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Leiji Matsumoto, ‘Space Battleship Yamato’ mangaka and Daft Punk collaborator, dies at 85

Leiji Matsumoto
Photo by Stefano Guidi/Getty Images

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    Leiji Matsumoto, who is best known for creating classic manga and anime space sagas “Space Battleship Yamato,” “Space Pirate Captain Harlock” and “Galaxy Express 999,” has died from heart failure at the age of 85. 

    On Monday, Matsumoto’s company, Studio Leijisha announced that the manga artist, whose real name was Akira Matsumoto, passed away from acute heart failure at a Tokyo hospital on Feb. 13. A private funeral and ceremony were hosted by his wife, Miyako Maki. 

    In an official company statement regarding Matsumoto’s passing, his daughter, Makiko Matsumoto, gave tribute to his work, stating that 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.”

    “Matsumoto used to say, ‘At the faraway point where the rings of time come together, we shall meet again,’” his daughter, who heads Matsumoto’s studio, continued. “We trust those words and look forward to it.”

    Matsumoto was born in the southwestern city of Kurume, Japan, in 1938, where he began to draw manga at the age of 5. 

    Best known for his anti-war-themed art, Matsumoto said in an interview with Japan’s NHK television that “war destroys your future,” recalling his father’s words that “life is born in order to live, not to die.” 

    Many of his works show the tragic outcomes of war, as he experienced his father returning from war to apologize to the families of his fallen subordinates for failing to bring them back alive.

    His work with Yoshinobu Nishizaki on the TV series adaptation of “Space Battleship Yamato” is said to have influenced “Gundam” and “Neon Genesis Evangelion.”

    Matsumoto also famously collaborated with Daft Punk on several music videos, including “One More Time,” “Digital Love,” “Aerodynamic” and “Harder, Better, Faster Stronger” for their “Discovery” album, released in 2001. The videos were later combined into the 2003 short film “Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem.”

    Matsumoto received numerous cultural and arts awards from the Japanese government, as well as the Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters award from the French Minister of Culture.


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