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VIZ Brings Global Issues to Manga with World Bank

VIZ Media Llc. has announced a partnership with the World Bank to present 1 WORLD MANGA, an 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 Medias proceeds from the sales of 1 WORLD MANGA will go to several noteworthy charities.

The first three volumes focus on poverty, HIV/AIDS and the environment. The series is 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 Reis 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. Reis pride and ambition often set him up for many a fall.

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, vp 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 worlds 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.

This deal adds to VIZ Medias growing place in the European market as well as the world at large. The World Bank deal comes on the heals of the companys joint venture with London-based Copyright Promotions Licensing Group,Ltd. (CPLG) to drive the long term growth of its Japanese manga and animation brands in the European market. The new venture, called VIZ Media B.V., will generate new business opportunities and revenue streams by coordinating all aspects of brand development through a propertys lifecycle. VIZ Media and CPLG will each hold a 50% share in VIZ Media B.V., which officially opened in Amsterdam October 3, 2005.

The World Bank Groups 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 Banks External Affairs division. It publishes more than 200 publications per year on a wide array of issues, from development economics, poverty, and globalization to health, the environment and public governance.

Headquartered in San Francisco, VIZ Media (www.VIZ.com) is one of the most comprehensive companies in the field of manga publishing, animation and entertainment licensing of Japanese content. Owned by three of Japans largest creators and licensors of manga and animation, Shueisha Inc., Shogakukan Inc., and Shogakukan Prod. 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.

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Rick DeMott
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