The Japanese cartoonist dies in Tokyo at the age of 85. His most famous creation was taken to television and cinema.
Legendary manga artist Leiji Matsumoto, whose real name was Akira Matsumoto, passed away from acute heart failure on Monday, February 13, Studio Leijisha reported in a statement.
Matsumoto was known for his epic science fiction sagas, including Galaxy Express 999, Queen Emeraldas, and Space Battleship Yamato.
His work often included anti-war themes and emotional stories.
Matsumoto’s daughter and studio head Makiko Matsumoto noted that her father “embarked on a voyage to the sea of stars. I think he lived a happy life, thinking of continuing to draw stories as a manga artist.”
Born in 1938 in the city of Kurume, in southwestern Japan, Matsumoto was just 15 years old when his debut work, “The Adventures of a Honey Bee” (Mitsubachi no Boken), was published in a manga magazine.
After finishing high school, he moved to Tokyo to pursue his dream of becoming a professional artist.
In 1961, he married Miyako Maki, a renowned manga creator and one of Japan’s first female manga artists. Together they collaborated on various projects and the creator changed his name to Leiji Matsumoto.
His big break came a decade after he published Otoko Oidon, a series about the life of a poor young man preparing for university exams. It was highly successful and won the Kodansha Manga Award.
Several of his comics were made into anime television series, including the sci-fi epic Captain Harlock: Space Pirate, which follows the adventures of an outcast turned space pirate.
the drama of war
More than 150 of his manga stories depict the tragedy of war: Matsumoto was seven years old when World War II ended.
Many years later, he said that he had been inspired by his own father, who had been an elite army pilot, and had taught him that war should never be fought because it “destroys your future.”
Zack Davisson, a California writer who has translated much of Matsumoto’s work, said on Twitter that the world has lost an “absolute giant.”
He added that Matsumoto’s portrayal of emotionally vulnerable children and youth showed that it was okay to have feelings: “Star Blazers and Galaxy Express were a punch to the stomach. People…died. People… cried. People… fell in love.”
«There was an immense sadness in his works, a grandeur that is not seen anywhere else. All wrapped up in powerful imagery that was equally mythological and futuristic,” Davisson said.
French duo Daft Punk was a fan of Matsumoto’s work and commissioned him to create several animated music videos for them, most notably for the song One More Time, released in 2000.
Both members, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, described Matsumoto as one of their childhood heroes.
Together they also made the movie Interstella 5555, which tells the story of a band of anime aliens. The Japanese publication Pen Online described it as “a cult hit even before it came out”.
In 1999, several bronze statues were erected in the Japanese port city of Tsuruga, each depicting a character or scene from Space Battleship Yamato and Galaxy Express 999.
Matsumoto received prestigious cultural and artistic medals from Japan, including the Order of the Rising Sun, and was awarded the Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government.
His works have long been adapted and had spinoffs due to their popularity, influencing generations of manga and anime fans.