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

Akira Toriyama, the highly influential Japanese manga artist who created the medium-defining franchise “Dragon Ball” in the 1980’s and shepherded its growth as it became a global phenomenon, died March 1 due to an acute subdural hematoma. He was 68.

Toriyama’s death was confirmed by the official “Dragon Ball” website, which posted a statement honoring the creator on Thursday evening.

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“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,” reads the statement from Bird Studio, which includes the disclaimer that it has been machine-translated. “He has left many manga titles 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 over 45 years. We hope that Akira Toriyama’s unique world of creation continues to be loved by everyone for a long time to come.”

Toriyama found early success in the manga industry with the creation of the popular “Dr. Slump” series in the late ’70s, winning a Shogakukan Manga Award in 1981 and supervising two subsequent anime adaptations. However, that acclaim was nothing compared to “Dragon Ball,” a continuation of his kung fu movie-influenced “Dragon Boy” one-shot. First published as a serial in 1984, “Dragon Ball” has grown to become one of the best-selling manga series ever. It’s also credited as popularizing the medium of manga across the globe, further bolstered by its various anime adaptations’ enduring audience in Western countries.

An artist who largely worked outside the public spotlight, Toriyama’s work extended beyond “Dragon Ball” throughout his life, especially after taking a smaller creative role with the property in the ’90s. His other credits include various one-shot manga runs, as well as character designs for video game classics like “Chrono Trigger” and the “Dragon Quest” series.

Toriyama returned to “Dragon Ball” in the 2010s, with the manga artist receiving a screenplay credit on the film “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods,” then the first “Dragon Ball” feature adaptation in nearly 20 years. He had stayed involved with the property throughout its recent run of film productions, including the most recent, 2022’s “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero.”

A private funeral service has already been held for Toriyama’s family. He is survived by his wife, Yoshimi Katō, and their two children.

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