You know how I said in the Must-read Monthly Monday for this month how I’d be getting to my 2018 regular routine soon? It still hasn’t happened yet, but I’m already starting to doubt my choices (since I chose to deal with Japanese from two different perspectives for this part of the year – one perspective’s more sociological, the other’s typical language classes).
In preparation for that, I’ve been reading some non-fiction on anime and manga lately and there’s a small section in one of the books – Anime: A History – on Sunrise…
(Note before you begin: I’ve wanted to write at least one post with the Harvard citation system, bibliography and all, so if you think this one’s a bit weird, that’s why.)
Sunrise isn’t one of the earliest studios, but it’s certainly one of the most prolific ones. Having been founded in 1972 by former Mushi Production staff (Clements 2013), Sunrise has pretty much been trying to run away from its past since it began:
“You ask me what the difference was between Mushi [Production] and Sunrise. Largely, it was that [Osamu] Tezuka wasn’t there.” – Ryousuke Takahashi, a Sunrise director (Takahashi 2012, cited in Clements 2013)
Sunrise’s credentials come from being one of the pioneering studios of the mecha genre with Mobile Suit Gundam and its many other iterations. It also works on scattered other shows, both mecha and…er, not mecha. Currently, Sunrise is saddled with Classicaloid and Gintama and on top of that, soon it will deal with Otherworldly Restaurant “Nobu” buzz – three completely different shows aimed at different audiences, which sheds some light on how their merchandising and sales strategy works. Clements (2013) notes that it is a partnership with and eventual acquisition by Bandai that has caused Sunrise to run so long. He also mentions the idea of having some of the adaptions (which somehow always happen to be non-mecha) run in the interim between original shows to keep the jobs and the money stable. Notably, that Starwing Paradox IP that turned out to be an arcade game seems to be working a lot like any other adaption for them.
The studio’s resume is pretty dang long – as of this post being published, they have 137 individual listings for “animation production” (Anime News Network n.d.) – and that’s not even covering all the series they’ve ever worked on. However, “Sunrise”, according to one Anime News Network article (Anime News Network 2018), isn’t just a studio for main animation production – it’s a creator of IPs (think “Hajime Yatate”, one “creator” of Gundam (Anime News Network n.d., Anime News Network n.d.)) with lots of subsidiaries, also under Sunrise or Bandai names, that work different aspects of the business, which should explain the sprawl of vastly different franchises under their umbrella. Tiger and Bunny, Code Geass, heck, even Aikatsu…basically, there are so many shows under the Sunrise blanket there couldn’t possibly be a unifying factor aside from the merchandising in pretty much everything. Face it, mecha shows are often around to sell model kits, toys and figures, if not other types of merch. Then again, what business doesn’t want to benefit from booming sales from varied products?
Something interesting to note is that the studio known as Bandai Namco Pictures seems to look like an exception to this rule on the surface. It works on children’s shows, compared to the more diverse Sunrise. However, there seems to be some cross-pollination between the two, considering that some more recent parts of Gintama appear on Bandai Namco Pictures’s list (Anime News Network n.d.). Therefore, it would not be surprising to say the two are related in some way or form.
So, did you like the more formal presentation of Ode to Anime Studios, or was it a bit too much? Personally, I think I overdid it a bit because I ended up focussing on the business side too much as a result of the information I got…
Anime News Network 2018, Bandai Namco Holdings Merges Lantis With Bandai Visual, Launches New Subsidiaries, viewed 17th February 2018, https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2018-02-09/bandai-namco-holdings-merges-lantis-with-bandai-visual-launches-new-subsidiaries/.127609
Anime News Network n.d., Bandai Namco Pictures, viewed 17th February 2018, https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/company.php?id=13900
Anime News Network n.d., Hajime Yatate, viewed 24th February 2018, https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/people.php?id=19
Anime News Network n.d., Mobile Suit Gundam, viewed 24th February 2018, https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=46
Anime News Network n.d., Sunrise, viewed 17th February 2018, https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/company.php?id=34
Clements, J 2013, Anime: A History, London, UK.