Viz Pictures' Ping Pong to Screen at Anime Expo 2007

Jun 21st 2007
Critically Acclaimed Film Presents A Poignant And Often Comedic Story About Friendship And Competition Set Against Backdrop Of Table Tennis

San Francisco, June 21, 2007 – VIZ Pictures, an affiliate of Viz Media LLC that focuses on Japanese live-action film distribution, has announced a special screening of PING PONG, the critically acclaimed comedic film about table tennis by director Fumiko Sori, at Anime Expo® 2007, Friday, June 29th, 4-6PM in Video Room 1 at the Hyatt Regency Long Beach hotel. Anime Expo 2007 takes place June 29 – July 2, 2007 at the adjacent Long Beach Convention Center in Southern California.

PING PONG centers on two friends devoted to the sport of table tennis, and is based on a popular 5-volume comic by bestselling artist Taiyo Matsumoto, who also created several acclaimed youth-driven manga titles like TEKKONKINKREET, NO.5, BLUE SPRING (all published in North America by Viz Media). PING PONG follows two friends, their two mentors, and three players they face at various high school tournaments. It explores the different motivations and philosophies towards table tennis and wonderfully portrays the excitement and subtleties of the sport. Director Sori, who also notably worked as an effects supervisor for the movie, TITANIC, went to great lengths to preserve the visual style of the original manga in the film, which ultimately was nominated for eight Japanese Academy Awards in 2003. Actor Shido Nakamura also won the 'Newcomer of the Year' award for his performance as Dragon, a rival of the two main characters. VIZ Pictures will release PING PONG on DVD on September 4, with the title to be distributed by Viz Media.

Best friends "Peco" Hoshino and "Smile" Tsukimoto have been playing Ping Pong since they were little kids. While the unique and brazen Peco plays to win and loves the sport, the quiet and introverted Smile thinks of it as just a way to kill time with friends, and only plays because he idolizes Peco. While Smile is the more talented player, he frequently and intentionally loses to Peco out of a misguided sense of friendship. However, after Peco is badly beaten by his rival, Dragon, in an important inter-high school tournament he suddenly quits the game leaving Smile to become the newest Ping Pong celebrity. He begins training hard for the next championship, waiting for the return of his hero and best friend, whom he is destined to meet in one last match.

"Anime Expo attendees warmly embraced our premiere showing of TRAIN MAN:DENSHA OTOKO in 2006 and this year we are pleased to offer PING PONG, another gem we think audiences will enjoy tremendously,” states Manami Iiboshi, Director of Marketing, VIZ Pictures. “The crossover demographic of anime and manga fans that also enjoy Japanese live action cinema is strongly represented at events like Anime Expo and we are pleased to offer this notable film. PING PONG is a poignant and often comedic story about friendship and competition and the positive and negative impacts of both upon a pair of adolescent boys. We look forward to attendees of all ages coming to the screening!”

About VIZ Pictures, Inc.

Based in San Francisco, CA, VIZ Pictures, Inc. distributes Japanese live-action films and DVDs, with particular focus on Japanese "kawaii (cute) and cool" pop culture. VIZ Pictures approaches each film release from a J-pop fan's point of view. VIZ Pictures titles include HULA GIRLS, TRAIN MAN: DENSHA OTOKO, LINDA LINDA LINDA, THE TASTE OF TEA, and PING PONG. The company will continue to offer the most entertaining live action motion pictures straight from the "Kingdom of Pop" for audiences of all ages in North America. VIZ Pictures, Inc. is an affiliate of Viz Media, LLC, the San Francisco-based leading U.S. publisher of Japanese manga (comics) and merchandise licensor of Japanese animation such as the popular "NARUTO" animated TV series.
© 2006 VIZ Pictures, Inc

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. (Sho-Pro 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 manga and 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. Contact Viz Media at 295 Bay Street, San Francisco, CA 94133; Phone (415) 546-7073; Fax (415) 546-7086; and web site at www.VIZ.com

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