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Akira Toriyama, Dragon Ball Manga Creator, Dies At 68

The most influential artist of his generation passed away last week.


Akira Toriyama, the Japanese manga artist who created the popular Dragon Ball series, died of a brain condition last week at the age of 68. His production company confirmed the news Friday in Japan. He leaves behind an iconic body of work and influenced a generation.

Toriyama was born in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan in 1955 and made his debut as a cartoonist in 1978 by submitting a short story to manga fans' magazine Weekly Shonen Jump. It's also where he first introduced the world to Dragon Ball in 1984. The sweeping epic told the story of alien fighter Goku and his friends and family taking on any challengers and became an instant classic and one of the biggest anime of all time.

"It's our deep regret that he still had several works in the middle of creation with great enthusiasm. Also, he would have many more things to achieve. However, he had left many manga titles and works of art to this world," the announcement read. "Thanks to the support of so many people around the world, he has been able to continue his creative activities for over 45 years. We hope that Akira Toriyama's unique world of creation continues to be loved by everyone for a long time to come."

While Toriyama was the mind behind the epic martial arts fantasy series, his art style and creativity inspired artists across the world to take up a pencil and create their own worlds. Creators compared him to the likes of Walt Disney and Jack Kirby on the scale of how influential their work was. Outside of Dragon Ball, Toriyama's art and design for the Dragon Quest series are equally iconic, especially with his blue slime character. His artwork can also be seen in the classic RPG Chrono Trigger.

"Goku's hair shape is as iconic as Mickey's ears," cartoonist Box Brown tweeted in response to the news. "Very sad day."

Other manga greats Eiichiro Oda and Masashi Kishimoto, creators of One Piece and Naruto respectively, released statements about Toriyama's passing and paying respect to one of their creative heroes.

"It is too early," Oda said. "The hole is too big. Sadness washes over me when I think that I will never see him again. I have admired him so much since I was a child...May heaven be the joyous world just as you envisioned it."

"I just received the news of Sensei's passing. I feel a tremendous sense of loss, more than when Dragon Ball ended," Kishimoto added. "I still don't know how to deal with this hole in my heart. I can't even read Dragon Ball, which I love...I pray that Akira Toriyama-sensei may rest in peace."

The statement from Toriyama's company expressed to fans that they would not be accepting flowers, condolences gifts, visiting, offerings, and other items There will be a public ceremony, but no details have been made at this time.

"Future plans for a commemorative gathering is not decided, we will let you know when it's confirmed. We deeply thank you for your understanding and support as always."

Toriyama continued to work on the Dragon Ball franchise to this present day, contributing to the 2022 movie, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero, which became the second-highest-grossing Dragon Ball movie yet. A new series titled Dragon Ball: Daima was announced in October 2023.

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