New Naruto media to release nearly simultaneously in U.S and Japan

VIZ Media has announced an innovative and unprecedented multimedia plan to provide a near-simultaneous Japan-U.S. release of NARUTO, one of the most popular Japanese animated and manga properties in the world.

Beginning on January 15th 2009, the latest episode of the NARUTO SHIPPUDEN animated series will be available for free viewing on the ultimate destination for anything NARUTO – the official NARUTO website, within days of its original airdate in Japan. A new English-subtitled episode will be added every Thursday thereafter.

On January 2nd 2009, VIZ will also debut, for free, 8 uncut, English-subtitled episodes from the beginning of the NARUTO SHIPPUDEN series. Each Friday thereafter there will be an additional 8 uncut, English-subtitled episodes added until the series eventually catches up to the current third season of the hit program. Also, coming this week, an exclusive sneak peek of NARUTO SHIPPUDEN debuting on the website.

VIZ Media also unveiled an accelerated publishing schedule for upcoming editions of the best-selling NARUTO manga series, making them available to North American audiences sooner than ever before offered by VIZ Media. Beginning in February 2009, 11 new volumes of NARUTO will be released over 3 months, moving the series from Volume 34 (February 2009) to Volume 44 (April 2009) before returning to a quarterly release schedule beginning with Volume 45 (July 2009). First print-run editions of the volumes released in March and April will include a special promotional item – bookmark or sticker.

NARUTO has become one of the hottest series from Japan and is one of VIZ Media’s most successful manga and animated properties. Created by Masashi Kishimoto, NARUTO was first introduced in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in Japan in 1999 and quickly became that country’s most popular ninja manga targeting tweens and teens and has sold more than 80 million copies to-date. The manga series (rated T for Teens) and animated counterpart (rated TV-14) about a young ninja in training, captivates millions of fans across North America, Europe and South America.

In the NARUTO manga and animated series Naruto Uzumaki wants to be the best ninja in the land. He’s done well so far, but Naruto knows he must train harder than ever and leaves his village for intense exercises that will push him to his limits.

NARUTO SHIPPUDEN begins two and a half years later, when Naruto returns to find that everyone has been promoted up the ninja ranks—except him. Sakura’s a medic ninja, Gaara’s advanced to Kazekage, and Kakashi…well, he’s the same. But pride isn’t becoming of a ninja, especially when Naruto realizes that Sasuke never returned from his search for Orochimaru. Plus, the mysterious Akatsuki organization is still an ever-present danger. As Naruto finds out more about the Akatsuki’s goals, he realizes that nothing in his universe is as it seems. Naruto is finding that he’s older, but will he prove wiser or stronger?

Earlier NARUTO episodes are also currently available for free through a variety of web-based, video streaming outlets that have partnered with VIZ Media, including HULU and JOOST.

More information on NARUTO is available at www.Naruto.com.

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