ShoPro Entertainment Inc. and VIZ, LLC to Merge

Jan 25th 2005
ShoPro Entertainment Inc. and VIZ, LLC to Merge

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 25 -- ShoPro Entertainment Inc. and VIZ, LLC ("VIZ"), two prominent North American based companies specializing in Japanese content, are merging this spring to create a groundbreaking new entertainment company. The still unnamed venture ("NEWCO"), to be based in San Francisco, will leverage the unique collaboration, vision and ownership of three global powerhouses in Japanese manga and animation, Shueisha, Inc., Shogakukan, Inc. and Shogakukan Production Co, Ltd. ("Sho-Pro Japan").

Merging ShoPro Entertainment and VIZ is a natural progression for both companies, who have successively collaborated on such hit properties as Inuyasha and MegaMan NT Warrior, among others. As one entity, NEWCO will benefit from pooled resources and creative talent, and gain access to Japan's strongest content, augmenting its ability to reach a wider audience. NEWCO's mission will be to enrich lives worldwide through the highest quality entertainment and unmatched storytelling.

ShoPro Entertainment -- an affiliate of Sho-Pro Japan, a subsidiary of Shogakukan, Inc., one of Japan's largest publishing companies -- is a leading global licensor specializing in animation, entertainment production and consumer products for such properties as Inuyasha and MegaMan NT Warrior. VIZ -- a subsidiary of Shogakukan, Inc. and Shueisha, Inc. -- is a leading publisher of manga for English speaking audiences, including the best-selling graphic novel titles YU-GI-OH!, DRAGON BALL, ALICE 19TH, RANMA 1/2 , and the mega-hit SHONEN JUMP magazine. VIZ is also a top producer of Japanese animation home video/DVD titles such as POKEMON, INUYASHA and BOYS OVER FLOWERS.

"We are uniquely positioned to develop entertainment content across all available mediums for people of all ages on a worldwide basis, " said Hidemi Fukuhara, Vice Chairman of VIZ and incoming President and CEO of NEWCO. "Combining our collective strengths creates obvious brand building synergies. Merging and incorporating the expertise and support of Japan's three largest and most respected content creators, provides NEWCO with a significant competitive advantage."

Harnessing VIZ' and ShoPro Entertainment's combined assets, NEWCO aims to become an industry leader worldwide for audiences of all ages. Going forward, NEWCO will grow its business by working with its parent companies to maximize their brands' exposure on an all rights basis, including TV broadcast, publishing, home video, licensing, consumer products and promotions.

"In order to nurture and grow the worldwide exposure of Japanese manga and animation," said Osamu Kamei, Executive Director of Shogakukan, Inc., "we have decided to step beyond the corporate framework that exists in Japan, and form a new globally oriented company by merging VIZ and ShoPro Entertainment. I strongly believe that the partnership of the three companies, Shueisha, Shogakukan and Sho-Pro Japan, will be a major step forward for the Japanese contents business."

Kazuhiko Torishima, Executive Director of Shueisha, Inc. explained, "At the root of the globally successful Japanese character business, is manga. The question we face is how to best communicate and introduce the culture of manga to children around the world. We believe the answer lies in NEWCO, which will allow us to unify and manage our business under one roof. In this regard, we will be able to respond much faster to market needs and thus greatly expand the exposure of manga."

Senior Executive Director of Shogakukan Production Co, Ltd., Yutaka Saito, added, "We have made much progress in cultivating the worldwide market for Shogakukan's content business. We are now deeply honored to partner with, not only Shogakukan, but also Shueisha, whose content has achieved so much success and acclaim. By representing all rights for our brands, we will be able to maximize our exposure on a global scale. We are excited about making this happen."


About ShoPro Entertainment
Headquartered in San Francisco, CA, ShoPro Entertainment is a leading global licensor of animation, and all associated rights including merchandise, home video, motion picture, and publishing. ShoPro Entertainment, affiliate of Sho-Pro Japan, a subsidiary of Shogakukan, Inc., one of Japan's largest publishing companies, develops and markets animated entertainment starting from initial production, television placement and distribution, to merchandise licensing and promotions reaching audiences and consumers around the world. To date, ShoPro Entertainment has introduced multi-million dollar animated entertainment series including Hamtaro, Inuyasha, MegaMan NT Warrior and Mirmo to broadcasters and consumers worldwide. For more information on ShoPro Entertainment, visit http://www.Sho-Pro-entertainment.com.

About VIZ, LLC
Founded in 1986, VIZ is a multi-media entertainment company specializing in Japanese entertainment properties for U.S. audiences. Based in San Francisco, CA, VIZ, one of the top comics publishers in the U.S., is a subsidiary of Shogakukan, Inc. and Shueisha, Inc., two of the largest publishing companies in Japan. As a leading publisher of manga and producer of animation for English speaking audiences, VIZ serves the growing Japanese content market for fans of all ages and offers an integrated product line including magazines, graphic novels, videos, DVD's and audio soundtracks. VIZ has expanded its offerings of some of the most innovative products in the industry through web sites such as http://www.shonenjump.com and its corporate site, http://www.Viz.com.

Contact: Tricia Chan of PubLic, +1-212-242-6290, or for ShoPro Entertainment; or Evelyn Dubocq of VIZ, LLC, +1-415-644-9238.

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