Akira Toriyama, the artist that gave us slimes, Crono and Dragon Ball, has passed away


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Some intensely sad news to end the week on. The legendary artist who was instrumental in the development of no fewer than three art forms (manga, anime, video games), Akira Toriyama, has passed away suddenly. He was 68 years old.

He was still actively working, and was “in the middle of creation with great enthusiasm,” according to a statement. Well known for absolutely loving what he does, and having an almost endless “bucket list” of things he wanted to achieve, Toriyama will sadly not be able to finish those projects. However, what he does leave is nothing short of a staggering body of work. In the 45 years that Toriyama was active, he was instrumental in defining the development of the modern anime aesthetic through his work on Dragon Ball. He is also the reason that almost every JRPG property has a cute enemy as the first baddie that you meet.

A photo of Akira Toriyama

As the famous story goes, when the creative team were gathering around to make the original Dragon Quest, which would really define what the JRPG would become, Toriyama landed on the adorable blobby slime as a baddie that would be fun and not too intimidating to fight. He nailed that and these days Slime is one of the most valuable mascots in Japanese video games.

And of course no one can forget that were it not for Toriyama’s art, Chrono Trigger may never have become the closest thing video games has to a Citizen Kane, purely for the fearsome reputation and respect it commands.

Akira Toriyama was an artist that was as talented and brilliant as he was prolific. It is no exaggeration to say that he helped people find both video games and anime, and then for those things to become a major part of their lives. Indeed, I’m one of them. While I was never personally a big fan of Dragon Ball (that’s got nothing to do with the art, but simply that I got into anime way too late to catch up on it all), Dragon Quest means a lot to me, personally. In fact, one of the greatest moments of joy I’ve ever had in games was the time that I got to have the Dragon Quest VR adventure experience on one trip in Tokyo.

My home is full of Slime goods, and I was very lucky to be in Japan for the 30th anniversary of Dragon Quest, when Square Enix set up a temporary museum, filled with Toriyama’s work. One of the most memorable things from that experience was seeing how the developers took the brilliant art and converted it into such primitive sprites, back in the NES era.

So, yes. Dragon Quest and Toriyama’s work means a lot to me. The world is a darker place with his absence, but his legacy will endure and only become more powerful with time.

Thank you for your service, Toriyama-sama, and rest in peace.

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Matt S. is the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of DDNet. He's been writing about games for over 20 years, including a book, but is perhaps best-known for being the high priest of the Church of Hatsune Miku.

  • It feels like I just lost a beloved uncle.
    Even though I never met Toriyama-sama, I feel like he partly raised me.
    I can’t imagine how his real family must feel. My deepest condolences to them all.

    • From all accounts Toriyama was good to work with and a source of boundless energy on his projects, too. There must be an incredible number of people feeling sorrow right now – hopefully his family has the support they need at this difficult time.

    • It’s true. The one thing we can all hope for in life is to be able to leave a legacy that does us justice. That definitely applies to Toriyama.

  • I don’t know if I’ve been able to really process this yet. I love his art so much and I’ve known it since playing my first rpg, Dragon Quest, so long ago that I took it for granted that he would just go on and on indefinitely. It’s just to strange and sad.

    • For real. The stuff that Toriyama worked on will just never be the same without his oversight now. True artists are not replaceable.

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