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Viz Aquires Ultimate Muscle: The Kinnikuman Legacy

VIZ, LLC, one of the leading publishers and distributors of manga comics and anime content for North American audiences, flexed some muscle by announcing the acquisition of ULTIMATE MUSCLE: The Kinnikuman Legacy from Shueisha, Inc., one of Japan's largest publishers and also a VIZ partner. The manga will be offered through the SHONEN JUMP family of graphic novels and will begin shipping in March of 2004 and hit bookstores and comic stores nationwide in mid-April.

The original MUSCLEMAN (KINNIKUMAN in Japanese) was created by the renowned manga artist duo Yudetamago (composed of Nakai Yoshinori and Takashi Shimada) in 1979 while the pair was still in high school. MUSCLEMAN was an action-packed tale of a band of wrestlers who take on a motley gang of evil, equally muscle-bound counterparts to save the earth from destruction. Yudetamago was also responsible for other popular manga series including LIONHEART, TOTAL FIGHTER K, and MR. GOURMAND. MUSCLEMAN, drew a devoted following in the pages of the Japanese edition of Weekly Shonen Jump. Its sequel, ULTIMATE MUSCLE: The Kinnikuman Legacy, has now spawned 23 volumes and sold over 7 million copies in Japan. In America, an anime version of ULTIMATE MUSCLE premiered in 2002 on the Fox network's Fox Box and the show has become a favorite of children and young adults. The program is now into its second successful season and a bevy of related action figures and video games have followed.

"This is the first time that ULTIMATE MUSCLE: The Kinnikuman Legacy has been made available in English and we are pleased to offer it exclusively to American audiences on a bi-monthly basis," states Hyoe Narita, Senior Vice President of Editorial, and Editor-in-chief of SHONEN JUMP. "In the wake of the popularity of the FOX Box televised series we look forward to fans discovering ULTIMATE MUSCLE: The Kinnikuman Legacy in its original graphic novel incarnation. VIZ has taken great care to accurately translate the title from Japanese and has secured the blessing of the Yudetamago duo for this release. Both a sports and action adventure tale, fans of the show as well as anime and manga enthusiasts will be captivated by the exploits of Kid Muscle, and I look forward to the graphic novel also serving as a compliment to the ardent following the Fox Box series has garnered."

ULTIMATE MUSCLE: The Kinnikuman Legacy tells the tale of Kid Muscle, the son of legendary wrestler King Muscle. Years have passed since King Muscle and his fellow Muscle League Champions vanquished the evil DMP wrestlers -- a freakish band of sadistic muscle bound aliens from another planet who sought to invade earth. But now a new generation of the DMP is trying to invade again and the old Muscle League proves no match for their younger, stronger opponents. Hope lays in the League's own New Generation, and their reluctant leader, Kid Muscle, the son of King Muscle. But Kid possesses none of the charisma of his father. He's cowardly, lazy, and determined not to become a part of the new team. Kid is sent to Earth against his will where he continues to train and gradually begins to develop a sense of responsibility and self confidence, as well as a rack of muscles that would make The Rock proud. Kid forms a team of wrestler heroes to take on the DMP and the results are earthshaking, body slamming, ultimate powered action that sends our planet sailing over the top rope.

"ULTIMATE MUSCLE: The Kinnikuman Legacy works on a variety of levels and that is part of its enduring popularity," says Yumi Hoashi, Vice President of SHONEN JUMP. "While the sports and wrestling-related action develops a high level of drama and suspense throughout each issue, the story also communicates lessons in overcoming adversity and seemingly insurmountable obstacles. It demonstrates what can be achieved through cooperation and self confidence. In that respect, the character of Kid Muscle demonstrates a variety of positive personality traits."

About VIZ, LLC

The leading U.S. publisher of Japanese animation and comics (anime and manga) for English-speaking audiences, VIZ serves a growing market of dedicated fans of all ages. Founded in 1986, VIZ publishes over 20 titles every month including GUNDAM, DRAGON BALL Z, INU YUSHA and RANMA 1/2.

Based in San Francisco, California, VIZ is one of the top five comic publishers in the United States. Through partnerships with Shogakukan, Inc. and Shueisha, Inc., Japan's two biggest publishers, VIZ gives fans some of the most innovative titles in the industry including anime titles like HAMTARO, INUYASHA and RANMA 1/2, and magazines like ANIMERICA and SHONEN JUMP.

Contact VIZ, LLC at: 655 Bryant Street, San Francisco, CA 94107-1612; Phone: (415) 546-7073; Fax: (415) 546-7086; Web site: www.VIZ.com

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