4Kids Entertainment, Inc., has announced that it will air One Piece exclusively on Fox Box this fall. 4Kids announced the acquisition as the Licensing International show opened in New York this week, after a year of intense jockeying between companies competing for the rights. One Piece, from Toei Animation Co., Ltd., is one of the most popular children's animated series in Japan.
The property, about a young boy who has vowed to grow up to be the king of the pirates and his adventures, was introduced in Shueisha's Weekly Shonen Jump, with a three-million weekly circulation, back in 1997. One Piece graphic novels, by creator Eiichiro Oda, have sold more than 100 million copies in 33 volumes in Japan. There have been five theatrical releases, eight video games and in excess of $1 billion in retail sales since 1999, including products from over 70 licensees.
One Piece has already been gaining momentum in the U.S. behind its serialization in Shonen Jump magazine and four graphic novels to date from Viz, LLC.
No announcements have yet been made regarding DVD releases, but 4Kids has partnered with FUNimation on the production and distribution of the DVD releases for the TMNT and Yu-Gi-Oh! FUNimation had no comment on the question.
In other Fox Box programming announcements, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will returnl, as will Shaman King and Kirby: Right Back at Ya!
Also on this fall's Fox Box schedule is Tokyo Mew Mew (see 'Tokyo Mew Mew Headed for Fox Box'), which has 52 half hour episodes already in production, with a licensing program planned for 2005.