Akira Toriyama, Creator of ‘Dragon Ball,’ Dies at 68

Akira Toriyama, Creator of ‘Dragon Ball,’ Dies at 68

Akira Toriyama, one of Japan’s leading comics authors who created the manga and anime franchise “Dragon Ball,” which achieved worldwide success with its mix of comedic characters and rousing martial arts battles, died on March 1. He was 68.

His death was confirmed on Friday in a statement by his manga and design production company, Bird Studio, and Capsule Corporation Tokyo, which said that the cause was acute subdural hematoma, when blood collects between the skull and brain. It did not specify where he died.

Mr. Toriyama’s body of work, which also includes “Dr. Slump,” and “Sand Land,” is recognizable far beyond Japan’s borders, influencing generations of manga artists and cartoonists. He had several projects in the works at the time of his death, the studio said.

His best-known work, “Dragon Ball,” follows a young boy named Son Goku embarking on a journey to collect the seven magical orbs that summon a wish-granting dragon. Since its creation in the 1980s, it has spanned 42 volumes, sold millions of copies worldwide and become one of the most famous manga, inspiring television, film and video game adaptations.

Throughout his career, Mr. Toriyama did not care if his work did anything besides entertaining its readers, he said in a 2013 interview with The Asahi Shimbun, suggesting he was unlike “other manga artists concerned about conveying didactic messages.”

“The role of my manga,” he said, “is to be a work of entertainment through and through.”

Mr. Toriyama was born on April 5, 1955, in Kiyosu, Japan, according to local news media. He studied design at a technology and engineering high school in Aichi Prefecture. After graduating, he worked as a designer for an advertising company in Nagoya.

He left his job after a few years and started drawing manga at 23, according to the local news media. His first manga, an action and adventure comic called “Wonder Island,” was published in 1978.

He gained popularity with the serialization of “Dr. Slump” from 1980 to 1984, a sci-fi manga about an android girl known for her childlike personality and superhuman strength. It was adapted for the television as an anime series.

Mr. Toriyama’s absurd concepts and sense of caricature “sparked a real joyful hysteria” in Japan, Matthieu Pinon and Laurent Lefebvre wrote in their 2023 book, “A History of Modern Manga.”

In 1982, Mr. Toriyama married a former manga artist who published under the pen name Nachi Mikami, Mainichi Shimbun reported. Besides his wife, he is survived by his children, according to the local news media.

When “Dragon Ball” was first published in 1984, it was an immediate hit, becoming one of the best-selling manga series of all time. The adventure story sold more than 260 million copies worldwide, according to the studio that produced the anime adaptation, Toei Animation.

A cover from volume one of the “Dragon Ball” manga.Credit…Bird Studio/SHUEISHA, via Associated Press

The manga was serialized in the Japanese magazine Weekly Shonen Jump until 1995. In the year after the series ended, the magazine lost about one million of its six million readers, according to “A History of Modern Manga.” The story lived on through anime, such as “Dragon Ball Z,” and video games, including the “Dragon Quest” series for which Mr. Toriyama designed the characters.

After “Dragon Ball,” Mr. Toriyama wrote single-volume manga, including “Cowa!,” “Kajika,” and “Jaco the Galactic Patrolman.” “Sand Land,” published in 2000, was adapted into a movie in 2023. Its anime version is expected to be released in the spring on Disney+, along with a video game.

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