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Akira Toriyama—Beloved Manga Artist and Creator of ‘Dragon Ball’—Dies at 68

Akira Toriyama, creator of the beloved manga and anime Dragon Ball, has died, his production studio said in a statement Friday. He was 68.

The artist behind the long-running media franchise that popularized Japanese manga abroad, passed away on March 1 from an acute subdural hematoma, according to the statement.

First appearing in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in 1984, Dragon Ball follows protagonist Son Goku’s martial arts training and quest to find the seven titular orbs and summon a wish-granting dragon. It remains one of the most successful Japanese media franchises of all time, with the Shueisha Inc.-published manga selling more than 260 million copies worldwide and spawning several anime series, video games and a Hollywood-produced live-action movie.

His creations, which span more than 45 years, include Dr. SlumpSand Land and the character designs for the Dragon Quest video games.

News of Toriyama’s death triggered an outpouring of condolences from other artists, many of whom grew up reading his work. 

Toriyama proved to a disbelieving audience that “manga can be fun for both children and adults,” wrote One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda. “He showed that manga could travel the world.”

Naruto author Masashi Kishimoto said he read Toriyama’s stories every week from grade school to college and was inspired by the characters to become a manga artist. “I wanted to make manga like yours! I wanted to be like you!” he said. 

“He was so funny. He was naughty, cute, sharp-tongued and humble,” wrote Masakazu Katsura, creator of Tiger & Bunny. “I miss our long phone calls where we just talked about dumb things.”

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