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VIZ Flexes with manga acquisition of 'Ultimate Muscle: The Kinnikuman Legacy'

Official Press Release

San Francisco, Calif, Tuesday, December 3, 2003 ­ VIZ, LLC, one of theleading publishers and distributors of manga comics and anime contentfor North American audiences, flexed some muscle by announcing theacquisition of ULTIMATE MUSCLE: The Kinnikuman Legacy from Shueisha,Inc., one of Japan's largest publishers and also a VIZ partner. Themanga will be offered through the SHONEN JUMP family of graphic novelsand will begin shipping in March of 2004 and hit bookstores and comicstores nationwide in mid-April.

The original MUSCLEMAN (KINNIKUMAN in Japanese) was created by therenowned manga artist duo Yudetamago (composed of Nakai Yoshinori andTakashi Shimada) in 1979 while the pair was still in high school.MUSCLEMAN was an action-packed tale of a band of wrestlers who take on amotley gang of evil, equally muscle-bound counterparts to save the earthfrom destruction. Yudetamago was also responsible for other popularmanga series including LIONHEART, TOTAL FIGHTER K, and MR. GOURMAND.MUSCLEMAN, drew a devoted following in the pages of the Japanese editionof Weekly Shonen Jump. Its sequel, Ultimate Muscle: The KinnikumanLegacy, has now spawned 23 volumes and sold over 7 million copies inJapan. In America, an anime version of ULTIMATE MUSCLE premiered in 2002on the Fox network's Fox Box and the show has become a favorite ofchildren and young adults. The program is now into its second successfulseason and a bevy of related action figures and video games havefollowed.

"This is the first time that ULTIMATE MUSCLE: The Kinnikuman Legacy hasbeen made available in English and we are pleased to offer itexclusively to American audiences on a bi-monthly basis," states HyoeNarita, Senior Vice President of Editorial, and Editor-in-chief ofSHONEN JUMP. "In the wake of the popularity of the FOX Box televisedseries we look forward to fans discovering ULTIMATE MUSCLE: TheKinnikuman Legacy in its original graphic novel incarnation. VIZ hastaken great care to accurately translate the title from Japanese and hassecured the blessing of the Yudetamago duo for this release. Both asports and action adventure tale, fans of the show as well as anime andmanga enthusiasts will be captivated by the exploits of Kid Muscle, andI look forward to the graphic novel also serving as a compliment to theardent following the Fox Box series has garnered."

ULTIMATE MUSCLE: The Kinnikuman Legacy tells the tale of Kid Muscle, theson of legendary wrestler King Muscle. Years have passed since KingMuscle and his fellow Muscle League Champions vanquished the evil DMPwrestlers ­ a freakish band of sadistic muscle bound aliens from anotherplanet who sought to invade earth. But now a new generation of the DMPis trying to invade again and the old Muscle League proves no match fortheir younger, stronger opponents. Hope lays in the League's own NewGeneration, and their reluctant leader, Kid Muscle, the son of KingMuscle. But Kid possesses none of the charisma of his father. He'scowardly, lazy, and determined not to become a part of the new team. Kidis sent to Earth against his will where he continues to train andgradually begins to develop a sense of responsibility and selfconfidence, as well as a rack of muscles that would make The Rock proud.Kid forms a team of wrestler heroes to take on the DMP and the resultsare earthshaking, body slamming, ultimate powered action that sends our

planet sailing over the top rope.

"ULTIMATE MUSCLE: The Kinnikuman Legacy works on a variety of levels andthat is part of its enduring popularity," says Yumi Hoashi, VicePresident of SHONEN JUMP. "While the sports and wrestling-related actiondevelops a high level of drama and suspense throughout each issue, thestory also communicates lessons in overcoming adversity and seeminglyinsurmountable obstacles. It demonstrates what can be achieved throughcooperation and self confidence. In that respect, the character of KidMuscle demonstrates a variety of positive personality traits."

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