Wednesday, Bandai Namco Holdings released their financial highlights of the fiscal year, which ended on March 31, 2023. The conglomerate reported that the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise earned 131.3 billion yen across the group’s subsidiaries, a first for the iconic mecha franchise.
This marks a 29% increase from the previous year, when it earned 101.7 billion yen, and a 10.3% increase from the Bandai Namco‘s initial 119 billion full year projections. Bandai Namco now projects that the franchise will earn 135 billion yen in the next fiscal year.
In March, Bandai‘s President and Representative Director Masaru Kawaguchi explained “With Mobile Suit Gundam, the plastic model of the Gundam[Aerial] that played the lead role in Mobile Suit Gundam the Witch from Mercury recorded strong results. Among the HG TV series lead role Gundam versions, it had the highest initial sales in history, and it currently continues to be popular.” The Bandai Namco head continued to note how the Witch from Mercury has attracted new fans such as young people and women, generating substantial buzz.
Mobile Suit Gundam the Witch from Mercury is directed by Kiznaiver‘s Hiroshi Kobayashi, and penned by Code Geass scribe, Ichiro Ohkouchi. The tagline of the series is “This witch…rides a Gundam”. The series began broadcast October 2, 2022 on twenty-eight of MBS and TBS TV networks on their 5pm “Nichigo” anime block, as well as simulcasted internationally. The Witch from Mercury completed its twelve episode first season in January and began Season 2 on April 9, 2023.
Another 2022 hit for the Gundam studio was Mobile Suit Gundam: Cucuruz Doan’s Island, the film grossed 1.08 billion yen with 550,000 attendees. Directed by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, Cucuruz Doan’s Island is a remake and new perspective on the fifteenth episode of the same name from the original 1979 Mobile Suit Gundam series.
From 2020 to 2022, three new life-sized Gundam statues have been erected yearly: a moving RX-78F00 Gundam in Yokohama, ZGMF-X10A Freedom Gundam in Shanghai, and RX-93ff Nu Gundam in Fukuoka. The Gundam statues have become quite the hot topic in promoting tourism, amusement and information about the Gundam series, as well as convey the appeal of Gundam not only to Japan, but also to Asia and the rest of the world. It has been stated Bandai Namco hopes to build Gundam statues around the world.
Bandai Spirits, toy and hobby subsidiary of Bandai Namco Holdings, announced in a press release on April 28, 2022, that the company will be constructing a new factory for the Bandai Hobby Center to meet the increased demand for its widely popular Gundam plastic model kits (Gunpla) in Japan and overseas.
The company explains,
The Bandai Namco Group aims to expand its global business, and proactively promotes worldwide development of visual content, products and services for the Gundam series. As a result, the popularity of plastic model kits, such as Gunpla, has increased around the world. Thus far, BHC has carried out expansion with a new building (commenced operation in December 2020) and initiatives to improve production efficiency as well as reinforcing production functions based on cooperation with Group subsidiaries and business partners. To be able to respond to fans’ expectations going forward, BANDAI SPIRITS CO., LTD. has acquired the land adjacent to it and will construct a new factory with the aim of securing an even more stable production system. The Bandai Namco Group will continue to work to improve the production system from a variety of directions.
The new factory is stated to approximately cover 4,506 tsubo (~14,895 m2) and is scheduled to begin operations in 2024.
In the 43 years since its introduction in July 1980, coupled with the popularity of the Gundam series, Gunpla have become a worldwide phenomenon, selling over 700 million units. The official Gunpla flagship store, The Gundam Base, has a total of 16 locations worldwide in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China and Thailand.
The original 1979 Mobile Suit Gundam series was produced by anime studio Sunrise in collaboration with Gundam’s director Yoshiyuki Tomino, animator Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, and mechanical designer Kunio Okawara. Under the stewardship of Sunrise and Bandai Namco, Gundam has become one of the most recognizable Japanese brands worldwide with its myriad of anime installments, breathtaking animation quality, rich storytelling and thematics, games, manga, novels, and model kit empire.
In February 2022, it was announced in a press release by Sunrise and its parent Bandai Namco Holdings, the pioneering Gundam and mecha anime studio would be reorganized under Bandai Namco Filmworks Inc. The new company merges Sunrise, the film division of Bandai Namco Arts, and Bandai Namco Rights Marketing, with Sunrise as the surviving company. Bandai Namco Filmworks was stated to have the responsibility as the business management company in Bandai Namco’s IP Production Unit. The new company began operating April 1, 2022.