|Founded||July 2, 1986(as VIZ LLC.)|
|Headquarters||San Francisco, California, U.S.|
|Ken Sasaki (President & CEO)|
Hidemi Fukuhara (Vice-President)
Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions (ShoPro)
|Divisions||Viz Productions (film and television)|
VIZ Media LLC is an American manga publisher, anime distributor and entertainment company headquartered in San Francisco, California. It was founded in 1986 as VIZ LLC. In 2005, VIZ LLC and ShoPro Entertainment merged to form the current VIZ Media LLC, which is owned by Japanese publishing conglomerates Shueisha and Shogakukan, as well as Japanese production company Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions (ShoPro). In 2017, Viz Media was the largest publisher of graphic novels in the United States, with a 23% share of the market. In 2020, Viz Media saw a 70% growth in the U.S. market, in line with a 43% increase in overall manga sales in the United States the same year.
Seiji Horibuchi, originally from Tokushima Prefecture in Shikoku, Japan moved to California, United States in 1975. After living in the suburbs 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 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 Horibuchi with $200,000 in startup capital, which Horibuichi used in 1986 to found VIZ Communications.
VIZ Communications released its first titles in 1987, which included Legend of Kamui, however sales were mediocre due to the specialist comic market being averse 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 when VIZ Communications acquired the license for the comedy series Ranma ½, which became an instant hit.
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.
When Shueisha became a joint owner of Viz Media in 2002, 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's subsidiary CMX Manga to license Tenjho Tenge (although it was later re-licensed and re-released by Viz Media) and Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne, permitted Dark Horse Comics to license Gantz, Lady Snowblood, Shadow Lady, The Monkey King, and recently Yasuhiro Nightow's Blood Blockade Battlefront and CLAMP's Gate 7. Shueisha also permitted Udon Entertainment to license The Rose of Versailles, Seven Seas Entertainment to license Hayate X Blade and will later permit Seven Seas Entertainment to license Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs and Super HxEros, and permitted Tokyopop to license Kodocha, Marmalade Boy and Digimon Next and Manga Planet to license Silver Fang -The Shooting Star Gin- and will allow Kodansha USA to license the Battle Angel Alita manga in America. Shogakukan permitted Tokyopop to license Corrector Yui (even though Viz Media licensed the anime) and Yumi Tsukirino's Stitch! manga (because Tokyopop had the rights to Disney), Seven Seas Entertainment to license Dai Dark and the Himitsu Sentai Gorenger manga, Udon Entertainment to license the Infini-T Force manga (even though Viz Media licensed the anime), the now-defunct ComicsOne to license Wounded Man - The White Haired Demon, permitted Dark Horse Comics to license Crying Freeman (even though it was previously licensed by Viz), New Lone Wolf and Cub (however, this is because Dark Horse has the original series), The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Mob Psycho 100, and permitted Hachette Book Group's subsidiary Yen Press to license Azumanga Daioh, Silver Spoon, Karakai Jōzu no Takagi-san, My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU and Cirque du Freak (however for Cirque du Freak, this is because their sister company publishes the original novels. For Azumanga Daioh, Yen Press's license of the manga was a month before Shogakukan reprinted the manga in May 2009, resulting in a change of license holders from ASCII Media Works (when Yen Press announced the license) to Shogakukan (when Yen Press released it). The Yen Press edition is a newly translated and lettered version of ADV Manga's edition (taken from ASCII Media Works) as opposed to the 3-volume edition by Shogakukan. Yen Press has expressed interest in releasing the 3-volume edition although editor Kurt Hassler said he is not "sure this will be possible.", possibly because Shogakukan owns Viz and that they almost exclusively license their titles to them). In March 2010, Shogakukan began a partnership with Fantagraphics Books to issue a line of manga to be edited by Matt Thorn. In 2003, possibly in response to Shogakukan and Shueisha's co-ownership of Viz, Japanese publisher Kodansha formed a co-venture with Del Rey.
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.
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 distributes the works of other major companies such as BBC, National Geographic Channel, and Cartoon Network. Viz President and CEO Hidemi Fukuhara stated that he believes the partnership will help the company grow its anime holdings more effectively. Distribution was then transferred to Studio Distribution Services, LLC., a joint venture between WBHE and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
On February 20, 2009, Viz Media laid off an unknown number of employees in order to help be more streamlined to face the current economic climate. On May 11, 2010, VIZ Media again laid off a number of workers, 60 this time, again in order to try to become more streamlined. This time they released a press release claiming that none of their current product lines would be affected.
In April 2012, it was announced that the Senior Vice-President and General Manager of Viz Media Ken Sasaki would be succeeding executive producer Hidemi Fukuhara as President and CEO; Fukuhara will subsequently take up the position of Vice-President at the end of the month.
In Fall 2013 VIZ began distributing titles to the Philippines. In 2014 it announced it would do the same in India with 75 Shueisha titles being released in that country; VIZ titles had been distributed unofficially to that country prior to the announcement.
On July 3, 2019, Viz Media partnered with Crunchyroll to distribute select Crunchyroll licensed titles on home video and electronic sell-through in the United States and Canada.
On July 3, 2020, Funimation announced that they would begin streaming the original Naruto series on July 6. More content from Viz Media started to launch in their catalog such as Hunter × Hunter, Sailor Moon R: The Movie and two Berserk films.
On September 9, 2020, Funimation announced that they had reached a distribution partnership with Viz Media, with Viz Media titles being made available to stream on Funimation's website. The deal was made after select Viz titles were previously made available on Funimation.
In contrast to similar TV and film ratings, Viz also has set up certain "manga ratings" for their products based on their content.
A (ALL AGES): May be suitable for readers or consumers of any age. For example, may contain mild language and fantasy violence but no swearing or nudity.
T (TEEN): May be suitable for early teens and older. For example, may contain violence, infrequent use of strong language, suggestive themes or situations, crude humor, alcohol and/or tobacco use.
T+ (TEEN PLUS): May be suitable for older teens and adults. For example, may contain intense and/or gory violence, sexual content, frequent strong language, alcohol, tobacco and/or other substance use.
M (MATURE): Suitable for adults only. May contain extreme violence, mature themes and graphic depictions.
Despite its name, Viz's manga ratings were also used on licensed anime titles, though, in the later 2000s, they instead relied on local countries' rating systems.
Viz Media was awarded the Manga Publisher of the Year Gem Award by Diamond Comic Distributors in 2007. VIZ continues to publish many titles, some of the most popular including: Dragon Ball, One Piece, Detective Conan (as Case Closed), Bleach, Inuyasha, and Naruto which results a high success of the company as well as a large amount of the North American readers.
Viz also received an award for Manga Trade Paperback of the Year for its release of the fourteenth volume of the Naruto series.
By 2002, Viz Communications kept some publications in the original right-to-left format, while in other publications it mirrored pages from Japan's right-to-left reading format to fit the Western left-to-right reading style. During that year Dallas Middaugh, the senior marketing manager of Viz, stated that the left-to-right version of Neon Genesis Evangelion outsold the right-to-left version of Neon Genesis Evangelion on a three to one basis; Middaugh concluded that readers wanted "an easy reading experience." Akira Toriyama, creator of Dragon Ball, requested that his work, which was separated by Viz into Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z, be published in the original right-to-left format. Vagabond was printed in right-to-left to preserve historical accuracy. Middaugh said that younger readers of Dragon Ball adapted to the right to left format more easily than their parents.
VIZ has censored some of its titles. Some titles, such as Dragon Ball, were published in both censored and uncensored forms.
Based in Los Angeles, Viz Productions coordinates the licenses of Japanese material (manga, books, and film) to American film companies. Their goal is to involve the Japanese creators in the production and facilitate communication between all parties in the US and Japan. VIZ Productions' first film is the live action adaptation of All You Need is Kill, Edge of Tomorrow, starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. Their second production was the American live-action adaptation to the supernatural thriller manga series: Death Note, which was directed by Adam Wingard and starred Nat Wolff, as the film's lead.
Viz also has many partnerships with various authors and celebrities, perhaps the most famous being the cosplay film that debuted in the 2013 Tokyo Anime Festival with Kirata Uchiha, played by JadexRoyal. Winning multiple awards for the board including Masashi Kishimoto. Others include Full Moon, and Last Quarter.
In November 2005, New People was officially formed as a sister company for releasing live-action Japanese films as theatrical releases in selected markets called Viz Pictures. According to Horibuchi, the company will focus on films that focus on the "Japanese 'kawaii (cute) and cool' pop culture." 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. Viz Pictures renamed themselves to New People and no longer shares office space or employees with Viz Media. Viz Media no longer distributes DVD and Blu-ray releases of their products.
In August 2009, Viz Pictures (now known as New People and a separate entity from Viz Media) opened a three-story entertainment complex in San Francisco called New People. The center piece of the complex is a 143-seat movie theater that screens anime and Japanese live-action films. The center also has a cafe, a store selling anime and manga related items, and clothing stores offering Japanese clothing items.
Main article: Neon Alley
Neon Alley was a streaming service dedicated to anime and related programming established in October 2012. After moving streaming content from its own platform to Hulu, the branding would be retired in May 2016.
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 1993 cover date. 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 that eventually focused specifically on shōjo titles. It was canceled in 2004.
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. The last monthly issue of the original format Animerica had a cover date of June 2005 (Volume 13, No. 6).
Animurica was one of the first professional anime and manga magazines released in the United States, and one of the most popular in the 1990s. 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.
Game On! USA was a monthly magazine that focused primarily on Japanese-developed video games, with an emphasis on the import scene. It served as the American counterpart to Shogakukan's Game On! magazine. It was published in May 1996 and ran for 7 monthly issues before being discontinued that same year in November. The magazine had news and reviews and other articles about classic fighting games like Street Fighter, Samurai Shodown and Virtua Fighter. Two video game-based manga series, Super Street Fighter II: Cammy by Masahiko Nakahira, and Samurai Shodown by Kyoichi Nanatsuki and Yuki Miyoshi, were serialized in the magazine. A one shot story based on Battle Arena Toshinden, illustrated by the game's character designer Tsukasa Kotobuki was published in the magazine as well.
Manga Vizion, sometimes misspelled Manga Vision, is a manga anthology introduced by VIZ 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.
Main article: Pulp (manga magazine)
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.
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.
Main article: Shojo Beat
Shojo Beat was a shōjo manga magazine Viz launched in June 2005 as a sister magazine for Shonen Jump. It featured serialized chapters from six manga series as well as articles on Japanese culture, manga, anime, fashion and beauty. Viz launched related "Shojo Beat" imprints in its manga, light novel, and anime divisions to coordinate with the magazine's contents.
Targeted at women ages 16–18, the first issue of Shojo Beat launched with a circulation of 20,000 copies. By 2007, average circulation was approximately 38,000 copies. Half of its circulation came from subscriptions rather than store sales. In May 2009, the magazine was discontinued after 49 issues, with the July 2009 issue being the last released. Viz stated the "difficult economic climate" was behind the magazine's cancellation, and that it would continue releasing the magazine's titles, as well as others, using the "Shojo Beat" imprint.
In January 2009, Viz Media announced plans to launch a Japanese science fiction novel line called Haikasoru. The first novels were scheduled to be released in the summer of the same year, with four novels: The Lord of the Sands of Time by Issui Ogawa, ZOO by Otsuichi, All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, and Usurper of the Sun by Hōsuke Nojiri. In addition, the imprint released an expanded edition of Kōshun Takami's Battle Royale. In 2010, the imprint release Project Itoh's novel Harmony, which later won a Special Citation Philip K. Dick Award. The imprint is distributed to trade by Simon & Schuster.
In October 2011, Viz Media launched SuBLime as an imprint for yaoi titles. The imprint was formed in collaboration with the Japanese yaoi publisher Libre and its parent company Animate to publish English-language yaoi manga for the print and worldwide digital market. Although the first slate of books announced under SuBLime are Libre titles, the imprint will potentially offer titles from other Japanese publishers in the future. During FujoCon in July 2020, Viz Media stated that SuBLime had only been partnered with Animate for the first three years after the imprint's initial launch and are currently not partnered with them.
In March 2016, Viz Media announced that they are collaborating with United Talent Agency on their live action projects based on anime series. On July 3, 2019, Viz Media announced that they had partnered with Crunchyroll to distribute select Crunchyroll licensed titles on home video and electronic sell-through in the United States and Canada, as well as stream selected Viz Media titles on Crunchyroll.
† - New volumes currently being released
†† - Series not published in entirety
††† - Yen Press has the rights to series' digital release due to being a Square Enix title.
†† - Series not published in entirety
† - Not currently dubbed or released outside of streaming
†† - Viz only has home video rights
For a period, Viz offered an e-mail service called Viz Mail. In the first two weeks of service, it had 1,000 members. The service allowed users to use stationery and letterheads decorated with characters from Viz Media properties.
Despite the fact that Viz Media's licensed distribution territory includes Canada, the company has been criticized for not providing online anime simulcasts to that country.