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San Diego Comic-Con 2010
Viz Media Shonen Jump

by Carlo Santos,

A full-capacity audience was on hand for Viz Media's presentation on their latest Shonen Jump offerings. Brand management director Candice Uyloan moderated the panel, along with a team of editors including Joel Enos, Christopher Boily, Beth Kawasaki and Urian Brown.

The panel began with a marketing survey for the audience, which also doubled as entry forms for random-draw prizes that were given out throughout the panel. After that, Uyloan promoted various merchandise tie-ins including a con-exclusive Ultimo pin and exclusive cards for the Naruto collectible card game.

The next segment of the panel was about various changes to the US edition of Shonen Jump magazine, including a discounted subscription price of $10 for 6 issues, more in-depth character profiles and series overviews, more detailed story catch-up summaries, and better coverage of anime tie-ins.

After that, Brown pumped up the crowd with "dramatic readings" of new upcoming series including Bakuman. and Genkaku Picasso. Also available right now are the latest volumes of Shaman King and Ultimo.

Enos discussed a major evolution coming with this year's December 7 issue of Shonen Jump magazine. Enos showed a slide with mockups of how new page layouts will provide a more dynamic reading experience, and encouraged the audience to send in feedback on how they feel about the magazine.

Other product tie-ins followed, with a trailer being shown for the Naruto Shippūden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 PS3 video game due out in Fall 2010. Surprisingly, this game even brings in a guest character from Namco Bandai's Tekken 6.

Kawasaki continued the panel with announcements of new releases not yet in stores but available at the convention's Kinokuniya booth, including Bakuman., Color Bleach (a collection of character profiles and other spinoff material for Bleach) and the latest Rosario+Vampire . The new Shonen Jump issue is also currently on sale on the convention floor.

The panelists also took several audience questions regarding the Shonen Jump line. While some questions were series-specific, others had a more general focus, like the decision-making process on what titles to include in the magazine. This comes down to what the editors like, as well as what they expect to do well financially. Reader input also helps the staff to find out which titles have potential. An aspiring manga writer/editor asked for advice, and learned that the best thing to do is strengthen one's English skills, take plenty of writing classes, and read plenty of other material besides just manga. Finally, there was a very positive audience reaction at the mention of possibly releasing the "extended endings" (not in the original serialization) of Shaman King and Dragon Ball Z.

After the Q&A, more announcements followed, including a trailer for supernatural action anime Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, which recently started running in Japan and is being simulcast on the Viz Anime website. In addition, new Bleach episodes will start running on Adult Swim on August 28, with these episodes also being made available for online purchase on Playstation Network, Xbox, and iTunes.

Other new products coming out later on include the Naruto Illustrations Book in November, and the Death Note: Black Edition starting in 2011, an omnibus collection of Death Note that features new covers, larger page size and two-volumes-in-one packaging for $14.

Disappointingly, Ultimo creator Stan Lee was unable to come to the panel, but fans got artist Hiroyuki Takei instead. Takei fielded a couple of questions from the panelists; on the subject of Ultimo coming out in both the US and Japan, he felt positive about the series' popularity and invited fans to learn Japanese to see the comparison between the different editions. He also discussed the storyline briefly, saying that "the most interesting thing about Part 2 is that it doesn't get interesting until Part 3." Still, Takei promised some exciting plot developments in Ultimo further down the line.

The final prize of the day was a ticket to the sold-out Ultimo signing, where both Stan Lee and Takei would be present.

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