6 June 2024

Tokyo, Japan – The creator of Japan’s hugely popular and influential “Dragon Ball” comics and anime cartoons, Akira Toriyama, has died aged 68, his production team said Friday.

First serialised in 1984, “Dragon Ball” is one of the best-selling manga franchises of all time and has spawned countless anime series, films and video games.

Toriyama died on March 1 because of an “acute subdural haematoma” — a blood clot on the brain — a statement posted to the official “Dragon Ball” account on X, formerly Twitter, said.

“It’s our deep regret that he still had several works in the middle of creation,” said the statement attributed to Toriyama’s Bird Studio, which praised the artist’s “great enthusiasm”.

“He would have many more things to achieve. However, he has left many manga titles and works of art to this world,” the statement added.

“We hope that Akira Toriyama’s unique world of creation continues to be loved by everyone for a long time to come.”

“Dragon Ball” features a boy named Son Goku who collects magical balls containing dragons to help him and his allies in a fight to protect the Earth from evil enemies.

Toriyama was already famous for his comedy manga “Dr Slump” in the early 1980s when he created “Dragon Ball”, which he said was inspired by Chinese-style kung fu movies.

The 1990s saw the beloved cartoon “Dragon Ball Z”, and Toriyama was also part of the design team for the huge “Dragon Quest” games.

Not all spinoffs have been a success, however, with the live-action movie “Dragonball Evolution” (2009) flopping at the box office and attracting withering reviews.

Publishing house Shueisha, whose “Shonen Jump” magazine serialised the “Dragon Ball” comics, said in a statement it was “greatly saddened by the sudden news of his death”.

Eiichiro Oda, creator of Japan’s major “One Piece” manga franchise, said in a statement that Toriyama’s death was “too soon” and left “too big shoes to fill”.

“To think I’ll never see him again… I’m overwhelmed by sadness,” Oda said.

In an interview with Japan’s Asahi newspaper in 2013, Toriyama said his comics were “dedicated to entertainment”.

“I just hope that readers will have a fun time reading my works. There’s nothing else I want them to achieve,” he said, adding that he had “never been preoccupied with getting a message across through my manga”.

Toriyama described himself as a “difficult” person in the interview.

“‘Dragon Ball’ is like a miracle, given how it helped someone like me who has twisted, difficult personalities do a decent job and get accepted by society”.

He also said he had “no idea” why “Dragon Ball” had become such a huge hit worldwide.

“When I was drawing the series, all I ever wanted to achieve was to please boys in Japan,” he told the Asahi.

by Agence France-Presse