Viz Media has laid out plans for the first quarter of 2008, which include the highly anticipated new series by Death Note and Hikaru no Go artist Takeshi Obata, the popular romantic dramedy Honey and Clover, and hardcover Library Editions for six top titles.
I’m most looking forward to Ral Ω Grad (Blue Dragon), the fantasy by Obata and writer Tsuneo Takano about a boy and his giant blue dragon, which debuts on Feb. 5. But I’m also intrigued by Chika Umino’s Honey and Clover, about life and love among a group of college students. The first volume is set for release on March 4.
And then there are the hardcover Library Editions of the first volumes of Bleach, Death Note, Fullmetal Alchemist, Inuyasha, Naruto and Ranma 1/2.
Other new series include Hinako Ashihara’s drama Sand Chronicles (out now), Kazune Kawahara‘s romantic comedy High School Debut (out now), Shouko Akira’s romance Monkey High (March 4), and Tomomi Nakamura and Otoo Saki’s crime drama Switch (March 11).
The official press release can be read after the jump:
VIZ MEDIA LAUNCHES SIX NEW MANGA SERIES FOR FIRST QUARTER 2008
Diverse New Titles To Kick Off The New Year
San Francisco, CA, January 8, 2008 – VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), one of the entertainment industry’s most innovative and comprehensive publishing, animation and licensing companies, has announced the launch of six highly anticipated new manga comic series for the First Quarter of 2008.
The new releases are designed for Teen and Older Teen readers and include SAND CHRONICLES, HIGH SCHOOL DEBUT, HONEY AND CLOVER and MONKEY HIGH, to be published under the popular SHOJO BEAT imprint, RAL Ω GRAD, under the SHONEN JUMP ADVANCED imprint, and SWITCH, to be offered by the VIZ Media imprint.
“We open 2008 with an exciting and diverse collection of new manga titles designed for fans of everything from gritty crime dramas and fantasy/action tales to bittersweet romance stories and zany high school comedy,” says Alvin Lu, Vice President, Publishing VIZ Media, “The debut of DEATH NOTE artist Takeshi Obata’s latest manga series RAL Ω GRAD continues to show the versatility of this very talented creator as he tackles the genre of fantasy adventure manga. New teen-oriented series like SAND CHRONICLES and HONEY AND CLOVER present softer but equally intriguing stories about growing up, entering adulthood and dealing with life’s dramas. The unique stories and characters presented in our newest collection of titles should strike a chord among even the most discriminating fan and we look forward to their success in the New Year.”
SAND CHRONICLES · Rated “T” for Teens · MSRP: $8.99 · Available Now!
Twelve-year-old Ann and her divorced mother move from big city Tokyo to her mother’s rural hometown, where the menu consists of mystery meat, the village kids are totally uncool, the cute woodland creatures are not destined to be her faithful companions, and there aren’t even any bookstores! How will she survive her exile from civilization? When Ann’s mother unexpectedly dies, she must grow up fast, relying on the kindness of her new friends—Daigo and aristocratic siblings Fuji and Shika. But after her father reappears and moves her to Tokyo, will Ann be able to maintain a long-distance relationship with Daigo ?
And do Fuji and Shika harbor romantic feelings for each other that will rip apart these childhood friendships…?
SAND CHRONICLES was created by Hinako Ashihara and won the 50th Shogakukan Manga Award. The ten-volume series sold more than 5.7 million copies in Japan and also spawned a live-action television series and a feature film, set to be released next year. The series currently appears in SHOJO BEAT magazine and also has been published in Italian, German and Spanish.
HIGH SCHOOL DEBUT · Rated “T” for Teens · MSRP: $8.99 · Available Now!
Can a junior high tomboy turn into a high school sweetheart overnight? When Haruna Nagashima was in junior high, her life consisted of playing softball and reading comics. Now in high school, Haruna decides to put all of her energy towards getting a boyfriend and having the high school romance of a lifetime. She enlists the help of a cute upperclassman named Yoh Komiyama to help her transform into the kind of girl who can catch a guy. Yoh agrees to the challenge with one catch – Haruna had better not fall for him!
HIGH SCHOOL DEBUT was created by Kazune Kawahara, who drew her first manga series at age 18. Since then, Kawahara has developed a variety of comics for Shueisha’s Bessatsu Margaret magazine. HIGH SCHOOL DEBUT is also previewed in the December issue of SHOJO BEAT magazine.
RAL Ω GRAD · Rated “T+” for Older Teens · MSRP: $7.99 · Available Feb. 5, 2008
Renowned manga artist Takeshi Obata, artist of HIKARU NO GO and the wildly popular DEATH NOTE, introduces a new series of fantasy and action set in medieval times. In the midst of a meaningless war, a child named Ral is born during a bloody battle at the cost of his mother’s life. From this baby’s shadow comes forth a huge and powerful dragon named Grad, which lays waste to the landscape within minutes. A quick-thinking knight locks the baby in a cage of darkness, where he grows to be a young man, knowing only the kindness of his young female tutor named Mio, but never seeing her face. One day an army attacks and the people of Sphaein are put under siege by horrendous monsters knows as Shadows. With the castle walls collapsing and their doom within sight, the people are persuaded to set Ral free knowing he also has a Shadow within him—the large blue dragon. Released from his black cell, Ral finally meets his beloved teacher face-to-face and discovers there are differences between men and women…differences he deems worth fighting for!
RAL Ω GRAD artist Takeshi Obata won the 2003 Tezuka Shinsei “New Hope” award and the Shogakukan Manga award for his wildly popular Shonen Jump title HIKARU NO GO. RALΩGRAD is his newest series and the latest addition to the Shonen Jump Advanced imprint and will appeal to fans of fantasy RPGs.
MONKEY HIGH · Rated “T” for Teens · MSRP: $8.99 · Available March 4, 2008
After her politician father is disgraced in a scandal, Haruna Aizawa transfers to a new school where she becomes convinced that school life is like a monkey mountain—all the monkeys form cliques, get into fights, and get back together again. She even meets a boy called Macharu who reminds her of a baby monkey! Will Haruna remain jaded and distance herself from everyone around her, or will Macharu win her over with his monkey magic?
MONKEY HIGH was created by Shouko Akira, who made her manga debut in 1995 with THE SOLAR SYSTEM IS YOURS, which was serialized in Japan’s Deluxe Bessatsu Shojo Comic. Akira is notable for her Betsucomi style art which features rosy cheeks and cute, clean designs. She is also the creator of TIMES TWO, a collection of five romantic short stories
that’s currently available from VIZ Media. MONKEY HIGH will be previewed in SHOJO BEAT magazine in February.
HONEY AND CLOVER · Rated “T+” for Older Teens · MSRP: $7.99
· Available March 4, 2008
Takemoto is a student who lives in a run-down student apartment, where his greatest worries are when he’ll next be able to afford to eat meat and whether he’ll get to class on time. Along with a crazy cast of five friends, Takemoto sets out to discover life and his true self. Set in a Tokyo art college, HONEY AND CLOVER realistically blends comedy and pathos to bring to life a very unique set of individuals. One day, one of the art professors introduces Takemoto to his cousin’s daughter, Hagumi Hanamoto, a first-year art student who has come to live with him. Takemoto is immediately smitten and the plot thickens as Hagumi becomes embroiled in a complicated love triangle that also includes Takemoto’s friend, Shinobu Morita. HONEY AND CLOVER showcases the journey from adolescence into adulthood and the long and challenging road these five young people must navigate to balance the demands of school, work, and love.
Chica Umino is the creator of HONEY AND CLOVER, which debuted in 2000 and received the Kodansha Manga Award in 2003. The series was extremely successful and was also nominated for the Tezuka Culture Prize and an award from the Japan Media Arts Festival. Over 7.8 million copies of the 10-volume series have been sold in Japan and the series inspired both and anime series and live-action film, set for release by VIZ Pictures in 2008. Chica Umino is also a merchandise designer and created an array of HONEY AND CLOVER bags, purses, hats, and clothing available in Japan. There is even a HONEY AND CLOVER cafÈ in Tokyo. The series has been translated into Dutch, Korean, Chinese, and German and is also serialized in SHOJO BEAT magazine.
SWITCH • Rated “T+” for Older Teens • MSRP: $9.99 • Available March 11, 2008
Kai Eto may look like a squeaky clean kid, but the Greater Kanto Narcotics Control Division’s new investigator hides a violent alter ego and a dangerous past. Together with his stoic partner, Hal Kurabayashi, Kai is assigned to track down and stop the distribution of a dangerous new drug called Dragon Speed. But the hard-boiled syndicate trafficking the drug is almost impossible to infiltrate and combined with street violence and a jurisdiction war with the Meguro Police, poor Kai is in for some very long days at the office.
SWITCH was created by the Naked Ape duo, a collaboration of artist Tonomi Nakamura and writer Otoo Saki. The two women also produced an array of posters, album covers, phone cards and manga series such as BLACK TAR and the futuristic crime thriller DOLLS. SWITCH was originally published by Square Enix, the Japanese company behind FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST and FINAL FANTASY, and will appeal to fans of crime dramas such as Miami Vice, CSI, and NCIS.
LIBRARY EDITIONS • MSRP: $15.99 • Available January 2008
In January, the company will also publish new hardcover Library Editions of the first volumes of several popular manga series including BLEACH, DEATH NOTE, FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST, INUYASHA, NARUTO and RANMA _. The content of these editions will match their original manga counterparts but now packaged with a rugged hardcover to make the volumes viable for years of library use.