Bandai Visual

TITLE: President

LEADERSHIP: By focusing on popular animation titles, Kawashiro has made Bandai Visual the leader of Japan’s homevideo market.

The “Gundam” robot franchise, which includes dozens of television and film animations created by subcontractor Sunrise Animation, is the company’s signature brand.

According to research firm Media Control GfK, “Mobile Suit Gundam DVD Box 2” was Japan’s top revenue-producing title through October, with “Box 1” registering eighth.

For the fiscal year ending last February, the company’s packaged-media business accounted for more than 90% of its annual revenue ($292.6 million). Its licensing business, which last year included “Gundam” and “Ultraman” pics, comprised the remainder.

“Its key strength,” says Hiroshi Kamide, an analyst at KBC Securities Japan, “is the ability to recycle legacy backlog as well as reinventing them.”

The company, which is a subsidiary of Bandai Namco Holdings, says that long-term investment will increasingly target high-definition products to accommodate the rapid spread of flat-screen displays.

Other future ventures include expanding music and video distribution to take advantage of increasingly prevalent high-capacity broadband.

POV: The focus of subsidiaries Emotion and Lantis is distribution of content via the Internet, but analysts believe Bandai Visual will continue relying on packaged media. “If your competitors are inventing new products, you could be left behind,” Kamide says. “However, the company is taking a conservative approach in sticking with the old favorites that deliver.”

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