'Dragon Ball' Creator Akira Toriyama Is Dead at 68 After a Legendary Anime Career

Akira Toriyama insisted throughout his career that all of his manga were purely made for entertainment.


Mar. 8 2024, Published 9:36 a.m. ET

Akira Toriyama smiling with glasses on.
Source: Getty Images

In the world of Japanese anime, few figures hold more weight than Akira Toriyama. Although he worked on many projects over the course of his life, Akira's career is likely always going to be defined by his creation of Dragon Ball and its many spin-offs, which reached a global audience far outside of Japan's borders.

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Following reports that Akira had died at just 68 years old, though, many wanted to better understand what happened to the legendary animator. Here's what we know about Akira's death, and about the incredible legacy that he is leaving behind.

A Goku mural seen at the NiceOne Barcelona Gaming & Digital Experiences Festival in 2019.
Source: Getty Images
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What happened to Akira Toriyama?

News of Akira's death was first announced in a statement by his manga and design production company Bird Studio, and Capsule Corporation Tokyo. Akira's death was apparently unexpected, as the statement mentioned explicitly that Akira had several projects in the works at the time of his death. The statement did not make any mention of where he had died, or exactly when, but made it clear that the cause was a health issue.

In addition to Dragon Ball, Akira was also known for his work on Dr. Slump, and Sand Land, and his stories and art style influenced an entire generation of Japanese animators.

Dragon Ball, though, will also be remembered as his most enduring work, and has sold millions of copies since it was first created in the mid-1980s. The manga series has also been adapted for television and film, as well as everything from merchandise to video games.

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What was Akira Toriyama's cause of death?

According to the statement released by his production company, Akira died as the result of acute subdural hematoma, which is when blood collects between the skull and brain. The issue is usually caused by a head injury, although no explanation was offered for the exact circumstances in Akira's case. Instead, much about his death was left largely unexplained.

Source: Twitter/@DiscussingFilm
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Millions of fans are collectively mourning Akira's death.

In part because he died so young, fans were understandably shocked by the news that Akira had died, and immediately began to assess the legacy he left behind on everyone who loves anime — and Dragon Ball in particular.

Akira achieved a wide audience in part thanks to his belief that his stories didn't have to do anything more than entertain their audience.

“The role of my manga,” he once said, “is to be a work of entertainment through and through.”

Following the news of his death, many other anime creators who drafted in part on his success released statements about the news, including the men behind One Piece and Naruto.

Fans also took the time to offer their thoughts on the massive impact that Akira had had on them.

"Rest in Power to Akira Toriyama. King Kai! His creative mind touched many people, many generations throughout the world, including me! Dragon Ball Z transcends beyond any age or culture limit for the past 30+ years," one person wrote on Twitter.

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