Akira Toriyama Created Beloved Characters Goku, Arale-chan; Death Mourned by Fellow Mangaka Eiichiro Oda, ‘Dragon Quest’ Game Designer

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A special section dedicated to Akira Toriyama is seen at the municipal library in Kiyosu, Aichi Prefecture, on Saturday.

For more than four decades, mangaka Akira Toriyama, who died on March 1 at the age of 68, created characters that people from all generations know — such as “Dragon Ball” protagonist Goku and Arale-chan from “Dr. Slump” — and the veteran creator’s sudden death was mourned by people who were inspired by or had worked with him.

“Dragon Ball,” which was serialized in the Weekly Shonen Jump manga magazine from 1984 to 1995, is the story of Goku growing up and fighting powerful enemies, such as Great Demon King Piccolo and Frieza, that appear one after another.

Many children imitated Goku’s signature martial arts techniques such as the Kamehameha energy attack and the Genki-dama spirit bomb.

©Bird Studio / SHUEISHA
The cover of a “Dragon Ball” comic book published by Shueisha Inc.

The manga has been adapted into anime and games, becoming popular not only in Japan but also worldwide. Commemorating the 40th anniversary of the manga this year, the release date for a new anime, “Dragon Ball Daima,” was announced for this autumn.

“Dr. Slump” was also serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump from 1980 to 1984. Protagonist Arale is a girlish android with large glasses, and her expressions such as “N-cha!” and “Kiiiiiin” became popular. The characters in the manga were loved by a wide range of generations.

Eiichiro Oda, mangaka of the popular series “One Piece,” which is serialized in the same magazine, released a comment: “It’s too early [to die]. The hole you left is too big. You are one of the people who took the baton in an era when reading manga was said to make you stupid, created an era where both adults and children enjoy reading manga and showed us a dream that manga could do such things and go global.”

Yuji Horii, a game designer for the popular “Dragon Quest” series for which Toriyama did the character design, said: “I still can’t believe the sudden news of his passing. He drew countless fascinating characters for us, and the history of Dragon Quest has been filled with Toriyama’s designs.”

Goku voice actress comments

Upon hearing of the passing of Toriyama, voice actress Masako Nozawa, who plays Goku, the lead character of the “Dragon Ball” series, has released a comment.

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Masako Nozawa

“Mr. Toriyama used to tell me, ‘Please look after Goku.’ By remembering his words, I can pull myself together to promise to stay by Goku’s side until the end of my life. Sensei, please watch over us from the sky.”

Macron posts message

French President Emmanuel Macron was among those mourning the loss of the mangaka.

Macron on Friday posted a message on X, formerly Twitter, that read: “To Akira Toriyama and the millions of fans who grew up with him.”

The message was accompanied by a photo of Toriyama’s work depicting “Dragon Ball” characters and signed, “To President Macron, Akira Toriyama.”

The Japanese artist received the Special Prize to commemorate the 40th Angouleme International Comics Festival in France in 2013.

Hometown, fans mourn

Following the news of Toriyama’s death, a memorial corner has been set up at the municipal library in his hometown of Kiyosu, Aichi Prefecture.

The library, which owns 97 copies of Toriyama’s works, set up a special section dedicated to the creator on Saturday morning.

“I got the urge to read his works again,” said a 44-year-old woman from the city, who visited the library with her 4-year-old son. “I want to read them with my son when he gets a little older.”

“We are very grateful to Mr. Toriyama,” said Tadashi Ishida, 63, director of the library. “We will continue to find ways to let even more people enjoy his works.”