Two Viz manga titles break USA Today Top 150 Book List

Official Press Release

San Francisco, Calif, April 28, 2004 – VIZ, LLC, one of the leading publishers and distributors of manga and anime content for North American audiences, announced today that the manga editions of NARUTO, vol. 3, Bridge of Courage and RUROUNI KENSHIN vol. 4, Dual Conclusions are the first graphic novels to ever appear on USA Today's Top 150 list of best selling books. Both NARUTO and RUROUNI KENSHIN appear on the Top 150 list for the week of April 18th.

The list (viewable on USA Today's website at www.usatoday.com) is based on an objective computer analysis of retail sales from 4,700 independent, chain, discount and online booksellers nationwide. This latest USA Today literary sales report follows a similar one issued in February 2004 from Nielsen BookScan that gave the previous edition of RUROUNI KENSHIN – vol. 3 – the number one spot on BookScan's list of best selling graphic novels nationwide, as well as entry into its Overall Adult Fiction Top 100 list. Since its release on April 7th, vol. 4 of the popular samurai graphic novel has sold 8,351 copies.

NARUTO, by Masashi Kishimoto, tells the adventures and coming of age of twelve-year-old Uzumaki Naruto, a mischievous and troubled boy attending Ninja Academy. The boy desires only to be the best ninja in all Japan, but is secretly possessed by the spirit of Kyuubi no Youko, a cunning but evil nine tailed fox that is the real reason behind Naruto's incorrigible behavior. The manga depicts the boy's battles against both himself and those around him who wish to use the fox's spirit for their own dastardly ends. NARUTO vol. 3 has sold 7,570 copies since its release on April 7th.

The wildly popular manga series, RUROUNI KENSHIN, written by Nobuhiro Watsuki, is about the adventures of a wandering swordsman who helps those in trouble. RUROUNI KENSHIN is set in Japan during the second half of the 19th century during the Meiji era, a time of enormous change in Japanese society. Volume 4 finds main character Kenshin facing down an ice-cold assassin.

"We are proud that two of our graphic novels are the first in the genre to make such a prestigious list," states Hyoe Narita, VIZ executive vice president. "NARUTO and RUROUNI KENSHIN are both fine examples of finely crafted adventure stories and also present some of the best artwork in comics today. I look forward to both series continuing to grow in popularity and to new fans discovering these unique and fantastic tales."

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. Each month, VIZ publishes three magazines ? ANIMERICA, ANIMERICA EXTRA and SHONEN JUMP; over 20 graphic novel titles, including ALICE 19th, BOYS OVER FLOWERS, DRAGON BALL Z, FUSHIGI YÛGI, GUNDAM, INUYASHA, RANMA ½, and YU-GI-OH!; and distributes home video for BOYS OVER FLOWERS, HAMTARO, INUYASHA, POKéMON, PROJECT ARMS, and ZOIDS.

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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