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Viz Media Launches Shonen Jump Label

17 Aug, 2005 By: Edwin De La Cruz

Anime publisher Viz Media has spun off a new video imprint from its successful monthly manga publication, Shonen Jump.

Shonen Jump Home Video will release titles based on series featured in the weekly magazine. With an established weekly readership in the millions, Shonen Jump has served as a springboard for some of the most successful anime series, including “Dragon Ball Z,” “Rurouni Kenshin” and now, “Naruto.”

“Based on the success of Shonen Jump magazine and graphic novels, and the strength of the Shonen Jump brand, it makes sense to extend the brand into the home entertainment space,” said Anthony Jiwa, director of marketing at Viz Media. “We anticipate that this extension will help build the Shonen Jump brand further.”

Hikaru No Go will be the first title released under the new label and will arrive in December. Beginning in March 2006, Shonen Jump will release DVDs based on the “Naruto” manga series.

Long considered the world's most successful comic magazine, with almost 3 million copies printed weekly, Shonen Jump introduced audiences to the martial arts comedy “Naruto” in 1999. It quickly became Japan's most popular manga. With the TV series “Naruto” debuting on the Cartoon Network Sept. 10, Viz hopes it performs just as well when it hits U.S. airwaves. The supplier hopes audiences will embrace the show like they have “Cowboy Bebop,” “Dragon Ball Z” and “Fullmetal Alchemist.”

Stateside, San Francisco-based Viz has been publishing the “Naruto” manga since 2003 in the Americanized monthly Shonen Jump. The manga has been a constant best-seller as a graphic novel series without any support from an anime — a first for a manga title.

Jiwa said he's aware of the shelf-space crunch at mass retailers for niche product, but believes he has got the right product to overcome it.

“We are delivering some of the hottest anime content that also is supported by extensive [marketing], whether it be through TV exposure, magazine support, merchandise programs and a strong publishing program through Viz Media's manga,” Jiwa said.

Viz's “publish first” approach and launch of a complementary label will be different than other anime studios, as it will target the readership directly.

“Our research shows that our average Shonen Jump readers are avid consumers of home video product, purchasing close to 10 videos or DVDs in the past three months,” Jiwa said.

Like its Japanese counterpart, there will be extensive cross-promotional support for both Hikaru No Go and Naruto, throughout Shonen Jump magazine, graphic novels and relevant licensees.

“This makes Shonen Jump unique as the only home entertainment line that spans DVD, magazine and publishing,” he said.

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