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VIZ Media Names Toy Licensee For Blue Dragon, Signs New Naruto Deals

VIZ Media Llc. announced at the 2007 Licensing International Expo that Bandai America Inc. has been named as the toy licensee for products based on BLUE DRAGON, a new anime series based on the popular Xbox 360 role playing game. Earlier this year, VIZ Media was named the master licensor for the television, home video and non-videogame merchandising rights for BLUE DRAGON by a consortium, including TV TOKYO Corp. and Shueisha Inc, for the Americas, Europe and Oceania.

The Xbox 360 game, BLUE DRAGON, was developed by Hironobu Sakaguchi (the creator of FINAL FANTASY) and also features character designs by Akira Toriyama, the creator of the bestselling DRAGON BALL series of manga. The BLUE DRAGON anime series debuted in Japan on TV Tokyo on April 7, 2007, and is produced by Studio Pierrot, which is well known for its work on NARUTO and BLEACH, also licensed by VIZ Media. The BLUE DRAGON videogame has already established itself in Japan as one of Microsoft's hottest releases in the RPG category and will be released in North America and Europe in August 2007.

"Bandai America will bring its extensive design and manufacturing resources to bear to develop an exciting and must-have line of toys and products to support BLUE DRAGON," states Shodo Omatsu, president/coo, Bandai America Inc. "This property extends the most exciting attributes of video gaming and anime and represents a wide range of possibilities for the development of products designed for fans of all ages. We look forward to working with VIZ Media to make BLUE DRAGON a success."

The BLUE DRAGON anime series is a classic adventure story of magical Shadow powers, flying air fortresses and unbounded heroism. Brought together by fate, Seven Soldiers of Light must awaken the Shadow within themselves in time to overcome a despotic power and bring peace to their land. Their ensuing journey through a rich fantasy world is also an internal journey to awaken the great power within each of them.

"Bandai America is an innovative company with a proven legacy of introducing high quality and unique Japanese anime toys and related products to the North American market, and they will play a critical role in our business strategy for BLUE DRAGON," sates Linda Espinosa, vp, content management, VIZ Media "We expect gamers as well as legions of manga and anime fans of all stripes to respond enthusiastically to BLUE DRAGON's action-packed story of overcoming conflicts through adventure and friendship."

Additionally, VIZ Media has signed two new licensing deals for the popular NARUTO series. Max Protection, which manufactures and develops accessories for collectible card games and has recently ventured into videogame accessories, has worked with both VIZ Media and Bandai USA on NARUTO collectible card game accessories, including Nintendo DS holder, Nintendo DS Lite holder and Sony PSP holder.

Gamer Graffix is an industry-leading producer of Skins for videogame consoles and other electronics. Skins are high-quality, graphic designs made of vinyl that are easily peeled from their packaging and readily applied to consoles -- Xbox 360, PlayStation 2 Slim, PlayStation 2, PSP, Nintendo DS Lite and others -- using a specially-formulated adhesive. Gamer Graffix has also launched its innovative line of Wall Graffix, the next generation poster. Wall Graffix are graphic designs that can be readily applied to any flat surface for decorative use. Similar to Skins, they consist of high-quality carbon fiber and undergo high-resolution printing to provide sharp colors and three-dimensional depth.

A leader in introducing Japanese toy trends to the U.S., Bandai America Inc. (www.Bandai.com) is a subsidiary of NAMCO BANDAI Holdings (USA) Inc., a new entity that resulted from the integration of Namco Ltd. and Bandai Co. Ltd. of Japan. Global interests encompass five strategic business units: toys and hobby (toys, models, apparel and sundries), amusement facilities, game content (home and arcade console gaming), mobile content, and visual and music content (including home entertainment). The company is headquartered in Cypress, California.

Headquartered in San Francisco, VIZ Media is a leader 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 manga and animation. For more information, visit www.VIZ.com.

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Rick DeMott
Animation World Network
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