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Legendary Manga Creator Leiji Matsumoto Passes Away at 85

posted on by Rafael Antonio Pineda
Artist behind Space Battleship Yamato, Galaxy Express 999 suffered from heart failure

Image via Niccolò Caranti
Renowned manga creator, illustrator, and designer Leiji Matsumoto passed away on February 13 at 11:00 a.m. due to acute heart failure. He was 85. His immediate family already held a service with his manga creator wife Miyako Maki as the chief mourner.

Matsumoto was born with the given name Akira in 1938 at Kurume City in Fukuoka Prefecture, and he debuted as a manga artist in 1953 with Michibachi no Bōken (Honeybee's Adventure) while he was still in high school. After graduating high school, he moved to Tokyo and became popular in the 1950s as a shōjo manga creator under a pen name. He then adopted his most famous pen name, Leiji Matsumoto, in 1965.

His notable works include Space Pirate Captain Harlock, Galaxy Express 999, and Queen Emeraldas — all of which inspired multiple anime or live-action adaptations — and he contributed designs and created the tie-in manga for Space Battleship Yamato. He also supervised animated music videos for French electronic pop group Daft Punk's Discovery album, and the videos were strung together into the INTERSTELLA 5555 film. His designs and works have influenced multiple generations of artists around the world.

Matsumoto's mechanical designs ranged from sleek warships inspired by early 20th century dreadnoughts, to fantastical space trains. His characters similarly ranged from cartoonish or caricatured designs to grounded, realistic figures.

In 2001 Matsumoto was awarded the "Medal with Purple Ribbon" honor, and in 2010 he was awarded with the "Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold Rays with Rosette." In 2012 he received the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters) decoration from the French government.

Matsumoto was hospitalized in Turin, Italy in November 2019, but his condition eventually stabilized the following day. The Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported that it was suspected that he had a stroke at the time of his collapse and that he was in serious condition. He was discharged that December.

Photo provided under CC BY-SA 4.0 license

Source: NHK, Yomiuri

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