Viz Media and Shonen Jump, which is celebrating its 5th anniversary in the American market, will welcome Tite Kubo, the creator of the hugely popular Bleach manga, for a series of in-person appearances beginning on Friday, July 25th at the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con International.  This appearance marks the first time that Kubo has appeared at a convention in North America, and represents perhaps the most significant visit by a solitary manga creator since Viz brought Rumiko Takahashi to San Diego in the mid-1990s.


Kubo will appear at the Shonen Jump panel, where he will discuss his past, current and future projects, and he will be signing at the Viz Media booth (#4113) at both morning and afternoon sessions on Saturday, July 26th.  Times are still to be determined and the number of signings will be strictly limited to 100 in the morning and 100 in afternoon.


But Kubo’s first appearance at San Diego will be on Friday night at 8 p.m. when he will appear (and make opening remarks) at a theatrical screening of the first Bleach movie, Bleach the Movie: Memories of a Nobody.  Seating for the special showing, which will be held at a downtown theater, will be limited; tickets will be distributed from the Viz booth. 


The Bleach anime feature debuted theatrically in Japan in December of 2006.  Viz Media is planning a number of theatrical engagements for the film before releasing it on DVD in October (see “Theatrical Release for Bleach Movie”). 


By early next month Viz Media will have released 23 volumes of the highly cinematic Bleach manga, which has also appeared in the U.S. Shonen Jump, the highest circulation comic in North America.  So far Viz Media has sold over 1.3 million copies of the individual Bleach volumes in the U.S., marking it as one of the very top manga/graphic novel properties in North America.  Thirty-three volumes of Bleach have been published in Japan, where they have sold over 40 million copies.  The Bleach TV anime, which is also released in North America by Viz Media, is a mainstay of the Cartoon Network’s anime-heavy Saturday night lineup.


What makes Bleach stand out from the other adventure-heavy shonen fantasy properties, in addition to Kubo’s swift flowing cinematic breakdowns, is the elaborate cosmology he has developed for the series with its different planes of existence (the Human World, the Soul Society, and the Hueco Mundo), its different classes of characters (Hollows, Wholes, Soul Reapers, Quincys and Mod Souls), and its intriguing high concept elements such as the “Chain of Fate” and “Hell Butterflies,” all of which add depth to the narrative.