In Memoriam: Akira Toriyama

Posted on 3/13/2024

The legendary mangaka was renowned for international successes such as Dragon Ball Z and Dr. Slump.

The Certified Collectibles Group® (CGC®) is saddened to learn of the passing of legendary mangaka Akira Toriyama at the age of 68 on March 1, 2024. Toriyama’s work in the manga industry inspired many of the present day’s leading manga creators, including Masashi Kishimoto (Naruto) and Eiichiro Oda (One Piece), and spurred the recognition of anime and manga internationally.

Toriyama began drawing early in his life, beginning with drawing animals, vehicles and his friends in elementary school. Manga such as Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy served as an inspiration for Toriyama, and he began drawing the occasional manga throughout his education. Upon graduation, in lieu of pursuing higher education, Toriyama chose to enter the workforce and found a job drawing posters. At the age of 23, he quit, citing that he was “sick of the environment.”

Toriyama then entered an amateur manga contest in Kodansha’s Weekly Shonen Magazine and submitted more to Weekly Shonen Jump. Although his first few entries didn’t score well, he was encouraged to continue submitting entries. Toriyama’s Wonder Island was finally published in 1978 in Weekly Shonen Jump, but it was unpopular with readers. Toriyama wouldn’t strike the hearts of fans until two years later, when he created Dr. Slump in 1980.

Dr. Slump was serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump from 1980 to 1984 and was extremely successful. The manga follows Arale — a robot girl created by a kind-hearted but lewd professor — and her attempts to navigate life in Penguin Village. Dr. Slump debuted at number two in Weekly Shonen Jump’s reader rankings, much to Toriyama’s surprise, and the series accumulated a following that resulted in an anime adaptation, several films, video games and light novels.

Following the end of Dr. Slump, Toriyama drew on his interest in kung fu and Japanese folklore to create Dragon Boy, a two-part manga that was well-received, but didn’t take off like Dr. Slump did. Toriyama wasn’t ready to give up on the concept, so he reworked it into what would become Dragon Ball — a tale that followed protagonist Son Goku from childhood to adulthood as he learns martial arts, makes friends and searches for the legendary Dragon Balls — seven magical spheres that call a dragon to grant a wish.

Dragon Ball was an explosive success that not only earned Toriyama fame but also achieved international acclaim for its story and fighting scenes. Dragon Ball and its sequel, Dragon Ball Z, are some of the best-selling manga series of all time. Over the course of 11 years, the series evolved into a massive multimedia franchise, including manga, films, video games, merchandise, multiple anime adaptations and more.

After 11 years, Toriyama stepped back from the Dragon Ball series, turning Goku and his friends over to his protégé — Toyotarou, who illustrated Dragon Ball Super and most other modern Dragon Ball creations under Toriyama’s guidance. Toriyama went on to work on other projects, such as artwork for the Dragon Quest series and Chrono Trigger, creating one-shot mangas and producing Sand Land, an upcoming video game based on one of his earlier manga series.

According to Bird Studio — of which Toriyama is a founder — Toriyama still had several projects in development at the time of his death, though their future is currently uncertain.

“It’s our deep regret that he still had several works in the middle of creation with great enthusiasm,” the studio said in a release on March 8, 2024. “Also, he would have many more things to achieve. However, he has left many manga titles and works of art to this world… We hope that Akira Toriyama’s unique world of creation continues to be loved by everyone for a long time to come.”

Thank you for all the mystical adventures, Akira Toriyama!

Stay Informed

Want news like this delivered to your inbox once a month? Subscribe to the free CGC eNewsletter today!


You've been subscribed to the CGC eNewsletter.

Unable to subscribe to our eNewsletter. Please try again later.

Articles List

Add CGC Card

Create a Set

Join CGC for free to add cards, track your collection and participate in the CGC Trading Cards Registry or CGC Sports Cards Registry.

Join CGC

Already a member? Sign In
Add to CGC Card Registry Example
Add to CGC Card Registry Example