The Legendary Manga Artist Who Changed the World of Anime

Akira Toriyama: The Legendary Manga Artist Who Changed the World of Anime

Akira Toriyama, the creator of the iconic Dragon Ball franchise and one of the most influential manga artists of all time, passed away on March 1, 2024, at the age of 68. His death was announced by his production company, Bird Studio, which said the cause of death was an acute subdural hematoma.

Toriyama’s legacy is immense, as he inspired generations of manga and anime fans and creators with his distinctive art style, imaginative stories, and memorable characters. In this blog post, we will pay tribute to his life and career, and explore how he shaped the anime and manga industry.


Toriyama’s Early Life and Career

Toriyama was born in Nagoya, Japan, in 1955. He was interested in drawing from a young age, especially animals and vehicles. He was also influenced by Disney animation and Tezuka’s Astro Boy. He attended a design school in high school, where he met his future wife, Yoshimi Katō.

He started his professional career as a manga artist in 1978, when he won an amateur contest organized by Shueisha, the publisher of the popular Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine. His first serialized work was Wonder Island, a comedy adventure series that ran for two chapters.

He gained fame and recognition in 1980, when he created Dr. Slump, a hilarious sci-fi comedy series about a genius inventor and his android daughter. Dr. Slump was a huge hit, selling over 35 million copies in Japan and winning the Shogakukan Manga Award in 1981. It was also adapted into a successful anime series, with a second anime created in 1997.


Toriyama’s Masterpiece: Dragon Ball

In 1984, Toriyama started his most famous and influential work: Dragon Ball. The series follows the adventures of Son Goku, a monkey-tailed boy who trains in martial arts and searches for the seven mystical Dragon Balls that can grant any wish. Along the way, he meets many friends and foes, and faces epic battles and challenges.

Dragon Ball was initially inspired by the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West, but soon developed its own original and diverse world, with elements of fantasy, sci-fi, comedy, and action. The series spanned 42 volumes and ran for 11 years, becoming one of the best-selling manga of all time, with over 260 million copies sold worldwide.

Dragon Ball also spawned a massive multimedia franchise, including several anime adaptations, movies, video games, merchandise, and spin-offs. The anime series, especially Dragon Ball Z, which focused on the later arcs of the manga, were extremely popular in Japan and abroad, especially in the US, Europe, and Latin America. Dragon Ball is widely regarded as one of the most influential and iconic anime and manga series ever, and has inspired countless other works in the genre.

Toriyama’s Other Works and Contributions

Toriyama did not stop creating after Dragon Ball ended in 1995. He continued to produce short stories, illustrations, and one-shots for various magazines and publications. He also worked as a character designer for several popular video games, such as the Dragon Quest series, Chrono Trigger, and Blue Dragon.

He also revisited his Dragon Ball universe several times, creating new stories, movies, and spin-offs. He wrote the plot and designed the characters for the 2013 movie Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, the 2015 movie Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’, and the 2018 movie Dragon Ball Super: Broly. He also supervised the story and art of the ongoing manga series Dragon Ball Super, which is illustrated by his protégé Toyotarō.

Toriyama received many awards and honors for his work, including the Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from France in 2019. He was also inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Awards Hall of Fame in 2020.

Toriyama’s Influence and Legacy

Toriyama’s influence on the anime and manga industry is undeniable. His art style, characterized by dynamic action scenes, expressive characters, and intricate designs, has inspired countless artists around the world and influenced the aesthetic of numerous manga and anime series. His stories, full of humor, adventure, and emotion, have captivated millions of fans and readers of all ages and backgrounds. His characters, such as Goku, Vegeta, Bulma, Piccolo, and many others, have become cultural icons and role models for many people.

Many manga and anime creators have cited Toriyama as a source of inspiration and admiration, including Eiichiro Oda (One Piece), Masashi Kishimoto (Naruto), Tite Kubo (Bleach), Hiro Mashima (Fairy Tail), and Kohei Horikoshi (My Hero Academia). Toriyama’s works have also influenced other media, such as movies, comics, video games, and even the poop emoji.

Toriyama’s death is a huge loss for the anime and manga community, but his legacy will live on through his works and his fans. He will always be remembered as a legend, a genius, and a master of his craft. Rest in peace, Akira Toriyama. Thank you for everything.


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