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San Diego Comic-Con 2011
Viz Media Industry Panel

by Carlo Santos,

A full-capacity crowd was on hand for Viz Media's industry panel, led by brand manager Candice Uyloan and co-hosted by editor Alexis Kirsch and Viz Kids editor Traci Todd.

The company marks their 25th anniversary this year, and as part of the celebration, Viz is holding a "Heroes of Anime Sweepstakes" with the grand prize being a trip to New York Comic-Con to see the US premiere of Naruto Shippūden the Movie: Bonds. In addition, voice actress Junko Takeuchi, who plays the role of Naruto, will be on hand at New York Comic-Con for the movie's premiere.

In digital news, the company has launched the www.vizmanga.com site, which now extends Viz's manga offerings from iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch to Web and Android platforms as well. Users will be able to sync their digital manga collection between all devices and can make web purchases through Paypal or Amazon.

A new digital project called "Art For Hope" has been launched, partnering Viz with the software company Autodesk. Artwork created through Autodesk Sketchbook Pro will be compiled into an e-book, to be sold through the Viz Media website. Proceeds from this book will go to Architecture For Humanity, a charity for rebuilding distressed communities, with recent special emphasis on areas affected by the Tohoku Earthquake in Japan.

In product news, the Haikasoru prose fiction line will see an August release for ICO: Castle in the Mist by Miyuki Miyabe, the novel that inspired the video game ICO. In addition, Miyabe's fantasy novel The Book of Heroes goes on sale on November 2011.

Also due out in November is Ryu Mitsuse's novel Ten Billion Days and One Hundred Billion Nights, which some have hailed as "the greatest Japanese sci-fi novel of all time."

Kirsch introduced a number of recent manga releases, beginning with the uncensored Tenjo Tenge and also highlighting 3-in-1 omnibus editions of Kekkaishi, Fullmetal Alchemist, Bleach, and Naruto.

A number of new artbooks are also due to be released this year: a Vampire Knight artbook comes out in September 2011, D.Gray-man in December, and a second One Piece artbook (Color Walk 2) in time for the holiday season. Fans can also look forward to new character guidebooks for popular series such as Naruto in January 2012 and a Bleach character book in March 2012.

Upcoming box set releases include a Pokémon - Diamond and Pearl Adventures box set in October, as well as a a Legend of Zelda Manga Box set. However, the audience was most excited about the announcement of a box set for all 27 volumes of Fullmetal Alchemist.

New titles in the Shojo Beat line include romantic drama A Devil and Her Love Song, debuting in February 2012, and fantasy title The Earl and the Fairy next March. Shojo Beat is also launching some omnibus editions with Hana-Kimi and Skip Beat! being bundled in 3-in-1 volumes starting in March.

The Viz Kids line is launching various goods for the "bean dog" character Mameshiba, starting with a character guide, Meet Mameshiba!, and story comic Mameshiba on the Loose!. In November comes the activity book Mameshiba in Winter, a picture book with pop-up pages and stickers.

Other kids' titles coming out soon include the Fluffy, Fluffy Cinnamoroll manga, based on the Sanrio character, starting in January. Other new Viz Kids products include Voltron Force, a graphic novel spinoff from the original Voltron cartoons, coming out in Spring 2012, as well as graphic novels based on the Mr. Men and Little Miss characters.

Pokémon fans can look forward to a new Pokémon movie, Zoroark: Master of Illusions, coming to DVD in September. A Zoroark manga will also be released at the same time. For kids there will also be a Pokémon Magnetic Playbook due out in November.

On the anime front, Viz's "Heroes of Anime" promotion currently features full seasons of popular action series like Bleach and Naruto on sale for $11.99 on iTunes until August 23.

Other anime releases include the third and final DVD of Vampire Knight: Guilty Vol. 3 due out this week, while the full Vampire Knight: Guilty three-volume boxset comes out in September. Meanwhile, fans of the Professor Layton franchise can look forward to Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva DVD on November 15, 2011.

Finally, a trailer was shown for series currently available on Hulu as well as VizAnime.com. Current simulcasts include superhero action series Tiger and Bunny and the new season of Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan. Premiering today is the stream of Blue Dragon Uncut, the fantasy anime based on the Blue Dragon video game.

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