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G4 Presents San Diego Comic-Con 2008
G4 Presents: Comic-Con '08 - Viz Media: Shojo Beat

by Carlo Santos,

Representatives: Marc Weidenbaum, Pancha Diaz, Narasu Rebbapragada

Viz's Shojo Beat panel began with a list of new, upcoming releases. Honey Hunt, a “celebrity romance” by Hot Gimmick author Miki Aihara, begins serialization in Shojo Beat magazine in September, with the first graphic novel due out in March 2009. Magic Touch, a romantic comedy about massage, will arrive in January 2009. Fan-favorite series We Were There (Bokura ga Ita) debuts in November 2008.

A clip of the NANA anime and some prize giveaways followed; Weidenbaum mentioned that the first NANA DVD is due "early next year."

Other upcoming releases include VizBig omnibus releases of hit series such as Fushigi Yuugi (January 2009) and Hot Gimmick (March 2009). Early 2009 will also see the debut of Otomen (a comedy about an effeminate bishounen who falls in love with a tomboy) in February, and Heaven's Will (a supernatural romance about a cross-dressing exorcist) in January.

After these announcements, another anime clip was shown, this time of Honey and Clover, followed by another prize giveaway.

Other new releases in the coming months include Captive Hearts by Matsuri Hino (author of Vampire Knight ) in November 2008; St. Dragon Girl, an adventure title due out in December; Blank Slate, a unique gangster sci-fi series that also arrives in December; and the artbook The Arina Tanemura Collection: The Art of Full Moon in October.

The final anime clip was an excerpt from Vampire Knight (however, it was stressed that Viz does NOT currently have the rights to the anime).

The panel was then opened to questions from the audience. When asked about the rather sparse schedule of Shojo Beat anime releases, Weidenbaum noted that Full Moon is currently out, and there may be some challenges "finding a place for shojo anime" in the market. However, he expects that titles like NANA and Honey and Clover can succeed. Diaz answered another question about the possibility of bringing out older titles, noting that "older series don't sell so well" and it may take time getting readers interested in the classics.

Other questions were brought up about the quality of magazine giveaways; newsstand theft and the cost of subscriber shipping in America makes it difficult to offer giveaways as bulky as their Japanese counterparts. On the subject of shojo titles for all ages, there are no current plans but it would be a good idea, possibly in the Vizkids line. Also, one attendee expressed interest in having more Shojo Beat live-action movies such as NANA and Honey and Clover being shown in theaters by Fathom Events, just like Viz's more popular Shonen Jump anime features.

During the question and answer session, Weidenbaum also asked questions of the audience to find out more about the Shojo Beat demographic. Attendees enthusiastically shared their opinions on subscribing habits, which series they follow, new series previews in the magazine, non-manga topics featured in the magazine, and male readership. Most interestingly, Weidenbaum asked about the possibility of short original comics by contributing fans being featured in the magazine, and many attendees were interested in the idea.

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