I grew up reading more manga than I did American comics. I remember sitting in a Barnes & Noble in middle school and high school reading the Viz Media titles like Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece. At the time, manga and anime arguably were not as mainstream yet with the few exceptions like Dragonball Z. I remember being made fun of on Fridays by my teammates in high school for reading the latest chapters right before the football game started. (Eyeshield 21 was one of my favorite ones to read before the game). A lot has changed since then. So with SDCC 2018 being my first Comic-Con ever, Viz Media was at the top of my list of booths and panels to check out.
The Viz Media booth was located at the very front and center of the exhibit hall this year with a towering display. From preview night to the very last day, Viz Media’s line was packed and capped with people trying to get their SDCC exclusives. The popular exclusives this year included products with new artwork drawn and signed by My Hero Academia creator, Kohei Horikoshi. I picked up volume one of My Hero Academia with the SDCC exclusive cover. Unfortuntealy, the posters were sold out every time I got to the cashier.
Personally, one of my favorite moments from this past SDCC was getting a one-of-a-kind shikishi art board autographed by Horikoshi. The My Hero Academia creator took the time to personalize each art board with the fan’s name and spent time getting to know each and every fan in line. The journey to getting the autograph was a tough one though. The first day of the signing, it was a sea of people surrounding the booth and it was a dead stop. No one was moving because everyone wanted to get that signing ticket. The fire marshal even threatened to shut down the booth if people didn’t clear the aisles. The second day of the signing, the booth decided to distribute the tickets via lottery in a separate section of the con to avoid being shut down.
Viz Media’s panels were just as difficult to get into. When I did get in, the room was already packed with people who sat in previous panels just to wait for the Viz Media panel. There were plenty of people that weren’t happy about this since the room was supposed to be cleared after each panel. I was able to attend the Viz Media and My Hero Academia panel and both were amazing. Viz showcased the new Sailor Moon S theatrical trailer, gave away free prizes, and revealed the One Punch Man x Grand Summoners collaboration. During the My Hero Academia panel, it was revealed that it was the creator’s first time in North America and he had no idea how huge of a fan-base the manga had here. Horikoshi was delighted to see how popular his manga has become internationally. The panel even hosted the English voice actors of Deku and All Might, who along with Horikoshi, answered several trivia questions. For those that are curious, Horikoshi’s favorite American superhero is Spider-Man because of how much he relates to the character and his favorite My Hero Academia character is Deku. When Horikoshi was asked about how he came up with Mineta, he gave a simple answer, “I was bored.”
If it wasn’t obvious already, I thoroughly enjoyed what Viz Media brought to SDCC 2018 this year and I look forward to what they bring next year. Maybe next year I’ll cosplay as All Might or Lemillion.