Akemi's Anime World

VIZ Anime Company

A bit of info about VIZ.

Company Overview

VIZ (technically VIZ Media, LLC) is owned by three giants of Japanese manga and anime publishing: Shueisha Inc., Shogakukan Inc., and Shogakukan Production Co., Ltd. They have, as a result, a somewhat closer relationship with the Japanese releases than other North American translator/distributors, and a relatively mainstream focus. VIZ got its start translating comics, and they're still much more prolific with their paper releases (due to the focus of their parent companies, no doubt) than their videos.

VIZ, again as a result of its parent publishing companies, also has a line of English-translated Japanese novels, the Shonen Jump and Shojo Beat magazines, and the Viz Pictures division, which handles live-action adaptations of manga.

Their Catalog

From the early days, VIZ's catalog has consisted of the animated versions of their comics--initially the tremendously popular Ranma 1/2 along with the now-forgotten Mermaid Scar. In addition to Ranma 1/2, their video catalog now contains several notable mainstream franchises, including Bleach, Naruto, One Piece, Inuyasha, Pokemon, and Zatch Bell.

Aside from the mainstream, generally shounen-focused titles (mostly under their Shonen Jump label), they also have a collection of more sophisticated and/or smaller -audience series--Death Note, Nana, Saikano, Maison Ikkoku, and Key The Metal Idol, to name a few.

They have a confusing array of sub labels, including VIZ Kids, VIZ Media, Shonen Jump, Shojo Beat, and Pioneer/Geneon co-releases.

What Their Releases Are Like

VIZ's early anime efforts were dub-only, and while they've remained relatively mainstream for the most part, with most releases of kids' series remaining dub-only and often in the US TV-edited form, they have improved drastically since those early years. Most of their titles now include lots of extras and are generally polished productions; titles not explicitly targeted at kids almost always have both Japanese and English audio, and are in uncut form. Many of their less-mainstream DVDs were co-productions with Geneon, nee Pioneer, so have the quality and features characteristic of that company's releases.

One thing VIZ isn't known for is wallet-friendly pricing--their DVDs usually have a high retail price and they have a history of one-DVD-at-a-time releases of massive series (Inuyasha, for example) that would cost a fortune were you to buy them as they came out. They've at least improved somewhat in the latter half of the '00s, with more reasonably-priced box sets.

VIZ released a fair number of LaserDiscs back in that format's heyday, though were quite slow at moving into DVDs. Once they did, however, they did it with gusto and even their earliest DVDs were impressive bilingual productions.

VIZ has yet to release anything on Blu-ray as of mid-2010, though they do have things occasionally available streamed online.


Other Releases

The company was also involved in some way with releasing these anime, though they're not the primary company.