We are working to consolidate our knowledge in the visual, music, and live event businesses; to facilitate rapid business initiatives; and to leverage Group strengths as the center of the IP axis strategy

Bandai Namco Filmworks Inc. President and Representative Director Makoto Asanuma

Makoto Asanuma
President and Representative Director
Bandai Namco Filmworks Inc.

In April 2022, the Bandai Namco Group reorganized the IP Production Unit and combined the companies within the Unit. In this section, Makoto Asanuma, the president of Bandai Namco Filmworks Inc., which is the business management company for the IP Production Unit, discusses the aims of the Unit reorganization, the strategies in the Mid-term Plan, future focus IP, and other matters.

Please discuss the objectives of the reorganization of the IP Production Unit.

Asanuma: IP is the core of the Bandai Namco Group’s IP axis strategy, and under this strategy the IP Production Unit has the important mission of creating and producing IP through the visual, music, and live event businesses.
In the Unit’s recent internal reorganization, we combined SUNRISE INC., which has its own visual product studios; the visual business operations of BANDAI NAMCO Arts Inc., which rolls out visual products, packaged products, etc., in collaboration with outside production studios; and BANDAI NAMCO Rights Marketing Inc., which handles the visual product distribution business. In this way, we established Bandai Namco Filmworks Inc. At the same time, we combined the music business operations of BANDAI NAMCO Arts Inc. with SUNRISE Music INC., and BANDAI NAMCO Live Creative Inc., which handles the live event business. In this way, we established Bandai Namco Music Live Inc.
In recent years, the IP environment has changed significantly. To address this change and demonstrate our full capabilities as a Unit, we thought that it would be necessary to step up strong collaboration within the Unit. As a result of the reorganization, we can share the companies’ varied know-how, strengths, networks with external partners, etc. With the visual, music, and live event businesses working together, we will further strengthen our IP creation and production capabilities and aim to rapidly develop business operations.

What is your view of the market environment in the visual business?

Asanuma: Technical innovation is rapidly advancing in the market. Services offering video streaming over the Internet are expanding, and it is now possible to enjoy high-quality video and audio on a home TV, such as with 4K high-definition television and Dolby Atmos*. On the other hand, there are things that will not change no matter how much technology progresses. It is customers who evaluate visual products, and the most important thing is to produce visual products in which customers find value. In producing visual products, the IP Production Unit work so earnestly address the needs of customers and focuses on creating products that are one step ahead of customer expectations. In this way, we create value that leverages our distinctive strengths.

* A stereophonic sound technology

In the anime industry, the number of new entrants around the world is increasing.

Asanuma: I think that this is a result of the global recognition of the power of anime. Anime products with high-quality video have expanded their domain to a wide array of products and services, and there are a growing number of cases that have resulted in hit IP. It is a major advantage for a company to be able to produce anime products that become the starting point of IP, and to roll out business initiatives as the IP holder.
Japanese anime are highly regarded on a global basis. Anime events held in locations around the world are attended by large numbers of people, and the venues are full of enthusiasm. These circumstances have become known worldwide, and this might account for the increase in new market entrants.
Our Unit has a wide range of knowledge regarding the provision of value to customers through the creation of products, including in anime and music production, streaming, packaged product and live event development, and the use of in-house rights. Furthermore, we can roll out a variety of products and services in collaboration with other Group Units. Leveraging these strengths, we will do our utmost to carefully fulfill our role in the Group’s IP axis strategy.

What issues does the Unit face as competition intensifies?

Asanuma: Large numbers of anime are being broadcast and released. In this setting, in order to have customers choose our anime, an important point will be how we can produce high-quality products. To that end, we must have talented creative artists. However, there is a serious shortage of creative artists in the industry. I think that this is an issue that must be resolved for the entire industry, including Bandai Namco Filmworks.
As one part of our efforts to nurture creative artists, we have established the SUNRISE Drawing Academy and the SUNRISE Art Academy. Under this system, students are selected from the applicants, and these students are provided grants and receive training related to anime drawing and art. The aim is for the students to acquire skills and knowledge, with working animators, art directors, and art staff serving as instructors. Students who pass the graduation exam are given the opportunity to work as staff members at companies in the IP Production Unit. The graduates include people who are working on products in the “Gundam” series, “Love Live!” series, etc. Going forward, we will continue to actively implement these initiatives in order to build foundations for the industry to support the continued provision in the future of high-quality anime products, and to develop the human resources who will support the Group’s future IP creation.

Working to develop human resources and to resolve structural issues in the industry. Establishing environments in which employees have high levels of motivation.

What are the circumstances in the music and live event businesses?

Asanuma: Due to the influence of COVID19, the implementation of music and live events that leverage digital technologies is increasing. Our Unit is also working with these initiatives, such as new types of live events that utilize XR* technology and integrate the real and virtual worlds. XR live events are still in the early stages, but going forward we will making ongoing efforts to develop events that are even more fun for customers.
On the other hand, it is also true that real events have a special ability to create buzz among the participants that cannot be expressed with digital techniques. Going forward, we will leverage the strengths of both approaches and reinforce our development of events that combine digital and real elements while monitoring the circumstances.

* A general term for VR (virtual reality), AR (augmented reality) and MR (mixed reality) technologies

XR Live
XR Live

What IP products will the Unit focus on during the current fiscal year?

Asanuma: In October, broadcasts will start for “Mobile Suit Gundam THE WITCH FROM MERCURY”, which will be the first TV series in seven years. Ahead of the broadcast, the anime original version PROLOGUE was screened and received high evaluations. In collaboration with Group businesses, we will roll out a variety of products and services, such as Gundam plastic models. In addition, in October broadcasts will start for “Blue Lock”, a popular soccer manga that is being serialized in WEEKLY SHONEN MAGAZINE, and “Pui Pui Molcar Driving School”, a new “Pui Pui Molcar” series. In addition, Theatrical Version: “That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, Guren no Kizuna-hen” will be released in November. Please look forward to these products.


What are your policies toward work?

Asanuma: The IP Production Unit has about 1,000 employees. With the operating environment undergoing rapid change, we can expect to grow only if each employee on the front lines thinks about what is best and works accordingly. My job is to establish management strategies that enable employees to aim in the same direction and push forward with their work. I will strive to fulfill my responsibilities as president so that employees can thoroughly understand the strategies and demonstrate high levels of performance.
In addition, no matter how much time we spend on formulating our plans, if we do not actually create and market the visual works then we will not be highly evaluated by customers. I would like employees to strive to rapidly give shape to the things that they really want to do, without fearing failure. The accumulation of experience through this approach will generally lead to confidence. If we have a corporate culture in which, when we fail, rather than be critical we think about how we can succeed the next time and we share those ideas with everyone, then employees will be able to take on future challenges with high levels of motivation. I will do my utmost to create that type of environment.

This article is an extract from the Newsletter, Bandai Namco News, which was published in September 2022 and partially re-edited.