Press Releases

February 9, 2007

News for New York Comic Con 2007:

NYCC welcomes the creator, director, and co-producers of Afro Samurai

Takashi Okazaki, Fuminori Kizaki, Taito Okiura, and Eric Calderon to Appear at New York Comic Con

Norwalk, CT, February 8: New York Comic-Con (NYCC) 2007, taking place in Manhattan's Jacob K. Javits Center on February 23-25, is pleased to announce the attendance of Takashi Okazaki, Fuminori Kizaki, Taito Okiura, and Eric Calderon -- the Creator, Director, and Co-Producers of Afro Samurai. Okazaki, Kizaki, Okiura, and Calderon will all appear as part of New York Comic Con 2007's Anime Program, discussing their work on the ground-breaking series on SPIKE TV and presenting never-before-seen clips from Afro Samurai. The five part series is produced by Japanese studio GONZO in association with GDH K.K. and FUNimation Entertainment.

"New York Comic Con is a showcase of the best of popular culture -- and Afro Samurai is an example of the best of anime," Peter Tatara, New York Comic Con's Director of Anime Programming, said. "A harbinger of the future of animation, Afro Samurai's a breath-taking work of art, and New York Comic Con is ecstatic to welcome the artists and producers responsible for its creation."

The animated action-adventure epic is set in a futuristic yet feudal Japan stars Academy Award®-nominated actor Samuel L. Jackson as a black samurai on a mission to avenge the death of his father. Jackson also serves as a series Executive Producer.

Afro Samurai is a creative collaboration between Samuel L. Jackson, Takashi Okazaki, and Japanese animation company GONZO, a division of GDH, who is also acting as Series Producer. The concept of Afro Samurai was created by graphic designer, illustrator, and artist Takashi Okazaki.

About Takashi Okazaki
Takashi "Bob" Okazaki has made a name for himself through his dynamic, original illustrations, his work seen in the films Negotiator Mashita Masayoshi, Bayside Shakedown 2, and Space Travelers, booklet art for the Japanese DVD releases of Spider-Man 2 and Blade: Trinity, and CD jacket artwork for the Japanese rock band RIZE. Okazaki created Afro Samurai while still a student at Tama Art University. He first released a self-produced, limited-edition Afro Samurai comic and figure before it was noticed by Eric Calderon at GONZO and turned into an international hit.

About Fuminori Kizaki
Fuminori Kizaki studied at Tokyo Animators College, where he developed his inventive style of fast-paced, gripping action sequences, and went on to work at both Studio Giants and Studio Hercules where he assisted in the productions of Blue Gender, The Galaxy Railways, and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, before joining GONZO. Fuminori got his start as a director at GONZO with the series Basilisk. Afro Samurai is his second directorial outing.

About Taito Okiura
As the Director of Animation Producers at GDH, Taito Okiura has led the development of various GONZO television animation series including Black Cat, Witchblade, and Afro Samurai. Taito is also responsible for Gonzo's anime DVD distribution in Japan. Prior to joining GDH, he led sports television programming syndication and major high-tech account management at Dentsu, a leading ad agency in Tokyo. Taito earned his MBA at UCLA Anderson School of Management.

About Eric Calderon
Eric Calderon has been in the international animation business for over a decade. Shortly after graduating with a Business degree in Marketing from The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA, Eric began work at the recently established MTV Animation as a development reader and story analyst for the animated series AEON FLUX. By the end of 1999, Eric was the Director of Development for the entire MTV Animation studio. He would go on to work for ATOM FILMS before taking a position with anime studio GONZO. Currently at GONZO, Eric is in charge of the studio's creative business development, and it was Eric who took Afro Samurai from Japanese toy and comic subculture into the global scene.

About FUNimation Entertainment
FUNimation® Entertainment, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Navarre Corporation is a brand management company and one of the nation's leading independent home video entertainment companies. The company's most recent initiative is the FUNimation ChannelSM, a new, 24-hour digital network featuring programming from the top anime brands in the United States. FUNimation has a proven formula for launching and advancing brands, and manages a full spectrum of rights for most of its brands including broadcasting, licensing, production, internet, and home video sales and distribution.

About GDH K.K
GDH (Security code: TSE Mothers 3755) is a globally-focused Japanese media company founded in February 2000. The group produces cutting edge entertainment for teens and young adults including the famous GONZO animation brand and for kids and family under the recently launched GONZO Films and Gonzino brands. GDH is a world leader in content development that targets both domestic and international audiences with Japan's trend-setting animation culture and, usually, GDH controls licensing management and international distribution for the content it produces. GDH group companies include GONZO K.K., G-creators K.K., Future Vision Music K.K., GONZINO K.K., GONZO Rosso Online K.K., GDH Capital K.K., and GK Entertainment K.K.

SPIKE is available in more than 90 million homes and is a division of MTV Networks. A unit of Viacom (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B), MTV Networks is one of the world's leading creators of programming and content across all media platforms.

New York Comic Con is operated by Reed Exhibitions which is the world's leading events organizer. In 2006 Reed brought together over six million industry professions from around the world generating billions of dollars in business. Today Reed events are held in 34 countries throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific, and organized by 37 fully staffed offices.

Reed organizes a wide range of events, including exhibitions, conferences, congresses and meetings. It's portfolio of over 460 events serves 52 industry sectors, including:
Aerospace and defense, building and construction, design, electronics, energy, oil and gas, entertainment, food and hospitality, gifts, healthcare, IT/telecoms, jewelry, manufacturing, marketing and business services, pharmaceuticals, property, publishing, security, sport and recreation, transport and logistics, travel.

Working closely with professional bodies, trade associations and government departments Reed ensures that each and every event is targeted and relevant to industry needs. As a result, many Reed events are market leaders in their field.

Reed Exhibitions is part of Reed Elsevier Group plc, a FTSE-100 company and world-leading publisher and information provider. In 2005, Reed Elsevier made adjusted profit before taxation of £1,002 million on turnover of £5,166 million.