Viz & ShoPro Merge To Form Manga/Anime Giant

Manga Publisher Viz and anime and product licensor ShoPro Entertainment have announced they'll be merging to create a new entertainment company. The as yet unnamed company will emerge this spring. The full press release is reprinted below.

Official Press Release

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- ShoPro Entertainment Inc. and VIZ,LLC ("VIZ"), two prominent North American based companies specializing inJapanese content, are merging this spring to create a groundbreaking newentertainment company. The still unnamed venture ("NEWCO"), to be based inSan Francisco, will leverage the unique collaboration, vision and ownership ofthree global powerhouses in Japanese manga and animation, Shueisha Inc.,Shogakukan Inc. and Shogakukan Production Co., Ltd. ("ShoPro Japan").

Merging ShoPro Entertainment and VIZ is a natural progression for bothcompanies, who have successively collaborated on such hit properties asInuyasha and MegaMan NT Warrior, among others. As one entity, NEWCO willbenefit from pooled resources and creative talent, and gain access to Japan'sstrongest content, augmenting its ability to reach a wider audience. NEWCO'smission will be to enrich lives worldwide through the highest qualityentertainment and unmatched storytelling.

ShoPro Entertainment -- an affiliate of ShoPro Japan, a subsidiary ofShogakukan Inc., one of Japan's largest publishing companies -- is a leadingglobal licensor specializing in animation, entertainment production andconsumer products for such properties as Inuyasha and MegaMan NT Warrior.VIZ -- a subsidiary of Shogakukan Inc. and Shueisha Inc. -- is a leadingpublisher of manga for English speaking audiences, including the best-sellinggraphic novel titles YU-GI-OH!, DRAGON BALL, ALICE 19TH, RANMA 1/2 , and themega-hit SHONEN JUMP magazine. VIZ is also a top producer of Japaneseanimation home video/DVD titles such as POKEMON, INUYASHA and BOYS OVERFLOWERS.

"We are uniquely positioned to develop entertainment content across allavailable mediums for people of all ages on a worldwide basis, " said HidemiFukuhara, Vice Chairman of VIZ and incoming President and CEO of NEWCO."Combining our collective strengths creates obvious brand building synergies.Merging and incorporating the expertise and support of Japan's three largestand most respected content creators, provides NEWCO with a significantcompetitive advantage."

Harnessing VIZ' and ShoPro Entertainment's combined assets, NEWCO aims tobecome an industry leader worldwide for audiences of all ages. Going forward,NEWCO will grow its business by working with its parent companies to maximizetheir brands' exposure on an all rights basis, including TV broadcast,publishing, home video, licensing, consumer products and promotions.

"In order to nurture and grow the worldwide exposure of Japanese manga andanimation," said Osamu Kamei, Executive Director of Shogakukan Inc., "we havedecided to step beyond the corporate framework that exists in Japan, and forma new globally oriented company by merging VIZ and ShoPro Entertainment. Istrongly believe that the partnership of the three companies, Shueisha,Shogakukan and ShoPro Japan, will be a major step forward for the Japanesecontents business."

Kazuhiko Torishima, Executive Director of Shueisha, Inc. explained, "Atthe root of the globally successful Japanese character business, is manga.The question we face is how to best communicate and introduce the culture ofmanga to children around the world. We believe the answer lies in NEWCO,which will allow us to unify and manage our business under one roof. In thisregard, we will be able to respond much faster to market needs and thusgreatly expand the exposure of manga."

Senior Executive Director of Shogakukan Production Co., Ltd., YutakaSaito, added, "We have made much progress in cultivating the worldwide marketfor Shogakukan's content business. We are now deeply honored to partner with,not only Shogakukan, but also Shueisha, whose content has achieved so muchsuccess and acclaim. By representing all rights for our brands, we will beable to maximize our exposure on a global scale. We are excited about makingthis happen."

About ShoPro Entertainment

Headquartered in San Francisco, CA, ShoPro Entertainment is a leadingglobal licensor of animation, and all associated rights including merchandise,home video, motion picture, and publishing. ShoPro Entertainment, affiliateof ShoPro Japan, a subsidiary of Shogakukan Inc., one of Japan's largestpublishing companies, develops and markets animated entertainment startingfrom initial production, television placement and distribution, to merchandiselicensing and promotions reaching audiences and consumers around the world.To date, ShoPro Entertainment has introduced multi-million dollar animatedentertainment series including Hamtaro, Inuyasha, MegaMan NT Warrior and Mirmoto broadcasters and consumers worldwide. For more information on ShoProEntertainment, visit http://www.shopro-entertainment.com.

About VIZ, LLC

Founded in 1986, VIZ is a multi-media entertainment company specializingin Japanese entertainment properties for U.S. audiences. Based in SanFrancisco, CA, VIZ, one of the top comics publishers in the U.S., is asubsidiary of Shogakukan Inc. and Shueisha Inc., two of the largest publishingcompanies in Japan. As a leading publisher of manga and producer of animationfor English speaking audiences, VIZ serves the growing Japanese content marketfor fans of all ages and offers an integrated product line includingmagazines, graphic novels, videos, DVD's and audio soundtracks. VIZ hasexpanded its offerings of some of the most innovative products in the industrythrough web sites such as http://www.shonenjump.com and its corporate site,http://www.viz.com.

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