Viz Pictures Announces Special North American Screenings Of Ping Pong

San Francisco, CA, March 21, 2007 – 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, continues to expand its catalog of acclaimed titles set for special North American theatrical screenings with the release of PING PONG, the comedic sports film by director Fumihiko Sori.

PING PONG centers on two friends devoted to the sport of table tennis, and is based on a popular 5-volume comic by bestselling artist Taiyo Matsumoto, who also produced acclaimed youth-driven manga titles like BLACK & WHITE, NO.5, BLUE SPRING (all published in North America by VIZ Media). PING PONG follows two friends, their two mentors, and three players they face at various high school tournaments. It explores the different motivations and philosophies towards the sport of table tennis and wonderfully portrays the excitement and subtleties of the sport. Director Sori, who also notably worked as an effects supervisor for the movie, TITANIC, went to great lengths to preserve the visual style of the manga in the film, which ultimately was nominated for eight Japanese Academy Awards in 2003. Actor Shido Nakamura also won the 'Newcomer of the Year' award for his performance as Dragon, a rival of the two main characters.

Best friends "Peco" Hoshino and "Smile" Tsukimoto have been playing ping pong since they were little kids. While the unique and brazen Peco plays to win and loves the sport, the quiet and introverted Smile thinks of it as just a way to kill time with friends, and only plays because he idolizes Peco. While Smile is the more talented player, he frequently and intentionally loses to Peco out of a misguided sense of friendship. However, after Peco is badly beaten by his rival, Dragon, in an important inter-high school tournament he suddenly quits the game leaving Smile to become the newest ping pong celebrity. He begins training hard for the next championship, waiting for the return of his hero and best friend, whom he is destined to meet in one last match.

"We are excited to continue to develop the VIZ Pictures catalog with the latest release of PING PONG," says Seiji Horibuchi, President and CEO for VIZ Pictures. "The film is a moving and uplifting story laced with many heartwarming and comedic moments and is an insightful and realistic exploration of both the positive and negative aspects of competition. Ultimately a unique film about friendship, we look forward to North American audiences discovering this acclaimed title."

PING PONG is set to screen in the following cities:

New York
Press Screening: March 22 (Thurs), 2007 1:30pm
General Opening: April 6– April 12, 2007
239 East 59th St.
New York 10022
Greg Chang
(212) 869-4288

General Opening: April 27 -May 3, 2007
1517 West Fullerton Avenue
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 281-4114

General Opening: May 25– May 31, 2007
1403 NE 50th St
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 523-3935

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