Viz, the largest manga publisher in the U.S., has a small but growing line of children’s manga, under the VIZ Kids imprint; while they are best known for their Pokemon books, they also publish non-licensed titles such as Panda Man to the Rescue and Taro and the Magic Pencil, as well as the Panda Man prose-manga hybrid. This is significant because while most manga is aimed at tweens and teens, there is very little in this country for the youngest readers.
So it’s big news that Viz announced five new children’s licenses, including a new Pokemon book, a series of Mr. Men and Little Miss graphic novels, and a Voltron Force series, yesterday, and it’s also interesting to note that several of the new titles are not Japanese. Although it is based in the U.S., Viz is a partnership between two Japanese publishers, Shueisha and Shogakukan, and their licensing arm, Shogakukan Productions, so almost all their output comes from Japan. Global manga is a big departure for them.
Here’s the full press release, with details on all the properties.
VIZ MEDIA EXPANDS VIZ KIDS IMPRINT
WITH A FULL SLATE OF NEW ACQUISITIONS
New Titles Include Global Blockbuster Franchises
MR. MEN AND LITTLE MISS, POKÉMON And VOLTRON FORCE,
And Rising Stars MAMESHIBA and HERO 108
San Francisco, CA, April 11, 2011 – VIZ Media, the largest distributor of anime and manga in the United States, announced a full slate of acquisitions for its kids imprint, VIZ Kids. The acquisitions include DVD, Download-To-Own, and graphic novel licenses for a wide range of well-established global franchises.
“VIZ Media is excited to expand our kids imprint to include a variety of fun new properties,” said Elizabeth Kawasaki, Senior Editorial Director of VIZ Media. “These new titles use strong storytelling, eye-popping graphics and empowering themes to engage a younger generation of fans.”
• HERO 108 – VIZ Kids will be distributing DVDs of this popular series which airs on Cartoon Network. HERO 108 chronicles the battle for peace in the Hidden Kingdom. In addition, VIZ Kids will make the episodes available for download through iTunes. DVDs will be available in May 2011 while downloadable episodes will launch in June 2011.
• MAMESHIBA – The irresistibly cute and irrepressibly curious Mameshiba are not quite beans, not quite dogs–they’re a hybrid of both! VIZ Kids will release a graphic novel, MAMESHIBA: ON THE LOOSE!, and a character guide, MEET MAMESHIBA, in July 2011.
• POKÉMON BLACK AND WHITE: VIZ Kids will release manga, a travel activity kit, and other select merchandise based on the most recent incarnation of the juggernaut POKÉMON™ video game franchise, Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version. Meet all-new Pokémon from the fastest-selling Pokémon video games in history. The travel activity kit will be available in May 2011; Volumes 1 and 2 of the manga will be available in July 2011.
• MR. MEN AND LITTLE MISS – Mr. Happy, Little Miss Sunshine and all their Dillydale friends are about to take the graphic novel world by storm! Under the VIZ Kids imprint, VIZ Media will create and distribute original graphic novels starring the lovable MR. MEN and LITTLE MISSES. Little Miss Sunshine, Mr. Bump, Mr. Strong and Little Miss Daredevil books will be available in Spring 2012.
• VOLTRON FORCE – Voltron®, the ultimate space adventure from the 1980s, is ready to take the world by storm again! VIZ Kids will produce and distribute original graphic novels based on the all-new animated series VOLTRON FORCE™, set to debut on Nicktoons this summer. VOLTRON FORCE reignites the story of five brave space explorers who pilot mighty robot lions that combine to form Voltron, Defender of the Universe. Joining the team are three new cadets, who have the opportunity of a lifetime to fight alongside their heroes and unlock incredible new powers. Let’s Voltron! The books will be available in Spring 2012.
HERO 108, MAMESHIBA, MR. MEN, and VOLTRON FORCE are unique acquisitions because they are properties not owned by any of VIZ Media’s parent companies, Shueisha, Shogakukan and Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions. These acquisitions join an already robust manga and anime VIZ Kids library, which includes THE LEGEND OF ZELDA, PANDA MAN, TARO, BEYBLADE and DINOSAUR KING.
For more information on VIZ Kids, visit www.VIZKids.com.