Anime and manga distribution company VIZ Media, LLC has acquired digital streaming, EST, home video, merchandise rights from Japanese publisher Shueisha Inc. for an upcoming animated television adaptation of the hugely influential sports manga, Captain Tsubasa, set to premiere this April on TV Tokyo in Japan. It adapts the original manga by Yoichi Takahashi that ran in Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump magazine from 1981-1988, depicting the efforts of a boy soccer prodigy named Tsubasa Oozora and his efforts to pursue perfection.
Captain Tsubasa may not be a household name in America, but it remains wildly popular in Japan as well as South America, with soccer players such as Alessandro Del Piero, Lionel Messi, Fernando Torres and Andrés Iniesta among others considering it an influence on their decision to pursue the sport. In Japan, it elevated a relatively unknown sport into a national craze. It even inspired a line of Adidas running shoes. A bronze statue of the protagonist was erected in the mangaka’s neighborhood of Katsushika, Tokyo in 2013. Who says comic nerds aren’t athletic?
The newest version comes courtesy David Productions, who have done a superb job adapting another classic manga, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, with Toshiyuki Kato (JoJo: Diamond Is Unbreakable) as director. Atsuhiro Tomioka (Pokemon XY) will be lead writer, while Hajime Watanabe (School Rumble) will provide character design and chief animation direction. Hayato Matsuo (Hellsing Ultimate) is composing the music.
In addition, VIZ Media will partner with Televix Entertainment to present Captain Tsubasa to Latin American buyers at the upcoming NATPE Market (Miami, FL, Jan. 16-18). Televix represents all broadcasting and digital licensing rights in Latin American territories, and will be taking meetings at the Fontainebleau Hotel Tresor Tower Suite 1708. It makes complete sense for VIZ to pursue Latin markets considering the popularity of Captain Tsubasa and soccer in South America.
“We are thrilled to be handling one of the most iconic franchises to come out of Japan,” says Hugo Rose, CEO of Televix Entertainment. “We expect audiences will be eager to enter the world of Tsubasa.”
“Captain Tsubasa adds a new dimension to VIZ Media’s anime catalog, and we know audiences will enjoy it’s mix of character drama and intense on-the- field action,” says Brad Woods, CMO of VIZ Media. “We look forward to working with Televix to develop Captain Tsubasa for Latin American markets, and to scores of new fans and soccer lovers discovering this exciting anime series.”