The creative team responsible for the Kinnikuman/Ultimate Muscle manga, Takashi Shimada and Yoshinori Nakai, are appearing at the Bandai America showroom at Toy Fair to help launch a toy line based on the anime version of Ultimate Muscle, which is currently running on the Fox Box. Like the manga, the Kinnikuman anime series satirizes the excesses of professional wrestling with the help of an outer space setting and a gallery of bizarre characters. Both the manga and the anime have been huge hits in Japan, where Shueisha has sold nearly 58 million volumes of the two Kinnikuman manga series. Given the prominence of professional wrestling in the U.S., there are few cultural barriers to acceptance of the property -- and early indications are that Ultimate Muscle is finding an audience as part of 4Kids Entertainment's Fox Box.
Although Mattel has Yu-Gi-Oh and Hasbro controls the American rights to Beyblade, Bandai is developing a strong stable of anime/manga-based properties -- and Kinnikuman/Ultimate Muscle has as much potential as any of them.