Dragon Ball, Dragon Quest, and Chrono Trigger legend Akira Toriyama dies at 68

Akira Toriyama, the legendary manga artist who created Dragon Ball and was influential in the creation of many classic RPGs, has died at the age of 68. The official Dragon Ball social media accounts announced that he'd passed away on March 1st of a subdural haematoma; essentially a bleed on the brain.

"It’s our deep regret that he still had several works in the middle of creation with great enthusiasm," Bird Studio and Capsule Corporation, the comapnies behind Dragon Ball, said in a statement. "Also, he would have many more things to achieve."

"We hope that Akira Toriyama's unique world of creation continues to be loved by everyone for a long time to come," the statement adds.

Toriyama's most famous work is of course Dragon Ball, which began life as a two-part manga called Dragon Boy in 1983. Few could have predicted that this comic would evolve to Dragon Ball, and then explode into popularity with countless chapters of storytelling that was then adapeted into anime, video games, film, and beyond. 

Akira Toriyama.
Akira Toriyama.

To us on RPG Site Toriyama will be most keenly remembered for his contribution to some of the greatest role-playing games of all time, often in collaboration with the then-separate Enix and Square corporations, two of Japan's foremost RPG producers.

In the mid-eighties his unique art style was used to define the characters of Enix's Dragon Quest - and the series still uses his designs, and his style, to this day. In 1995 he partnered with Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi and Dragon Quest boss Yuji Horii to co-create Chrono Trigger, which is rightly regarded one of the greatest RPGs of its era, if not all time.

Toriyama maintained a relationship with Sakaguchi over the years, and went on to work with him on yet another new role-playing universe, designing the characters for his 2006 Mistwalker RPG Blue Dragon and its two handheld sequels. In 2021, he made a minor contribution to RPG Site's 2021 game of the year Fantasian, designing one of the title's intricate dioramas that are used for the game's backgrounds.

The 'dream team' behind Chrono Trigger created much hype around the game - Toriyama (bottom left), FF's Sakaguchi (bottom right), and DQ's Horii (top right).
The 'dream team' behind Chrono Trigger created much hype around the game - Toriyama (bottom left), FF's Sakaguchi (bottom right), and DQ's Horii (top right).

Toriyama's first posthumous video game contribution will come next month in the form of Bandai Namco's Sand Land, out next month. Sand Land is an adaptation of a Toriyama manga of the same name from 2000, and was directly supervised by Toriyama. It is likely we will be seeing new work for Toriyama despite his death from years to come, because as the statement announcing his death notes, he was a busy and deeply creative man. In particular for our audience, it's likely he was deep into his work on Dragon Quest XII: The Flames of Fate. There will also doubtless be many upcoming Dragon Ball works which has has been involved in.

"I believe that Mr. Toriyama taught me what professionalism and hard work are," frequent collaborator and games legend in his own right Hironobu Sakaguchi wrote on X. "I respected him from the bottom of my heart. I pray for his soulful rest in peace."

"I am still in overwhelming disbelief at the news of Toriyama's sudden death," writes Dragon Quest creator Yuji Horii in a statement. "The history of Dragon Quest goes hand-in-hand with Toriyama's character designs."

The official statement notes that a small funeral service for family and close relatives was already held, and requests that flowers, gifts, visits, and offerings are not undertaken by mourning fans. Privacy is also requested for his family.

We all at RPG Site would like to express our deepest condolences to Mr. Toriyama's family, friends, colleagues, and fans. His work has had a profound impact on us all - and we thank him for that.