Stu Levy

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Stuart J. "Stu" Levy (born August 24, 1967 in Northridge, Los Angeles, California[1]) is the founder, CEO and Chief Creative Officer of the manga media company Tokyopop. Levy also produces, directs, and writes for graphic novels, film and television.


Levy holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics/Business from UCLA and a Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center. He studied at Tokyo University and Keio University in Japan and is a California attorney.[2] Currently, Levy chairs the Producers Guild of America's International Committee and Online Video Committie, and he was previously a Board Member of its New Media Council.[3] An expert in the film industry, Stu Levy has spoken on panels at various film festivals and markets around the world, including the Hong Kong Filmart, PIFAN, NATPE, and the Produced By Conference.[4] In 2014, Stu Levy served as a jury member for NAFF.[5]


Early projects[edit]

Levy designed and produced in 1995, for which he won the New Media Invision Award for "Best Design on the Web." From 1994 to 1997, he produced and distributed CD-ROM multimedia edutainment titles in Tokyo. Receiving investment from Mitsui Ventures, NVCC and angels, Levy moved back to the U.S. to form Tokyopop (formerly Mixx Entertainment) in 1997, a business venture designed to introduce the Western world to manga entertainment of all forms.[6]


Main article: Tokyopop

Stu Levy founded TOKYOPOP in 1997. At its peak, the company had offices in Los Angeles, California, Tokyo, Japan, Hamburg, Germany, and London, United Kingdom, as well as distribution and licensing arrangements with over 40 countries worldwide.[7]

TOKYOPOP's first manga graphic novel release was Sailor Moon. TOKYOPOP engineered prominent book distribution via retail stores, standardized book trim size, created a basic industry-wide rating system, developed the first-ever retail manga displays and introduced the world of graphic novels to a previously untapped audience—teenage girls. In 2002, TOKYOPOP launched its line of 100% Authentic Manga (printed right-to-left), which became the industry standard. TOKYOPOP launched their Global Manga publishing program in 2003 via the introduction of its "Rising Stars of Manga" talent competition.[6]

TOKYOPOP helped to pioneer the Cine-Manga format, a blend of cinematic properties and sequential art that uses imagery from movies and television series. Levy secured licenses to publish Cine-Manga with major entertainment brands including Disney, Nickelodeon, DreamWorks, Paramount, Universal, and the NBA.[8]

In 2006, the company launched an international line of teen fiction and began syndicating manga to U.S. newspapers[7][9] and teen fashion magazine CosmoGIRL!.[10] That same year, TOKYOPOP entered into a publishing agreement with HarperCollins Publishing to distribute TOKYOPOP manga and to co-publish sequential art based on HarperCollins' top youth novels.[11]

Levy also expanded TOKYOPOP's property reach beyond publishing into television series and DVD distribution, with many of its shows broadcast in the United States on Cartoon Network, Showtime and G4techTV and released on DVD.[12][13]

In 2007, Levy formed TOKYOPOP Media to focus on digital, film and television adaptations of TOKYOPOP's licensed manga content.[14] TOKYOPOP Media chose William Morris to represent TOKYOPOP and Levy as writer, director, and producer of entertainment content.[15] Under Levy's guidance, TOKYOPOP Media began producing a number of animated web shows based on TOKYOPOP properties including I Luv Halloween, by Ben Roman and Keith Giffen; Bizenghast, by M. Alice LeGrow; Riding Shotgun, by Nate Bowden and Tracy Yardley, and A Midnight Opera, by Hans Steinbach, which were launched in conjunction with MySpace.[16]

In 2008, TOKYOPOP announced a major restructuring that will create two separate divisions—the TOKYOPOP Inc. publishing unit and TOKYOPOP Media, a digital and comics-to-films unit—under the TOKYOPOP Group’s holding company. The moves will result in the layoffs of about 79 Tokyopop staffers.

In 2010, TOKYOPOP Media produced Stu Levy’s feature film directorial debut, Van Von Hunter, based on the TOKYOPOP manga series. The following year, the production company produced the 8-part docu-series America’s Greatest Otaku, which is available on both Hulu and YouTube. TOKYOPOP Media received an “in association with” credit on the Sony Pictures feature film adaptation of Priest, which starred Paul Bettany and Maggie Q.[17]

Due to Bordersbankruptcy in 2011, as well as the detrimental effects of piracy and an over-crowding of the market, TOYKOPOP was forced to close down its publishing operations in the United States and United Kingdom.[18]

On December 10, 2012, TOKYOPOP's website relaunched with a letter from management stating that the company was down to a few select employees who were starting a 'new incarnation' of the company. They partnered with 'Right Stuf on Demand' to offer ebooks of various titles for which they retained the rights.[19]

Throughout the publishing closure, TOYKOPOP Media remained open for business, continuing its efforts to produce film and TV adaptations of TOKYOPOP’s manga. In 2013, TOKYOPOP partnered with MondoMedia to release an animated short film based on the TOKYOPOP manga Riding Shotgun, which was directed by Michael Davis and starred the voices of Yuri Lowenthal and Jessy Schram. The short film garnered over a million views in its first month, and led to an IndieGoGo campaign to finance a full animated series.[20]

At Anime Expo and San Diego Comic-Con in 2015, TOKYOPOP announced that it would be relaunching its publishing operations in North America in 2016 and hinted that its first major licensor would be Disney.[21][22]


Executive producer, feature film and TV[edit]

In 1996, Mixx Entertainment acquired the rights to the anime biopic of Japanese poet Kenji Miyazawa, and Stu Levy produced and directed the English version of the anime film, entitled “Spring and Chaos.” The film was directed and scripted by Shoji Kawamori, who created Super Dimensional Fortress Macross and The Vision of Escaflowne.[23] Taste of Cinema ranked “Spring and Chaos” thirteenth in its list of Top “25 Weird Animated Movies That Are Worth Your Time.”[24]

From 2000 to 2004, Stu Levy served as executive producer for multiple film, television and DVD projects. His TV credits include Street Fury, which he created, GTO (English version for Showtime TV), Rave Master (English version for Cartoon Network's Toonami), and Reign: The Conqueror (English version for Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.) His DVD credits include the English versions of: Initial D, Marmalade Boy, Saint Tail, Samurai Girl: Real Bout High School, Vampire Princess Miyu, Brigadoon, Spring & Chaos, FMW, High School Ghostbusters, and Anime: Concept to Reality.[13]

Levy is an executive producer on the 2011 film Priest, based on the TOKYOPOP manga series and produced by Screen Gems, a Sony Pictures company.

Levy is also an executive producer on the 2011 docu-series America’s Greatest Otaku.

Producer, feature film[edit]

In 2007, Levy began to serve as Producer on a number of live-action and animated film and television adaptations of TOYKOPOP manga, including Knockouts, based on the manga Battle Vixens, by Yugi Shiozaki, Mail Order Ninja by Josh Elder, Poison Candy, by David Hine and Hans Steinbach, Princess Ai, by D.J. Milky, Misaho Kujiradou and Courtney Love, and Riding Shotgun, by Nate Bowden and Tracy Yardley.

Levy also produced the 2012 feature documentary film Pray for Japan about the tsunami recovery efforts in Tohoku. All proceeds from the film have been donated to charities in the affected regions.[25]

Writer and director, feature film[edit]

Levy co-wrote and co-directed (with Steven Calcote) the mockumentary about Van Von Hunter, the evil-vanquisher from Mike Schwark and Ron Kaulfersch's manga series by the same name.[26] This feature earned him an award for Best Director at the 2010 Mockfest.[27]

Levy also directed the above-mentioned feature documentary film Pray for Japan, spending almost two years documenting and helping with the post-tsunami recovery efforts in Tohoku, Japan.

He is currently co-writing the action/sci-fi feature film Afters with filmmaker Sanjay Sharma.


Under the pen-name D.J. Milky, Levy has written both manga graphic novels and children's books.[14] His writings include: Princess Ai, Juror 13, Karma Club, Kung Fu Klutz & Karate Cool, the novel adaptation of Sailor Moon, Stray Sheep and CD-ROM Best Selection '96. Current projects include Fright Elevator, Street Fury, Treasure Chess, and the upcoming sequel to Princess Ai, Prism of the Midnight Dawn. According to Nielsen BookScan sales reports, "Princess Ai" was the #1 selling the Adult Fiction Graphic Novels.[28]

Music composer[edit]

Levy composed lyrics and songs for TOKYOPOP projects, including the theme songs for Initial D, Reign the Conqueror, Rave Master, GTO, and the soundtrack for TOKYOPOP's Princess Ai franchise.[29]

Producer, broadband and mobile programming[edit]

Levy has produced a number of Web- and Mobile-based shows, distributed through MySpace, YouTube and Verizon's VCast. Web shows include I Luv Halloween, Riding Shotgun, A Midnight Opera, Bizenghast, Gyakushu, Sokora Refugees and a series of Princess Ai-based music videos.[30]

TOKYOPOP's YouTube Channel, TOKYOPOP TV, is promoted as a hub of Japanese pop culture, featuring original web series, motion comics, trailers for Japanese anime, films, TV, and video games, and more.

Producer, Internet[edit]

In 1995, Levy launched Japan Online for which he won the New Media Invision Award for "Best Design on the Web."[6] In 2007, Levy produced and launched a comprehensive social networking and UGC manga lifestyle website at[31]

Producer, Mobile Applications[edit]

In 2015, Levy produced the mobile puzzle game Sushi Cross, which is available for free in the App Store.[32]

Levy also created the upcoming mobile comics app, POP Comics, which is a mobile application that allows manga artists to self-publish and monetize their original works.[33] Levy provided the UX design and creative direction for the application, which is currently in a closed beta testing phase.


Levy has volunteered his time to the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC), a group that helps immigrant women who were taken advantage of by their husbands and did not know their own rights.[6] He also supports the Make-a-Wish Foundation, a charity dedicated to granting the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.[34]

Additionally, Levy regularly donates Tokyopop manga to libraries across the U.S.[35] as well as to The Kids' Wish Network, a non-profit foundation that deploys toys and books to hospital emergency rooms across the nation.

Levy traveled to Tohoku, Japan, after the 2011 tsunami to help with recovery efforts, and during this time, he produced and directed his feature documentary film Pray for Japan, which donates all proceeds to charities in the affected regions in Tohoku, Japan.


At the infamous middle age of 40, Stu Levy came down with the painful disease shingles. This was in the summer of 2008, which was when TOKYOPOP was going through layoffs worldwide, and the Tokyo and London offices were being shutdown. Levy's doctor advised him to "get off the couch" and begin exercise. Levy began with daily walks. Those daily walks became runs, and after a year Levy ran his first marathon (the LA Marathon). Levy has since run 6 marathons including his first Boston Marathon (and PR time of 3:18) in April 2014. He has also participated in multiple triathlons, trail races, relay races, and even a 50-mile ultra-marathon. His birthday (August 24) in 2014 was the date of his first full Ironman triathlon, clocking in at 11:41:41.

As a simple hobby, Levy uploads fitness videos to his SUPER 40 YouTube channel. These videos are almost exclusively in Japanese and feature how-to instructional videos, runs in various cities throughout the world, and some v-logs.[36]


Writing as D.J. Milky (pen name)


  1. ^ Amter, Charlie (January 17, 2008). "LA-Tokyo Express". Los Angeles Times. p. 7. 
  2. ^ Jarvis, Michael (October 26, 2003). "The Godzilla-Sized Appeal of Japan's Pop Culture". Los Angeles Times Magazine. p. 9. 
  3. ^ "SPADA Conference 2007". Retrieved 2008-03-05. 
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c d McLean, Tom (October 26, 2007). "Profile, Stu Levy". Variety. 
  7. ^ a b Kageyama, Yuri (November 25, 2005). "US Papers Adding Japanese-Style Comic Books". Associated Press. 
  8. ^ "Tokyopop Does Nickelodeon". June 3, 2003. Retrieved 2008-03-05. 
  9. ^ Masters, Coco (September 2006). "America is Drawn to Manga". Time. pp. A5. 
  10. ^ Memmot, Carol (July 6, 2005). "Japanese Manga Takes Humongous Step". USA Today. pp. Life 1. 
  11. ^ "Tokyopop Signs Alliance with HarperCollins". March 28, 2006. Retrieved 2008-03-05. 
  12. ^ "New Music Unlimited". Archived from the original on 2006-11-21. Retrieved 2008-03-05. 
  13. ^ a b "Stuart J. Levy". Retrieved 2008-03-05. 
  14. ^ a b McLean, Tom (October 26, 2007). "Comic Pics Go Pop". Variety. 
  15. ^ Kit, Borys (August 3, 2007). "Tokyopop Signs with William Morris". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  16. ^ "Tokyopop Markets OEL Titles on My Space". July 17, 2007. Retrieved 2008-03-05. 
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ "Spring and Chaos | TOKYOPOP". Retrieved 2015-11-27. 
  24. ^ "25 Weird Animated Movies That Are Worth Your Time". Taste Of Cinema - Movie Reviews and Classic Movie Lists (in en-us). Retrieved 2015-11-27. 
  25. ^
  26. ^ George, Richard (December 8, 2007). "Tokyopop CEO Chased Out of Panel by Audience". Retrieved 2008-03-05. 
  27. ^ "Van Von Hunter Wins Awards at MockFest 2010". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2015-11-24. 
  28. ^
  29. ^ "Entrepreneur Association of Tokyo: Speaker - Stuart Levy, Tokyo Pop". February 2, 2006. Retrieved 2008-03-05. 
  30. ^ "Verizon Wireless Offers VCAST Customers Manga and More from Tokyopop". January 8, 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-05. 
  31. ^ "New Tokyopop Website Offers Exclusive Manga". Retrieved 2008-03-05. 
  32. ^
  33. ^ "POP Comics". Retrieved 2015-11-24. 
  34. ^ "Tokyopop Manga Grants Girl's Wish". July 19, 2006. Retrieved 2008-03-05. 
  35. ^ "LA Libraries & Tokyopop Team Up". June 22, 2006. Retrieved 2008-03-05. 
  36. ^

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