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New York Comic Con
Viz Media

by Mikhail Koulikov,

Viz Media's Sunday morning panel was the final anime/manga session of the 2009 New York Comic Con. The convention itself will not return until October of next year, though there will once again be a New York Anime Fest in September.

Viz's two representatives opened the panel by talking about plans for their Shonen Jump magazine. For the March and April issues of the magazine, Naruto will be placed on hiatus, but it will return in May. The “missing” chapters can be read online, but the password to access them will only be listed in the May issue. OAnd starting with the July issue, Shonen Jump will begin serializing Stan Lee's Ultimo, the manga he is co-creating with Shaman King's Hiroyuki Takei. A preview of Ultimo will also be distributed during this year's Free Comic Book Day.

In 2007, Viz's Naruto Nation campaign to put out twelve new volumes of Naruto in four months was an unquestionable success. Now, Viz is reviving this, and launching Generation Ninja, which will see eleven new Naruto books published in three months, again with the goal of catching up to the Japanese release. In addition to the accelerated pace, Generation Ninja will include extra content including stickers and bookmarks with questions about Naruto characters that can be answered online for prizes. And in the panelists' words, not only is Viz bringing out more Naruto, but they are “doing more with Naruto,” such as continuing to offer at least eight new episodes of the Naruto: Shippuden anime each week on the Naruto.com website, and putting out the two next Naruto DVD box sets in April and May.

Other anime releases Viz is planning include the eight episodes of I''s, priced at $30 and due out on March 24, the second Hunter X Hunter box set (15 episodes, April 7), and the seventh – and final – Inu-Yasha box. To commemorate the conclusion of this long-running series, in addition to 21 episodes, the box set will also include a special “Filming of the finale” documentary. The second and final Death Note box is also scheduled for an April release, while the Death Note Rewrite: Visions of a God TV special, retelling the story from the point of view of the god of death Ryuk, will be out on June 16, priced at US$24.99.

Viz is first and foremost a manga publisher, but it is much more than only a manga publisher. Thus, to capitalize on the upcoming release of the Dragonball: Evolution live-action motion picture, they will be bringing out a “posterzine” and a set of three chapter books aimed at younger readers. And last month, Viz announced the launch of the Haikasoru which will focus on “awe-inspiring” contemporary Japanese science fiction novels. Four books are currently planned to be brought out before the end of the year: Issui Ogawa's Lord of the Sands of Time, described as being reminiscent of the writing of the American author Lois McMaster Bujold; Hiroshi Sakurazaka's All You Need Is Kill, “a very violent version of Groundhog Day”, about a future soldier who is forced to relive the same battle, and his death, dozens of times; Housuke Nojiri's Usurper of the Sun, and Otsuichi's collection of dark fantasy and horror short stories Zoo.

Upcoming manga launched are also numerous. Detroit Metal City, which has been adapted into a live-action movie of the same title, will start in June. Earthian and Loveless creator Yun Kouga's Gestalt is also on the calendar for that month. September will bring the first volume of the steampunk Tegami Bachi, a steampunk story from I'll's Hiroyuki Asada, as well as Dogs: Bullets & Carnage, a seinen action story. Children of the Sea, nominated for the 12th annual Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize, will get the Viz Signature treatment, with a larger format and some color pages, though also a premium $14.99 price. Another new addition to the Viz Signature line will be Ōoku, a “female-centric alternate history” story from Antique Bakery's Fumi Yoshinaga. It is set in 18th-century Japan, where a plague has wiped out over 80% of the male population, and has left the country being dominated and led by women. And in a turn-around from books of this type that are obviously aimed at older readers, Viz is also planning to bring out a total of four volumes of a Ponyo on a Cliff “film comic”, as well as a 272-page full-color art book of the Studio Ghibli film. And a new addition to the Viz Kids line is ChocoMimi, while Novala Takemoto's two-volume debut novel Missin' will be published under the Shojo Beat Fiction imprint.

Moving into the Fall of this year and the first months of 2010, Viz's calendar is still extremely active. Yu-Gi-Oh! R is starting in October, and continuing at a rate of a new volume once every three months. Another October release will be Hana Yori Dango: Jewelry Box, which is what Viz is calling the 37th volume of this series, just published in Japan last summer. On track for November are the The Gentlemen's Alliance† artbook, which will include notes from creator Arina Tanemura, a double-sided poster, and a pair of images that would be exclusive to this book and have never been seen before. Beast Master, about a high school student who falls for a classmate who both sometimes behaves like a wild animal, but also has an unnatural affinity with animals, will be another November launch. The mature-rated josei Butterflies, Flowers, (originally known as Chō yo Hana yo), Yuki Yoshihara's office romance between a young woman from an impoverished noble family and her boss, who turns out to be one of the family's former servants, is set to begin in December, along with Jormungand, an action title reminiscent of Black Lagoon. Viz is already publishing Isao Asano's Solanin, and now, they have also picked up his What a wonderful world! – which will also geta Viz Signature release, as will GoGo Monster, by Tekkonkinkreet's Taiyo Matsumoto. And January will bring Fumi Yoshinaga's All My Darling Daughters, Yuki Midorikawa's Natsume's Book of Friends, and Not So Simple, by Natsume Ono.

The long list of new licenses left very little time for any other announcements, or even for answering audience questions. Before the panel did wrap up, thought, the two Viz representatives also confirmed that the new, yet-unnamed manga that Rumiko Takahashi is set to start working on is also coming out in the U.S., and that Viz will begin publishing it before the end of the year.

The few questions that the representatives did answer concerned the NANA and Honey & Clover anime, both of which Viz definitely plans to bring out in box set form later this year, the Monster anime, release details on which are set to be released “very soon”, and the live-action motion picture L: Change the World. Although that is being handled by Viz's theatrical release sibling company, Viz Pictures, a DVD is definitely being planned, and a limited theatrical release is a possibility as well.

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