The Japanese manga and animation powerhouses Shogakukan Inc., Shueisha Inc. and Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions Co., Ltd. (Shogakukan & Shueisha Group) announced today their joint acquisition of Kaze S.A.S. (Kaze) and Anime Virtual S.A. (Anime Virtual), two of Europe’s leading distributors and licensees of Japanese animation. With this acquisition, the group positions itself as a major multi-media force throughout Europe for manga-based Japanese animation and entertainment. Paris-based subsidiary VIZ Media Europe (VME, President, John P. Easum) will helm the group’s Europe activities, with Kaze and Anime Virtual now part of its stable.
Prior to acquiring Kaze and Anime Virtual, Shogakukan & Shueisha Group managed VME’s European operations through its U.S. based subsidiary VIZ Media, LLC (VMC, President, Hidemi Fukuhara).
Since the launch of VIZ Media Europe in 2007, Shogakukan & Shueisha Group, in cooperation with VMC and VME has continued to study the European market for opportunities to grow the fan base and to offer a greater range of Japan’s highest quality manga and anime content. Kaze and Anime Virtual were chosen to be the key drivers of this pan-European strategy and the timing is perfect as a rising demand for manga-based animation meets the growth of multi-platform distribution channels.
Kaze (President, Cedric Littardi) mainly operates in French speaking territories and Anime Virtual (President, Nicolas Weber-Krebs) operates primarily in German speaking territories. Their combined core businesses include TV sales, DVD and music distribution, film distribution, consumer products, and new digital distribution and broadcast platforms, as well as manga publishing in French speaking territories.
This acquisition provides Shogakukan & Shueisha Group with several critical tools:
• Direct DVD publishing and distribution in France and Germany.
• TV broadcast and distribution through various new platforms and technologies.
• Development and licensing of consumer products.
• Direct manga publishing and distribution ability throughout French speaking Europe.
• Innovative brand building across a full spectrum of media, including manga publishing, animation licensing, animation broadcasting, consumer product licensing and new digital platforms.
The new company, which will be wholly owned by Shogakukan & Shueisha Group, will integrate VME, Kaze, Anime Virtual and their subsidiary companies under a unified infrastructure and administration. John P. Easum, has been named President/Gérant of the new company and will head up the group’s European operations. The head office will remain in Paris. Cedric Littardi and Nicolas Weber-Krebs have been appointed managing directors.
Explains Mr. Easum, “This is a very exciting development for all parties involved in this venture. Kaze and Anime Virtual are proven pioneers and leaders in the distribution of Japanese content. This acquisition benefits Shogakukan & Shueisha Group with Kaze and Anime Virtual’s proven local market expertise, marketing innovation and experienced management. We will now be in a much better position to support our many partners, while proactively developing the market by bringing a greater variety of content to our fans in a much more effective and timely manner.”
Mr. Masahiro Oga, President of Shogakukan Inc. adds: “Through this venture, the new company will be able to dedicate itself to serving a growing market for Japanese manga and animation. By building a closer bridge between Japan and our partners and markets in Europe, we are confident the new company will succeed in delivering more excitement for our fans while growing new markets for Japanese content.”