Anime, kids and caboodle

Jun 24, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Created by author and comic book artist Kazuki Takahashi, “Yu-Gi-Oh!” originally gained early popularity in Japan and internationally through the publishing of paperback-size comic books called manga, which are now being embraced by American fans of anime and pulp novels.
Through publisher Shueisha Co., 23 million of the “Yu-Gi-Oh!” comic books, 7 million video games and 3.5 billion trading cards have been sold in Japan alone-counting an estimated $2 billion in revenue to date.
Although “Yu-Gi-Oh!” aired for almost five years on TV Tokyo in Japan. 4Kids Entertainment, which holds licensing rights to all other world territories, delayed doling out the master toy license to Mattel until last December and the trading cards rights to Upper Deck until last February due to a sagging U.S. retail market.
However, once 4Kids unleashed the 26 original English-dubbed episodes of “Yu-Gi-Oh!” to the Kids’ WB for stripping last spring, sales of the Upper Deck cards briefly sold out in May. Additionally, Mattel put the first 10 monster figures (out of more than 200 in the franchise) on retail shelves, and Konami began pumping out the video game lines in earnest last spring.
“Yu-Gi-Oh!’s” initially strong U.S. sales returns, which are expected to hit full stride once the 2002 holiday season approaches, could not have come at a better time for publicly traded 4Kids. The company jumped in with a $25.6 million-per-year deal to lease the Fox network’s Saturday morning time slots for four years at the same time it saw its first-quarter net earnings of $6.9 million mark a 43 percent drop from $12.2 million from the year-ago quarter.
While “Pokemon” was hitting its stride in 2000, 4Kids reported net revenue of $88 million and total net income of $38.8 million. But in fiscal year 2001, earnings ($41.5 million) were halved and net income ($12.2 million) slid 68 percent.