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'Dragon Ball' creator Akira Toriyama dies aged 68

March 8, 2024

"Dragon Ball" is one of the best-selling manga franchises of all time, spawning countless anime series, films and video games. Millions have been paying tribute on social media, including Emmanuel Macron.

Japan Akira Toriyama 1982
Image: JIJI Press/AFP/Getty Images

Japanese comic creator Akira Toriyama has died, his studio said Friday, aged 68.

Creator of the best-selling "Dragon Ball" series and other popular anime, Toriyama's genre-defining artwork enchanted millions around the world and helped propel the genre beyond Japan and into international markets.

In just six hours, some 2.5 million messages were posted on social media website X (formerly Twitter), paying tribute to Toriyama. Among them was French President Emmanuel Macron, who wrote: "To Akira Toriyama and the millions of fans who grew up with him," sharing one of his images.

Global hit

The "Dragon Ball" manga series was first serialized in 1984, with millions of copies sold worldwide. It was also adapted into an animated TV series distributed in more than 80 countries. It made the large screen as well as the small, and was the feature of video games too.

Toriyama died on March 1 of a blood clot in his brain, Bird Studio said in a statement. His death comes as a shock, as the studio wrote: "He was working enthusiastically on many projects, and there was still much he was looking forward to accomplishing."

This photo illustration shows books from the popular "Dragon Ball" series on a shelf at a store in downtown Tokyo
'Dragon Ball' gave Toriyama international acclaimImage: Richard A. Brooks/AFP/Getty Images

Eiichiro Oda, creator of the blockbuster manga "One Piece," said Toriyama's influence was like a "big tree" to younger people in the industry.

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

Bird Studio thanked fans and said: "We hope that Akira Toriyama's unique world of creation continues to be loved by everyone for a long time to come."

Born in the Japanese city of Nagoya in 1955, his first works first appeared in 1978 in the manga section of the magazine Weekly Shonen Jump.

A series, "Dr Slump," about a female robot, Arale Norimaki, living in Penguin Village was his first hit, before embarking upon "Dragon Ball" with its alien, earth-defending protagonist Son Goku.

Japan Akira Toriyama verstorben
Fans posed with a statue of Goku in Tokyo on Friday Image: Miho Takahashi/Yomiuri Shimbun/AP/picture alliance

The sequel to the original series, "Dragon Ball Z," also introduced Goku's son Gohan, and the 2022 movie continued this story with "Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero" by seeing him team-up with his father's old rival Piccolo.

In 2019, Toriyama was made a French knight of the Order of Arts and Letters and was announced as a 2024 winner of Tokyo Anime Award Festival's lifetime achievement honor along with "Dragon Ball" voice actor Toshio Furukawa.

Family call for privacy

Toriyama's website statement also said: "We inform you this sad news, with gratefulness for your kindness during his lifetime. Funeral service was held with his family and very few relatives."

Following his wishes for tranquillity, we respectfully inform you that we would not accept flowers, condolences gifts, visiting, offerings and others," though a "commemorative gathering" is planned for the future.

jsi/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)