Jump to content

Bandai Visual

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bandai Visual Co., Ltd.
Native name
Kabushiki gaisha Bandai Bijuaru
  • AE Planning
  • (1983–1989)
  • Bandai Media
  • (1988–1992)
Company typeSubsidiary
FoundedAugust 23, 1983; 40 years ago (1983-08-23)
Defunct2018 (2018) (as a company)
FateMerged with Lantis
SuccessorBandai Namco Arts
HeadquartersEbisu, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
Key people
  • Kazumi Kawashiro
  • (president and CEO)
Number of employees
  • Actas
  • Bandai Entertainment
  • Beez Entertainment
  • Emotion
  • Lantis

Bandai Visual Co., Ltd.[a] was a Japanese anime, film production, and distribution company, established by Bandai and a subsidiary of Bandai Namco Holdings. They focused mainly in international distribution of anime properties in North America.[1][2][3]

Most of the anime and films that have been distributed and licensed by Bandai Visual have been released under the Emotion label. After the reorganization of Bandai Namco Holdings in 2006, Bandai Visual headed the group's Visual and Music Content Strategic Business Unit. Its subsidiaries included the Emotion Music Company, Ltd. (whose logos also include the Moai from Easter Island), and Lantis music publishing labels. Until 2012, it was involved in the production and distribution of several anime titles, including those it has directly produced itself and anime series produced by the anime studio Sunrise, an alternate anime studio subsidiary of Bandai Namco Holdings. In September 2017, Bandai Visual acquired the anime studio Actas.[4]

In February 2018, it was announced Bandai Visual would be merged with Lantis into a new branch of BNH, called Bandai Namco Arts. The reorganizing took effect as of April 1, 2018. Bandai Visual remains only as a label of the new company.[5]


Origins and expansion (1983–1996)[edit]

On August 23, 1983, Japanese toy manufacturer Bandai established AE Planning Co., Ltd. (Account Executive Planning), an animation and film distributor, in Kōjimachi, Chiyoda.[6][7] Bandai created AE Planning following the success of Emotion, its film distribution division, in 1982, and was part of Bandai's corporate reorganization and alteration of its business strategies.[8] AE Planning primarily distributed original video animations (OVAs) from other companies, most notably Pierrot's Dallos (1983).[8] Beginning in October 1984, it licensed and distributed laserdisc films in Japan.[6] After Bandai agreed to a business alliance with The Walt Disney Company in 1987, AE Planning became a distributor of Disney animated films across the country.[7]

In March 1989, AE Planning renamed itself Bandai Visual Sales and opened a second office in Shōwa-ku, Nagoya.[6] Alongside its publishing and distribution of VHS releases for television series such as Ultraman and Mobile Suit Gundam, Visual Sales operated the Emotion Theater movie theater in Bandai's B-Club Shop in Takadanobaba until its closure in 1997. Bandai Visual Sales was renamed again to Bandai Visual Co., Ltd. in August 1991.[6] In the same year, it absorbed Bandai's Media Division as a means to unify the latter company's home video distribution businesses. The acquisition also gave Bandai Visual ownership of the Emotion label, which was used for its music, anime re-releases, and other products.[7][8] As the company continued generating profits, it began expanding its operations into other entertainment industries. In 1996, Bandai Visual began publishing video games under the Emotion Digital Software brand, releasing titles such as Return to Zork, MechWarrior 2: Arcade Combat Edition and Choujikuu Yousai Macross: Ai Oboete Imasu ka.[9][10]

Mainstream success and Bandai Entertainment (1996–2005)[edit]

In April 1996, Bandai Visual published Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, the sixth mainline installment in the Gundam media franchise. Though it was a moderate success in Japan, Gundam Wing was especially popular in the United States, being credited for single-handedly popularizing the Gundam franchise for Western audiences. Following the show's success, Bandai established a subsidiary named Bandai Entertainment Inc. in Cypress, California as a subsidiary of its United States division, Bandai America. Though Bandai Visual did not have any direct control over Bandai Entertainment, the latter company often licensed many of Visual's anime series for publishing and distribution in North America, such as Cowboy Bebop, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and multiple Gundam sequels.[11] Bandai Entertainment also published English-translated manga series and American graphic novels,[12] in addition to offering a "fan support" program to facilitate public screenings of licensed content at anime clubs and anime conventions.[13]

Bandai Visual was listed on JASDAQ market in November 2001; by that time, the company was worth over ¥2.1 billion (US$20 million).[6][14] In January 2003, the company acquired Emotion Music and made it a wholly owned subsidiary, as a means to further expand into the music industry.[15] Bandai Visual also began supplying content for broadband distribution networks, such as the Bandai Channel television station.[16][17]

Namco Bandai takeover and merge with Lantis (2005–2018)[edit]

Bandai Visual was a wholly owned subsidiary of Namco Bandai Holdings.[18][19] Namco Bandai announced on November 8, 2007, that it would buy the voting shares it did not own between that date and December 10, 2007, and turn the company into a wholly owned subsidiary.[20][21] On December 18, 2007, Namco Bandai announced that it had owned 93.63%[22] of Bandai Visual's shares since the end of November.[20] The remaining shares were delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange on February 15, 2008, after Namco Bandai acquired the remaining 10% of the shares.

In February 2018, it was announced Bandai Visual would be merged with Lantis into a new branch of BNH, called Bandai Namco Arts. The reorganizing took effect as of April 1, 2018. Bandai Visual remains only as a label of the new company.[5]


Bandai Visual USA / Bandai Entertainment[edit]

Bandai Visual USA was established in 2005 in Cypress, California to license anime properties from various Japanese companies for North American distribution; most of those licenses coming from Bandai and its sister company Sunrise. The company also licensed manga series for release with English translation, and published American-made graphic novels.[12][23] Bandai Visual USA's releases were of high quality and were aimed at collectors. Their titles were released under the Honnêamise label (named after their Bandai Visual's first production, Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise). Bandai Visual USA's anime products were distributed in North America initially by Image Entertainment and later, Geneon Entertainment USA and in Europe by Beez Entertainment.[24][25] On May 23, 2008, Bandai Namco Holdings announced that Bandai Visual USA would be merged into the newly formed Bandai Entertainment which was consummated on July 1, 2008.[26]

The company confirmed on January 2, 2012, that they would stop offering new DVD, Blu-ray disc and manga releases by February, but would continue to produce their current library of content. Bandai Entertainment was restructured to focus on licensing anime to other companies.[27] On August 30, 2012, Bandai America announced that it will shut down Bandai Entertainment and discontinue distributing their home video and print catalog on March 1, 2013. They made their final shipment to retailers on November 30, 2012.[28] Many former Bandai Entertainment titles have been re-licensed by other companies, including Funimation, Crunchyroll, Aniplex of America, Discotek Media, Media Blasters, Nozomi Entertainment, Viz Media, Maiden Japan and Sentai Filmworks.

Most of the notable titles that Bandai Entertainment held included K-On!, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and Lucky Star.

Beez Entertainment[edit]

Beez Entertainment was the European branch of Bandai Entertainment that also distributed anime and music and were also owned by Bandai Namco Holdings.[29] The name is an acronym for Bandai Entertainment European Zone. Following the discontinuation of Bandai Entertainment, Beez has also stopped releasing anime in the European market.[30] Their anime releases were licensed in North America by Bandai Entertainment and Bandai Visual USA.


Honnêamise was Bandai Visual USA's boutique label that distributed deluxe editions of anime and artsier products. The label's namesake comes from Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise. The label was shut down on July 1, 2008, when Bandai Visual USA was absorbed into Bandai Entertainment. The label's releases were distributed by Geneon Entertainment USA and Image Entertainment.


In August 2009, Bandai Visual had their first music release on US iTunes with Lantis Sounds. In September 2009, Bandai Visual teamed up with Namco Bandai Games for their periodic release of game sounds (classic and new) to iTunes USA.[31][32]


  1. ^ Japanese: 株式会社バンダイビジュアル, Hepburn: Kabushiki gaisha Bandai Bijuaru


  1. ^ "Bandai Visual" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on November 26, 2005. Retrieved March 7, 2007.
  2. ^ "NAMCO BANDAI Holdings Inc. – Group Companies". Archived from the original on March 7, 2007. Retrieved March 7, 2007.
  3. ^ "IR information : Press release Third Medium-Term Plan". Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved March 7, 2007.
  4. ^ "Bandai Visual Acquires Girls & Panzer Anime Studio Actas". Anime News Network. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Bandai Namco Holdings Merges Lantis With Bandai Visual, Launches New Subsidiaries". Anime News Network. February 9, 2018. Retrieved August 13, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Corporate History". www.bandaivisual.co.jp (in Japanese). Bandai Visual. September 2017. Archived from the original on September 24, 2017. Retrieved January 8, 2021.
  7. ^ a b c Grant, Tina (2003). International Directory of Company Histories (Volume 55 ed.). St. James Press. p. 44. Retrieved October 23, 2020.
  8. ^ a b c Nikkei BP Technical Research Department (June 17, 1999). 第三章 ビジネスの仕組みが変わる 一.版権ビジネスの体制を見直す ●作品発表の場として根付くOVA」『アニメ・ビジネスが変わる―アニメとキャラクター・ビジネスの真実 [Chapter 3 — Business Structure Changes 1. Reviewing the Copyright Business System ● OVA Rooted as a Place to Present Works ”“ Animation Business Changes-The Truth About Anime and Character Business] (in Japanese). Nikkei BP. pp. 88–89. ISBN 4-8222-2550-X.
  9. ^ "リターン・トゥ・ゾーク — RETURN TO ZORK" (in Japanese). No. 13. SoftBank Group. Sega Saturn Magazine Japan. December 8, 1995. p. 4.
  10. ^ "Sega Saturn Soft Review - 超時空要塞マクロス 愛・おぼえていますか" [Sega Saturn Soft Review — Choujikuu Yousai Macross: Ai Oboete Imasu ka] (in Japanese). SoftBank Group. Sega Saturn Magazine Japan. June 20, 1997. p. 147.
  11. ^ Gramuglia, Anthony (October 21, 2020). "From Bandai to 4Kids, the Anime Distributors That Didn't Survive". Comic Book Resources. Valnet. Archived from the original on October 27, 2020. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
  12. ^ a b "Bandai Entertainment". Archived from the original on July 17, 2007. Retrieved July 22, 2007.
  13. ^ "Bandai announces anime club support program". Anime News Network. December 2, 2002. Retrieved January 2, 2012.
  14. ^ Masuda, Hiromichi (July 25, 2007). アニメビジネスがわかる [Understanding The Anime Business]. NTT Publishing. p. 206. ISBN 9784757122000.
  15. ^ "バンダイV、著作権事業開始…エモーションMを子会社化" [Bandai Visual starts copyright business ... Makes Emotion Music a subsidiary]. Braina News (in Japanese). Braina. January 30, 2003. Archived from the original on March 27, 2006. Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  16. ^ Ann Wright, Jean (July 18, 2013). Animation Writing and Development - From Script Development to Pitch. CRC Press. p. 28. ISBN 9781136144059.
  17. ^ Ito, Daichi (May 12, 2001). "BBコンテンツの雄「バンダイチャンネル」の戦略 ~ブロードバンドオリジナルの作品が来年にも登場~". BB Watch (in Japanese). Impress Group. Archived from the original on September 8, 2014. Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  18. ^ "NAMCO BANDAI Holdings Inc. to Fully Acquire Bandai Visual Co., Ltd. and Bandai Networks Co., Ltd". Reuters. January 15, 2008. Archived from the original on February 13, 2008. Retrieved January 19, 2008.
  19. ^ "Bandai Visual Co. Ltd.: Private Company Information". BusinessWeek. January 19, 2008. Archived from the original on February 22, 2008. Retrieved January 20, 2008.
  20. ^ a b Schilling, Mark (December 17, 2007). "Bandai Namco buys up subsidiaries". Variety.
  21. ^ Schilling, Mark (November 8, 2007). "Bandai taking over subsidiaries". Variety.
  22. ^ "NAMCO BANDAI Holdings announces complete takeover of BANDAI VISUAL". KatanaXtreme.com. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved December 25, 2007.
  23. ^ "Bandai Visual Establishes US Office". Anime News Network. Retrieved March 31, 2013.
  24. ^ "Bandai Visual USA to Launch Honneamise Label". Anime News Network. Retrieved March 31, 2013.
  25. ^ "Bandai Visual USA New Licenses and Distribution Label". Anime News Network. Retrieved March 31, 2013.
  26. ^ "Bandai Visual USA to be Liquidated by September". Anime News Network. May 23, 2008. Archived from the original on May 25, 2008. Retrieved May 23, 2008.
  27. ^ "Bandai Entertainment to Stop Releasing New DVDs, BDs, Manga". Anime News Network. January 2, 2012. Retrieved January 2, 2012.
  28. ^ "Bandai Entertainment to Discontinue Home Video, Manga, Novel Sales". Anime News Network. Retrieved August 31, 2012.
  29. ^ "About Beez: Company Profile". Beez Entertainment. Archived from the original on May 12, 2009. Retrieved December 28, 2007.
  30. ^ France's Beez Entertainment Stops Releasing New Anime - News. Anime News Network (January 5, 2012). Retrieved on 2014-05-12.
  31. ^ "Bandai Visual's new project – game sounds on iTunes". J!-ENT. Retrieved September 2, 2009.
  32. ^ "Bandai Visual and Namco Games partner up for Game Sounds" (PDF) (Press release) (in Japanese). Bandai Visual. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 26, 2011. Retrieved September 2, 2009.

External links[edit]