New name references parent companies, but “Sunrise” will still get its moments in the spotlight.

Anime studio Sunrise was founded in 1972 and had a few respectable hits in its early years. The most important series it ever produced, though, was a project that started airing in 1979: the original Mobile Suit Gundam TV series.

Gundam wasn’t an immediate ratings success, but once its fan community eventually did form it proved to be more passionate and loyal than any the anime industry had ever seen, and Sunrise has crafted dozens of Gundam sequels and spinoffs in the decades since. That pedigree helped Sunrise earn a reputation as a studio that can produce high-quality robot/science fiction anime in general, and its filmography also includes such memorable non-Gundam series as Cowboy Bebop, Escaflowne, and Outlaw Star. Oh, and Sunrise is also the studio behind the anime adaptations of Inuyasha and Gintama.

In short, Sunrise has built up a lot of goodwill among anime fans…and yet, it’s about to get a new name. Back in October, Bandai Namco, Sunrise’s parent company, announced that it would be merging Sunrise and two other entities into a single company. That merger is coming up in April, the customary beginning of the business year in Japan, and this week Bandai Namco announced that Sunrise will cease to be an official company name, and the new organization will be known as Bandai Namco Filmworks.

▼ Bandai Namco Filmworks’ logo, though, will just say Bandai Namco.

The other members of this combining robot-style realignment will be the film/video production division of Bandai Namco Core Arts and Bandai Namco Core Arts Marketing. In terms of management, though, it seems more like the other two companies are being absorbed into Sunrise, since Sunrise CEO Makoto Asanuma will remain in the top position at Bandai Namco Filmworks while Satoshi Kawano and Yoshitaka Tao, the current heads of Bandai Namco Core Arts and Bandai Namco Core Arts Marketing, will see their roles change to executive vice-president and senior managing director, respectively, at Bandai Namco Filmworks.

With “Sunrise” having become synonymous with A-list mecha anime, many fans in Japan are upset about the renaming news, with Twitter reactions including:

“They’ve been Sunrise for so long, and now they’re just going to change it.”
“Is the Sunrise name going to disappear from the anime world?”
“At least it’ll still show up in the credits of rerun episodes.”
“Sunrise is the name we grew up with. It’ll be sad to see it go.”
“Even if they say the new name is ‘Bandai Namco Filmworks,’ I’m still gonna call it ‘Sunrise!’”

However, while many commenters were passionately panicking like Zeon pilots when they spot a Gundam on the battlefield, the Sunrise name isn’t going away entirely. Even though the company’s name is changing, Bandai Namco says it will continue to use the Sunrise name in branding anime, in order to maintain the identity of Sunrise anime and the fan connections they’ve formed around the world.

▼ A diagram showing parent company Bandai Namco, Bandai Namco Filmworks, and Bandai Namco Filmworks’ individual brands, such as Sunrise, Emotion, and other brands to be formed in the future.

So from a fan perspective, it doesn’t look like things are going to be changing all that much, and in any case it’s a lot less traumatic than the Sega name disappearing from arcades.

Source: Sunrise
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