Akira Toriyama, creator of “Dragon Ball” series and other popular anime, dies at 68

Akira Toriyama, the creator of the best-selling Dragon Ball and other popular anime who influenced Japanese comics, has died, his studio said Friday. He was 68.

Toriyama’s Dragon Ball manga series, which started in 1984, has sold millions of copies globally and was adapted into hugely popular animated TV shows, video games and films.

Toriyama died March 1 of a blood clot in his brain, Bird Studio said in a statement.

“He was working enthusiastically on many projects, and there was still much he was looking forward to accomplishing,” the studio wrote.

Only his family and very few friends attended his funeral, the BBC reported, citing a statement from the Dragon Ball website.

“He would have many more things to achieve. However, he has left many manga titles and works of art to this world,” his studio said. “We hope that Akira Toriyama’s unique world of creation continues to be loved by everyone for a long time to come.”

A new TV adaptation of Toriyama’s “Sand Land,” a desert adventure story released in 2000 and later adapted into a 2023 anime movie, is due to be released on Disney+ in the spring.

Messages of condolences and grief from fellow creators and fans filled social media.

Eiichiro Oda, creator of the blockbuster manga “One Piece,” said Toriyama’s presence was like a “big tree” to younger artists.

“He showed us all these things manga can do, a dream of going to another world,” Oda said in a statement. His death leaves “a hole too big to fill,” Oda added.

Bird Studio thanked fans for more than 40 years of support. “We hope that Akira Toriyama’s unique world of creation continues to be loved by everyone for a long time to come.”

Born in Aichi prefecture in central Japan in 1955, Toriyama made his manga debut in 1978 with the adventure comic “Wonder Island,” published in the Weekly Shonen Jump magazine. His “Dr. Slump” series, which started in 1980, was his first major hit.

This black and white photo taken in May 1982 shows Japanese manga artist Akira Toriyama, whose death was announced on March 8, 2024. 

STR/JIJI Press/AFP via Getty Images

It made him a celebrity, but Toriyama avoided the spotlight. In 1982, he told Japanese public broadcast NHK: “I just want to keep writing manga.”

Dragon Ball, the story of a boy named Son Goku and his quest for seven magical balls that can make wishes come true, has sold 260 million copies altogether, according to the studio.

Toriyama also designed characters for the video game series Dragon Quest. He received awards in the manga industry and beyond, including France’s Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters.

“Dragon Ball” success provided acceptance

Toriyama was already famous to comic fans in the early 1980s with “Dr. Slump” but he won manga immortality with the global sensation and Japanese success story that is “Dragon Ball.”

“‘Dragon Ball’ is like a miracle, given how it helped someone like me who has a twisted, difficult personality do a decent job and get accepted by society,” Toriyama said in a rare interview in 2013.

“I don’t like socializing, so much so that I have more animals than friends,” he said.

Toriyama encapsulated the secret of his prodigious output in the 2013 interview with Japan’s Asahi Shimbun daily in one key discipline: meeting deadlines.

“This is because I had previously worked as a designer in a small advertising agency and had seen and experienced first-hand how much trouble people can get into if deadlines are missed, even slightly,” he said.

But he admitted it was hard: “Manga requires me to draw a lot of the same images. I tend to get bored easily, so this was fun but mostly tough. I wished many times it would end sooner.”

“I just hope that readers will have a fun time reading my works,” he said.

Toriyama said the scale of his success had taken him by surprise.

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

AFP contributed to this report.

First appeared on www.cbsnews.com

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