Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama dead at 68


Japanese manga comic creator Akira Toriyama, best known for his Dragon Ball series that spawned widely popular films, video games and TV shows, died on March 1 from a blood clot in his brain, his production studio said on Friday. He was 68.

“It’s our deep regret that he still had several works in the middle of creation with great enthusiasm,” the studio said in a statement posted on the official Dragon Ball website. “We hope that Akira Toriyama’s unique world of creation continues to be loved by everyone for a long time to come.”

Dragon Ball, a martial arts fantasy series that follows the protagonist Son Goku’s search for seven orbs known as dragon balls that summon a wish-granting dragon, was inspired by a 16th century Chinese novel and has a widespread following in China.

An Asian man wearing glasses and smiling is shown in closeup in a black and white photo that appears to have been taken in the distant past.
Akira Toriyama is shown in a 1982 photo in Japan. (JIJI Press/AFP/Getty Images)

It was first serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump comic magazine in 1984 and was later adapted into movies, video games and TV series distributed in more than 80 countries.

News of Toriyama’s death was a top trending topic on social media platform Weibo, with 450 million views.

“Let’s collect all seven Dragon Balls and then resurrect Mr. Akira Toriyama!” one user wrote on Weibo.

People walk around at what appears to be a convention or event with a massive model of a comic book character shown.
The Dragon Ball Z booth is seen during New York Comic Con at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on Oct. 12, 2023 in New York City. (Charles Sykes/Invision/The Associated Press)

Toriyama was also known as a character and monster designer of the blockbuster role-playing game series Dragon Quest.

Many fans¬†and Japan’s top government spokesperson,¬†Yoshimasa Hayashi, paid tribute to Toriyama and the global influence of his work.

“We will never forget Akira Toriyama for the gift he left on this earth. I can’t imagine a world without Dragon Ball,” a fan wrote in section below the post.

A closeup of a bookshelf is shown with copies of a comic-type book.
Books from the popular Dragon Ball series on a shelf at a store in downtown Tokyo on Friday. (Richard A. Brooks/AFP/Getty Images)

Hayashi told reporters on Friday that Toriyama had played “extremely important role in demonstrating Japan’s soft power.”

“Mr. Toriyama’s work has led to the widespread recognition of Japan’s content around the world,” he added.

The Dragon Ball website said a small, private funeral for Toriyama had already taken place.

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