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Leiji Matsumoto (1938- 2023)

Sad news out of Japan as we have learned of the passing of a giant of the manga and anime worlds. Legendary mangaka Leiji Matsumoto has passed away at the age of 85.

Matsumoto is best known for his sci-fi work, although he actually got his start writing shojo (girls' comics). He went on to create iconic series such as Captain Harlock and Galaxy Express 999 that were adapted as popular anime series. 

His most successful series however has to be Space Battleship Yamato. Co-created and directed by Matsumoto alongside Yoshinobu Nishizaki and Eiichi Yamamoto it is considered a classic of space opera anime- and of science-fiction full-stop. The series originally aired in 1974 and was later shown in the United States under the title of Star Blazers. The show's importance in establishing the early days of anime fandom in America means that Matsumoto is owed a great debt.

Matsumoto had a long and storied career and had a very distinctive art style. His fresh-faced heroes, short and squat characatures and elegant willowy women are instantly recognisable. His work frequently contains anti-war themes and a melancholy atmosphere. Many of his works (notably Captain Harlock and Galaxy Express 999) take place in a shared universe- decades before Marvel's MCU.

He did occasionally step outside the sci-fi realm, creating series such as the western Gun Frontier and the wartime drama The Cockpit. The latter has attracted some controversy for depicting World War II Japanese and German soldiers as (frequently doomed) heroes

In 2003, Matsumoto was production supervisor of a series of animated music videos for the French dance duo Daft Punk. Eventually, a video was produced for every track on the album Discovery which was edited to make the movie Interstellar 555.

Matsumoto's daughter Makiko Matsumoto said he "set out on a journey to the sea of stars. I think he lived a happy life, thinking about continuing to draw stories as a manga artist."

Leiji Matsumoto had an incredible career making series that were popular around the world. His work was also hugely influential and it's no exaggeration to say that manga and anime wouldn't be the same today without him. Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this difficult time.