San Francisco, CA, NOVEMBER 17, 2008 – VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), one of the entertainment industry’s most innovative and comprehensive publishing, animation and licensing companies, has announced an innovative and unprecedented multimedia plan to provide near-simultaneous Japan-U.S. release of NARUTO, one of the most popular Japanese animated and manga properties in the world. This campaign is the latest expansion of VIZ Media’s ongoing strategy to utilize the web to its maximum potential to stream a variety of hit animated properties.
Beginning on January 15th the latest episode of the NARUTO SHIPPUDEN (English-subtitled) animated series will be available for free viewing on the ultimate destination for anything NARUTO – the official NARUTO website, www.naruto.com, within days of its original airdate in Japan. A new English-subtitled episode will be added every Thursday thereafter.
On January 2nd, VIZ Media will also debut, for free, 8 uncut, English-subtitled episodes from the beginning of the NARUTO SHIPPUDEN series on www.Naruto.com. Each Friday thereafter there will be an additional 8 uncut, English-subtitled episodes added on Naruto.com until the series eventually catches up to the current third season of the hit program. Also, coming this week, an exclusive sneak peek of NARUTO SHIPPUDEN (English-subtitled) debuting on Naruto.com.
On the manga (graphic novel) side, VIZ Media has unveiled an accelerated publishing schedule for upcoming editions of the best-selling NARUTO manga series, making them available to North American audiences sooner than ever before offered by VIZ Media. Beginning in February 2009, 11 new volumes of NARUTO will be released over 3 months, moving the series from Volume 34 (February 2009) to Volume 44 (April 2009) before returning to a quarterly release schedule beginning with Volume 45 (July 2009). First print-run editions of the volumes released in March and April will include a special promotional item – bookmark or sticker.
“This kind of accelerated and coordinated broadcast and publishing schedule is a first for VIZ Media and we are very excited to bring new episodes of NARUTO SHIPPUDEN to millions of eager domestic fans for free with this special campaign,” says Alvin Lu, Vice President of Production, VIZ Media. “The adventures of Naruto and his friends are underscored with themes of friendship, loyalty, responsibility, as well as failure and redemption, and have turned this unique series into a tremendous international hit. New and old fans alike won’t want to miss this special opportunity to watch online the latest episodes featuring the world’s favorite ninja mere days after their original air dates in Japan.”
NARUTO has become one of the hottest series from Japan and is one of VIZ Media’s most successful manga and animated properties. Created by Masashi Kishimoto, NARUTO was first introduced in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in Japan in 1999 and quickly became that country’s most popular ninja manga targeting tweens and teens and has sold more than 80 million copies to-date. The manga series (rated T for Teens) and animated counterpart (rated TV-14) about a young ninja in training, captivates millions of fans across North America, Europe and South America.
In the NARUTO manga and animated series Naruto Uzumaki wants to be the best ninja in the land. He’s done well so far, but Naruto knows he must train harder than ever and leaves his village for intense exercises that will push him to his limits.
NARUTO SHIPPUDEN begins two and a half years later, when Naruto returns to find that everyone has been promoted up the ninja ranks—except him. Sakura’s a medic ninja, Gaara’s advanced to Kazekage, and Kakashi…well, he’s the same. But pride isn’t becoming of a ninja, especially when Naruto realizes that Sasuke never returned from his search for Orochimaru. Plus, the mysterious Akatsuki organization is still an ever-present danger. As Naruto finds out more about the Akatsuki’s goals, he realizes that nothing in his universe is as it seems. Naruto is finding that he’s older, but will he prove wiser or stronger?
Earlier NARUTO episodes are also currently available for free through a variety of web-based, video streaming outlets that have partnered with VIZ Media, including HULU and JOOST.
More information on NARUTO is available at www.Naruto.com.
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.