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G4 Presents San Diego Comic-Con 2008
G4 Presents: Comic-Con '08 - Viz Media Anime/Manga

Eric Searleman, editor of original publishing
Marc Weidenbaum, vice-president of original publishing and Shonen Jump editor-in-chief
Elizabeth Kawasaki, editorial director
Candice Uyloan, marketing
Mark Chang, marketing

Special Events

Viz Media began its panel with a rundown of its special events. As mentioned in the Shonen Jump panel, the company is celebrating the 40th anniversary of Shueisha's Weekly Shonen Jump in Japan by giving away a trip for a reader and a guest to Japan in December. The Bleach movie is screening in San Diego's historic Gaslamp district on Friday night. On Saturday, Bleach creator Tite Kubo will have two autograph sessions and a panel. During Kubo's panel, he will show exclusive HD video footage of his home studio and explain his creative process. Throughout the convention, Viz's "prize patrol" is giving away items to people in costumes. Greg Oden, Portland Trail Blazers' #1 NBA draft pick of 2007, will be signing autographs also at Viz's booth. Volume 1 of Slam Dunk is available at the convention with an exclusive dust jacket.

Comic-Con International 2008 marks the first time that Viz is holding a portfolio review at the convention. The review is part of a new initiative for original comics that is led by Weidenbaum and Searleman. People have been asking the people behind Viz's original comic initiative: "Will you be publishing manga?" Searleman said the team thinks the more appropriate question is: "Will you be publishing good comics?" — regardless of labels. He added that they are looking for "comics that are relevant to the readers" with strong episodic storytelling. The initiative is aiming for readers 18 to 30 years old, but the team is looking at material from any genre.

The first comic from this new effort will appear in Shojo Beat. This primarily autobiographical manga will deal with the author's experiences with Japanese culture, and run one to three pages of comics per issue. Searleman emphasized that future comics in the original comics effort will not necessarily follow this format.

Anime Titles

For current anime titles, Blue Dragon Volume 1 ships on September 16 on DVD, followed by Volume 2 in November. The anime features original character designs by Akira Toriyama, which were created for the Xbox 360 game of the same name.

The second Naruto movie arrives in stores on July 29. The 2-disc set has over 60 minutes of extras, as well as a translated version of its Japanese movie booklet. The third Naruto movie ships on November 11 with a featurette (The Story of Naruto: Growing Up a Ninja) and a translated version of its Japanese movie booklet. Similarly, Bleach: Memories of Nobody ships on October 14 with its movie booklet.

Buso Renkin Volume 2 arrives in stores on October 7. Rumiko Takahashi's Inuyasha Box Set 6 comes out on December 2 with episodes 127-146. Hunter X Hunter Volume 1 ships on December as a 3-disc box set with 15 episodes. Death Note Box Set Volume 1 debuts on November 18 as a 5-disc set with 20 episodes and over 30 minutes of Behind-the-Scenes featurettes.

Manga Special Editions

In the field of manga, the Shonen Jump Fifth Anniversary Collector's Edition arrives in stores in August as a hardcover book with a dust jacket, interviews, a Yu-Gi-Oh! card, and other extras. Box sets and collector's editions of the most popular Viz titles are also planned. The collector's editions will include dust jackets, hardcover binding, larger paper trim, and bonus content.

Viz Kids

The Viz Kids imprint is expanding its lineup of children's books with the Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Adventure! manga by Shigekatsu Ihara and Ryo Takamisaki's adaptation of the Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai film. Viz Kids also has the Pokémon Activity Books, a Where's-Waldo-style Let's Find Pokémon book, and a mazes-and-puzzles book. In the same vein, the Complete Pokémon Pocket Guide will ship in two volumes with all 490+ Pokémon creatures to date.

As previously announced, Viz is releasing Naruto Chapter Books, which are 80-page (left-to-right) story books with illustrations from the manga. It is a new format for American audiences that was never released in Japan before. Two volumes will be in stores in October.

Viz is also releasing Akira Himekawa's manga adaptation of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The manga launches this October on a bimonthly schedule. Another title in the kids' lineup is BakéGyamon: Backward Game by Mitsuhisa Tamura. It ships bimonthly starting in March of 2009. Viz highlighted Sayuri Tatsuyama's Happy Happy Clover, a manga, launching next May, about bunnies dealing with both everyday life and not-so-everyday dilemmas in the Crescent Moon Forest. There was a 26-episode television anime in 2007, as well as a Nintendo DS game released in February of 2008.

Hitoshi Shoya's Dinosaur Hour manga is a collection of short stories set in the primordial past. It ships in April of 2009. Kenji Sonishi's Leave it to PET! centers around a recyclable PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottle that a boy adopts as a literal Pet. The manga is on a quarterly schedule starting next April

Shojo Beat

For Shojo Beat, Fughigu Yugi's VIZBIG edition arrives quarterly in January of 2009, and Miki Aihara's Hot Gimmick ships in VIZBIG editions starting next March. Satoru Takamiya's Heaven's Will launches in January 2009, while Izumi Tsubaki's Magic Touch (Viz's "first massage manga") launches on January 12. The latter was adapted as a drama CD and was a top-40 manga (for the first six volumes) in Japan. Otomen by Aya Kanno debuts on January 12 as well. Aihara's Honey Hunt launches on March 16, 2009. While Viz Media will be showing exclusive clips from the Vampire Knight anime during its Shojo Beat panel tomorrow, Weidenbaum emphasized that Viz has not licensed this title.

Other Viz Media Manga

Under the main Viz Media imprint, One-Pound Gospel will be re-published with the ending that Takahashi finally wrote in Japan. It arrives in July and run on a bimonthly release. Black Lagoon begins next month, but, like Slam Dunk, early copies are available at the convention with an exclusive dust jacket.
Yun Kouga's Gestalt ("sexy elves" with some comedy) launches next June on a bimonthly schedule. Most of these titles were discussed at Viz's Anime Expo panel this year, but Chang confirmed at the end of the panel that Shirow Miwa's Dogs manga was not announced at that earlier convention. Dogs launches next April. Rounding off the list is Mase Motoro's ongoing Ikigami (Death Paper) manga in May.

Viz Signature

The final imprint discussed at the panel is Viz Signature, which Chang described as "manga for sophisticated, awesome stories." Takehiko Inoue's Real wheelchair basketball manga is already shipping, while his Vagabond samurai manga's VIZBIG edition begins in September. The two Vagabond Art Collection books, Sumi and Water, also ship that month. In October, Inoue's 28th and latest volume of Vagabond arrives in North America.

Other Viz Signature titles include Asano Inio's Solanin (October 2008) and Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki's long-running classic Oishinbo cuisine manga (January 13). There are over 100 volumes in Japan, but seven volumes were compiled in English around specific "a la carte" themes, such as sake, sashimi, "Joy of Rice," fish, and Japanese cuisine in general. Each volume will have one or two recipes as well as creator's commentaries.

Finally, Viz revealed that the 20th Century Boys suspense manga from Naoki Urasawa (Monster, Yawara!, Master Keaton) is scheduled for release, after being delayed for more than three years. Viz also announced Pluto, Urasawa's re-envisioning of the Astro Boy world from manga pioneer Osamu Tezuka. Both Urasawa manga titles will launch next February on a bimonthly schedule.

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