Shueisha Inc., the largest manga publisher in the world, has purchased an equity interest in Viz Communications, Inc. Viz was previously a wholly owned subsidiary of Shogakukan, another leading Japanese publisher. Shueisha's investment means that Viz is now linked to two of the top three manga publishers in Japan. The catalyst for Shueisha's foray into the American marketplace was the launch of the American version of Shonen Jump, Japan's leading manga anthology magazine, which is published by Shueisha. Shueisha, which with its 30% market share is the 'Marvel' of Japan, is not just providing some of the most popular Japanese manga series for the American Shonen Jump, it is also investing real money in the time-consuming and expensive marketing campaign for the magazine. Clearly Viz will need a major marketing push to meet its announced goal of a Shonen Jump U.S. circulation of 1 million copies per issue in three years.
But Shueisha provides more than just money and best-selling manga series for Shonen Jump. Shueisha has formed a close working relationship with the Cartoon Network, where the Shueisha property, Dragonball Z is the top-rated show. Since many of the top anime titles on the Cartoon Network will appear in the U.S. Shonen Jump, there is a natural symbiotic relationship between the increasingly successful cable animation network and fledgling anthology magazine. To further this connection and help reach the mass audience, the Cartoon Network has also become a major player in marketing Shonen Jump. The networks Adultswim.com website will include sample pages from the magazine, streamed video content from the magazine's titles, and links to Shonen Jump sites. The Shueisha/Cartoon Network connection will also mean that readers can expect more of the series in Shonen Jump to appear in anime form on the Cartoon Network.