‘Dragon Ball’ creator Akira Toriyama dies at 68

Mar 8, 2024, 4:47 PM

Japanese manga artist Akira Toriyama in Kiyosu Town, Aichi prefecture in 1988....

Japanese manga artist Akira Toriyama in Kiyosu Town, Aichi prefecture in 1988. (Atsushi Onodera/The Yomiuri Shimbun/AP via CNN Newsource)

(Atsushi Onodera/The Yomiuri Shimbun/AP via CNN Newsource)

Tokyo — Akira Toriyama, the Japanese manga artist who created the enormously popular and influential Dragon Ball series, died of a brain condition last week at the age of 68, his production studio said Friday.

Toriyama was the mind behind the fantasy martial arts franchise featuring Son Goku, a boy from outer space with superhuman strength and a monkey tail who embarks on a quest for the seven dragon balls.

The Dragon Ball universe remains one of Japan’s most successful global hits, captivating the hearts of many manga-loving teens and adults from around the world since its debut in the 1980s.

Toriyama’s death was announced on Friday by Dragon Ball’s official website in a shared statement from Bird Studio and Capsule Corporation Tokyo.

“It’s our deep regret that he still had several works in the middle of creation with great enthusiasm,” it said.

“He would have many more things to achieve. However, he has left many manga titles and works of art to this world,” it added, thanking fans for their support on Toriyama’s behalf.

The artist died of acute subdural hematoma, a form of brain bleeding, the statement said.

Born on April 5, 1955 in Kiyosu City, Aichi prefecture, Toriyama began drawing manga at the age of 23.

He made his debut as a cartoonist in 1978 by submitting a short story to manga fans’ magazine Weekly Shonen Jump.

His “Dragon Ball” series went on to be featured in the same magazine in 1984 and was front and center of a creative career that spanned more than four decades.

The franchise is based on classic Chinese novel Journey to the West and has since been adapted into into anime and the 2009 Hollywood action movie “Dragon Ball Evolution.”

As Son Goku sets off for his quest in search of the seven dragon balls, he fights off villains along the way and protects the Earth. As he ages, the storyline shifts to his descendants and friends.

The dragon balls, when collected, can summon Shen Long, a divine dragon that can grant any wish. Son Goku often ended up spending the wishes on his friends or restoring a heavily destructed Earth in the series centered on courage, friendship and kinship.

Prominent Japanese author and game designer Yuji Horii, a longtime friend of Toriyama, said they worked on the popular game Dragon Quest together.

“I can’t believe he’s gone,” he wrote on social media platform X.

Eiichiro Oda, creator of manga series “One Piece,” said the thought of never seeing his friend Toriyama again “fills me with sadness.”

Toriyama “took the baton from the era when reading manga would make you stupid, and created an era where both adults and children read and enjoy manga. He showed us the dream that manga can do things like this and that we can go to the world,” Oda said on the Shonen Jump website.

Many fans also paid tribute to the manga heavyweight online.

“Dragon Ball was my textbook for life. It taught me that I could overcome any hardship if I worked on it cheerfully and with enjoyment,” one fan wrote on X.

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‘Dragon Ball’ creator Akira Toriyama dies at 68