move was an attempt to end a relationship with a hostile shareholder while still maintaining its core competency and what assets it had left.


So, the old ADV is now dead, at least legally. Here is what arose out of its ashes...

  • Section23 Films is a distributor and marketing company of Sentai Filmworks, Switchblade Pictures, and AEsir Holdings. Go here if you want to know which titles were licensed by the pre-collapse ADV.
  • Sentai Filmworks, founded by ADV co-founder John Ledford, is the licensor company for acquiring Japanese anime into the North American market. It is, essentially, ADV under a new name. Here's their website.
    • Sentai operates several title-dependent sub-labels, including Maiden Japan and (occasionally) Happy Carrot. The Happy Carrot label was dropped when they eventually revived Softcel Pictures, ADV's former hentai branch.
  • Seraphim Digital Studios acquired Amusement Park Media, ADV's production studio. Sentai Filmworks eventually established their own recording studios called Sentai Studios.
  • Valkyrie Media Partners acquired the Anime Network. The Anime Network website (on-line player and forum) continued to operate as it did before the sale, until the Summer of 2017, when the streaming service was discontinued. Its assets were spun-off into a new streaming site called HIDIVE, created and run by a third party company named HIDIVE LLC. The Anime Network continues to run as a Video On-Demand service and user forums.
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  • Switchblade Pictures, founded by ADV co-founder Matt Greenfield and Toru Iwakami, acquires Japanese live-action films for distribution in the North American market.
  • Maiden Japan is a Switchblade sublabel specializing in obscure but acclaimed anime.
  • The newest sublabel, Sentai Kids, focuses on series aimed at young children.
  • AEsir Holdings licensed rights to most of ADV Films' former library of titles (some titles were later licensed directly by Sentai Filmworks). This was the dumping ground for ADV's "toxic" assets.

After September 2009, new releases typically have these credits:

(anime) Licensed by Sentai Filmworks
(live action) Licensed by Switchblade Pictures
Distributor Section23 Films
DVD Production Seraphim Digital Studios
Internet Streaming Anime Network or HIDIVE

See Section23 Films for the list of anime series formerly licensed by ADV Films.

List of Anime released by Sentai Filmworks:

Hanaukyo Maid Team (only the La Verite series; rescued from Geneon)

Sentai Filmworks and their works provide examples of:

  • All-Star Cast:
    • This is generally avoided, as Sentai tends to use newer voice actors like Margaret McDonald, Blake Shepard, Caitlynn French, and Genevieve Simmons. However, it's relatively common to see some of the old ADV veterans show up in lead roles, occasionally even on the same dub.
    • Starting in late 2015 Sentai has began to stray away from this trope unless its a Matt Greenfield-directed dub. Most of their dubs since that point have newer voice actors or older ones with not a lot of experience in leading roles in the main cast while veterans often take on supporting roles. Though there have been a few cases of veterans voicing main roles now and then.
  • Amateur Cast: When they do dubs, they tend to lean towards casting newer voice actors, similar to how BangZoom now does.
  • Breakthrough Hit:
    • CLANNAD, which established them as a worthy successor to ADV after the old studio's collapse, as well as a rival to the larger anime distributor, Funimation.
    • As of recently Akame ga Kill! and Parasyte have become this for Sentai as both shows marked the first time where Sentai would license widely popular action-focused shows and both helped Sentai gain considerable popularity due to airing on Toonami.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: They are more likely to dub anime titles that fall into this category nowadays, particularly Diabolik Lovers and Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East
  • Doing It for the Art: For at least eight of their releases, K-On!!, Persona 4: The Animation, the 2010 Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works movie, Rozen Maiden: Ouvertüre and Träumend, Mahoromatic: I'm Home and Queen's Blade: Rebellion and Beautiful Warriors, Sentai Filmworks ended up outsourcing the dub to Bang Zoom! Entertainment for the former six and NYAV Post for the latter two, due to majority of the original voice casts being located in California and New York, respectively, rather than Texas.
  • Dub-Induced Plot Hole: The people writing the dub scripts don't do the whole show at once, so this has led to some inconsistencies like accidental gender changes, mistaking character nicknames for their full names (as in School-Live!, where Megumi "Megu-nee" Sakura got a Dub Name Change so "Megu" was her actual first name), and erasing callbacks (as in Angel Beats!, where Yuri's "humans can't even wait ten minutes" line became "I'm tired of waiting" despite the former tying into her backstory).
  • Everything Is Big in Texas: The company, like its predecessor, is based in Houston.
  • Fanservice: While not the biggest offender when compared to Media Blasters and Funimation, a few of their romantic comedy and ecchi titles fall into this. Bonus points that two of the titles they've licensed involves the Sengoku Period.
  • Forced Meme: The "lewd" card. Comes from a scene in episode five of Infinite Stratos season 2, where Maya gave Charlotte a red card for lewd behavior in the episode's pageant scene. Needless to say, this image is often thrown around in regards to Jessica Calvello note  or whenever Sentai Filmworks licenses an anime that is a bit sexually explicit.
  • Follow the Leader: In 2018, after the success of Funimation's broadcast dubs in 2014, Sentai Filmworks started their own simuldubbing with their own HIDive streaming service starting with Devils' Line and Doreiku (which they coined it as "dubcast"), which caught many anime fans by surprise. That being said, unlike their rival Funimation, Sentai Filmworks only does simuldubs in a smaller scale (mainly 2-3 as opposed to Funimation's usual 6-10 titles) mainly because Sentai Filmworks has a much smaller pool of anime titles to license/work with when compared to Funimation's and Crunchyroll's business partnership and Sentai Filmworks having a much smaller staff. Of course, Funimation and Crunchyroll ended their partnership only two years later, so it's hard to tell what will happen next on Sentai's end.
    • They also appear to be following Discotek Media's footsteps in making standard-definition Blu-Rays of series that either have no HD masters, or poor ones.
  • Friendly Rivalry: To the Dallas-based Funimation. Despite the now infamous lawsuit Funimation filed against Sentai in 2012 regarding a contract issue, their respective representatives and public relations managers like to tease each other through various social media websites and some are good friends with each other. Additionally, many of the voice actors and staff that Sentai employs also will do work on Funimation dubs. Sentai even acquired Mahou Sensei Negima! when Funimation's rights to the series expired.
  • Improbably Female Cast: A lot of their anime they pick up tend to have disproportionately large female casts. Bonus points if some of their shows get an English dub. A justified trope, because many of the titles they've licensed are Harem romantic comedy fanservice series (or Key/Visual Arts titles). Hence, this is why there are more voice actresses working with Sentai Filmworks than male voice actors.
  • Lighter and Softer: A lot of the shows they license are comedies and lighthearted slice of life, drama, and romance anime. Even their action shows are usually on the more lighthearted side of things. Though they do have a few Darker and Edgier shows under their belt.
  • No Budget: Sort of. Unlike the larger anime license companies like Funimation, Viz Media, and even their direct predecessor ADV Films, Sentai Filmworks runs on a somewhat limited budget. They also have a tendency to occasionally rush things because of this (even for their sub-only releases), which leads to their generally bare-bones releases – no extra features other than clean openings and endings, and trailers – and on a few occasions, lackluster adaptations, a few of which have unfortunately even sported errors or inconsistencies in translation. Also, like L.A. based recording studio BangZoom!, they try to avoid giving their dubs A-level casts, in favor of newer (cheaper) talent. Fortunately, they aren't as bad when compared to Media Blasters.note 
    • To put it in perspective, Greg Ayres has stated that the time and budget Sentai gives the dubbing staff to complete 12-13 episodes is equivalent to what ADV gave them to make four episodes.
  • No Dub for You:
    • Up until around 2011, they released almost all of their properties on DVD with Japanese audio only – CLANNAD and Ghost Hound were the only major exceptions prior to this (and even those two were originally sub-only). Since then, they release a decent number of their titles with English dubs from Seraphim Digital Studios (until 2014, when Sentai built their own in-house recording studio), though they still release several titles sub-only.
    • Since 2012, Sentai even re-released some of their titles that were initially sub only with all-new English dubs, such as Special A, Nyan Koi!, Maid-Sama! and Maria†Holic. In general, they're most likely to dub shows that have proved to be popular (even originally sub-only home video release) and/or seem to appeal to western audiences, as that would mean they'll probably sell well and therefore justify the production of said dub.
  • The Other Darrin:
    • While they have used Bang Zoom! Entertainment for continuity with the dubs of properties they rescued from Bandai and Geneon, two of their titles, Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA and Rozen Maiden Zurückspulen, which are related to rescue licenses, had them use their in-house studio and their own voice actors instead outsourcing. The reasons are unknown, although some fans speculate that it's because it's much cheaper to use their own voice talent over Los Angeles based voice actors note . It makes some sense, as the two titles mentioned are spinoffs of the original work rather than being a continuation of the actual series so its not quite as glaring to use different voice actors.note 
    • Struck again with their dub of season 2 of Squid Girl. Christine Marie Cabanos returned to voice the titular character, but everyone else from Media Blasters' dub of the first season got replaced.
  • Pigeonholed Voice Actor: Due to the fact that Sentai Filmworks (as well as ADV Films) had a good history of using the same voice actors in their dubs, it's not uncommon for several voice actors who work with Sentai Filmworks to be associated to certain character archetypes. Some notable examples include Greg Ayres as a kid hero, Brittney Karbowski as the Token Mini-Moe or tsundere, David Wald as a father type character or a badass, and Monica Rial as Token Mini-Moe. In some cases, some of their voice actors share the same roles with the Japanese VA (i.e. David Wald with Keiji Fujiwara and Brittney Karbowski with Rina Hidaka being the most famous examples).
  • Playing Against Type: Their licenses of Akame ga Kill! and Parasyte were not expected from most fans to say the least. Sentai usually leaves the heavy hitting popular shows to Funimation. Usually when Sentai licenses popular anime it's usually comedies, dramas, and ecchi instead of blockbuster action series like those two shows.
  • Production Posse: Like ADV before them, Sentai Filmworks often use their own voice actors around the Houston area and while they often use veteran voice actors that work in both Houston and Dallas (i.e. Luci Christian, Monica Rial, Brittney Karbowski, and Greg Ayres), it is incredibly rare for Sentai Filmworks to get out of town voice actors (which is different from Funimation where they do so in an occasional basis). This has changed in the recent years, as Sentai Filmworks have English dubs that include several voice actors who often work in Dallas (i.e. such as Josh Grelle, Jad Saxton, Tia Ballard, and Austin Tindle. The first two will end up being regulars for many of their dubs in addition to their voice work with Funimation) and even got a Los Angeles based voice actress to do a Role Reprise in one of her old roles.
  • Seinen: The vast majority of Sentai's licenses fall into this category.
  • Shoujo: A good-sized portion of Sentai Filmworks' catalog also falls into this demographic, and some have been lucky enough to get dub treatment.note  In fact, one of their biggest releases both in production costs and over all sales was Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun which got the limited edition treatment and a dub.
  • Slice of Life: When compared to other anime licensors and distributors, Sentai Filmworks are more likely to license anime in this genre than other licensors. However, most of their Slice of Life anime releases (particularly the Manga Time Kirara titles) are often released sub-only. note 
  • Spiritual Successor: To ADV Films, inheriting many of their staff and voice talents.
    • It started out as The Remnant of ADV, leading some to nickname them "Neo-ADV" ? referring to the Neo-Zeon remnants that cling around in Gundam. To the surprise of many, however, through snatching up titles that other companies passed on (a sub-only release of a title Funimation rejected was better than nothing for the consumer), combined with business savvy and sheer tenacity… they actually nickel and dimed their way up by the mid New Tens into being a respectably sized and reasonably stable company - though they're still a shadow of what they were in the ADV boom years of 2004-2007.
  • Token Mini-Moe: Many of their shows they licensed have at least a young girl in them, and two of the voice actresses they use specialize in this character type, (with a third one slowly specializing in this trope. Two more voice actresses being cast into these characters as well)
  • Too Long; Didn't Dub: Sentai dubs had a much greater tendency to keep Japanese honorifics and Verbal Tics of the characters compared to dubs made by other companies (including the old ADV, which did this only on a few occasions), as the latter generally try to avoid this as much as possible. However, this seems to have changed, as many of their post-2014 dubs, including for series taking place in Japan, do not include honorifics at all. They also almost never dub in-universe songsnote , something which Funimation, by contrast, almost always does.


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