Viz Announces Prince of Tennis & Bleach Manga

Duo of popular manga titles to debut as SHONEN JUMP graphic novels beginning spring of 2004.

San Francisco, Calif, February 10, 2004 – VIZ, LLC, one of the leading publishers and distributors of manga comics and anime content for North American audiences, has announced the addition of two new manga titles to its popular SHONEN JUMP graphic novel line. THE PRINCE OF TENNIS will ship in April of 2004 and hit store shelves on a bi-monthly basis beginning in May, while the long awaited supernatural title BLEACH will ship in May and be available bi-monthly in stores starting in June.

As an exclusive special, THE PRINCE OF TENNIS will be given an advance preview in the May issue of SHONEN JUMP magazine, which goes on sale April 6. A preview of BLEACH will run in the June issue, which hits stores and newsstands on May 4.

THE PRINCE OF TENNIS
192 pages, $7.95 U.S.
April 2004

The exciting backdrop of high school tennis serves as the setting for the sports drama and coming-of-age story, THE PRINCE OF TENNIS. From creator Takeshi Konomi, the manga depicts the on- and off-the-court adventures of Ryoma Echizen, who joins the Seishun Gakuen Middle School tennis team, known for being one of the most competitive teams in Japan. Freshmen rarely have a chance to actually play during their first year, but Ryoma's cool confidence, combined with a deadly, un-returnable “twist serve,” gain him a coveted starting spot. With rigorous and extremely intense practices, the upperclassmen of the team expect the very best from themselves, and expect even more from the new members of the team. He's made the cut but can he survive the intense competition? Join Ryoma and other first year players, as they train hard, make friends, and try to find a place for themselves on the team. Also meet Ryoma's cute but chronically shy classmate, Sakuno Ryuzaki, who hopes he will notice her. Ryoma Echizen is THE PRINCE OF TENNIS. He may be ready for the Seishun Gakuen tennis team, but are they ready for him?

Since its debut in Weekly Shonen Jump in 1988, THE PRINCE OF TENNIS has become immensely popular in Japan, with 21 graphic novel volumes published to-date that have sold almost 26 million copies. Combined with an equally popular anime series that has aired over 100 episodes, THE PRINCE OF TENNIS has also been credited with inspiring many young Japanese adults and children to take up the sport. As a further testament to the success of the franchise, a bevy of related trading card games, apparel, stationary and videogames have found a fervent following. Many have even credited THE PRINCE OF TENNIS with increasing memberships on junior high school tennis teams.

“Sports have always been a popular subject for Japanese comics, but this is the first time VIZ has offered a realistic, true-to-life sports manga to mainstream domestic audiences,” states Hyoe Narita, senior vice president of editorial, and editor-in-chief of SHONEN JUMP. “We look forward to readers identifying with the coming of age trials that Ryoma Echizen faces in these stories and hope that fans will take a page from the manga and realize that with hard work and dedication anything is possible. After reading THE PRINCE OF TENNIS, North American junior high tennis clubs might even see a spike in membership.”


BLEACH
192 pages, $7.95 U.S.
May 2004

BLEACH tells the story of Ichigo Kurosaki, who is just like any other ordinary 15-year-old high school student – except for his special ability to see ghosts. So when a teenage girl materializes through his bedroom wall, it should be no call for alarm. However, this girl, named Rukia, is a shinigami (Soul Reaper) who is hunting a Hollow (an evil spirit that consumes souls). The Hollow proceeds to attack Ichigo's family and Rukia is badly wounded. In order to defeat the evil spirit, Rukia must let Ichigo temporarily become a Soul Reaper by absorbing some of her energy. However, Ichigo inadvertently ends up with all of Rukia's powers and after defeating the Hollow, she informs Ichigo that since she has relinquished all her powers, he must now take on all the responsibilities of a Soul Reaper until she can figure out how to get her powers back. Now this 15-year-old high school student begins a brand new vocation as a hyperkinetic, all-purpose ghost buster. With enough attitude to make a grown demon blush, Ichigo and crew are cleaning up the afterlife, one ghoul at a time.

BLEACH is author Tite Kubo's second title and it has spawned 11 volumes to-date that have sold close to 7 million copies. Kubo made his debut with ZOMBIE POWDER, a four-volume manga series also about supernatural demons. While BLEACH has already been translated into seven languages, this is the first time the story will be presented in English.

“Part Sixth Sense, part Buffy the Vampire Slayer, BLEACH is an exciting, action packed manga whose artistic style and suspenseful storyline are sure to develop a captivated following,” states Yumi Hoashi, vice president of SHONEN JUMP. “Certainly the story of ordinary people who are transformed into demon-slaying ghost hunters is not new to American audiences, but fans of everything from Blade to Ghostbusters to Vampire Hunter D should find an affinity for this young boy who goes about bleaching – literally cleaning up – the afterlife of assorted demons and evil spirits.”


About VIZ, LLC
Founded in 1986, VIZ is a multi-media entertainment company specializing in Japanese entertainment properties for U.S. audiences. VIZ offers an integrated product line including magazines, graphic novels, videos, DVDs and audio soundtracks. VIZ releases over 20 titles every month including graphic novels for DRAGON BALL Z, FUSHIGI YÛGI, GUNDAM, HAMTARO, INUYASHA, RANMA 1/2, and YU-GI-OH!; and home video for BOYS OVER FLOWERS, HAMTARO, INUYASHA, POKéMON, PROJECT ARMS, and ZOIDS. VIZ also publishes SHONEN JUMP, one of the most popular monthly anthologies of serialized manga stories in North America.

Based in San Francisco, VIZ is one of the top five comics publishers in the U.S. and a subsidiary of Shogakukan and Shueisha, Inc., two of the top publishers in Japan. VIZ is the leading publisher of manga for English speaking audiences, serving a growing market of dedicated fans of all ages. Estimating a core audience of nearly 15 million fans, the company holds more than a 50% market share of Japanese comics in the U.S. With some of the most innovative products in the industry, VIZ has expanded its offerings to its loyal fans through web sites such as www.animerica-mag.com, www.shonenjump.com, and its corporate site, www.Viz.com.


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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