Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama passes away at the age of 68

Legendary Japanese artist and manga creator Akira Toriyama has sadly passed away.
Akira Toriyama Dragon Ball Z logo and graphic portrait...
Akira Toriyama Dragon Ball Z logo and graphic portrait... / SOPA Images/GettyImages

Sad news today, friends. Akira Toriyama, the Japanese artist who created the massively popular Dragon Ball manga, as well as iconic character designs for games like Dragon Quest and Chrono Trigger, has died. He was 68 years old.

The official Dragon Ball website broke the news on March 7, with a statement that revealed Toriyama had passed away on March 1 as a result of an acute subderal hematoma.

"It's our deep regret that he still had several works in the middle of creation with great enthusiasm. Also, he would have many more things to achieve," the statement reads. "However, he left many manga and works of art to this world. Thanks to the support of so many people around the world, he has been able to continue his creative activities for 45 years. We hope that Akira Toriyama's unique world of creation continues to be loved by everyone for a long time to come. We inform you [of] this sad news, with gratefulness for your kindness during his lifetime."

Dragon Ball - Photo Credits: Crunchyroll
Dragon Ball - Photo Credits: Crunchyroll /

Toriyama has been a giant in the entertainment field for decades. He got his start with the popular Japanese manga Dr. Slump, which was published in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1980 to 1984, per Polygon. Starting in 1984, Toriyama began releasing the original Dragon Ball manga, which told the tale of a young boy with a tail named Goku who went on a world-spanning adventure to collect the seven mythical Dragon Balls.

If you're even remotely into nerdy pop culture, you don't need me to tell you what a force of nature Dragon Ball eventually grew into. Between the manga and multiple anime series adaptations, including Dragon Ball Z, it is one of the foundational pieces that introduced countless viewers around the world to the medium, and paved the way for so many of the manga and anime stories which have followed, such as One Piece, Bleach and Naruto.

The Dragon Ball media franchise is still running to this day, with a movie called Dragon Ball Daima slated for release later this fall. That is the final Dragon Ball story to have had Toriyama's direct involvement.

Beyond Dragon Ball, Toriyama also served as a character designer on some iconic video games: the long-running Dragon Quest series, Blue Dragon, and the iconic Super Nintendo game Chrono Trigger. No words that I can find can sum up the extent of Toriyama's influence on pop culture; the man was a legend in his field, and he will be missed.

As a testament to that, many people have taken to social media or other platforms to share their grief over news of Toriyama's passing. "I don't want to believe it. My head is empty because I don't want to think about it," wrote Masako Nozawa, who has been voicing Goku in anime and video games since 1986. "Even so, every time I see Goku, I remember what Toriyama Sensei said to me, 'You will take care of Goku, won't you?' I cherish that moment. It makes me think: ‘I will stay by Goku's side until my strength runs out completely.’ Sensei, please watch over us from the heavens. We hope you depart in peace.”

“With respect and gratitude for the creative world he has left behind. I pray for his soulful rest in peace," wrote One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda in a statement published on the Shōnen Jump website. “May heaven be the joyous world he envisioned.”

The Chinese government has even issued an official mourning statement, which gives you an idea of just how broad Toriyama's influence was:

@ChinaDaily on Twitter has a translation for the statement: "'China is deeply saddened by the passing of Japanese manga artist Akira Toriyama, whose work is very popular in China, and extended condolence to his family,' FM spokeswoman Mao Ning said, adding that she expects more far-sighted people in Japan will be actively engaged in bilateral cultural exchanges to promote friendship."

Akira Toryiama will be greatly missed. We shall never see his like again.

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