Viz Pictures Announces Rare North American Screenings of The Taste of Tea

San Francisco, CA, January 15, 2006 - VIZ Pictures, an affiliate of VIZ Media LLC, the leading U.S. publisher of Japanese animation and comics that focuses on Japanese live-action film distribution, has announced a series of special North American theatrical screenings of the critically acclaimed and award winning film, THE TASTE OF TEA, from writer/director Katsuhito Ishii, who also directed "Shark Skin Man & Peach Hip Girl," "Party Seven," and the lavish animated portion of "Kill Bill: Vol. 1." THE TASTE OF TEA will be screening in New York, Chicago, Seattle and Portland.

THE TASTE OF TEA has been called a surreal version of Ingmar Bergman's "Fanny and Alexander," and presents a heartwarming and visually rich homage to Japanese family life. The film had its international debut at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival and won numerous awards at the 2004 Entrevues Film Festival, 2005 Montreal Fantasia Film Festival, 2005 New York Asian Film Festival, 2005 San Francisco Independent Film Festival and the 2005 Brussels International Festival of Fantastic Film.

THE TASTE OF TEA introduces audiences to the Haruno's, a rather unconventional but happy and loving family. They live in a small town in the mountains just outside of Tokyo where life is good and quiet - but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their own quirks and little problems. There is 8-year old Sachiko (Maya Banno), who is bothered at inopportune moments by a giant-sized double of herself, who hangs around sitting on buildings staring at her, while her older brother Hajime (Takahiro Sato) privately wrestles with raging hormones and a love-struck heart after the arrival of a pretty new classmate (played by Amerasian actress Anna Tsuchiya, also seen in KAMIKAZE GIRLS). The mother works hard to come out of retirement as an animator, and the father, who watches her attempts with apprehension, is a professional hypnotist who occasionally plies his trade on his own family with often funny results. An uncle (played by Tadanobu Asano of ICHI THE KILLER) comes to visit and stays with the family, but he has a hidden agenda as he comes to terms with a romance that ended years ago. Another uncle, who is a successful manga artist, also stops in with his own dramas. It's his birthday soon, and he wants to give himself something special. And lastly there's Grandpa, the most eccentric and perhaps the most perceptive of all, who continues to search for a better way to live life to the fullest. All of these dramas are presented with rich visual imagery and allegories as an animated train emerges from someone's head, giant sunflowers bloom and orange-clad dancers appear from nowhere.

"It's a privilege to bring THE TASTE OF TEA to North America for a series of special theatrical screenings," says Seiji Horibuchi, President and CEO for VIZ Pictures. "Critics have praised this film since its debut and we are pleased to add it to the growing repertoire of VIZ Pictures. THE TASTE OF TEA presents all the quirkiness and beauty of Japanese family life, richly presented with all its comedy, tears and drama, and I look forward to domestic audiences enjoying this unique story."

THE TASTE OF TEA will screen in the following cities:

New York
Press Screening January 30, 2007 10:30 a.m.
General opening: February 16-22, 2007
The ImaginAsian
239 East 59th St., New York 10022

General opening: March 2-8, 2007
1517 West Fullerton Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614

March 16-22, 2007
1403 NE 50th St., Seattle, WA 98105

April 6-12, 2007
The Hollywood Theatre
4122 N.E. Sandy Blvd., Portland, OR 97212

About VIZ Pictures, Inc.
Based in San Francisco, CA, VIZ Pictures, Inc. distributes Japanese live-action films and DVDs, with particular focus on Japanese "kawaii (cute) and cool" pop culture. VIZ Pictures approaches each film release from a J-pop fan's point of view. THE TASTE OF TEA is the third VIZ Pictures title following TRAIN MAN: DENSHA OTOKO and LINDA LINDA LINDA, the company will continue to offer the most entertaining live action motion pictures straight from the "Kingdom of Pop" for audiences of all ages in North America. VIZ Pictures, Inc. is an affiliate of VIZ Media, LLC, the San Francisco-based leading U.S. publisher of Japanese manga (comics) and merchandise licensor of Japanese animation such as the popular "NARUTO" animated TV series.
© 2006 VIZ Pictures, Inc

About VIZ Media, LLC
Headquartered in San Francisco, CA, VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), is one of the most comprehensive and innovative companies 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. 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. Contact VIZ Media at 295 Bay Street, San Francisco, CA 94133; Phone (415) 546-7073; Fax (415) 546-7086; and web site at