Prominent manga author, anime director and illustrator, Leiji Matsumoto, passed away on Feb 13, 2023 due to an acute heart failure in a hospital Tokyo. He was 85 years old.
Matsumoto was widely recognized for his work in Space Battleship Yamato (as director), Captain Harlock (manga creator), Galaxy Express 999 (manga creator) and Queen Emeraldes (manga creator), among others.
A private service was held by his wife Miyako Maki, who is also a manga creator, and close family members.
Miyako Maki also posted a message through Twitter for fans.
“I believe that he lived a happy life, allowing his thoughts to run free through the stories he drew as a manga creator. Matsumoto always used to say: ‘You can meet again at a place that connects to the distant ring of time.’ I believe in his words and look forward to that day.
To all the fans who supported him, the people involved in sending his works out to the world, the government and people who have helped him, the manga creators who honed their skills alongside him in his youth, and to all the hospital staff who aided him in his journey—I extend my deepest gratitude. Thank you so much.“
Leiji Matsumoto, who was born as Akira Matsumoto in 1938, grew up watching American Cartoons during the Pacific War in the 35mm film projector which his father gave him. He published his first manga in high-school (1953), titled Honeybee’s Adventure.
He then tasted success in early 1970s with Otoko Oidon, Gun Frontier, Senjo Manga Series and Submarine Super 99.
In 1974 Matsumoto directed Space Battleship Yamato which gave him huge fame. He went on to publish Space Pirate Captain Harlock and Galaxy Express 999 in the late 70s, both of which were well received manga.
He received the Shogakukan manga award in 1978 for Galaxy Express 999 and Senjo Manga Series.
Goku’s VA Masaki Nozawa, who had voiced Tetsuro Hoshino in Galaxy Express 999, said she was heartbroken that Matsumoto’s wish of doing something with 999 again could not come to fruition.
“Matsumoto-sensei accompanied me on so many Galaxy Express 999 events across the country. He was friendly and a great talker. I remember like yesterday how delighted he was when he wore a train conductor uniform in Yamaguchi. When we were recording for the film, he came to the studio and told us how good it was, which made it very easy for us to perform… He was a very kind person. Whenever we met, he would say, ‘We ought to do something with 999’. I was looking forward to his company again, and it’s hearbreaking that this wish of mine will never be granted.”
Both Harlock and Galaxy Express franchises spawned numerous spin-offs and side stories.
Other prominent industry members mourned the loss of Matsumoto, including Discotek Media, who have the creator’s work in their catalog.