Viz Media Licenses Naruto to Bandai for Video Game

Jun 21st 2005
Industry Leaders To Create Video Games and Trading Card Games

Based on Mega Hit Ninja Series

SAN FRANCISCO, June 21, 2005 – VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), one of the entertainment industry's most innovative and comprehensive manga and animation licensing and publishing companies, today announced a master licensing agreement with Bandai America for video games on Sony-based platforms and trading card games for VIZ Media's new hit series, Shonen Jump's NARUTO.

Targeting tweens and teens, NARUTO takes place in a world where ninjas hold the ultimate power. Infused with the spirit of a once fearsome nine-tailed fox, Naruto Uzumaki is a ninja-in-training who is learning the art of Ninjutsu with his classmates Sakura and Sasuke. The trio studies under the instruction of their teacher, Kakashi, who helps the group face a series of dangerous and daunting tests and challenges. Through their adventures, the young ninjas learn the importance of friendship, teamwork, loyalty, hard work, creativity, ingenuity, and right vs. wrong.

“We are so excited to be working with Bandai America on NARUTO, they have a very deep understanding of the property and have been key partners in NARUTO's enormous success in Japan. We are confident that Bandai will develop video games and trading card games that provide a superior game experience for NARUTO's demanding audience,” said Cynthia Money, vice president of consumer products for VIZ Media.

“NARUTO has achieved immense success in Japan. As a master licensee for NARUTO, we are now thrilled to be collaborating with VIZ Media in North America. By combining the rich story of NARUTO with Bandai products that have very unique and exciting game play, we expect huge results!” said William Beebe, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Bandai America.

NARUTO, the animated series, will launch on Cartoon Network this fall. The series is co-produced by Shueisha, Inc., PIERROT CO., LTD. and TV TOKYO and debuted in Japan in October 2002 on TV TOKYO. NARUTO quickly established itself as one of TV TOKYO's highest rated animated series. Today, it is considered one of the most popular animated shows in Japan's history and it has achieved immense success as a manga and TV title as well as a licensed property for toys, trading card games and video games.

First introduced into the Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in Japan in 1999, NARUTO by revered creator Masashi Kishimoto, quickly became Japan's most popular ninja manga. In 2000, Naruto was expanded into a series of graphic novels and is currently in its 28th volume, with nearly 50 million copies sold in total in Japan. Weekly Shonen Jump is published by one of Japan's largest publishers, Shueisha Inc., is considered the world's most successful comic magazine with almost 3 million copies printed weekly in Japan alone.

About Bandai America Incorporated
Bandai America Incorporated is a subsidiary of Bandai Co. Ltd., the third largest toy company in the world, with 30 subsidiaries in 13 countries worldwide. Global interests include toys and children's entertainment, video game software, multimedia, music, full-length feature films, vending machines, trading cards, candies and licensed apparel. Bandai America Incorporated is the master toy licensee of some of the most popular properties and brands in children's toys and entertainment, including the Power Rangers, D.I.C.E., Teen Titans, Strawberry Shortcake and Tamagotchi product lines. Bandai America is headquartered in Cypress, California and company information is available at www.Bandai.com.

About VIZ Media, LLC
Headquartered in San Francisco, CA, VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), is one of the most comprehensive and innovative companies in the field of manga publishing, animation and entertainment licensing of Japanese content. Owned by three of Japan's largest creators and licensors of manga and animation, Shueisha Inc., Shogakukan Inc., and Shogakukan Production Co., Ltd. (ShoPro Japan), VIZ Media is a leader in the publishing and distribution of Japanese manga for English speaking audiences in North America and a global licensor of Japanese animation. The company offers an integrated product line including, magazines such as SHONEN JUMP and SHOJO BEAT, graphic novels, videos, DVDs, audio soundtracks and develops and markets animated entertainment from initial production, television placement and distribution, to merchandise licensing and promotions for audiences and consumers of all ages.

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