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The legendary Leiji Matsumoto dies age 85
The legendary Leiji Matsumoto dies age 85

The legendary Leiji Matsumoto dies age 85

Written by Ross Locksley on 20 Feb 2023

Leiji Matsumoto, whose real name was Akira Matsumoto, has died at the age of 85 due to acute heart failure on February 13th. The announcement was made by his studio, Leijisha.

A statement by his daughter and head of Studio Leijisha, Makiko Matsumo, read: 

(He) "set out on a journey to the sea of stars. I think he lived a happy life, thinking about continuing to draw stories as a manga artist."

Making his debut in 1954 in Manga Shōnen with Mitsubachi no bōken, his first big break came in 1971 with Otoko Oidon which followed the life of a young man preparing for university entrance exams. 

Leiji Matsumoto's work helped pioneer the rise of anime in the West, his work on 70's anime Captain Harlock and Galaxy Express 999 was visually and emotionally striking, instantly iconic and achingly cool. So much so that French house music duo Daft Punk commissioned the visionary artist to produce a series of animated shorts to accompany their music videos, the pinnacle of which was the 2000 single "One More Time". They went on to produce a film, Interstella 5555 about a group of alien musicians.

His stories carried a lot of emotional weight, partly due to his surviving World War II and was taught the idea of wars destroying our future from his father. As such they have become timeless classics, with 4-foot statues of his characters erected in downtown Tsuruga, each with a plaque signed by the artist and explaining their role in each story. 

Matsumoto rightly won a slew of awards for his work both at home in Japan and internationally, most notably Japan's Order of the Rising Sun and France's Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters. 

On my first visit to Japan, I was thrilled to take a ride on the Hotaluna cruise ship which was designed by Matsumoto, which has a twin ship named Himiko (which has no deck). Both are based on a teardrop and are lit up at night to accentuate the beautiful design cues. His art not only fired the imagination, it literally became reality and carried people across the country.

We have lost an absolute giant of the genre, and his passing will mark the end of a remarkable man and career. Everyone at The UK Anime Network sends their prayers to the family.

Ross Locksley
About Ross Locksley

Ross founded the UK Anime Network waaay back in 1995 and works in and around the anime world in his spare time.

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