Excitement Of World Class International Soccer And Manga Combine As Viz Media Partners With U.S. Soccer

New Original Title Recounts the Action that Placed U.S. National Team into the 2006 FIFA World Cup

San Francisco, CA, MAY 12, 2006 - VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), one of the entertainment industry's most innovative and comprehensive manga and animation licensing and publishing companies, has announced that it will publish an original sports manga that commemorates one of the U.S. Men's National Soccer Team's most notable victories.

The new graphic novel, titled NEXT STOP: GERMANY / THE MANGA, is being written, illustrated, and published by VIZ Media and will be given away to fans as a special premium at the final three Men's National Team games before the team departs for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The games, dubbed the Send-Off Series, will be held on May 23, 2006, in Nashville, TN, May 26 in Cleveland, OH, and May 28 in Hartford, CT. At this time, the only way fans may obtain this special manga is to attend the games.

The manga depicts a legendary game in September 2005 in which the USA earned the right to compete in the 2006 FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) World Cup in Germany with a 2-0 victory against Mexico in front of a sold-out crowd of 24,685 fans at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, OH. After a scoreless first half the USA scored two goals within a six-minute span to qualify for its fifth consecutive World Cup. This was the first time since 1934 that the U.S. was the first team from the CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football) region to qualify for the World Cup.

The drive to publish this new title developed out of the momentum generated by the successful release of VIZ Media’s soccer-themed sports manga, WHISTLE!, which depicts the attempts by a young boy to overcome adversity and become the star member of his junior high school soccer team. After being impressed with the title, the USSF approached VIZ Media with the idea to develop an original manga title that could illustrate the action and drama of international soccer and increase interest in the team. Sports manga is a growing phenomenon among readers of all ages and VIZ Media publishes several popular series – THE PRINCE OF TENNIS, EYESHIELD 21, about football, and CRIMSON HERO, about volleyball.

"We are pleased to partner with the USSF to offer a new and original manga title that depicts all the edge-of-the-seat excitement of professional soccer,” states John Easum, Executive Vice President of VIZ Media. “Sports manga is finding a niche among a quickly expanding fan base in North America and VIZ Media is proud to offer a several compelling series built around a variety of sports. We look forward to this new title providing a medium to promote the upcoming World Cup, the sport of soccer and the manga genre.”

"Like the sport of soccer, the manga genre is one of the fastest growing entertainment genres among the youth of America, and we are thrilled to team with VIZ Media to bring U.S. Soccer into the world of manga with such a well-produced and original piece of work,” said Jim Moorhouse, Director of Communication for U.S. Soccer. “We think our fans will enjoy discovering NEXT STOP: GERMANY / THE MANGA and adding it to the American soccer lexicon. I have no doubt it will quickly become a fan favorite.”

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 www.VIZ.com.

About U.S. Soccer
As the governing body of soccer in all its forms in the United States, U.S. Soccer has helped chart the course for the sport in the USA for close to 95 years. In that time, the Federation’s mission statement has been very simple and very clear: to make soccer, in all its forms, a preeminent sport in the United States and to continue the development of soccer at all recreational and competitive levels. To that end, the sports growth in the past two decades has been nothing short of remarkable. From player and facility development to hosting World Cups, U.S. Soccer has helped to build a platform on which the future of the sport has never been more secure.
Contact U.S. Soccer at 1801 S. Prairie Ave., Chicago, IL 60616; Phone
(312) 808-1300; Fax (312) 808-1301; and web site at ussoccer.com.