Manga artist Akira Toriyama, best known to the world as the creator of DRAGON BALL, passed away on March 1. He was 68 years old.

According to an official statement from his production company Bird Studio, the cause of Toriyama’s death was acute subdural hematoma.

Toriyama’s beloved DRAGON BALL series is one of the most renown comic universes in the world and is widely accredited with drawing new audiences to anime and Japanese pop culture at large. The lore, which was initially influenced by the Chinese novel Journey to the West and classic kung fu films, eventually morphed into a decades-long space epic. It bore countless superheroes such as Son Goku, Piccolo, and Vegeta, who brawled with intergalactic menaces for the fate of humanity.

Prior to founding DRAGON BALL in 1984, Toriyama had already risen as a household name from his 1980 comedy manga Dr. Slump, starring the zany Professor Senbei and his overpowered android girl Arale. Its four-year run in the serial publication Weekly Shonen Jump led to sales of over 35 million copies in Japan.

Toriayama’s success from DRAGON BALL dwarfs that of most literary works. It has sold over 350 million copies in over 40 countries, securing its spot as the second best-selling title from Weekly Shonen Jump, behind only One Piece by Eiichiro Oda. DRAGON BALL’s unwavering fandom has led to anime adaptations, several spin-offs, troves of merchandise, and even a feature-length live action Hollywood film in 2002.

Beyond manga, Toriyama also contributed artwork for video game titles such as the 1995 role playing game CHRONO TRIGGER and the equally popular DRAGON QUEST franchise, both lauded as hallmarks in gaming design. Manga artists, such as Masashi Kishimoto of Naruto, Tite Kubo of BLEACH, Tatsuki Fujimoto of Chainsaw Man, Koyoharu Gotouge of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, and Hirohiko Araki of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, have referenced Toriyama as their source of timeless inspiration.

Toriyama’s death marks a tragic loss for fans across the world who fell in love with his iconic artistry and storytelling. He will be remembered by a private funeral service among his family and relatives and through the legacy he built over the past 40 years.

Subscribe to new comments
Email notify on
Inline feedbacks
View all comments