First four series to bow in 2010 on Animax

TOKYO — Marvel’s cast of superheroes is going anime, with the comicbook giant pacting with toon shop Madhouse to create a lineup of animated series for the Japanese market.

First four series will bow in 2010 on Animax, a 24-hour network dedicated to anime.

To better appeal to Japanese fans, Marvel’s superheroes, including Ironman and Wolverine, will be retrofitted with new looks and backstories that touch on local culture and Japanese history.

Launched in 1972, Madhouse has worked with many of Japan’s best-known anime auteurs, including Satoshi Kon, Katsuhiro Otomo, Yoshiaki Kawajiri and Rintaro (aka Hayashi Shigeyuki).

Its parent company is Index, a media conglom with a strong presence in the mobile phone biz. The partners also plan to exploit the new toon series in services to cell phone users, as well as create character goods and other merchandising.

(Marc Graser in Hollywood contributed to this report).

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