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Comic-Con International 2007
Viz Media: Shonen Jump

by Mikhail Koulikov,

Company representatives: Marc Weidenbaum, Urian Brown, Amy Yu, Joel Enos

After making several major new license announcements at their Thursday panel, Viz used the second of their four Comic-Con sessions to cover new developments related to the Shonen Jump anthology. The panel was led by Shonen Jump editor in chief Marc Weidenbaum, who was joined by editors Urian Brown, Amy Yu and Joel Enos.

Weidenbaum opened the panel by asking which manga the audience would most like to see serialized in Shonen Jump. The majority of the answers were for either Bleach or Death Note; he then confirmed that starting with the November issue of the magazine, Bleach will join its lineup. Serialization will begin with approximately the middle of Volume 21, when Ichigo and company return from the Soul Society and re-enter the human world. Also in November, Viz will publish the fourth volume of the collector's edition of Naruto, featuring exclusive original cover art. In turn, the December issue of Shonen Jump will feature the "proto" chapter of Naruto, which differs significantly from the final version of the manga. Starting with the January issue, Naruto will be "relaunched" with the "Shippuden" story arc, which takes place 2.5 years after the end of the previous story arc.

As mentioned during the Thursday panel, Viz will be launching the Viz Big line, which will package three volumes of Rurouni Kenshin, Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z into large-size anthologies. Each volume will retail for $17.99. The first Viz Big edition of Kenshin will be published in January, while both Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z are expected in May. Further volumes will be released once every three months. Viz will also be releasing a guide to Death Note which will be packaged with a collectible trading card that will reveal L's true name, and the spinoff Death Note: Another Note novel, the plot of which finds L traveling to the US to assist with a murder investigation.

A new graphic novel addition to the Shonen Jump imprint will be Gun Blaze West, by Kenshin creator Nobuhiro Watsuki. The first volume of this three-volume adventure set in the American Wild West will be published in April.

As the panel was open to questions, several attendees asked about the reason why Shaman King was taken out of the magazine. The decision to do so was not based on the relative popularity or unpopularity of this manga. Rather, it was moved out so that the release schedule for the Shaman King graphic novels could be sped up, and to make room for the addition of Bleach and the expansion of Naruto over the upcoming issues. Another manga that will see its end in Shonen Jump's December issue will be Yu-Gi-Oh!.

To conclude, Weidenbaum made the second major announcement of the panel, and unveiled Viz's second manga announcement of the morning. Starting in 2008, Viz will be publishing Takehiko Inoue's Slam Dunk, according to Weidenbaum, the most popular Japanese comic of all time. Shonen Jump's December issue will include a sneak peak at this classic basketball manga.

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