Although Japanese animation is typically hot in American markets, it’s always a gamble, bringing a new property into the mainstream media and hoping it will become successful. It was only natural for VIZ Media— one of the most comprehensive companies in the field of manga publishing, animation and entertainment licensing of Japanese content—to license Naruto and bring it to Cartoon Network’s Toonami just over a year ago. But has it paid off?
Critics say that it absolutely has. It came right out of the gate with high ratings, and remains one of the most popular shows on Toonami. Plus, it’s currently VIZ Media’s best-selling manga property. And really, what’s not to like?
From the Wikipedia entry:
Naruto is a manga by Masashi Kishimoto with an anime TV series adaptation. Its main character, Naruto Uzumaki, is a loud, hyperactive, adolescent ninja who constantly searches for approval and recognition, as well as to become Hokage, who is acknowledged as the leader and strongest ninja in the village.
(That is such a coincidence, because my son is a loud, hyperactive, wishes-he-was-adolescent ninja-wannabe who wishes he was the strongest ninja on the playground! I mean, what are the odds?)
If you’re not already a Naruto fan, you’ve probably been living under a rock. And if you’re already following the show (and perhaps the comics and other merchandise), I have two great pieces of news to share.
First, Volume 7 of the Naruto manga has been declared this year’s Quill Award recipient in the Graphic Novel category. For the unfamiliar, the Quills are:
an initiative launched with the combined support of Reed Business Information and NBC, and is designed to act as an industry qualified “consumers choice” program to honor excellence in writing and publishing, recognizing the creators of great literature, and promoting reading and literacy initiatives. The Quill Awards celebrates the best books of the year in nineteen popular categories, ranging from romance to biography to graphic novels.
(In other words, it’s not only a prestigious award, it’s really, really cool.)
Second, just in time to enjoy the spoils of the Quill announcement, the new official Naruto merchandise store has opened its doors. The store is a joint effort between VIZ and Ty’s Toy Box, and VIZ was only too happy to give Ty’s some love in a recent press release:
“We sought a partner who could provide an overall brand experience for our dedicated and passionate fans,” said Carol Roeder, Vice President, Consumer Products for VIZ Media. “Ty’s Toy Box has a proven track record with their ability to market, sell, and build properties in the online environment and we are excited to be working with them.”
What could be better than that? Other than being the strongest ninja in the village, that is….