San Francisco-based publishing, animation and licensing company VIZ Media has launched the wholly owned Hollywood-based film and television company VIZ Productions to adapt Japanese graphic novel properties.

The new company will specialise in manga and will draw on a large library of manga properties owned by its Japanese parent companies Shogakukan Inc and Shueisha Inc, as well as publishing giant Hakusensha, all of which are among the largest publishing houses in Japan.

VIZ Productions will also serve as liaison between Japanese creative licensors and Hollywood production houses, studios and agents and plans to produce or license live-action films covering a wide range of graphic novel genres.

VIZ Media dominates the burgeoning North American manga market - which attracts a huge female readership - and its stable of animation titles often air on Cartoon Network and other distribution outlets. Among some of the most popular titles are Naruto, Bleach, Death Note, Inuyasha and Naoki Urasawa's Monster.

'VIZ Productions will give Hollywood a unique conduit to some of the most innovative and unique entertainment properties from Japan,' VIZ Productions head of production Jason Hoffs said.

'Hollywood has always looked to comic books and graphic novels and has recently discovered the untapped pool of Japanese manga for development into live-action features. Worldwide, the creators of manga are viewed as artists, and the rich storylines are already a hit with the coveted 12-34 demographic.'

VIZ Media president and CEO Hidemi Fukuhara said: 'We are proud to have Jason Hoffs as head of production for VIZ Productions. He brings a great deal of knowledge gained from over 15 years in Hollywood and has a keen eye for great stories.

'Our parent companies Shogakukan and Shueisha are the top manga publishers in Japan and hold a wealth of rich characters and storylines in their extensive catalogue. Jason Hoffs will helm the effort to bring these wonderful stories to Hollywood and to build a bridge between the creative talents both in Hollywood and in Tokyo.'