Former Sunrise Producer Shares Recollections of Studio's Shuffling
posted on by Kim Morrissy
Anime producer Masuo Ueda, who formerly worked as a managing director at Sunrise (soon to be consolidated into Bandai Namco Filmworks Inc.), shared his recollections of the studio in a Twitter thread on Monday.
He reflected on a meeting he had with the president, the managing director, and the executive director in 1993, where he was told that Sunrise would be selling its shares to Bandai. He described it as "like a bolt in the blue" and compared it to Emperor Hirohito's famous World War II surrender broadcast.
Ueda wrote that he was given many reasons for why the old management was leaving. He was told that they felt that if they continued running the company, they would be unable to make calm decisions as they got older. The company was being transferred to Bandai, which apparently understood Sunrise best. This was a natural decision according to Ueda, considering that Bandai was the biggest client of Gundam.
At the time, Ueda reacted calmly and asked what was going to happen to him. He was told that he would continue to work as the core of Sunrise, and that the studio would continue to produce anime the same way as before.
Ueda wrote that he had always naturally assumed until that day that good anime is born from independent production. He felt like he was "being sold." However, at the time he also assumed that because he would be in charge at Bandai and that he had many acquaintances with him, things would continue the same way as before, so he kept his reservations to himself.
However, this situation resulted in confusion for the other members of the company, and people were pulled in many different directions. Because there was a gag order at first, only a few members knew about it. Nevertheless, Ueda recalled that a producer in charge of Takara at the time lobbied hard against the management to reverse the decision.
"I suppose the countdown to my departure from Sunrise began with that meeting," Ueda concluded.
Ueda posted his tweets just a week after Bandai Namco Holdings Inc. announced that it is combining Sunrise Inc., the visual business operations of Bandai Namco Arts Inc., and Bandai Namco Rights Marketing Inc. into the new company Bandai Namco Filmworks Inc. The move is part of its reorganization of its IP Production Unit on April 1.
RobiHachi and Cute High Earth Defense Club anime franchise director Shinji Takamatsu also pinpointed the selling of the shares to Bandai in 1994 as a major turning point for Sunrise's culture in his discussion of the studio's recent shuffling.
"My honest impression is that this has been coming for 25 years. [That's] when the old management suddenly sold their shares to Bandai and left," he tweeted.
Ueda began working at Nippon Sunrise (now known as Sunrise) in 1979, then at Aniplex in 2003. He became president and CEO of A-1 Pictures in 2010. He left Aniplex in 2017. He is a representative and planning producer for Skyfall, LLC.
Source: Masuo Ueda's Twitter account