Official Press Release
San Francisco, CA, February 8, 2005 – VIZ, LLC, which recently announced it's upcoming merger with ShoPro Entertainment, Inc. to form one of the entertainment industry's most innovative, comprehensive manga and animation licensing and publishing companies, has announced the launch of SHOJO BEAT magazine. The publication will be a new monthly manga anthology inspired by the growing popularity of manga graphic novels with significant appeal to young female consumers. The first issue, July 2005, will hit newsstands in June with a cover price of $5.99 and VIZ will offer a special six-month introductory annual subscription special of $29.95 to coincide with the debut. There will be a special preview issue available at specialty retailers beginning in May and also distributed at summer anime, manga and comic conventions.
SHOJO BEAT will offer a format modeled after the tremendously popular, easy-to-read SHONEN JUMP Magazine, also published by VIZ. It will carry a "T+" rating for older teens and feature six ongoing titles each month from Japanese publishing giants Shogakukan, Inc. and Shueisha, Inc. (both parent companies of VIZ), as well Hakusensha, a subsidiary of Shueisha, another one of Japan's leading manga publishers. The premiere issue of SHOJO BEAT will launch several serials that include CRIMSON HERO and NANA (from Shueisha), KAZE HIKARU and ABSOLUTE BOYFRIEND (from Shogakukan), and GODCHILD and BABY AND ME (from Hakusensha). To further complement the new magazine's launch, VIZ will also simultaneously debut a SHOJO BEAT graphic novel line, which will offer an ongoing library of new shôjo titles from all three publishers at $8.99.
No longer just for male readers, manga has become a fast growing trend among teenage and young adult females in North America. Shôjo manga often depict plots set around love, family, responsibility and identity. The level of fantasy, artifice or artistic ambition involved in most shôjo stories are endearing, and the universal appeal of these subjects has helped to drive the genre's popularity. VIZ has been a leading proponent of shôjo manga and the debut of SHOJO BEAT will further affirm the company's belief in the continuing viability and success of the trend.
"This will be the only dedicated monthly shôjo magazine offered in North America, and the first time a single manga publication will contain serialized titles from three different Japanese publishers," says Yumi Hoashi, editor-in-chief and vice president of the magazine division for VIZ, LLC. "The successful format and dedicated fan base, combined with the continued growth of the shôjo genre among both males and females, is sure to make SHOJO BEAT magazine a hit. VIZ is committed to bringing the highest quality and most innovative manga titles to North American shores by choosing the best shôjo titles from these three publishers and we look forward to readers embracing SHOJO BEAT with the same fervor that they support SHONEN JUMP Magazine and other VIZ titles."
The first six titles to be offered in SHOJO BEAT will cover a wide range of subject matter and will represent some of the most popular serials straight from Japan.
Summaries of the first six serials to be offered in SHOJO BEAT follow:
KAZE HIKARU by Taeko Watanabe
Kaze Hikaru is a story set in nineteenth-century Japan that's packed with action, drama, comedy, historical fiction, and-of course-a little romance. Kamiya Seizaburou is a young girl determined to avenge her murdered father and brother. To do so, she disguises herself as a man and joins the Shinsengumi, a group of swordsmen who her brother greatly admired and who supported the shogun government during the turbulent Bakumatsu Revolution. Amidst learning how to fight and fighting to keep her identity safe, she falls for Okita Sôji (an actual historic figure), one of the most charismatic members of the Shinsengumi. Kaze Hikaru has been called the shôjo equivalent to the immensely popular title RUROUNI KENSHIN-the setting, some aspects of the storyline, and even some of the historical personages are the same.
ABSOLUTE BOYFRIEND by Yuu Watase
Absolute Boyfriend shows us what happens when iRobot gets Orlando Bloom's good looks.
Riiko Izawa's idea of the perfect boyfriend is someone cute, stylish, smart, and nice. He's a great cook and all-around athlete. And he always wins a fistfight. Too bad Riiko has zero luck with boys. She's a gawky high school student and has never even been kissed, let alone been anyone's girlfriend! Her plots to attract the opposite sex never work-and the aloof boy next door, Soshi, is constantly teasing her about her lousy love life.
But when Riiko ends up helping out a mysterious salesman, he agrees to grant her wish for a boyfriend (for a three-day trial, anyway) in return! As it turns out, the gorgeous guy pictured on the sales website is part of a Nightly Lover series-an artificial being programmed to love his owner completely and absolutely. One kiss from Riiko is all he needs to come alive…
CRIMSON HERO by Mitsuba Takanashi
Crimson Hero takes volleyball and bends it like Beckham in a story that pits family obligation against the love of the game. All that matters to 15-year-old Nobara Sumiyoshi is volleyball; she's an awesome player with big-time ambitions. Nobara doesn't care that she's not feminine and pretty like her younger sister, Souka, but unfortunately her family does. As the eldest daughter, she's expected to work at her family's ryotei, an old-fashioned Japanese restaurant where she'll have to dress in traditional clothes and makeup and accommodate the patrons' every whim. No thanks!
Nobara knows exactly what she wants-now she has to figure out how to get it. She enters Crimson Field High School, known for its top-notch volleyball team, but her mother is willing to stoop to dirty tricks to keep Nobara off the court. With assistance from her feisty Aunt Momoko, who's got some helpful connections at Crimson Field, Nobara decides to start playing offense.
NANA by Ai Yazawa
Nana takes us to Tokyo to follow the tumultuous lives of two young women who have very different dreams. Nana Komatsu has endured an unending string of boyfriend troubles. Moving to Tokyo, she's hoping to take control of her life and put those messy misadventures behind her. She's looking for love, and she's hoping to find it in the big city.
Enter Nana Osaki. Confident and focused, she kicks down the doors to Tokyo's underground punk scene. Beautiful, charismatic, and tough as nails, this Nana wants to be a rock star, and she's not going to let anything get in her way.
The two Nanas soon meet, and their new lives step into high gear: love blooms, tempers flare, and egos clash. The world of Nana is a thundering ball of excitement sparked by sex, music, fashion, gossip, and all-night parties.
GODCHILD by Kaori Yuki
Deep in the heart of nineteenth-century London, a young man named Cain emerges from the shadowy cobblestone streets. Forced to become an Earl upon the untimely death of his father, Cain assumes the role of head of the Hargreves, an aristocratic family with a dark past that seems to unfold one scandalous revelation at a time.
Lost, lonely and disenchanted with his fate, Cain develops an obsession with lethal poisons and an uncanny ability to solve the mysterious murders that seem to follow him wherever he goes.
With the aid of Riff, his faithful manservant who has a background in medicine, and Oscar, his long-time friend, Cain wades through his tormented life and struggles to find the truth behind his father's mysterious death and alleged involvement with a sinister secret society.
BABY & ME by Marimo Ragawa
Baby & Me is a moving story about a boy who is forced to grow up quickly and who, through sacrifice, shows us the true meaning of love. Takuya Enoki isn't your average 11-year-old Japanese elementary student. The tragic death of his mother puts him in the difficult position of taking care of his 2-year-old brother while their father works long hours. Takuya must devote all of his free time to becoming his brother's guardian.
Cooking, cleaning, sewing, and scolding become an integral part of the young boy's life-responsibilities usually reserved for adults. Baby & Me follows Takuya and his brother through their unique new life together, filled with trials and tribulations, humor, and adventure.