Wednesday, Bandai Namco Holdings released their financial highlights of the fiscal year, which ended on March 31, 2022. The conglomerate reported that the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise earned 101.7 billion yen across the group’s subsidiaries, a first for the iconic mecha franchise, now comprising more than 10% of sales for Bandai Namco.
This marks a 7% increase from the previous year, when it earned 95 billion yen, and nearly double what the franchise had amassed in 2010. Bandai Namco now projects that the franchise will earn 119 billion yen in the next fiscal year.
Opening to Japanese theaters June 11, 2021 the Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway’s Flash film earned record box office sales with 2.2 billion yen in revenue, with over 1.08 million tickets sold, becoming the second highest grossing Gundam film. Hathaway is the first Gundam film to exceed 2 billion yen since the 1982 Mobile Suit Gundam III: Encounters in Space, which earned 2.3 billion yen in box office revenue.
As of June 2021, producer Naohiro Ogata confirmed the second installment was in production, tentatively titled, Sun of Bright (also read as “Son”).
Announced during the 2nd Gundam Conference on September 2021 were two major anime installments planned for a 2022 release. Mobile Suit Gundam: Cucuruz Doan’s Island is a new anime film directed by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, and Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury is the first new Gundam TV anime in seven years.
The 3rd Gundam Conference was held in March, presided by chief Gundam officer Koji Fujiwara to formally announce and outline the Bandai Namco Group’s ambitious “Gundam Metaverse Project.”
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 42 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.
Early February 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.