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Anime Expo 2006
Viz Media

by Carlo Santos,

Panelists: Yumi Hoashi, Anthony Jiwa, Ian Robertson

The Viz Shojo Beat panel with an acknowledgement of the imprint's first anniversary. Although the anthology magazine and manga line are still the cornerstone, the Shojo Beat brand has branched out into SB Home Video and SB Fiction in the past year. A "Profiles" line that looks at shoujo manga artists is also due to come out later in the year.

Most of the panel was a summary of upcoming titles that had already been anounced, although new acquisitions like Punch! and Gentleman's Alliance were also on the list, as well as the novel Be With You. Hoashi also made a note of other promotional activities such as a Shojo Beat webpage on Myspace.com and an appearance by Matsuri Hino (creator of Meru Puri and Vampire Knight) at San Diego Comic-Con.

Audience questions and comments were dominated by suggestions of new titles to add to the imprint, although other issues also came up. Several questions were about the Shojo Beat magazine, regarding the removal and replacement of various series (the aim is to introduce readers to new titles on a regular basis), and the mixed reactions to the magazine's new color pages that emulate its Japanese counterparts. When asked about the magazine's circulation, Hoashi stated that it would never drop below 35,000.

Shojo Beat is also continuing to look at live-action and anime titles that would be good candidates for licensing.

Viz Media Manga

Panelists: Tammy Allen, Anthony Jiwa, Ian Robertson, Annette Roman, Andy Nakatani, Frances Wall, Yuki Takagaki

Most of Viz Media's manga panel was spent going over upcoming releases. Particular emphasis was placed on the Signature line, which is committed to bringing out classic works of high quality, including Monster, Phoenix, and the new horror series Drifting Classroom. Editors were pleasantly surprised that many audience members were also interested in seeing other classic titles being released.

The main Viz Media line will feature new series such as Hayate the Combat Butler, The Law of Ueki, O-Parts Hunter, Yakitate!! Japan, and the "seinen version" of Train Man. A theatrical release of the Train Man: Densha Otoko movie will tie in to the release of the manga. One new license was also announced, Inu Baka.

The new Shonen Jump Fiction line features two novels based on existing series, Naruto: Innocent Heart, Demonic Blood and Rurouni Kenshin: Voyage to the Moon World. Meanwhile, the Shounen Jump Advanced line will bring out one new title, Buso Renkin. It was also announced that the novel Hot Gimmick S, based on the Hot Gimmick series, would be released next year.

Some upcoming artbook releases were also announced, including a reprint of the Evangelion artbook Der Mond, as well as Naruto and Fullmetal Alchemist character profile books and a Hana-Kimi artbook.

Some audience members expressed displeasure with the new Viz logo, a stylized V intended to commemorate the company's 20th anniversary. There were also several suggestions for new acquisitions during the Q&A session, and the panelists recommended that these suggestions be submitted online.

Anthony Jiwa was the lead man for the Viz Anime panel, which did not feature any new announcements, but addressed several upcoming releases.

Bleach will premiere on Adult Swim in the fall, and the first uncut DVD volume will follow on November 6, with subsequent volumes coming out every other month. The very slow quarterly release schedule for Full Moon O Sagashite is due to the fact that Viz is still actively pitching the series to broadcasters. Starting in October, the edited dub-only release of Naruto will go to a monthly release schedule, while the next unedited dub/sub box set is currently scheduled for a December 5 street date. The first Pokémon season 1 box set will be released on November 21, while the fourth Inu Yasha movie will be out on August 1. A limited edition box, with extras such as a collectible coin, the soundtrack CD, and several game cards, will also be made available at that time. Although Viz has been releasing the Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo manga, Toei still holds the rights to the anime, and at this point, there are no plans for a DVD release.

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