Black Lagoon , Vol. 1 – Manga Review

Review by: Clive Owen

Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Rei Hiroe
Genre: Action (Graphic Novel)
MSRP: $12.99 US
Rating: M
Release Date: Now Available

Lagoon Traders … for when you need the job done with blood, sweat and bullets.

Japanese salary man, Rokuro Okajima, did not expect to have a gun pointed at his head when he woke up and he certainly didn’t expect to be kidnapped by a crew of “couriers” that includes a sexy tattooed girl with a real mean streak. Most surprisingly, though, is that this young man in the starch white shirt and slim black tie did not expect to become a member of the very same group that kidnapped him. This is Black Lagoon, Volume 1, a manga by Rei Hiroe that inspired the action-packed anime of the same name.

In the first volume of Black Lagoon, we meet the eclectic Lagoon Traders crew that acts like couriers for a Russian crime syndicate that made Southeast Asia their home as well as smuggle illegal goods for anyone willing to pay good money. Led by a smart yet tough African-American named Dutch, the crew (that moves about in an old WWII modified PT boat called the Black Lagoon) includes a Florida-raised mechanic named Benny and an attractive-yet-deadly girl in a tank top and short cut-off jeans named Revy “Two Hand.” This band kidnaps Rokuro in hopes of getting some ransom money along with the payment for the computer disc Rokuro was carrying with him on his business trip.

Of course, when Rokuro’s employers are more concerned over the contents of the disc rather than his safe as well as telling him that he’s better off dead for the sake of the company, the newly renamed Rock (renamed by Dutch who likes it better than Rokuro) joins the crew after he helps his once captors go up against a group of mercenaries. He also comes to the conclusion that Revy might be pretty but she’s also out of her mind. Rock even makes a suggestion that gets them out of a jam when the crew goes up against an attack helicopter

Watching the group’s back is the local Southeast Asia’s Russian mafia contact who just so happens to be a woman named Balalaika who sports a nasty scar and a mean streak. The Lagoon Traders work for her despite Revy’s mistrust of this mysterious woman who seems to know everything about every crime syndicate in the vicinity including the Chinese triad that attempts to take Dutch and his crew out. They certainly weren’t counting on Revy who – sporting earphones blaring Rob Zombie and two guns – single-handedly takes them on. Yeah, she’s nuts but she gets the job done.

The final chapter in the volume has the crew attempting to take the kidnapped son of one of Colombia’s drug cartel leaders. While the boy is bratty with everyone else on board the Black Lagoon, he responds to Rock and comes to trust him. Of course, the deal goes sour when the boy’s maid, a dainty woman in a maid’s outfit and large-rimmed glasses named Roberta, comes into the very bar that always seems to be shot up when the Lagoon Traders are in town.

Roberta might be dainty but she shows rival Colombian mobsters what she’s really made of and Rock hit’s the nail on the head when he compares her to the Terminator. Her past, I should mention, is quite interesting and actually plausible. One of the most exciting and memorable moments in this volume is the confrontation between Revy and Roberta that begins as a gunfight and ends as a very bloody fistfight that has the survivors of the bar battle betting on who wins.

Rei Hiroe’s art and storytelling really stand out and Hiroe’s ability to showcase the action sequences in a way that it is seldom too hard to follow. There are times when the action does become a bit chaotic – such as Roberta’s battle with the Colombians – but they somehow light up the panels wonderfully. I should note that this manga does deserve its M rating for its excessive profanity rather than its bloody action. Still, the manga doesn’t take itself seriously and this makes it a fun read. I even enjoyed the super short extra story and four-panel comic featuring Roberta.

If you’re already familiar with Black Lagoon via the anime then you already know that this series is not just action-packed but thoroughly enjoyable. The first volume of Black Lagoon the manga is the same way and thus makes this a seriously fun manga older readers will certainly like reading. Trust me; this one is well worth the retail price.

 

REVIEW BREAKDOWN

STORY: A-
Crammed with triad crime lords, blood-thirsty mercenaries, Colombian cartel hoods and a maid you don’t want to piss off, Black Lagoon is like an overblown Hollywood action film … only that overblown Hollywood action film is actually a very good one. It’s a great start to a good series.

ART: A+
Rei Hiroe’s manner of depicting action and bullet-fueled gunfights is nothing short of chaotic but his is still able to convey these action sequences with plenty of style much like the anime itself. The characters are richly drawn and that makes this a manga easy on the eyes.

OVERALL: A-
There’s no shortage of action in Black Lagoon, Volume 1, and on top of that the story and characters are genuinely memorable. It’s a violent, over-the-top action manga that does everything on a big scale and you will like it for that reason alone. In short, Black Lagoon is one seriously enjoyably mature read.

One-Pound Gospel, Vol. 2 – Manga Review

Review by: Ai Kano

Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Rumiko Takahashi
Genre: Graphic Novel
MSRP: $9.99 US
Rating: T+ (Older Teen)
Release Date: Available Now

A second helping of one of the most engaging and beloved manga series to make a return.

Nothing has changed my mind about One-Pound Gospel even having read it before a long while back in Japan. In fact, I didn’t even change the A+ grade because much like the first volume, this second volume of the re-release of One-Pound Gospel is just as equally good as the first volume. Then again, this is no surprise since this is the same author that brought us gems such as InuYasha and Ranma ½.

This second volume is told through two chapters sliced up in bite-sized parts but these two big chapters have one common theme among them and that is that gluttonous boxing hopeful Kosaku Hatanaka still can’t stop overeating and that his fondness for the very cute Sister Angela is growing at an almost uncomfortable level for the young novice nun. One thing that remains consistent is that the boxing is handled well and the humor that made the first volume so enjoyable is still quite evident in this one.

In the first chapter of this volume, an opponent from Kosaku’s past resurfaces to go up against him again but this time in a different weight class division. You see, four years ago when Kosaku was but a Featherweight hopeful as a Class B student contender, he was matched up against a rising pro who thought the fight would be over in seconds. This handsome young man named Matsuzaka even turns down regulation head gear thinking he was going to beat Kosaku seconds after the fight starts. Yet Matsuzaka underestimated Kosaku’s love for food and since a steak dinner was the incentive to win the hungry Kosaku ends up knocking out his opponent and something else.

Now, Kosaku receives a challenge from a fighter named Matsuzaka who just so happens to be the same pro he defeated four years ago. Aside from working in his family restaurant, Matsuzaka seems like a pleasant enough fellow but deep down inside he holds a deep resentment towards Kosaku. To make matters worse, Kosaku’s insatiable appetite is upsetting to his challenger how rushes to gain weight as well. Meanwhile, Coach has had enough of Kosaku’s inability to keep a diet and walks out on him when he needs him. In the end, Kosaku takes on Matsuzaka in a fight that is one of the highlights of this volume.

The second chapter is, by far, one of the most interesting chapters in this series. With a fight coming up, Kosaku finds his thoughts somewhere else. Having caught a glimpse of a very pretty girl in a swimsuit, Kosaku pursues her only to find out that the girl was really Sister Angela sans her habit. Determined to have her as his girl friend, Kosaku makes his feeling known to her only to be shot down by not only Sister Angela but Mother Abbess who sees this as one of many trials a young novice nun must go through.

Then Kosaku makes matters worst by making Sister Angela a most startling offer that has her rethinking her life in the service of the Lord. On top of this, Kosaku’s opponent is a man who might look tough but has a yellow streak that has him cowering at the very thought of stepping on to the boxing ring. Here we have Kosaku with Sister Angela on the line and his opponent is too frightened to face him as a boxer.

One-Pound Gospel, Volume 2 is just as enjoyable as opening the first volume and that’s saying a lot about Takahashi’s ability to tell a story with characters you will come to care about deeply. She also knows how to tell a good love story and there’s a connection between Kosaku and Sister Angela that becomes more evident in the last chapter of this volume. In short, the story continues and it is still a good one worthy of following.

 

MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN

STORY: A+
Kosaku’s feeling for Sister Angela can no longer be contained and he makes a request that has the lovely Sister questioning her commitment to the Order. This second volume contains two very long chapters with two humorous and likeable storylines. Rumiko Takahashi certainly knows how to tell a humorous and interesting story.

ART: A+
It’s hard not to love Takahashi’s recognizable art that doesn’t seem to change from volume to volume.

OVERALL: A+
A second round of One-Pound Gospel is just as deliciously as the first round with the relationship between Sister Angela and Kosaku growing even deeper. The two huge chapters are just so endearing you can’t help but keep smiling from start to finish.

TEKKONKINKREET: BLACK & WHITE – Manga Review

Review by: Edward Zacharias

Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Taiyo Matsumoto
Genre: Graphic Novel (Fiction)
MSRP: $29.95 US
Rating: M (Mature)
Release Date: Available Now

A definite winner in every way.

I must confess that this was my first time picking up TEKKONKINKREET: BLACK & WHITE seeing as it has been released before as three separate volumes but holding the rather beefy edition that bundled all three of the volumes together I began to kick myself for not having picked it up sooner. Reading the first five pages you can see how this marvelous work of art won the 2008 Eisner Comic Industry Award for Best U.S. Best Edition of International Material that just so happens to come from Japan.

A great choice, is what I say and the reason is that there’s nothing quite like it. Author Taiyo Matsumoto not only created a deeply moving story of two characters that go together like peanut butter goes with jelly but he also created a fantastical city the begins the evolve right before your eyes. You see, in the city of Treasure Town – where the defenders of the city are two orphaned street urchins – unusual animals can be spotted and some children can actually fly. This is a place where the criminal element mourns the passing of the old days when things were just black and white.

Treasure Town’s “superheroes” come in the form of two young orphans with the simple names of Black and White. While Black is the more sharp-minded child, White is the more incoherent one whose babbling is almost strangely philosophical. The pair not only defend the city from street punks and Yakuza scum but they are the heart of the city. Without White there is no Black and vice verse so these two children are ying to each another’s yang. They defend the city with violence, which makes them feared not only by criminals but also citizens and the police.

Yet there is change in the air and who else but Black and White can sense it when the sudden appearance of a children’s theme park pops up in Treasure Town. In the center of this new edifice are two Yakuza henchmen who have come to despise the changes in the city. The one called Rat longs for the old days while the once-loyal Kimura has sided with a new criminal family that has come to change everything about Treasure Town including getting rid of Black and White.

Of course, getting rid of these boys is not an easy feat. You see, while they’re children these boys have unusually enhanced strength and they can actually fly. With the new growing threat, both Black and White find themselves in the battle of their lives. In one chapter, the boys go up against Kimura, trashing him to the point of disfiguring him. Instead of seeking revenge, however, Kimura comes to understand that these boys are important to the city and comes to be one of their biggest supporters. With numerous memorable moments – such as the moment the police take White away from Black or the three seasoned assassins that hunt them down during one chapter – it’s hard to want to put this manga down.

As I mentioned, Treasure Town is a unique city and Matsumoto’s interesting artistic style makes it one of the most memorable places you’ll see in a manga. Speaking of the art, the uneven lines and clashes of black against the white panels make the visual style different yet fitting to the universe Matsumoto created. As far as the storytelling is concerned, TEKKONKINREET is a violent tale but the bloody fights take a backseat to the powerful tale that has a deeper meaning you can only get by reading it more than once. Believe me when I say that I shed a tear or two while reading it much like Michael Arias (director of the TEKKONKINKREET animated movie) said in the volume’s introduction.

TEKKONKINKREET: BLACK & WHITE is one of those unforgettable stories that will stay with you long after you finished reading it. Having the three volumes packed into one nicely packaged book is really the way to go and owning this one means you either love good manga or know that this is one masterpiece that deserves to be read again and again. If this is your first time reading it, you are in for a treat that will certainly have you scrabbling to see the animated film afterwards.

 

REVIEW BREAKDOWN

STORY: A+
Black and White literally jump off the pages of this manga and will remain two of the most endearing and memorable characters to date. It’s easy to see why this book managed to win this year’s Eisner Award (and an Editor’s Choice Award from us). The story is just one of those unforgettable tales that is not short on surprises or emotion.

ART: A
Matsumoto’s art is uniquely his own and it really stands out in this manga. The influence is truly European but it somehow just works for this particular story and theme.

OVERALL: A+
TEKKONKINKREET: BLACK & WHITE is not only surreally compelling but it is also one of the most brilliant work of literature you will read this year. Taiyo Matsumoto not only created a fascinating world but the two main characters will certainly haunt your thoughts. This is certainly a Must Have for any manga collector.

BLEACH: Collector’s Edition Vol. 1 – Manga Review

Review by: Faith McAdams

Publisher: VIZ Media (SJ Collector’s Edition)
Author: Tite Kubo
Genre: Graphic Novel (Hardcover)
MSRP: $19.99 US
Rating: T
Release Date: Now Available

Reminding us why we love this series so much.

When Tite Kubo’s BLEACH reached North America, it quickly became something special to manga readers until it unfolded into a something big enough that the mass following it received surprised even Kubo himself. VIZ Media is honoring the anniversary of such a major title with the release of a hardcover Collector’s Edition of BLEACH, Volume 1 and I must say that it’s quite a pretty package fans of the series will certainly appreciate.

One of the things that will spring out at you is the dust jacket that is wonderfully colorful with images of Ichigo and his friends while the hardcover itself is a reproduction of the First Edition cover. Inside, the blues and red images are a nice touch but the most surprising thing about the Collector’s Edition is that the first few panels are in color (boy, Ichigo’s hair really is that orange). The fifth chapter image is even in color … which is a nice touch but why couldn’t all the chapter intro images be in color?

The volume itself is a faithful reproduction of the first volume the First Edition subtitled as “Strawberry and the Soul Reapers.” The story revolves around Ichigo “Strawberry” Kurosaki, a young 15-year old high school student who has always had the ability to see dead people. When we first meet Ichigo, he totally trashes three punks that knocked over a small shrine left for a dead little girl only Ichigo can see. While he tries to maintain a certain rough attitude to go with his carrot top (hence the “Strawberry” nickname), he’s actually a thoughtful young man whose life will soon change thanks to a mysterious girl named Rukia Kuchiki.

You see, Rukia is actually a Soul Reaper and a Soul Reaper’s job is to defend the world of the living by battling malicious wayward spirits called Hollows as well as guiding the recently deceased to a better place. Sensing some unusual power, Rukia is drawn into Ichigo’s room only to receive a kick in the behind by Ichigo who thought this diminutive pretty girl with the samurai sword was a burglar. When a Hollow attacks Ichigo’s family, Rukia is injured so her solution is to give Ichigo some of her powers. Of course, things don’t work out the way they should and Ichigo ends up draining all of Rukia’s Soul Reaper powers and ending up with a sword (called Zanpaku-to) that’s bigger than him.

And so begins Ichigo’s life as a Substitute Soul Reaper. The first volume follows young Ichigo as he attempts to juggle life as a high school student and a Soul Reaper. He’s joined by Rukia who managed to install herself into his classroom as well as sleep in his closet. We meet Ichigo’s friends such as the quiet-yet-incredibly-strong Chad and the bubbly Orihime who will play a part in this volume … and later on in the series they become part of a much bigger role.

As Ichigo discovers his power as a Soul Reaper, we later find out that Orihime – the buxom girl who has a crush on Ichigo – might just be the target of a Hollow. Kubo’s certainly knows how to weave an interesting story that mixes action with his great sense of humor and ability to convey emotional scenes such as the one between Orihime and the tortured spirit of somebody close to her.

In the final chapters of the volume, Chad comes to possess a parakeet that can actually form sentences. Something is certainly wrong with the parakeet and it becomes apparent to one of Ichigo’s sisters who sees the bird’s real form. In the end, Ichigo comes to his family’s clinic (run by his father that almost always attacks his son) only to find Chad severely injured. Like with Orihime, Ichigo can’t help but smell a Hollow at work here but that, as they say, is a story for another time. By the end of this volume, you can’t help but jump on the BLEACH bandwagon.

The Collector’s Edition of BLEACH’s first volume is a wonderful collectible for BLEACH fans and those who would like a sturdier edition to place in their book shelves. If you already own the first edition, justifying a $20 purchase is up to how much you love the series but for my money I found it a worthy purchase and a great gift to any manga fan.

MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN

STORY: A
It’s the basic story of a young boy whose life gets really interesting when a pretty girl with special abilities gives said young man the same abilities only to find out that he’s something special. Yet what drives this pretty basic concept is the fact that the characters are really likeable straight off the bat and the tale is both exciting and funny.

ART: A-
Fans of Tite Kubo know that BLEACH really starts to look good in the second or third volume of the BLEACH series seeing as he breaks away from the ZOMBIEPOWDER-styled art to give the series its own detailed look. Still, the art is really good and the Kubo’s comical touches won’t fail to put a smile on your face. The Collector’s Edition even brings out the color panels and the dust jacket cover is awesome.

OVERALL: A
If you’re a true BLEACH fan or are new to the series, this Collector’s Edition is delightful addition to your BLEACH collection. I’m actually recommending this as a perfect gift for those just starting to get into manga and die hard fans will definitely want this one on their book shelves.

VIZ MEDIA ANNOUNCES CAPTIVATING NEW SHOJO MANGA SERIES TO DEBUT IN THIRD QAURTER

Five Highly Anticipated New Titles Announced Including

TIME STRANGER KYOKO, SHORT-TEMPERED MELANCHOLIC, SUGAR PRINCESS, MIXED VEGETABLES And WANTED  

 

San Francisco, CA, August 21, 2008 – VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), one of the entertainment industry’s most innovative and comprehensive publishing, animation and licensing companies, has announced five new shojo manga (graphic novel for girls) titles set to debut throughout the Third Quarter.

 

Published under the company’s popular Shojo Beat imprint, the new series include TIME STRANGER KYOKO, SHORT-TEMPERED MELANCHOLIC AND OTHER STORIES, SUGAR PRINCES: SKATING TO WIN, MIXED VEGETABLES and WANTED.

 

“The debut of these latest shojo manga series features a variety of romantic stories set against an array of interesting backdrops that range from time travel to ice skating to cooking to pirates!” says Gonzalo Ferreyra, Vice President, Sales & Product Marketing, VIZ Media. “Fans will be excited to explore these intriguing new stories from renowned manga artists such as Arina Tanemura, who created The Gentlemen’s Alliance † and FULL MOON, Hisaya Nakajo, the creator of HANA KIMI, and Matsuri Hino, who created the popular gothic drama VAMPIRE KNIGHT. As the popularity of shojo manga continues, readers won’t want to miss these exciting new series by some of the genre’s most acclaimed and innovative artists and creators.”

 

TIME STRANGER KYOKO · Rated “T+” for Older Teens ·

MSRP: $8.99 US / $10.50 CAN · Available Now!

Kyoko Suomi is the Princess of Earth in the 30th century but she lives among the commoners, unwilling to reveal her true identity and ascend to the throne. Her father the King will only allow Kyoko to live as she pleases if she can revive her twin sister Ui, who has been trapped in time since birth. To do this Kyoko must find 12 holy stones and 12 telepaths to move the clock that has stopped time for her sister. TIME STRANGER KYOKO was created by Arina Tanemura, who began her manga career in 1996 when her short stories debuted in Japan’s Ribon magazine. She first gained fame with the 1997 publication of I•O•N, a high school romance with a supernatural twist that is also published domestically by VIZ Media. Tanemura worked on the popular series Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne, about a young girl who is the reincarnation of Joan of Arc, followed by Time Stranger Kyoko, The Gentlemen’s Alliance †, and FULL MOON (all published domestically by VIZ Media). TIME STRANGER KYOKO has also been previewed in SHOJO BEAT magazine.

 

SHORT-TEMPERED MELANCHOLIC AND OTHER STORIES · Rated “T” for Teens · MSRP: $8.99 US / $10.50 CAN · Available Now!

A new collection of four unique short stories from famed mangaka Arina Tanemura! Kajika Yamano is a female ninja whose job is to protect her family’s legendary weapon. But when a boy she has a crush on tells her she should be more ladylike, she vows to give up all her ninja activities. In “This Love is Nonfiction” Yuri sends her pen pal Ryo a picture of herself – but it’s really of her best friend Karin, who she feels is much prettier. Now Ryo wants to meet, so she has no choice but to send Karin instead! In “Rainy Afternoons Are for Romantic Heroines” Minori falls in love with Takato, a boy who shared his umbrella with her one rainy afternoon. Now she “forgets” her umbrella every time it rains in hopes of catching the boy’s attention. The final story, “The Style of the Second Love” presents a girl named Mana who secretly likes her friend’s boyfriend, but Nakamura, a younger boy, is determined to win Mana’s heart.

 

SUGAR PRINCESS: SKATING TO WIN · Rated “A” for ALL AGES ·

MSRP: $8.99 US / $10.50 CAN · Available Now!

Maya Kurinoki is an 8th grader who has no experience ice-skating but seems to have natural talent. She performs a double axel and impresses a scout named Eishi Todo, who tells her that he can make her a skating “princess.” But Todo also tells Maya that she’ll have to convince the famous skater Shun Kano to coach her and become her skating partner. But unfortunately for Maya, Shun only wants to skate singles. Will she be able to change his mind? SUGAR PRINCESS: SKATING TO WIN was created by Hisaya Nakajo’s who also created the hit manga series HANA KIMI (published domestically by VIZ Media). SUGAR PRINCESS: SKATING TO WIN was recently previewed in the July 2008 issue of Shojo Beat magazine.

 

MIXED VEGETABLES · Rated “T” for TEENS · MSRP: $8.99 US / $10.50 CAN · Available September 2, 2008

A new culinary manga series by Ayumi Komura, MIXED VEGETABLES introduces readers to Hanayu Ashitaba, daughter of the family that runs the celebrated Patisserie Ashitaba. Despite her famous lineage all she wants to be is a top-notch sushi chef. Meanwhile, Hayato Hyuga is the son of the prestigious Sushi Hyuga, and all he wants to do is be a pastry chef! It’s love and leftovers at the Oikawa High School Cooking Department as these star-crossed gourmets do their best to reach their cuisine dreams! Hanayu knows that it will break her parents’ hearts if she defects from the bakery to become a sushi chef. But if she marries into a sushi family, they’ll have to understand her decision. Now she just has to get Hayato Hyuga interested, and what better way than to wow him with her cooking skills! MIXED VEGTABLES will captivate fans of dramatic cooking shows like Iron Chef and Hell’s Kitchen and follows a notable legacy of culinary manga series such as YAKITATE JAPAN! (also published by VIZ Media). The series features clean and energetic artwork and strongly developed characters as well as a comprehensive glossary of interesting cultural and cooking terms and detailed notes by the author. MIXED VEGETABLES was edited for domestic release by noted food writer Stephanie Lucianovic.

 

WANTED · Rated “T+” for TEENS · MSRP: $8.99 US / $10.50 CAN · Available September 2, 2008

WANTED is the latest series by Matsuri Hino (creator of VAMPIRE KNIGHT and MERU PURI, both published domestically by VIZ Media). In the Mediterranean at end of the 17th century, former songstress Armeria disguises herself as a boy and boards a ship belonging to the pirate Skulls – the evil man who kidnapped Luce, her first love. Captain Skulls is arrogant, violent, and a skirt chaser! And unfortunately for Armeria, he discovers she’s really a woman. Now she must fend off his advances while trying to find her beloved. WANTED is previewed in the new August issue of SHOJO BEAT magazine. Artist and creator Matsuri Hino first captured attention with her debut manga, WHEN THIS DREAM IS OVER, which was published in Japan in LaLa DX magazine. With the success of that, and her other popular series CAPTIVE HEARTS (to be published by VIZ Media November 2008), and MERU PURI, Hino has established herself as a major creative force in the world of shojo manga. Her gothic series VAMPIRE KNIGHT is also currently serialized in SHOJO BEAT magazine and published by VIZ Media.

 

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 (graphic novel) 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-Shueisha Productions, Co., Ltd., VIZ Media is a leader in the publishing and distribution of Japanese manga for English speaking audiences in North America, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and South Africa and is a global ex-Asia licensor of Japanese manga and animation. The company offers an integrated product line including magazines such as SHONEN JUMP and SHOJO BEAT, graphic novels, and DVDs, and develops, markets, licenses, and distributes animated entertainment for audiences and consumers of all ages. Contact VIZ Media at 295 Bay Street, San Francisco, CA 94133; Phone (415) 546-7073; Fax (415) 546-7086; and web site at www.VIZ.com.

VIZ MEDIA ANNOUNCES VARIETY OF EXCITING ANIMATED RELEASES ON DVD FOR THIRD QUARTER 2008

Standard As Well As Deluxe Box Set Editions Featuring Special Collectible Figurines And Wall Scrolls

 Expand DVD Libraries For Popular Series

 DEATH NOTE, BLEACH, NARUTO, INUYASHA And RANMA ½

 

San Francisco, CA, August 20, 2008 VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), one of the entertainment industry’s most innovative and comprehensive publishing, animation and licensing companies, has announced an exciting array of new DVD releases for the 3rd Quarter of 2008 that expand some of the most popular animated series in North America.

 

The new releases include DVD Box Sets and Special Editions containing limited edition collectible figurines, as well as the latest single disc editions for popular series including BLEACH, NARUTO, and DEATH NOTE, as well as much-loved classics like INUYASHA, and RANMA ½.

 

DEATH NOTE Releases Include:

 

DEATH NOTE Volume 6 With Limited Edition Collector’s Figure · Rated “T+” for Older Teens · 4 Episodes · MSRP: $39.98 US / $49.99 CAN ·

Available August 26, 2008

The Yotsuba Group enlists an investigator to uncover L’s identity, while Misa, who’s been hired as their spokesperson, does some investigating of her own. When she discovers the identity of the owner of the Death Note, it’s a race between the killer and the task force — who will catch up to the other first? Time is of the essence, especially when the new Kira makes the trade for the Shinigami Eyes!

 

DEATH NOTE Volume 6 Standard Edition · Rated “T+” for Older Teens ·

4 Episodes · MSRP: $24.98 US / $34.99 CAN · Available August 26, 2008

DVD-only collection featuring episodes from the hit series, no figure included.

BLEACH Releases Include:

 

BLEACH Volume 11: THE RESCUE · Rated “T” for Teens ·  4 Episodes ·

MSRP: $24.98 US / $34.99 CAN · Available Now!

While trying to evade the pursuing Soul Reapers and rescue Rukia, Orihime and Uryu are confronted by the captain of Squad 12, the despicable Mayuri Kurotsuchi, who plans on using them as guinea pigs for his experiments! Meanwhile, Yoruichi has revealed her true form to the astonishment of Ichigo and the others, and must use all her tricks and skills to keep her fellow intruders from losing everything for which they’ve fought so hard.

 

BLEACH Volume 12: THE RESCUE · Rated “T” for Teens ·  4 Episodes MSRP· $24.98 US / $34.99 CAN · Available September 23, 2008

Lieutenant Momo Hinamori recalls her days in training at the Soul Reaper Academy, where she first met Captain Sosuke Aizen. In the present, the letter Aizen left for her at his death scene leads Momo to believe she has identified his killer… While Ichigo and Renji train with Yoruichi to achieve bankai, Rukia recalls a bit of her own past in a dream that she believes will prepare her to face her execution–which has been moved up to the next day!

 

NARUTO Releases Include:

 

NARUTO UNCUT, Vol. 9 SPECIAL EDITION BOX SET · Rated “T+” for Older Teens ·  3 DVDs · MSRP: $69.98 US / $89.99 CAN · Available Now!

Naruto returns to the Hidden Leaf Village to find Sasuke, frustrated with Naruto’s sudden growth, thirsting to fight to decide who the better ninja is once and for all. Kakashi stops the fight before the worst can happen, but soon Orochimaru’s henchmen arrive in the village to lure Sasuke to Orochimaru with the promise of greater power, a promise Sasuke can’t refuse. In order to retrieve Sasuke, newly appointed chunin Shikamaru forms a squad of genin, including Naruto, to pursue the terrifying Sound Ninja Four. Will they catch up before Orochimaru gets his hands on Sasuke? Let the chase begin. Special Edition Box Set comes with a Limited Edition Collectible: Summoning Creature – Manda.

 

NARUTO UNCUT, Vol. 9 STANDARD EDITION BOX SET · Rated “T+” for Older Teens · 3 DVDs · MSRP: $49.98 US / $64.99 CAN · Available Now!

DVD-only collection featuring episodes from the hit series, no collectible summoning creature included.

 

NARUTO Volume 25: THE BOND OF SHINOBI · Rated “T” for Teens ·

4 Episodes · MSRP: $19.98 US / $24.99 CAN · Available Now!

Naruto and Jiraiya head home with Tsunade and Shizune in tow, and the four stop at a hot spring resort for a little relaxation and an unexpected adventure. But at home again in Hidden Leaf Village, it’s back to business. Tsunade’s first task: heal the injured ninja. The others are successfully revived, but Tsunade has bad news for Rock Lee. While the village cheerfully prepares for Tsunade’s inauguration as Fifth Hokage, Rock Lee must ponder the possibility that he will never fulfill his ninja dreams.

 

NARUTO Volume 26: THE RACE IS ON! · Rated “T” for Teens ·  4 Episodes · MSRP: $19.98 US / $24.99 CAN · Available Now!

Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura are on the ultimate mission: discover what Kakashi looks like behind his mask! Then, Tsunade sends Squad Seven to the Land of Tea and the village of Degarashi, where every four years two rival families hold a race to decide who will rule the village for the next four years. Jirocho, who represents the Wasabi family, asks the teammates to protect their runner, Idate. But the task proves difficult when Idate, who has nothing but contempt for ninja, takes off running the wrong way!

 

NARUTO Volume 27: THE BATTLE BEGINS · Rated “T” for Teens ·

4 Episodes · MSRP: $19.98 US / $24.99 CAN · Available September 2, 2008

Naruto has always thought of Sasuke as a friend, but when Sasuke awakens in the hospital to discover that Naruto has grown stronger, Naruto finds himself on the receiving end of Sasuke’s fury. It’s Chidori vs. Rasengan! Kakashi steps in to stop the battle, while in the shadows Orochimaru’s Sound Ninja Four steal their way into the village with an offer for Sasuke he may not be able to refuse! Will the promise of greater power lure Sasuke away from everything he’s known and everyone who cares about him – forever?!

 

NARUTO Volume 28: SOUND vs. LEAF · Rated “T” for Teens ·  4 Episodes · MSRP: $19.98 US / $24.99 CAN · Available September 30, 2008!

News of Sasuke’s departure reaches the Fifth Hokage, who immediately gives new chunin Shikamaru his first mission as leader—bring back Sasuke! Shikamaru recruits some of his best friends for the job: Naruto, Choji, Neji and Kiba. With a chunin and four top genin on their heels, the sound Ninja Four race to get Sasuke over the border and into Orochimaru’s hands. The Leaf ninja use all their wiles to ambush the Four, but find themselves trapped in a giant dome of earth that’s sucking up every last drop of their chakra!

 

INUYASHA Releases Include:

 

INUYASHA SEASON 5 DELUXE BOX SET · Rated “T” for Teens ·  5 DVDs ·

MSRP: $119.98 US / $149.99 CAN  · Available Now!

Half-demon Inuyasha, modern-day schoolgirl Kagome and their companions face their deepest fears and worst nightmares as their quest to find the Sacred Jewel shards continues in this exciting fifth season box set. The deadly Band of Seven, a group of mercenaries executed for their crimes, have returned from the dead to wreak havoc, and Inuyasha is determined to stop them. But the battle leads them all to the sacred and mysterious Mount Hakurei, where a barrier not only renders demons, including Inuyasha, powerless, but also hides a terrible secret about their worst enemy—Naraku! The Deluxe Box Set includes 5 DVDs and also features a special “Sesshomaru Wall Scroll” and bonus Inuyasha footage.

 

INUYASHA SEASON 5 STANDARD BOX SET · Rated “T” for Teens ·  5 DVDs · MSRP: $99.98 US / $129.99 CAN · Available Now!

DVD-only collection of the fifth season episodes, no wall scroll included.

 

RANMA ½ Releases Include:

 

RANMA ½ SEASON 7: RANMA FOREVER · Rated “T+” for Older Teens ·

5 DVDs · MSRP: $49.98 US / $64.99 CAN · Available Now!

It’s not easy being teenage martial artist Ranma Saotome, but it’s even worse when your martial-artist father Genma takes you from home at an early age to go on a decade-long training mission. He doesn’t speak a word of Chinese, and yet he insists upon bringing you to the cursed training ground known as Jusenkyo, where falling into one of the many springs there instantly turns you into whoever – or whatever – drowned there last. And then, the two of you have this little accident…

 

From now on, a splash of cold water will turn your father into a giant panda, while you… well, you turn into a red-haired (and problematically well-built) female version of yourself. Hot water will reverse the effect, but only until the next time. What’s a half-guy, half-girl to do?

 

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 (graphic novel) 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-Shueisha Productions, Co., Ltd., VIZ Media is a leader in the publishing and distribution of Japanese manga for English speaking audiences in North America, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and South Africa and is a global ex-Asia licensor of Japanese manga and animation. The company offers an integrated product line including magazines such as SHONEN JUMP and SHOJO BEAT, graphic novels, and DVDs, and develops, markets, licenses, and distributes animated entertainment for audiences and consumers of all ages. Contact VIZ Media at 295 Bay Street, San Francisco, CA 94133; Phone (415) 546-7073; Fax (415) 546-7086; and web site at www.VIZ.com.

 

 

VIZ MEDIA ANNOUNCES THE DEBUT OF NEW WORKS FROM FAMED MANGA ARTIST TAKEHIKO INOUE INCLUDING SLAM DUNK and REAL MANGA SERIES and SUMI AND WATER, THE VAGABOND ART BOOKS

Rounding Out the Takehiko Inoue Releases –

 The Critically Acclaimed VAGABOND Published Under The VIZBIG Imprint

 

San Francisco, CA, August 19, 2008 VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), one of the entertainment industry’s most innovative and comprehensive publishing, animation and licensing companies, has announced the publication of a diverse new collection of manga (graphic novel) and art books by famed artist/creator Takehiko Inoue.

 

The new titles include the manga series REAL (rated T+ for Older Teens) and SLAM DUNK (rated T for Teens), which depict the sport of basketball in two vastly different but equally exciting ways, as well as the publication of SUMI and WATER, a pair of lavishly illustrated art books that capture the essence of Inoue’s techniques in black and white and color.

 

Takehiko Inoue is a skilled artist whose intricately detailed and lifelike visual style has raised the manga genre to a new level. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including the prestigious Tezuka Osamu Culture Award and the Media Arts Festival Award. Inoue’s highly acclaimed series VAGABOND (Rated M for Mature audiences and published domestically by VIZ Media) is a fictional account based on the life of legendary 17th century samurai Miyamoto Musashi. Without question, his most successful work to date is SLAM DUNK, which has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide. VIZ Media complements this release of SLAM DUNK with the debut of REAL, a riveting manga series about the sport of wheelchair basketball. Inoue is a self-professed fan of basketball and also worked on the character designs for the PlayStation video game One On One among others. SLAM DUNK has been credited with introducing basketball to millions of Japanese readers.  Legions have taken up the sport after becoming captivated by Inoue’s series.

 

REAL · Rated “T+” for Older Teens · MSRP: $12.99 US / $15.99 CAN ·

Available Now!

REAL is a gritty drama that offers a unique twist on the sports manga genre as it focuses on wheelchair basketball. A motorcycle accident, bone cancer, and a speeding truck crashing into a boy on a stolen bicycle all present tragic, life-changing events that turn the worlds of three young men upside down in this gripping new series. These three characters with very different personalities have only one thing in common – their passion for basketball.

SLAM DUNK · Rated “T” for Teens · MSRP: $7.99 US / $9.50 CAN ·

Available September 2, 2008

SLAM DUNK is the highly anticipated 31-volume basketball drama that has been a smash hit in Japan. Sakuragi Hanamichi’s got no game with girls – none at all! It doesn’t help that he’s known for throwing down at a moment’s notice. A hopeless bruiser, he’s been rejected by 50 girls in a row! All that changes when he meets the girl of his dreams, Haruko, and she’s actually not afraid of him! When she introduces him to the game of basketball, his life is changed forever. Selected volumes of SLAM DUNK features a profile of a specific NBA player, their stats, and their signature on-court move. The profiles begin with Volume 1, which features the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James and his signature move, the Slam Dunk as a bonus excerpt. 

 

VAGABOND VIZBIG Volume 1 · Rated “M” for Mature Audiences ·

MSRP: $19.99 US / $23.50 CAN · Available September 16, 2008

VIZ Media is re-releasing VAGABOND in the VIZBIG format featuring three volumes in one oversized edition with bonus content and new cover art. Bonus features in Volume 1 include character concept sketches, interview with Takehiko Inoue and special author comments not previously included in previously published manga from VIZ Media. Graphic novel aficionados who are just discovering Takehiko Inoue’s work will be able to enjoy his art in the larger trim size (5.75” X 8.25”) while existing fans will appreciate the added bonuses included in this particular volume. The schedule for the single volume editions of VAGABOND will continue with the publication of Volume 28 in October 2008.

 

SUMI: VAGABOND ILLUSTRATION COLLECTION · MSRP: $34.99 US / $39.99 CAN ·

Available September 16, 2008

This gorgeous oversized (8.86″ X 11.42″) art book captures Inoue’s magnificent pen and brush work in black and white. It will include a behind-the-scenes look at VAGABOND with rough sketches and photos of Inoue’s studio.

 

WATER: VAGABOND ILLUSTRATION COLLECTION · MSRP: $34.99 US / $39.99 CAN · Available September 16, 2008

WATER captures Inoue’s masterful work in color and contains artwork only published in this volume. Oversized (8.86″ X 11.42″) contains dozens of lush watercolor depictions of samurai Miyamoto Musashi in various garments and settings.

 

“Takehiko Inoue’s skill as both an artist and dramatic storyteller have catapulted him to the uppermost echelon of Japan’s manga artists,” says Alvin Lu, Vice President Publishing, VIZ Media. “His samurai action series, VAGABOND, first introduced his flair for historically-based sagas to domestic readers and his dynamic and realistic style shines in a completely different arena with the debuts of REAL and SLAM DUNK. Readers will delight in Inoue’s comprehensive knowledge of the sport of basketball and tributes to many great NBA players. The further release of THE ART OF VAGABOND: SUMI and WATER showcase Inoue’s pure skill as an artist and will be a must-have for serious fans of this celebrated series.”

 

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 (graphic novel) 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-Shueisha Productions, Co., Ltd., VIZ Media is a leader in the publishing and distribution of Japanese manga for English speaking audiences in North America, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and South Africa and is a global ex-Asia licensor of Japanese manga and animation. The company offers an integrated product line including magazines such as SHONEN JUMP and SHOJO BEAT, graphic novels, and DVDs, and develops, markets, licenses, and distributes animated entertainment for audiences and consumers of all ages. Contact VIZ Media at 295 Bay Street, San Francisco, CA 94133; Phone (415) 546-7073; Fax (415) 546-7086; and web site at www.VIZ.com.