San Diego Comic-Con International 2005
Comic-Con 2005 - Viz Manga

by Sean Broestl,
Viz's manga panel at Comic Con 2005 began with an overview of Viz Media's background and growth after their merger with ShoPro Entertainment. The merger, which involved Viz, Shueisha, Shogakukan and ShoPro Japan, gives Viz access to top-selling titles and inside information on new manga trends in Japan.

Manga continues to be a successful product line for Viz, with Fullmetal Alchemist debuting at #1 and holding it for four weeks. Fullmetal Alchemist had unseated Rurouni Kenshin, another of Viz's titles, for the top spot. Kenshin had been the #1 selling manga for 7 weeks prior. Shojo's market expanded by a large margin in the last year, with a 38% market share increase.

Next, the representatives talked about Viz's new manga magazine, Shojo Beat, and it's place in it's product lineup. Shojo Beat is a monthly magazine, but it is also a new imprint to use for graphic novels on collected versions of Shojo Beat titles.

After that, the majority of the panel was dedicated to talking about upcoming titles in Viz's line. The first title talked about was Socrates in Love, which will be coming this fall in multiple formats. Socrates in Love will be coming out first on Viz's novel line in October. A manga version is also set to come out. That release will be in November.

But that's not all for novels in October. In the same month, Viz plans to release the Fullmetal Alchemist ($9.99) novel and the Ghost in the Shell: Innocence After the Long Goodbye novel (Hardcover, $19.99). The Fullmetal Alchemist novelization is a story in the anime timeline, though it is not covered in any of the anime. Ghost in the Shell is a prequel to the events of the movie. Carl Horn was brought on as editor for that release. Finally, in December, a novel for Katsuhiro Otomo's Steamboy (Hardcover, $17.99) will be released.

Acquisitions and upcoming titles: Zatchbell is already being released, and volume 2 is going to have an exclusive trading card from the Japanese magazine it was serialized in. Volume 2 will be shrinkwrapped, to prevent some problems from a previous trading card promotion happening again.

Monster does not currently have a date, but Viz did talk about how big it was in Japan, selling over 20 million copies. Monster volume 1 is going to have a special foil cover patterned after the cover to a side-story book called "Another Monster".

Some upcoming release dates for the rest of Viz's manga line:
  • Steamboy (Ani-manga) - November 2005
  • Howl's Moving Castle Film Comics - October 2005
  • Howl's Moving Castle Picture Book - October 2005
  • Black Cat - February/March 2006
  • Claymore - March 2006
  • Grayman - April 2006
  • Death Note - October 2006

The panel wrapped up with a Q&A session. Someone in the audience asked about the possibility of Viz bringing over the 12 Kingdoms novels, to which the panelists replied that they don't plan to. They did say they have plans for several other novels in 2006, though no titles to announce at this time. In response to another question, Viz does have plans to release more of Osamu Tezuka's Phoenix.

The panelists stopped the questions briefly to talk about Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo. There will be an exclusive 2 chapter preview for it in Shonen Jump in september. The first graphic novel will be released in November 2005.

In response to a question about graphic novels of titles serialized in Shojo Beat, the panelists said that the first of the serialized titles will be coming out in December. These will include Nana and Crimson Hero.

Viz also said they have no plans to finish Gundam: The Origin or Gundam 0079 at this time. Finally, there is are plans to release any other live-action titles besides Kamikaze girls at this time. The panelists did add that Kamikaze Girls will be coming out as a manga imprint in 2006.

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