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Akira Toriyama 1955-2024 • Anime UK News




Akira Toriyama, the legendary manga creator and author of the world-famous Dragon Ball series, has passed away aged 68.

The news was announced in a statement by the Dragon Ball Official Website, confirming that Toriyama passed on 1st March 2024 following an acute subdural hematoma. His funeral service was held in private and attended by his family, with plans for a commemorative gathering to be confirmed at a later time.

Born in 1955, Akira Toriyama started drawing at an early age, surrounded by classmates who would draw their favourite anime and manga characters as one of the few pastimes available to them. After graduating from a high school focused on creative design, he entered the workforce designing posters for an advertising agency. However, that life wasn’t for him, and he quit after three years. Toriyama started submitting manga one-shots to magazines, and would see his first published work with Wonder Island in Weekly Shonen JUMP magazine in 1978. Following subsequent one-shots, Toriyama achieved his first serialised series in 1980 with the science fiction comedy Dr. Slump, for which he won the 1981 Shogakukan Manga Award for the best shonen or shojo manga of the year.

Akira Toriyama will be most fondly remembered as the creator of Dragon Ball, which saw him achieve worldwide fame and recognition. Originally serialised in Japan between 1983-1997, the manga and subsequent anime adaptations became a global sensation, with particular resonance in countries such as France and those in Latin America. In the United Kingdom, Dragon Ball Z was first broadcast on Cartoon Network at the turn of the century, and endures in popularity with the franchise’s most recent film, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero (2022, released in 2023), being the fourth highest-grossing anime movie in the UK.

The first collected volume of the Dragon Ball manga.

The immense and lasting popularity of Dragon Ball has been widely acknowledged as being instrumental in the global popularity of anime and manga as a whole, with series protagonist Goku becoming a mascot for the industry and wider Japanese pop culture. Toriyama’s works also directly inspired many manga artists who went on to establish their own global success, such as fellow Shonen Jump manga artists Eiichiro Oda (ONE PIECE) and Masashi Kishimoto (NARUTO), as well as Tiger & Bunny creator Masakazu Katsura, who led the tributes.

Oda observed that “He [Toriyama] was one of the people who took the baton from the era when reading manga made you stupid, and created an era in which both adults and children enjoyed reading manga, and he showed us the dream that manga can do such things and that you can go to the world. It was like watching a hero pushing forward.” Their statements can be read in full on Shonen Jump’s official website.

Toei Animation, the studio behind the widely popular Dragon Ball anime adaptations, released the following statement via X:

Upon hearing of the passing of Toriyama-sensei, we are deeply saddened. We offer our sincere condolences. Within our company, we have many staff members who contributed to masterpieces such as “Dr. Slump -Arale-” and the “Dragon Ball” series and who deeply respect Toriyama-sensei. We are truly grateful for his guidance and contributions to our productions. It was a great honor for Toei Animation to be able to adapt the works of such a beloved creator, cherished around the world. We offer our prayers for Toriyama-sensei’s eternal peace.

Toei Animation

Outside of manga, Akira Toriyama’s art style also became synonymous with the equally influential video game series Dragon Quest, with Akira Toriyama providing illustrations and character designs for the series since its inception in 1986 through to the present day. Dragon Quest has its own legacy as one of the longest-running video game franchises, with its fantasy setting and mechanics inspiring not only video games, but countless manga, anime, and light novels to this day. The Dragon Quest franchise’s official English-language X account posted this tribute to Toriyama:

We are deeply shocked and saddened to share the news of Akira Toriyama’s passing on 1 March 2024. We extend our deepest condolences for the passing of Mr Toriyama, as well as our heartfelt gratitude and respect for all his great works and achievements throughout his life. He was, and shall always be, a true visionary, for not just DRAGON QUEST, but the global entertainment industry. May he rest in peace.

Sharing his thoughts on Shonen JUMP’s website, Dragon Quest game designer Yuji Horii shared the following statement (unofficial translation):

The news of Mr. Toriyama’s passing was so sudden that I honestly still can’t believe it. I’ve known Mr. Toriyama ever since I was working as a writer for Shonen Jump; back when I started out with Dragon Quest, I asked him to illustrate the game on the recommendation of his editor Mr. Torishima (Kazuhiko Torishima). In the 37+ years since then he designed characters and monsters, producing a truly countless number of charming illustrations.

Mr. Toriyama’s designs are an intrinsic part of the history of Dragon Quest. Mr. Toriyama and the late Sugiyama-sensei (Koichi Sugiyama) were my dear friends who worked on Dragon Quest for such a long time.

I can’t believe he’s gone…

I don’t have the words to say anything more than that. It’s a genuine, genuine shame.

Akira Toriyama had been working on the production of Dragon Ball DAIMA, a brand new anime series set to premiere later this year. An anime adaptation of his SAND LAND manga is also slated to premiere on Disney+ later this month.

The Anime UK News team extends their deepest sympathies to Toriyama-sensei’s friends and family.

Source: Dragon Ball Official

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