Viz Media, LLC, headquartered in San Francisco, California, United States, is an anime, manga and Japanese entertainment company founded in 1986 as Viz, LLC. In 2005, the Viz, LLC. and ShoPro Entertainment merged to form the current Viz Media, LLC which is jointly-owned by Japanese publishers Shogakukan and Shueisha, and Shogakukan's licensing division Shogakukan Productions (ShoPro Japan).[1]


Early historyEdit

Seiji Horibuchi, originally from Tokushima Prefecture in Shikoku, moved to California in 1975. After living in the mountains for almost two years, he moved to San Francisco, where he started a business exporting American cultural items to Japan, and became a writer of cultural information. He also became interested in publishing Japanese manga in the United States, though he himself was not a fan of the Japanese comics until a visit to Japan in 1985 exposed him to Katsuhiro Otomo's single-volume title Domu: A Child's Dream. His idea came to fruition after he met Masahiro Ohga, then managing director of Shogakukan, in 1985 and shared his vision. Shogakukan provided Horibuichi with $200,000 in startup capital which Horibuichi used in 1986 to found Viz Communications.[2][3]

Viz Communications released its first titles in 1987, which included Legend of Kamui, however sales were mediocre due to the specialist comic market being adverse to venturing into new territory. To counteract this problem, Viz expanded into the general publishing business and began publishing various art related books in 1992. Into these titles, Horibuchi began publishing manga, calling them graphic novels so they would be carried by mainstream bookstores. The plan worked and after several years, leading booksellers began to have dedicated shelves for manga titles. Sales also picked up with Viz Communications acquired the license for the comedy series Ranma 1/2, which became an instant hit.[2]

The company continued to see success when it expanded into the anime distribution market, began publishing Shonen Jump, an English adaptation of the popular Japanese magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump. It also acquired another huge selling title, InuYasha. In the late 1990s, Viz began making the push to move into the European and South American markets.[2]

Shueisha co-ownership and mergers: 2000 to presentEdit

When Shueisha became a joint owner of Viz Media in 2002,[4] both Shogakukan and Shueisha began to release manga exclusively through Viz. Shueisha's deal with Viz may have been prompted by competition with Raijin Comics, a rival manga publisher created in 2002 by editors and artists who had split off from Shueisha, taking their properties with them. Some exceptions to this exclusivity exist, however: Shueisha permitted DC Comics' subsidiary CMX Manga to license Tenjho Tenge and Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne, and permitted Dark Horse Comics to license Gantz, Lady Snowblood, Shadow Lady, and The Monkey King. Shueisha also permitted Tokyopop to license Kodocha, Marmalade Boy and Digimon Next along with Disney Publishing. In 2003, possibly in response to Shogakukan and Shueisha's co-ownership of Viz, Japanese publisher Kodansha formed a co-venture with Del Rey.[5]

In 2004, Viz Communications was merged with ShoPro Entertainment, funding company Shogakukan's American distribution division. Horibuchi became the new company's chairman. In 2005, Horibuchi started a related division, Viz Pictures, for releasing selected live-action films in the US to theaters and DVD.[6]

On December 17, 2008, Viz Media announced that starting on April 1, 2009, Warner Home Video would be handling the distribution of both its new and existing catalog releases. Viz itself is still the licensor and will do all production, while tapping the "distribution powerhouse" that distributions the work of other major companies such as BBC, National Geographic, and Cartoon Network. Viz President and CEO Hidemi Fukuhara states that he believes the partnership will help the company grow its anime holdings more effectively.[7] However, at the same time Viz indicated that once Warner took over distribution of its catalog, the company's current rights to the Pokémon franchise would immediately revert to Carolco Pictures. The other two franchises exempt are Lupin III and Sailor Moon (the rights to the former will revert to Walt Disney Pictures, while the latter's license had expired at the end of 2007, with the company's rights reverting to Disney). Licenses that had already expired or will expire by April 1 are also exempt.


Viz Media was awarded the "Manga Publisher of the Year" Gem Award by Diamond Comic Distributors in 2007. Viz also received an award for "Manga Trade Paperback of the Year" for its release of the fourteenth volume of the Naruto series.[8]

Publication styleEdit

Viz Media takes a loose approach towards Western localization, which has at times been criticized for reducing the quality of its product. Readers familiar with the original Japanese publications have complained about liberties taken in the script translations, translation inconsistencies due to frequent rotation of Viz staff, and sound effect edits which altered the original art.[9] Viz's historical mirroring of pages from Japan's right-to-left reading format was also criticized, but Viz maintained that a left-to-right reading order was more accessible to American audiences.[10] More recently Viz has published a mix of mirrored and unmirrored titles, after other publishers demonstrated that the unmirrored format had gained acceptance among readers.[11]

Viz also maintains a policy of censorship in series which it wishes to market to wide audiences, done because titles rated for all audiences can be distributed in more popular marketing venues such as Wal-Mart, which will refuse manga rated only for teenagers and older audiences. Viz believes this approach earns it greater profits from the marketing of its titles.[12][13] Some titles, such as Dragon Ball, have been published in both censored and uncensored forms.[14]


Viz PicturesEdit

In 2005, Viz Pictures was officially formed as the company's division for releasing live-action Japanese films as theatrical releases in selected markets. According to Horibuchi, the company will focus on films that focus on the "Japanese 'kawaii (cute) and cool' pop culture."[6] In 2007, the division released seven films to theaters, including Train Man: Densha Otoko and Honey and Clover. DVD releases for all Viz Pictures films are distributed exclusively by its parent, Viz Media.[6]

J-Pop CenterEdit

In 2009, Viz is slated to open a three-story entertainment complex in San Francisco to be called the J-Pop Center. The center piece of the complex will be a 150-seat movie theater that will screen anime and Japanese live action films. The center will also have a cafe, a store selling anime and manga related items, and clothing stores offering Japanese clothing items. Though specific tenants have not been named, all tenants are expected to be ones that cater to some aspect of the Japanese popular culture.[6]


For a list of anime and Japanese films released by Viz, see the Viz Media category. For manga titles released, see the Viz Media manga category.


Main article: Animerica

Animerica is a quarterly anime and manga digest that initially started as a monthly magazine featuring reviews of anime and manga titles, as well as related works. After a preview issue was released in November 1992, the magazine's first issue was released in February 1993 with a March 1992 cover date.[15] The magazine originally featured articles and reviews on manga, anime, and related media, as well as manga preview chapters. In 1998, Animerica Extra was launched as a manga anthology which eventually focused specifically on shōjo titles. It was canceled in 2004.[16]

Viz changed the magazine's format in April 2005, with the new magazine really being two free publications of the same name. One is advertising-oriented and created specially for distribution at anime and manga conventions while the other is more general in scope and distributed through retail stores. Both versions have fewer and briefer articles and a lower page count.[17] The last monthly issue of the original format Animerica had a cover date of June 2005 (Volume 13, No. 6).[18][19]

Animerica was one of the first professional anime and manga magazines released in the United States, and one of the most popular in the 1990s.[18] In 2004, it had a circulation of 45,000 readers, but low sales and high competition from NewType USA resulted in the essential cancellation of the original magazine and its reformatting as a free digest.[20]

Game On! USAEdit

Manga VizionEdit

Manga Vizion, sometimes misspelled Manga Vision, is a manga anthology introduced by Viz Media in 1995. It is believed to be the first manga anthology published in the United States. The premiere issue was dated March 1995 and featured three series: The Tragedy of P, Samurai Crusader: The Kumomaru Chronicles, and Ogre Slayer. It ran for four years until it was canceled in 1999.


Pulp was a monthly manga anthology introduced by Viz in 1997. The magazine featured more mature titles, marketed at adults rather than teenage readers. Some of titles serialized in the magazine included: Uzumaki, Banana Fish, and Dance Till Tomorrow. The magazine was canceled in 2002.[21]

Shonen JumpEdit

Main article: Shonen Jump (magazine) Shonen Jump is a shōnen manga anthology that debuted in November 2002, with a January 2003 cover date. Based on the popular Japanese anthology Weekly Shōnen Jump, published by Shueisha, Shonen Jump is retooled for English readers and the American audience and is published monthly, instead of weekly. It features serialized chapters from seven manga series, and articles on Japanese language and culture, as well as manga, anime, video games, and figurines. In conjunction with the magazine, Viz launched new imprints for releasing media related to the series presented in the magazine, and other shōnen works. This includes two new manga imprints, an anime DVD imprint, a fiction line for releasing light novels, a label for fan and data books, and a label for the release of art books.

Prior to the magazine's launch, Viz launched an extensive marketing campaign to promote the magazine and help it succeed where other manga anthologies in North America have failed. Shueisha purchased an equity interest in Viz to help fund the venture, and Cartoon Network, Suncoast, and Diamond Distributors became promotional partners in the magazine. The first issue required three printings to meet demand, with over 300,000 copies sold. It was awarded the ICv2 "Comic Product of the Year" award in December 2002, and has continued to enjoy high sales with a monthly circulation of 215,000 in 2008.

Shojo BeatEdit

Main article: Shojo Beat

Shojo Beat is a shōjo manga magazine Viz began releasing in June 2005 as a sister magazine for Shonen Jump.[22][23] It features serialized chapters from six manga series as well as articles on Japanese culture, manga, anime, fashion and beauty. Since its initial launch, the magazine has undergone two redesigns, becoming the first English anthology to use the two-color tone pages common in Japanese manga anthologies.[23][24] Viz launched related "Shojo Beat" imprints in its manga, light novel, and anime divisions to coordinate with the magazine's contents.[25][26]

Targeted at women ages 16–18, the first issue of Shojo Beat launched with a circulation of 20,000 copies.[27][23] By 2007, average circulation was approximately 38,000 copies. Half of its circulation comes from subscriptions rather than store sales.[27]


  1. "About Our Company". Viz Media. Retrieved on 2008-03-12.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Oikawa, Tomohiro (2007-09-01). "Weekend Beat: Cashing in on over-the-counter culture". Asahi Weekly. Asahi Shimbun Company. Archived from the original on 2008-03-16. Retrieved on 2008-03-12.
  3. Reisman, Will (2008-01-21). "Seiji Horibuchi: Japanese culture on U.S. shores". Retrieved on 2008-03-12.
  4. "Shueisha Buys Equity Interest in Viz". ICv2 (2002-08-02). Retrieved on 2006-09-30.
  5. "Random House Preps Manga Releases". ICv2 (2004-06-23). Retrieved on 2006-09-30.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 "Interview With Viz Media's Seiji Horibuchi On Viz Media's Live Action Initiative". ICv2 (2007-06-13). Retrieved on 2008-03-12.
  7. "WHV to Distribute Viz Media Anime". ICv2 (2008-12-17). Retrieved on 2008-12-17.
  8. "Viz Wins Two 2007 Gem Manga Awards from Diamond". Anime News Network (2008-04-07). Retrieved on 2008-04-07.
  9. Rosenfelder, Mark (July 1996). "What the translators did to Ranma". Zompist. Retrieved on 2006-09-30.
  10. "What Manga Right to Left — Will It Fly?". ICv2 (2002-03-08). Retrieved on 2006-09-30.
  11. "What Manga Right to Left — Will It Fly?". ICv2 (2002-03-08). Retrieved on 2006-09-30.
  12. "Viz and Shueisha To Launch Mass Market Boys Magazine in US". ICv2 (2002-06-10). Retrieved on 2006-09-30.
  13. "Interview with Viz Management, Part I". ICv2 (2002-08-13). Retrieved on 2006-09-30.
  14. "Viz Unleashes Uncensored Dragon Ball". ICv2 (2001-03-11). Retrieved on 2006-09-30.
  15. Template:Cite book
  16. "Animerica Extra". Anime News Network. Retrieved on 2008-10-15.
  17. "Animerica to Change Format". Anime News Network (2005-04-12). Retrieved on 2008-10-15.
  18. 18.0 18.1 "Animerica". Anime News Network. Retrieved on 2008-10-15.
  19. "Animerica to Radically Change Distribution". Anime News Network (2005-02-17). Retrieved on 2008-10-15.
  20. Koulikov, Mikhail (2005-01-26). "2004 Year in Review: Anime Magazines". Retrieved on 2008-10-15.
  21. VIZ Media . news . press room . 2002 press releases
  22. "Shojo Beat Details". Anime News Network (2005-02-08). Retrieved on 2008-03-07.
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 "Viz Media Happy Birthday Shojo Beat Magazine". Anime News Network (2007-05-14). Retrieved on 2008-03-07.
  24. "In the Magazine". Shojo Beat Online. Viz Media. Retrieved on 2008-03-07.
  25. "Viz to Publish Novels". Anime News Network (2005-06-04). Retrieved on 2008-03-07.
  26. "Viz Launches New Fiction Imprints". ICv2 News (2005-06-06). Retrieved on 2008-03-07.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Template:Cite press release

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