Sarah “Sully” Sullivan is the Conventions Manager for Funimation Entertainment. Her mission is to promote the brand to new and old anime fans alike. She also works with Giant Ape Media to promote their live-action titles, as well as promote Syfy’s Lost Girl, distributed on DVD and Blu-ray by Funimation. I spoke with Ms. Sullivan during the closing moments of San Diego Comic-Con, where she summarizes the 2013 show, looks ahead to a convention milestone, previews some upcoming Funimation releases and vents about Sailor Moon.
What is the average workday for you?
– “It depends. If I’m at a convention: insanity. If I’m not at a convention, I’m planning for a convention. It’s a lot of emails; a lot of phone calls. My job actually requires a lot of heavy lifting, both from a mental and physical standpoint. We do more conventions than any other anime company in North America. This year: 37 conventions. The next closest, I think, is Crunchyroll. I want to say that they do 12.”
“Conventions have always been a really, really important and vital part of Funimation’s marketing plan because anime fans really need to be engaged. They want to be able to talk directly to the industry. They want to be part of the cool-kids club. By being able to go out to so many shows, we’re able to let them know what’s going on, let them know that we care about them, and also let them know some of the cool, new stuff that we’ve got going on.”
Will you be attending all 37 conventions this year?
– “I am, personally, attending 32 conventions this year. My 240th lifetime convention will be at Nan Desu Kan, in Denver this year. I’m pretty stoked about that.”
What was your first convention?
– “I attended my first convention at the age of 3. It was a Star Trek convention in Boston, Massachusetts with my Dad.”
How do you keep track of them all?
– “You know, I was just bored and got a wild hair one day and just went back and thought about every single one. This includes, like, little library cons. I used to be a professional Pastry Chef, so I would go to restaurant conventions. This is for all kinds of conventions. I just really like the convention atmosphere, it’s one of the reasons why I love my job. I just like the idea of people that have a passion for something getting together and being passionate. That’s one of the things that appeals to me about the convention scene and one of the reasons why I’m crazy enough to have the kind of schedule that I do. I get so much joy out of seeing the joy that other people get from shows.”
What are you passionate about?
– “I’m very passionate about our fans. I’m really, really passionate about a lot of the kids who watch our shows. Anime is a very equal-opportunity genre. We’ll take anybody. This community’s always been very accepting of other fandoms, like steampunk, sci-fi and that kind of thing. I just love the mentality that our kids tend to have. I call fans, ‘My kids.’ I love the fact that they’re so creative and they get so excited about the shows they love. That, in turn, gives me the energy to be able to deal with this kind of insanity every day.”
“I love anime. I’ve been an anime fan since I was tiny. I was introduced to it by my Mother, actually, who grew up watching Speed Racer. I love the suspension of reality you get from animation that you don’t find in a lot of other forms of entertainment. CG’s always going to look like CG. But with animation, there is that suspension of belief that allows you to completely enter a different world. I don’t just love anime. I love all forms of animation. There’s some really, really beautiful pieces that come out of Europe. For example, there’s a fantastic movie called The Triplets of Belleville, that I love. I’m very, very passionate about the medium.”
What’s your all-time favorite animation?
– “Neon Genesis: Evangelion changed my life. I discovered that when I was 15 years old. When you’re a teenager, you have an awkward relationship with your parents — which obviously Singi has a very awkward relationship with his father. The actions of a lot of the Eva pilots are very selfish, rather than selfless. There was a lot that I saw in myself, in some of these characters, in addition to the religious themes, throughout. At a point in time, when I was really beginning to question the religion that I was raised in, I got a lot of meaning from the piece. Having been able to work on the rebuild of Evangelion with Funimation, has, literally, been a dream come true, for me. To be able to share the joy that I’ve gotten from the franchise with people has been really special for me.”
What are you passionate about, outside of anime?
– “Outside of anime, I am a die-hard Dr. Who fan. I’m a passionate equal-opportunity nerdist. I love comic books. I love science fiction. I love Star Trek. I love Star Wars — I have a Star Wars tattoo on my foot. I love all different kinds of music. My boyfriend’s in a punk band, so I love seeing live shows and getting to see all different kinds of bands play. I absolutely adore cooking and food. I was raised by a chef, so I love good food.”
What’s the latest Funimation projects you’re working on?
– “This weekend, at San Diego, we had several members of cast of Lost Girl come out. That’s been taking a lot of my time. Two weeks from now, at Otakon in Baltimore, we’ll be doing the dubbed premier of the new Mamoru Hosoda movie, Wolf Children. He did Summer Wars and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time… really beautiful, thought-provoking films that have a really big heart. I’m very excited about that.”
“We announced in June that we acquired the rights to Evangelion 3.33: You Can (Not) Redo, definitely working on plans for that. Of course, we’re keeping up the momentum for Attack on Titan, which is one of our simulcast shows. That’s been taking up a lot of our time, to make sure that we keep the buzz going, for that. It’s not hard. It’s one of the most exciting series to come out in the last decade. We recently announced a new season of simulcasts. A lot of the big simulcasts that we had this year, shows like Psycho-Pass and Binbogami ga! and Robotics;Notes, we’re starting to work on them, from a convention standpoint. Those have been hugely popular series. There’s a lot of exciting stuff to look forward to. As soon as San Diego Comic-Con 2013 ends, today, I’m already starting to work toward San Diego Comic-Con 2014. There’s always something new to look forward to. We’re hoping that we’ll be able to have another big presentation, here, again, next year.”
What’s the most frequently thing your told by anime fans?
– “Are you going to get the rights to Sailor Moon? That question makes me want to flip a desk. Trust me, if we had them, we’d let you know. I promise. That’s a question I constantly get. Also, how do I become a voice actor? That’s a big, big question from the kiddos, as well.”
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
– “Everyone should experience a convention, it’s this wonderful amalgamation of passion. People think it’s weird from the outside, but come to one. It’s super fun. One of my best friends came to San Diego Comic-Con last year and she’s here again this year, after never having attended one prior to that. She’s been to three with me since. I strongly encourage people to attend a convention. Find something that you love. Go ahead and meet other people that love the same things. You’re going to make new friends; you’re going to have a good time.”
For More Information:
– Sully’s Twitter
– Funimation Webpage
– Funimation on Twitter
– Funimation on Facebook
– The Funimation Show on Youtube
– The Funimation Show on Twitter
– The Funimation Show on Facebook