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‘Dragon Ball’ creator Akira Toriyama dies at 68

simple ART | DeviantArt

Renowned manga artist Akira Toriyama died at the age of 68 due to an acute subdural hematoma on March 1, according to Weekly Shonen Jump. His death was made public on March 8.

Some of his most recognized creations include “Dr. Slump,” the “Dragon Ball” series and the “Dragon Quest” video games. His works have accumulated an international following, inspiring other manga such as “Naruto,” “One Piece” and the “Power Rangers” franchise.

Toriyama was influenced by American films, action shows and Japanese science fiction series. Going against his parents’ wishes, he did not attend college and went straight to work for an advertising agency in Nagoya. However, he never felt like he belonged in the industry.

Shortly after trying to start a career as an artist in 1978, Toriyama entered an amateur artist contest organized by manga magazine Shonen Jump. His submission parodied  “Star Wars”  and was rejected because the magazine only accepted original work. Despite this, his unique art style caught the eyes of editor Kazuhiko Torishima.

Toriyama’s first works, like 1978’s “Wonder Island,” were considered flops and ranked last in the magazine’s popularity contest. The break-even point was the publication of 1979’s “Tomato the Cutesy Gumshoe,” which received a higher acceptance from readers. The following year, he debuted the manga “Dr. Slump,” leading him to win his first prize in 1981, the Shogakukan Manga Award.

After noticing Toriyama’s love for martial arts, Torishima motivated the artist to create an action series. In 1981, he published “Dragon Boy,” a two-chapter manga featuring a protagonist who uses a Dragon Ball on his quest to rescue a princess. This comic was the prototype to the hit “Dragon Ball” franchise.

The popularity of “Dragon Ball” inspired anime adaptations, films and video games and numerous manga authors and colleagues have cited Toriyama as a major inspiration.

“I grew up with ‘Dr. Slump’ and ‘Dragon Ball,’ and it is natural to have his manga next to me as part of my life,” “Naruto” creator Masashi Kishimoto said. “I still don’t know how to deal with this hole in my heart. I don’t feel I’ve been able to convey what I feel to my teacher.”

“One Piece” author Eiichiro Oda also shared his grievances. “I’ve admired you so much since I was a child,” Oda said in a letter. “He is one of the people who took the baton from the era when reading manga would make you stupid. It was like watching a hero push forward. I hope that heaven will be a pleasant world just as you envision it.” 

Toriyama’s final project was the upcoming “Dragon Ball DAIMA” series, which focuses on lead hero Goku’s childhood adventures. It is scheduled to air in October. 

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