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Akira Toriyama (1955-2024)

It's always sad when an artist or filmmaker passes away. But we've lost a real titan this time, when it has been announced that Akira Toriyama has died. The original creator and manga artist of the Dragon Ball franchise passed away on March 1, 2024 due to acute subdural hematoma. He was 68.

Toriyama made his debut as a professional manga artist with Dr Slump, which began running in Shonen Jump in 1980. The comedy series about a hapless inventor and his robot 'daughter' Arale was also adapted as an anime series. His magnum opus Dragon Ball followed in 1984 running until 1995. The series was adapted into the original Dragon Ball series and its sequel Dragon Ball Z, as well as several movies.

After the end of Dragon Ball, Toriyama concentrated on shorter series and one-offs like Sand Land and Jaco The Patrolman. He was also well known for contributing character designs to video games such as the Square Enix games Chrono Trigger and the Dragon Quest series.

In later years Toriyama returned to Dragon Ball and played a much bigger role in the creation of the newer movies. He contributed characters and concepts to the films from Battle Of The Gods to the most recent Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero. He was also working on the upcoming newest entry in the franchise Dragon Ball Daima. Sand Land has also recently been adapted as a movie, with a TV series and video game due to release in Japan this year.

The news has been met by an outpouring of affection and sadness. Fellow manga artists such as One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda and Naruto creator Masahi Kishimoto have paid tribute, talking about how big an influnce he was. The two also spoke about geeking out when they met him for the first time.

Toriyama has also recieved tributes from French President Emmanuel Macron, China's foreign mystery and the government of El Savador who issued a declaration of nationwide mourning. Which goes some way to illustrating just how towering a figure Toriyama was around the world. Not just in Japan, not just in manga but a genuine giant of pop culture.

Dragon Ball may be 40 years old but if anything it's popularity only seems to have grown over the years. The new movies and series have introduced a new generation of fans to Goku, Vegeta, Bulma and their friends, which could tempt them into discovering the original comics.

If the sad news has you wanting to dive into his back catalogue, then the original Dragon Ball and Dr Slump graphic novels are available in print and digital from Viz Media and the Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Super anime are streaming on Crunchyroll.

A legend has left us. Rest in peace, Toriyama-san.