Viz Communications, the San Francisco-based publisher that introduced manga to U.S. audiences, is creating a very strong lineup of shojo titles that runs the gamut from the childlike innocence of Magical Pokemon Journeys to the gang violence and repressed homosexuality of Banana Fish. 


The key to the development of a market for Viz's shojo titles is the mostly shojo Animerica Extra anthology magazine, which has more than doubled its circulation during the past year.  Key titles such as Fushigi Yugi and Revolutionary Girl Utena anchor Animerica Extra, a publication that Mile High Comics and other major dealers have found very useful in attracting female customers.  The thick anthology magazine provides a good value for consumers, who can then buy the graphic novel versions of the comics that they enjoy.


Fushigi Yugi
by Yu Watase

Viz's major shojo release for September is Rival, the fifth volume in the 18-volume series of Fushigi Yugi graphic novels by Yu Watase.  Pioneer has released the brilliant Fushigi Yugi anime here in the States (see 'Pioneer Has Loads of Shojo'), and the success of the anime version has brought many fans to the original manga, which Viz is publishing in installments in Animerica Extra and then collecting in trade paperback format.  Although Fushigi Yugi has never appeared on American TV, its success as an anime release here in the States does provide a built-in audience for the manga.  Likewise Revolutionary Girl Utena has also had considerable success on video here in the U.S., and is also one of the most popular features in Anamerica Extra.  Viz will bring out the first Revolutionary Girl Utena trade paperback collection in December.


Banana Fish
by Akime Yoshida
Viz has also published one of the most interesting shojo titles of all--Clamp's X/1999, a wild blend of apocalyptic fantasy and repressed homosexuality between its leading male characters.  X/1999 and Banana Fish are about as close as translated manga get to the shojo subgenre of yaoi, which typically deals with tragic love affairs between beautiful boys or young men.  Viz has published six X/1999 graphic novels so far, and this series also benefits from a popular anime release, the eye-popping X anime, which was directed by Rintaro.  While the collective of female artists known as Clamp utilized a very elaborate and very shojo art style for X/1999, Akime Yoshida uses a much more sparse style for Banana Fish with the usual shojo flourishes evident only in the elaborate hair styles of the beautiful male protagonists, who are just as concerned with each other as are the male leads in X/1999.


Ceres, another popular manga series by Yu Watase, the creator of Fushigi Yugi, is the one current shojo title that Viz is releasing as a monthly comic.  The first Ceres graphic novel collection is currently set for a release in March of 2002.  Ceres is beautifully drawn in the classic shojo manner.  The anime DVD was recently released, also by Viz.


The shojo style is what separates Magical Pokemon Journeys from Viz's other Pokemon titles and what makes MPJ an excellent entry level shojo title.


Viz also has a number of shonen (or boy's) titles that have a strong appeal to women here in the U.S., especially the Rumiko Takahashi titles, Inu-Yasha, Ranma, and Maison Ikkoku (see the ICv2 interviews with retailers Joe Field and Joe Ferrara).