Tatsunoko Production Co., Ltd. (株式会社タツノコプロ Kabushiki gaisha Tatsunoko Puro) previously known as Kabushiki gaisha Tatsunoko Purodakushon (株式会社竜の子プロダクション), often shortened to Tatsunoko Pro (竜の子プロ or タツノコプロ Tatsunoko Puro), is a Japanese animation company. Founded in October 1962 by anime pioneer Tatsuo Yoshida along with his brothers Kenji and Toyoharu (or by the pen name "Ippei Kuri"). The studio's name has a double meaning in Japanese of "Tatsu's child" (Tatsu being a nickname for Tatsuo) and "sea dragon" which was the inspiration for its seahorse corporate logo.
Since the studio's inception, Tatsunoko has specialized in television production; by contrast, rival studio Toei Animation, focused chiefly on feature films and was just beginning to move into TV production when Tatsunoko was formed. The studio debuted in 1965 with the TV Series Space Ace. Since then, many legendary figures in the anime industry have worked with Tatsunoko, including Mizuho Nishikubo, Hiroshi Sasagawa, Koichi Mashimo, Katsuhisa Yamada, Hideaki Anno (Tatsunoko provided animation work on the Neon Genesis Evangelion TV series), and Kazuo Yamazaki. Sasagawa, in particular, is notable for bringing his fondness for "gag"- or comedy animation to the forefront in Tatsunoko series such as the Time Bokan (1975) franchise.
The translated and edited versions of the studio's more successful animated series, such as Hiroshi Sasagawa's Speed Racer (1967), Gatchaman (1972), and Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995) are credited with bringing international attention to Japanese animation. Although it carries a strong roster of action and science-fiction anime titles, Tatsunoko has nevertheless become known also for several widely-acclaimed fairy tale and fantasy-based series for younger children, such as Minashigo Hutch (1970), The Adventures of Pinocchio (1972), Temple the Balloonist (1977), The Littl' Bits (1980), and the Bible-based Superbook (1981).
The company provided some financial assistance on the Macross TV show (1982, adapted as part of 1985's Robotech) some time during its run, in exchange for various rights. They later licensed Macross to Harmony Gold, who then produced Robotech. This has given rise to a long-standing legal feud between Harmony Gold/Tatsunoko and Studio Nue and Big West Advertising. While siding with Nue and Big West in Japan, Harmony Gold still maintains that they have all rights to the Macross franchise in the United States.
In October 2000, Tatsunoko, Electronics Application (Eleca) and Japanese toy company Takara Co., Ltd. produced and released a Japan-only PlayStation exclusive fighting game Tatsunoko Fight, featuring characters from four established Tatsunoko franchises, as well an original series created exclusively for the game, Denkou Senka Volter (電光石火ヴォルター lit. "Lightning Warrior Volter"). In June 2005, Takara purchased a majority stake in the studio. Tatsunoko then became a subsidiary of Takara Tomy, the new company created following the subsequent merger of Takara and TOMY Co., Ltd., in 2006.
Several of today's top Japanese animation studios have their roots in Tatsunoko. Studio Pierrot was founded in 1979 by former Tatsunoko employees. J.C.Staff was founded in January 1986 by Tomoyuki Miyata, who previously worked at Tatsunoko. Production I.G was established in 1987 as I.G. Tatsunoko, which was a branch for the production of Zillion led by Mitsuhisa Ishikawa. Coincidentally, Production I.G acquired 11.2% of Tatsunoko later. Studio XEBEC also traces its history to Tatsunoko, as it is an offshoot of Production I.G, and Koichi Mashimo who previously worked at Tatsunoko founded Bee Train, which existed as a subsidiary of Production I.G until 2006. Kenji Horikawa left Bee Train to form P.A. Works in 2000. Radix was founded in December 1995 by former Tastunoko staff. Asread was formed in 2003 from former XEBEC staff. Wit Studio was formed in 2011 from former Production I.G staff. TNK was founded in 1999 by Teru Kato, who previously worked at Tatsunoko.
Tatsunoko's latest major project is the Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars fighting game, a collaboration between Tatsunoko and video game company Capcom which features characters from both companies. It was also recently announced that Tatsunoko and Marvel Comics will collaborate on a joint television project and other ventures.
On June 2, 2010 IG Port (parent company of Production I.G) announced that the studio would purchase 11.2% stake in Tatsunoko studio. Production I.G President Mitsuhisa Ishikawa joined on as a part-time director for the studio.
Tatsunoko has its headquarters in Kokubunji, Tokyo.
It was announced on February 13, 2013 that talent agency Horipro had acquired a 13.5% stake in Tatsunoko studios.
At Anime Expo 2013, the North American licensor Sentai Filmworks had announced that they signed a deal with Tatsunoko to license and release some of Tatsunoko's titles, including Gatchaman and Casshan.