Naruto Shippuden Streams Online for U.S.

VIZ Media plans to provide a near-simultaneous Japan/U.S. release of the latest chapter of Naruto, one of the most popular Japanese animated and manga properties. Beginning on Jan. 15, Naruto Shippuden will be available for free viewing on the official Naruto website, www.naruto.com, within days of its original airdate in Japan. A new English-subtitled episode will be added every Thursday thereafter.

On Jan. 2, VIZ will also begin offering free viewings of eight uncut, English-subtitled episodes from the beginning of the Naruto Shippuden series on www.Naruto.com. Additional uncut episodes will then be added each Friday until the series eventually catches up to the current third season of the hit program. This week, fans can catch an exclusive sneak peek at upcoming shows on the site.

VIZ Media has unveiled an accelerated publishing schedule for upcoming editions of the bestselling Naruto manga series, making them available to North American audiences sooner than ever before. Beginning in February of 2009, 11 new volumes will be released over three months.

‘This kind of accelerated and coordinated broadcast and publishing schedule is a first for VIZ Media and we are very excited to bring new episodes of Naruto Shippuden to millions of eager domestic fans for free with this special campaign,’ says Alvin Lu, VP of Production for VIZ Media. ‘The adventures of Naruto and his friends are underscored with themes of friendship, loyalty, responsibility, as well as failure and redemption, and have turned this unique series into a tremendous international hit. New and old fans alike won’t want to miss this special opportunity to watch online the latest episodes featuring the world’s favorite ninja mere days after their original air dates in Japan.’

Created by Masashi Kishimoto, Naruto was first introduced in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in Japan in 1999 and has sold more than 80 million copies to-date. The manga series and its animated TV counterpart has millions of fans across North America, Europe and South America. More information on the series is available at www.Naruto.com.