Akira Toriyama

Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama passes away

Power comes in response to a need, not a desire.

In the world of pop culture, few have soared as high and as far as Akira Toriyama, the visionary behind the global phenomenon Dragon Ball. On March 1st, 2024, Bird Studio delivered the somber news that Toriyama had passed away at the age of 68, leaving behind a legacy that transcends mediums, generations, and geographies.

A private ceremony was held, attended by family, friends, and close colleagues, a testament to the personal impact of a man whose works have touched millions. The news has been felt around the world by everyone who was inspired by his imagination, which undoubtedly delivered some of the best anime series ever made, from Dragon Ball to Dr. Slump to Dragon Quest. He had more works still yet to come and others in the middle of their creation.

A Cultural Titan

Toriyama’s creations have become cornerstones of not just anime and manga but pop culture at large. Dragon Ball became a cultural juggernaut that would reach far and wide, inspiring countless people. The Dragon Ball manga was first published in Japan in 1984. Inspired by the Chinese novel Journey to the West, it also mixed Kung Fu comedy movie elements into its story, particularly those of Jackie Chan’s Drunken Master. An animated version of the manga would follow two years later, followed after by arguably his most popular work, Dragon Ball Z.

His characters, from the ever-optimistic Goku to the villainous Frieza, have become icons, transcending their pages and screens to inspire action figures, clothing lines, and even academic discussions. The Dragon Ball series, in particular, introduced a new era of anime to the Western world, laying the foundation for the genre’s explosive popularity overseas.

Bird Studio released a statement on March 8th following his passing:

It’s our deep regret that he still had several works in the middle of creation with great enthusiasm. He would have many more things to achieve. However, he has left many manga titles and works of art to this world.

We hope that Akira Toriyama’s unique world of creation continues to be loved by everyone for a long time to come.

Toriyama was born in Kiyosu City in Aichi prefecture on April 5th, 1955. He began drawing at the age of 23, submitting a story to Weekly Sh┼Źnen Jump. Dragon Ball would later debut in the same magazine.

The much-loved creation impacted multitudes, inspiring some to study martial arts abroad and others to take a creative career path toward animation and comics. For many others, it was a guiding light through hardship and personal difficulties.

The last series Akira Toriyama worked on, Dragon Ball Daima, will air on Fuji TV in Japan later this year.