Knights of the Zodiac, the American version of the Saint Seiya anime series, is going to get a major push starting in January of 2004 when Viz will release the first Knights of the Zodiac graphic novel as part of its Shonen Jump series, and the January issue of Shonen Jump will feature a preview of the graphic novel. Also in January Bandai will begin to role out its lineup of Knights of the Zodiac merchandise, which includes action figures, toys, and trading cards. Other Knights of the Zodiac items slated for release in 2004 include T-shirts, lunchboxes, and Halloween costumes.
But perhaps the most important Knights of the Zodiac launch has already started. ADV Films will release the second DVD from the series in December and by the end of 2004 it will have released 40 episodes from the series, which coincidentally is the number set to air on the Cartoon Network (the show is currently seen at 12:30 am on Saturday nights, see 'Knights of the Zodiac Invade US'). However there is a big difference between the 'Americanized' version (produced by DIC) of the series showing on the cartoon network and the uncut original Japanese anime series 'Saint Seiya' released by ADV. The DIC version is 'dumbed down' for American audiences and edited for all audiences, while the ADV version is rated 15+. While DIC is hoping to reach a mass audience -- and a major six-week on-package promotion with a big time consumer product, which starts in June, may help -- the uncut ADV versions should appeal to collectors as will the Viz graphic novels and Bandai toys.