4Kids Ent. has released the lineup for a new season of its popular Saturday morning kids block, FOX BOX, on Fox. In addition to a new look and a new host (to be announced), fresh fall features will include the U.S. premiere of the hit Japanese animated series One Piece from Toei Animation Co. Ltd.
4Kids has been named the agent for One Piece, representing merchandise licensing rights and television distribution rights in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. The anime series centers on a young boy named Monkey D. Luffy, who lives in a small port village and aspires to be a pirate like his childhood hero, “Red-Haired” Shanks. When he accidentally eats the cursed Gum-Gum Fruit, he gains the power to stretch like rubber, at the cost of never being able to swim again. Despite this limitation, he vows to grow up to become the king of the pirates and find the greatest pirate treasure of allthe legendary “One Piece.” Created by Eiichiro Oda, the property was introduced in Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in 1997. One Piece graphic novels have sold more than 100 million copies in 33 volumes in Japan. The property also boasts five theatrical releases, eight video games and more than $1 billion in retail sales in Japan since 1999.
The FOX BOX fall 2004 lineup will also include the television premiere of Nintendo’s F-Zero GP Legend. Based on the video game, the series brings racing action into the year 2201 as outlaws compete to win at any cost. To keep the prize money out of evil hands and bring peace to the entire galaxy, the Elite Mobile Task Force must race against the menacing Black Shadow. The licensing campaign is expected to launch in 2004/2005.
FOX BOX will also air two back-to-back animated action series that feature girls as lead heroes. From Italy comes the melding of fashion and magic known as Winx Club, set to launch June 19. It will be joined by the Japanese animated hit Tokyo Mew Mew, about five girls who possess the powers of endangered animals and battle aliens determined to destroy mankind. Fifty-two half-hour episodes are now in production and a licensing program is planned to launch in 2005.
Returning FOX BOX favorites include Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Shaman King, Kirby: Right Back At Ya! and Sonic X. Sprinkled throughout the four-hour block will be interstitial installments of The Incredible Crash Dummies, which is back after a run in the early 1990s.