‘Dragon Ball’ creator Akira Toriyama dies at 68

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TOKYO (AP) — Akira Toriyama, the creator of the best-selling Dragon Ball and other popular anime who influenced Japanese comics, has died, his studio said Friday. He was 68.

Toriyama’s Dragon Ball manga series, which started in 1984, has sold millions of copies globally and was adapted into hugely popular animated TV shows, video games and films.

Toriyama died March 1 of a blood clot in his brain, Bird Studio said in a statement.

“He was working enthusiastically on many projects, and there was still much he was looking forward to accomplishing,” the studio wrote.

A new TV adaptation of Toriyama’s “Sand Land,” a desert adventure story released in 2000 and later adapted into a 2023 anime movie, is due to be released on Disney+ in the spring.

Messages of condolences and grief from fellow creators and fans filled social media.

Eiichiro Oda, creator of the blockbuster manga “One Piece,” said Toriyama’s presence was like a “big tree” to younger artists.

“He showed us all these things manga can do, a dream of going to another world,” Oda said in a statement. His death leaves “a hole too big to fill,” Oda added.

Bird Studio thanked fans for more than 40 years of support. “We hope that Akira Toriyama’s unique world of creation continues to be loved by everyone for a long time to come.”

Born in Aichi prefecture in central Japan in 1955, Toriyama made his manga debut in 1978 with the adventure comic “Wonder Island,” published in the Weekly Shonen Jump magazine. His Dr. Slump series, which started in 1980, was his first major hit.

It made him a celebrity, but Toriyama avoided the spotlight. In 1982, he told Japanese public broadcast NHK: “I just want to keep writing manga.”

Dragon Ball, the story of a boy named Son Goku and his quest for seven magical balls that can make wishes come true, has sold 260 million copies altogether, according to the studio.

Toriyama also designed characters for the video game series Dragon Quest. He received awards in the manga industry and beyond, including France’s Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters.

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