On March 1, 2024, Akira Toriyama passed away. Toriyama, 68, was one of the most influential creators of our time with his iconic and beloved works, with a career spanning over 40 years. His work includes creating one of the most iconic manga of all time, as well as character designs for a few beloved video games. At the time of his death, Toriyama was still working on a handful of projects -- his love for entertaining his fans was a priority. The fact that his most iconic work Dragon Ball had become internationally popular was shocking. According to his 2013 interview with The Asahi Shimbun, he only had one goal with his storytelling;

"While the manga was being serialized, the only thing I wanted as I kept drawing was to make Japanese boys happy." 

"The role of my manga is to be a work of entertainment through and through," he said. "I dare say I don't care even if (my works) have left nothing behind, as long as they have entertained their readers."

Growing up in the 1990s, Dragon Ball Z was a huge part of my life. It's safe to say that Dragon Ball Z was one of the first anime many people saw outside of Japan, making it a "gateway" anime. Dragon Ball Z, the follow-up to the series Dragon Ball, follows an adult Son Goku as he faces universe-threatening villains, a legendary rivalry with fan favorite Vegeta, and fatherhood. The action series has been a global pop culture phenomenon since the 1990s with no signs of slowing down. In November 2018, Super Saiyan Blue Goku debuted in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, marking the first time an anime and manga character was included in the 100-year-old American parade. Since then, other popular anime characters such as Pikachu, and Monkey D. Luffy have all participated in the parade.

Aside from Dragon Ball, Toriyama's other bodies of work have also been long-time fan favorites. In 1995 the Super Nintendo role-playing game Chrono Trigger was released worldwide, featuring box art and character designs from Toriyama. Chrono Trigger is regarded as one of the best video games of all time, with over 3 million units selling worldwide. The game would inspire a small franchise of its own, with the last official game Chrono Cross, being released in 1999. To date, no new games are in development. Toriyama also did the character design and artwork for 2006's Blue Dragon. This multi-platform role-playing game was well received on its release and has become a fun collector's piece.

Of course, we can't talk about Toriyama without his breakthrough series Dr. Slump. Serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump from 1980 to 1984. Much like Dragon Ball, Dr. Slump launched a media franchise that includes movies, television shows, and video games. In 2004 Viz Media began translating Dr. Slump for English language audiences, bringing in new fans into Toriyama's earlier work. The manga alone has sold over 30 million copies (with a majority of those sold in Japan), and the characters are still in the public eye to this day thanks to various tie-ins.

Akira Toriyama was a key figure in bringing the world of manga and anime to a broader international audience. His impact will be felt for generations to come, and I am confident his work will continue to inspire and entertain.