Viz teams with Reading Is Fundamental to Promote Literacy

Official Press Release

San Francisco, Calif, June 2, 2004 – VIZ, LLC, one of the leading publishers and distributors of manga and anime content for North American audiences, has announced a partnership with Reading Is Fundamental, Inc. (RIF®), the nation's oldest and largest children's and family literacy non-profit organization, to help promote literacy among children nationwide.

Founded in 1966, Reading Is Fundamental prepares and motivates children to read by providing free books and literacy resources to students and families who otherwise would not have adequate access to these materials. RIF operates through 450,000 volunteers at 25,000 sites nationwide. Beginning this summer, RIF will make popular VIZ graphic novels like those in the SHONEN JUMP graphic novel line, YU-GI-OH! and DRAGON BALL Z, available through the organization's national network of schools, libraries and year-round reading programs to help children develop an enthusiasm for reading. This is a first-of-its kind partnership between RIF and a leading graphic novel publisher/distributor.

The popularity of manga continues to grow significantly in North America, especially among grade school-aged readers. Earlier this year, VIZ's RUROUNI KENSHIN title secured the number one spot on BookScan's list of best selling graphic novels and also broke into the Overall Adult Fiction Top 100 list. However, literacy rates continue to falter among children whose first language is not English or who live in poverty-stricken or decaying neighborhoods. As the nation strives to help all children achieve full literacy, partnerships like the one between RIF and VIZ will help these goals reach fruition by educating as well as entertaining this nation's children and young adults.

"RIF's partnership with VIZ will provide us with a wonderful opportunity to get even more children excited about reading," said Carol H. Rasco, RIF president and CEO. "One of the best ways to inspire children to read is to allow them to select their own reading material. Considering the manga genre in particular appeals to many young people, we believe that adding graphic novels as a choice for RIF programs will help us motivate even more children to develop a lifelong love of reading."

The partnership with RIF is the latest in a series of ongoing educational programs that VIZ actively supports. Earlier in 2004, the company lent anime and manga content for the Jump to Japan exhibit, one of the most extensive explorations of arts-focused Asian pop culture ever staged. The exhibit is touring children's museums at more than 70 U.S. cities over the next four years and looks to instill an appreciation and interest in Asian art, animation and graphic novels through a series of interactive displays. VIZ is supporting the effort by lending video content and imagery from its popular POKÉMON and HAMTARO shows, as well as a variety of panels from the SHONEN JUMP magazine, for the duration of the tour. VIZ titles are also regularly reviewed and selected by outlets like the Library Journal, a favored literary resource among school librarians nationwide.

"VIZ is extremely pleased to partner with Reading Is Fundamental, Inc. to use manga and anime as vehicles to promote literacy among school children and young adults," offers Seiji Horibuchi, president of VIZ, LLC. "It is critical that an appreciation and love of reading start at a young age, and once this takes hold, it lasts a lifetime. Many VIZ manga and anime properties are already embraced and loved by young people who relate to the compelling stories of characters overcoming hardships and obstacles through diligence and dedication. This mirrors the process of learning to read. Children learn best when they are entertained and we believe that the partnership with RIF will succeed because it helps kids learn in a manner that is also fun. "

About RIF

Reading Is Fundamental, Inc. (RIF) works to build a literate nation by helping young people discover the joy of reading. For more information and to access reading resources, visit www.rif.org.

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 1/2, 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.

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