Bandai is a Japanese toy company that was founded on July 5th, 1950 by Naoharu Yamashina and headquartered in Taito, Tokyo. They are credited for spawning and owning the Tamagotchi franchise, releasing the original version in Japan on November 23rd, 1996, followed by an overseas release on May 18th, 1997. Bandai has since made numerous virtual pet follow-ups and has licensed video games, merchandise, and filmed content based on Tamagotchi, making Tamagotchi a flagship franchise for them.
Besides Tamagotchi, Bandai is also known for Digimon, Aikatsu, Cocotama, and Mobile Suit Gundam, and holds numerous toy licenses for Japanese properties such as Dragon Ball, Super Sentai (adapted overseas as Power Rangers, which Bandai also produced toys for until 2018), Sailor Moon, Kamen Rider, Naruto, One Piece, and Ultraman.
On September 29th, 2005, Bandai merged with video game developer Namco (known for Pac-Man, Tekken, Tales of, Taiko no Tatsujin, and Katamari Damacy, among other games) to form Bandai Namco Holdings. The Bandai became a division of the merged company, continuing its role on producing toys and merchandise, including those for Tamagotchi.
Bandai Namco Holdings and Involvement with Tamagotchi
Bandai Co., Ltd.
Bandai Co., Ltd. is a company in Japan that produces the Tamagotchi toys and games, as well as other anime/non-anime toys, and model kits. Following the merger with Namco, Bandai continues to function as the merged company's head of Toys and Hobbies. It has several business units under it which manage Tamagotchi in several different ways including:
Bandai America Inc.
Bandai America Inc. is responsible for distribution of Tamagotchi products in the United States and Canada. Their most notable contributions include distribution of the original toy, Tamagotchi Connection, Tamagotchi Friends, and Tamagotchi On.
Bandai Visual, Co. Ltd
Bandai Visual was responsible for the home entertainment distribution of several anime series that aired in Japan, including Tamagotchi!. In 2018, they merged with Bandai Namco's music publishing label Lantis to form Bandai Namco Arts.
Bandai Entertainment, Inc.
Bandai Entertainment, a division of Bandai America, was responsible for the American distribution of Bandai Visual's products. They acquired international distribution rights to Tamagotchi: The Movie, which was released alongside a special edition of Tamagotchi Music Star. They disestablished in 2012.
A producer of trading card games for many anime series in Japan. Tamagotchi has its own line of Carddass trading cards that are constantly being updated as new characters and features are added.
Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc.
Bandai Namco Entertainment (formerly Namco Bandai Games) is company's eponymous video game division that produces video games based on the various series owned by the company, as well as publishing and distributing licensed video games. Prior to the merger, Bandai attempted to produce video game hardware such as Pipp!n (with Apple), Playdia, and WonderSwan, and had their own video game software division that produced 8 Tamagotchi video games, followed by another 17 after the merger, resulting in a total of 25 Tamagotchi video games to date.
- Bandai is the largest toy company in Japan and the third largest toy company in the world in terms of revenue, behind Mattel and Hasbro, their biggest international competitors.
- Sometime in the late 1990's, Sega attempted to merge with Bandai. The proposed merger was rejected by Bandai due to "cultural differences" between the companies.