In Memoriam: Manga and Anime creator Leiji Matsumoto

Leiji Matsumoto signing his books at the Geneva Book Fair in May 2014. Photo: Fabien Perissinotto via   Wiki Commons
Leiji Matsumoto signing his books at the Geneva Book Fair in May 2014. Photo: Fabien Perissinotto via Wiki Commons

We’re sorry to report award-winning manga and anime creator Leiji Matsumoto, best known for creating epic space sagas including Galaxy Express 999 and Space Pirate Captain Harlock, has died aged 85.

Matsumoto, who made his debut under his real name, Akira Matsumoto, in 1954 with Mitsubachi no bōken in the magazine Manga Shōnen, was also known for his work with Yoshinobu Nishizaki on the 1970s TV series Space Battleship Yamato, titled Star Blazers in the United States, with Matsumoto credited as its director.

Galaxy Express 999 - art by Leiji Matsumoto
Galaxy Express 999 – art by Leiji Matsumoto
Galaxy Express 999 Collection

Matsumoto created a manga loosely based on the series, and the Yamato makes cameo appearances (sans crew) in several of his works, including the Galaxy Express 999 manga.

He also supervised several animated videos for the French electronic music duo Daft Punk, including “One More Time“. In France, he was awarded with the prestigious Order of Arts and Letters in 2012.

Matsumoto, who was seven years old when World War Two ended, said his work was informed by his wish for people not to experience war and to live for the Earth.

In this report from France 24, he remembers: “The plane that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima went right over my head. The second was meant for a town close to Fukuoka where I was living. It was bad weather that condemned Nagasaki. That traumatised me, but was a source of inspiration, as were all the experiences of my youth… personal experience is essential for a creative spirit.”

“We have lost a legend,” commented author and manga expert Paul Gravett earlier today. “I was delighted and honoured to meet him in 2017, thanks to my good friend Harumo Sanazaki. We travelled up to Yamagata to attend the opening of a major museum exhibition of his artwork. When Matusmoto-sensei realised I was British, he recalled his admiration for the bravery of British pilots in World War Two.”

“Leiji Matsumoto’s influence on the modern world has been as profound as George Lucas,” says Eisner-winning translator, writer and lecturer Zack Davisson. There are echoes of his work everywhere. He was as large as any of his characters. A dreamer who dreamed great dreams.

“As a young boy, he showed me a train going into space, and I have never been the same since. It has been my great honour to translate his works and bring them into English… [his] work was the foundation of what we know as ‘anime/manga fandom,” in both the US and Japan.

“There is a reason the first every anime convention held in the US was called ‘Yamato Con’. And the first ever anime cosplay was a collection of Leiji Matsumoto characters.”

Our sympathies to family, including his wife and fellow manga artist, Miyako Maki, at this time, and friends.

Leiji Matsumoto (松本零士, Matsumoto Reiji, born Akira Matsumoto 松本晟, 25th January 1938 – 13th February 2023)

Leiji Matsumoto – Official Site (Currently being redesigned)

Japan Times: Leiji Matsumoto, famed for ‘Space Battleship Yamato’ anime, dies at 85

Le Monde: Leiji Matsumoto, le créateur japonais d’« Albator », est mort

Leiji Matsumoto – Wikipedia

With thanks to Helen McCarthy

Categories: Animation, Comics, downthetubes News, Features, Obituaries, Other Worlds

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