Official Press Release
San Francisco, CA, September 20, 2005 – VIZ Media, LLC. (VIZ Media), one of the entertainment industry's most innovative and comprehensive manga and animation licensing and publishing companies, has announced a partnership with the World Bank to present 1 WORLD MANGA, an innovative and original new series that will use the universal appeal of the graphic novel to address key global issues, such as poverty, HIV/AIDS, and the environment. As part of its depositary library program, the World Bank will donate copies of the manga to 300 libraries around the world. VIZ Media's proceeds from the sales of 1 WORLD MANGA will go to several noteworthy charities.
The World Bank and VIZ Media share a vision to engage and educate young readers about a range of important issues facing humanity and believe the extraordinarily popular manga format will be a compelling vehicle to educate them on a variety of global development issues. Many of the manga series published by VIZ Media present themes of struggling against adversity and seeing a mission through to the end, but 1 WORLD MANGA offers a unique premise where the hero must grapple with social problems of a global magnitude that are set in the real world.
The first three volumes focus on poverty, HIV/AIDS, and the environment. The immediate appeal of the series lies in the coming-of-age tale of orphaned teenager Rei, who dreams of becoming the greatest fighter in the world. Rei's trainer is a spirit guide who takes the form of various animals. Much to Rei's chagrin, his trainer is more interested in developing Rei's mind, spirit, and heart than his raging, thrashing fighting moves.
In the debut volume, Rei meets Ayeesha, a young woman struggling to feed her family. Rei tries to help, but his bumbling attempts only worsen her plight. Seemingly defeated, Rei runs away ashamed, but his trainer urges the young man to return and repair the damage he caused. In the end, with Rei's help, Ayeesha finds a way out of her poverty-stricken existence and Rei learns a valuable lesson about maturity as he sees a problem through to the end despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
Though the themes of 1 WORLD MANGA are serious and at times even grim, the pages are full of action, romance, and even humor. The animal guises that Rei's trainer assumes lead to plenty of slapstick comedy and funny misunderstandings. In Volume 1, when Rei's trainer turns into a rooster, Rei gives him to Ayeesha, despite his violent protests, to enable her to raise chickens, unaware that roosters (and spirit guides) don't lay eggs. Rei's pride and ambition often set him up for many a fall, but throughout 1 WORLD MANGA, his good heart and inability to walk away from those in need makes him an engaging and likeable hero that will appeal to young audiences.
"Manga is a great vehicle to educate readers about a variety of important subjects and we are excited to partner with the World Bank to use this genre to reach out and educate," states Liza Coppola, vice president of sales and marketing for VIZ Media. "Developing a sense of obligation and responsibility for our world and for those who are less fortunate must begin at an early age, and the stories presented in 1 WORLD MANGA will give young readers a glimpse into the struggles that people around the world, as well as at home, face every day. "
"Young people make up almost half the world's population today, with nine out of ten living in developing countries. The World Bank sees this partnership with VIZ Media as a unique opportunity to communicate with young readers through the popular medium of manga, and engage them on critical global issues that matter to them" states H. Dirk Koehler, Publisher of the World Bank Group.
About the World Bank
The World Bank Group's mission is to fight poverty and improve the living standards of people in the developing world. It is a development Bank which provides financial assistance, policy advice, technical assistance, and knowledge-sharing services to low- and middle-income countries to reduce poverty. The Office of the Publisher (EXTOP) is part of the World Bank's External Affairs division. It publishes over 200 publications per year on a wide array of issues, from development economics, poverty, and globalization to health, the environment, and public governance.
About VIZ Media, LLC
Headquartered in San Francisco, CA, VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), is one of the most comprehensive and innovative companies in the field of manga publishing, animation and entertainment licensing of Japanese content. Owned by three of Japan's largest creators and licensors of manga and animation, Shueisha Inc., Shogakukan Inc., and Shogakukan Production Co., Ltd. (ShoPro Japan), VIZ Media is a leader in the publishing and distribution of Japanese manga for English speaking audiences in North America and a global licensor of Japanese animation. The company offers an integrated product line including, magazines such as SHONEN JUMP and SHOJO BEAT, graphic novels, videos, DVDs, audio soundtracks and develops and markets animated entertainment from initial production, television placement and distribution, to merchandise licensing and promotions for audiences and consumers of all ages.