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


Akira Toriyama, who was one of Japan’s leading authors of comics and most famous for the highly successful manga and anime franchise “Dragon Ball,” died on March 1. He was 68.

His death was confirmed on Friday in a statement by his manga and design production studio, Bird Studio, and Capsule Corporation Tokyo, which said that the cause was acute subdural hematoma, when blood collects between the skull and brain.

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 wish-granting Dragon Balls. 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.

Mr. Toriyama was born on April 5, 1955 in Kiyosu, Japan, 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 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.”

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 series, movies and video games, including the “Dragon Quest” series.

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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