‘Dragon Ball’ creator Akira Toriyama has died, aged 68

Legendary Japanese manga creator Akira Toriyama – who created the beloved Dragon Ball franchise – has died at the age of 68.

According to a statement shared today (March 8) via the official Dragon Ball account on X (formerly Twitter), Toriyama died on March 1 due to acute subdural hemotoma. A funeral service has already been held for his family and “very few relatives”.

The statement also notes that Toriyama’s family and the Bird Studio, which he founded, will not be accepting flowers, condolences gifts, visiting and offerings. The studio has also requested that Toriyama’s family be given their privacy and to “refrain from conducting interviews” with his relatives.

Per Bird Studio, Toriyama had “several works in the middle of creation” when he died.

Born in 1955, Akira Toriyama was a Japanese manga artist and character designer. His first published work came in the form of a singular Wonder Island entry in the Weekly Shōnen Jump 1978.

He first achieved mainstream success in 1980 when he created and published the Dr. Slump manga, which ran from 1980 until 1984. In 1984, he debuted Dragon Ball, which would go on to become his most famous work to date, and one of the most important and influential manga and anime works in history.

He also served as a character designer for games such as Dragon Quest, Chrono Trigger, Blue Dragon and Jump Force.

In 2000, he debuted another manga, Sand Land, which has since been adapted into an anime film in 2023 and will be continued as an anime series with an entirely original story written by Toriyama. The Sand Land anime series is due for release later this month.

Akira Toriyama. Credit: STR/JIJI Press/AFP via Getty Images

Following the news of Toriyama’s passing, several key figures in the animation world have paid tribute to the iconic creator.

One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda wrote in a statement via Shōnen Jump: “It’s too soon. The hole that has been left is too big. When I think that I will never see him again, sadness washes over me. I had admired him so much since I was a child, and I even remember the day he first called me by name. I also fondly remember the day we walked home after he used the word ‘friend’ to refer to us, and the day we had a great time with Kishimoto. I also remember the last conversation we had.”

“He took the baton from an era where people were told that reading manga would make them stupid, and he was one of the people who created an era where adults and children could enjoy reading manga. He showed us that manga could do so much, and that it could take us to the world. It was like watching a hero charging forward. Not just for manga artists, but the excitement and emotions of the Dragon Ball serialization era must be rooted in the childhood of creators in all industries. His existence is like a great tree.”

The manga collection for Akira Toriyama’s ‘Dragon Ball’. Credit: RICHARD A. BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images

Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto wrote in a statement, also via Shōnen Jump: “I grew up with Mr. Toriyama’s manga, Dr. Slump in elementary school and Dragon Ball in high school. It was natural for me to have Mr. Toriyama’s manga next to me as a part of my life. Even when I was feeling down, the weekly Dragon Ball always made me forget about it. It was a salvation for me, a country boy with nothing to do. That’s how much I enjoyed Dragon Ball!”

Kishimoto added: “By chasing after Mr. Toriyama, I was able to find new joy. Mr. Toriyama was always my compass. He was my inspiration. I may be bothering Mr. Toriyama, but I am grateful to him without permission. To me, he was a savior and a god of manga.”

“I just received the news of Mr. Toriyama’s death. I am overwhelmed by a tremendous sense of loss, even greater than when Dragon Ball ended… I don’t know how to deal with this hole in my heart yet. I can’t read my favorite Dragon Ball right now. I don’t even feel like I’m writing this text properly to Mr. Toriyama. Everyone in the world was still looking forward to Mr. Toriyama’s work. If one Dragon Ball wish really comes true… I’m sorry… It may be selfish, but I’m sad, Mr. Toriyama.”