VIZ Acquires Manga ULTIMATE MUSCLE: THE KINNIKUMAN LEGACY

VIZ LLC has announced the acquisition of ULTIMATE MUSCLE: THE KINNIKUMAN LEGACY from Shueisha Inc., one of Japan's largest publishers. The manga will be offered through the SHONEN JUMP line of graphic novels and will begin shipping in March 2004 and hit stores in the U.S. in mid-April.

The original MUSCLEMAN (KINNIKUMAN in Japanese) was created by the renowned manga artist duo Yudetamago (composed of Nakai Yoshinori and Takashi Shimada) in 1979 while the pair was still in high school. MUSCLEMAN is an action-packed tale of a band of wrestlers who take on a motley gang of evil counterparts to save the earth from destruction. The second booking the franchise, ULTIMATE MUSCLE: THE KINNIKUMAN LEGACY, sold more than seven million copies in Japan. In America, an anime version of ULTIMATE MUSCLE premiered in 2002 on the Fox networks Fox Box.

This is the first time that ULTIMATE MUSCLE: THE KINNIKUMAN LEGACY has been made available in English and we are pleased to offer it exclusively to American audiences on a bi-monthly basis, said Hyoe Narita, svp of editorial and editor-in-chief of SHONEN JUMP. In the wake of the popularity of the FOX Box televised series, we look forward to fans discovering ULTIMATE MUSCLE: THE KINNIKUMAN LEGACY in its original graphic novel incarnation. VIZ has taken great care to accurately translate the title from Japanese and has secured the blessing of the Yudetamago duo for this release. Both a sports and action adventure tale, fans of the show as well as anime and manga enthusiasts will be captivated by the exploits of Kid Muscle, and I look forward to the graphic novel also serving as a compliment to the ardent following the Fox Box series has garnered.

ULTIMATE MUSCLE: The Kinnikuman Legacy works on a variety of levels and that is part of its enduring popularity, said Yumi Hoashi, vp of SHONEN JUMP. While the sports and wrestling-related action develops a high level of drama and suspense throughout each issue, the story also communicates lessons in overcoming adversity and seemingly insurmountable obstacles. It demonstrates what can be achieved through cooperation and self-confidence. In that respect, the character of Kid Muscle demonstrates a variety of positive personality traits.

Based in San Francisco, VIZ LLC is a leading U.S. publisher of Japanese animation and comics for English-speaking audiences. Founded in 1986, VIZ publishes more than 20 titles every month including GUNDAM, DRAGON BALL Z, INU YUSHA and RANMA. It is one of the top five comic publishers in the United States. For more information, visit www.VIZ.com.

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