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Legendary creator of iconic sci-fi mangas, Leiji Matsumoto, dies at 85

The world has lost another legendary artist, as manga and anime creator Leiji Matsumoto has passed away at the age of 85.

The news was confirmed by his studio, Studio Lejisha, which is being managed by his own daughter. In the statement released, it was revealed that the artist died of acute heart failure at a hospital in Tokyo on February 13.

“Manga artist Leiji Matsumoto has departed for the sea of stars,” the official statement reads.

A private funeral was held for Matsumoto. The ceremony was then led by his wife, Miyako Maki, a former Shōjo manga artist who became known for creating illustrations for Licca-chan, the ‘Japanese version’ of Barbie.

The Japanese artist, whose real name is Akira Matsumoto, was born in Fukuoka Prefecture in 1938. He started drawing manga at age five and had his first work, ‘Mitsubachi no Boken (Honey Bee’s Adventures),’ published in a manga magazine when he was just fifteen.

He catapulted to fame in the 1970s through his original manga series titled ‘Otoko Oidon,’ which tells the story of a young, poor man in Tokyo who is studying for university entrance examinations. It was very well received that it bagged the ‘Kodansha Publishing Award’ for children’s manga.

Most of Matsumoto’s work revolves around anti-war themes with emotional plots. As he was alive when World War II ended (at age seven), it is not surprising that many of his manga stories (more than a hundred) deal with the tragedy of war. Some of his best-known sci-fi sagas are ‘Galaxy Express 999,’ ‘Queen Emeraldas,’ and ‘Space Battleship Yamato,’ to name a few.

Many of his manga, including ‘Space Pirate Captain Harlock’ and ‘Galaxy Express 999,’ were adapted into anime television series which garnered popularity both in and outside Japan. Due to his works’ popularity, aside from being adapted, they have also spawned several spin-offs. Without a doubt, these creations had a profound impact on generations of manga and anime fans, as well as on modern manga creators.

Matsumoto’s artistry was also recognized by award-giving bodies several times. He was bestowed ‘The Order of the Rising Sun,’ one of the several outstanding ‘culture and arts’ medals in Japan. Moreover, the French government honored him by awarding him the ‘Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters.’

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