After news of the passing of Leiji Matsumoto became public, members of the anime and manga industries have been paying tribute to the renowned manga creator, illustrator, and designer. Matsumoto passed away on February 13 at 85 years old.
— 内藤泰弘/YasuhiroNightow (@nightow) February 20, 2023
Trigun manga creator Yasuhiro Nightow tweeted: “Matsumoto-sensei. I was drawn into the world of manga because of his work. My work abounds with the droplets of stars he gave to me. I am content with the knowledge that they have carried to the next generation. Tonight, I will be reading Wadachi and Daijunjō-kun. Thank you for all the hard work. And I express my gratitude from the bottom of my heart.”
Matsumoto’s personal company Leijisha posted an announcement through the Twitter account of Matsumoto’s beloved cats Miime and Miikun:
A message from Leijisha:
On February 12, 2023, the manga artist Leiji Matsumoto departed from a city hospital on a journey to the sea of stars.
We are grateful to all the fans who have supported him.
Matsumoto always used to say: “You can meet again at a place that connects to the distant ring of time.”
We believe in those words and look forward to that day.
Matsumoto’s manga creator wife Miyako Maki, who is the representative director of Leijisha, also left the following message:
On February 12, 2023, the manga artist Leiji Matsumoto departed from a city hospital on a journey to the sea of stars. He was 85 years old. His immediate family has already held a private service.
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 those words and look forward to that day.
To all the fans who supported him, the people involved in delivering his works to the world, the government and organization 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.
I apologize, but I must refuse all condolence gifts, flowers, and telegrams. I plan to accept flower offerings and telegrams at a farewell gathering, which will be held on a later date. Also, I cannot say yet when I can provide details about the farewell gathering.
Tetsuro Hoshino voice actress Masako Nozawa commented: “Matsumoto-sensei accompanied me on so many Galaxy Express 999 events around 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 praised us, which made it very easy for us to act… He was a very kind-hearted person. Whenever we met, he would always say, “We ought to do something with 999. I was looking forward to his company again, and it breaks my heart that this wish of mine will never be granted.”
Animator Hirotoshi Sano (Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory, RahXephon) drew the following illustration, showing Matsumoto’s iconic characters Captain Harlock, Tetsuro Hoshino, and Maetel:
— 佐野浩敏 (@ihORno0uhBmO179) February 20, 2023
Anime distributor Discotek Media tweeted: “We were saddened to hear of the recent passing of Leiji Matsumoto, one of the greats of anime & manga. The list of what he created can feel almost endless, from Galaxy Express 999, Captain Harlock, to Space Battleship Yamato (Star Blazers.)
His work will continue to be loved.”
We were saddened to hear of the recent passing of Leiji Matsumoto, one of the greats of anime & manga. The list of what he created can feel almost endless, from Galaxy Express 999, Captain Harlock, to Space Battleship Yamato (Star Blazers.)
His work will continue to be loved. pic.twitter.com/E76leH7Gj5
— 💿Discotek Media (@discotekmedia) February 20, 2023
Captain Harlock and Queen Emeraldas manga translator Zack Davisson tweeted:
Saddened to hear of the passing of Leiji Matsumoto. As a young boy, he showed me a train going into space, and I have never been the same since. It has been my great honor to translate his works and bring them into English. 然らば, sensei.
Few artists had as much affect on my life as Leiji Matsumoto. His work was some of the first to receive English language releases. Long before the words “anime” or “manga” existed in the English language, we knew the name of Leiji Matsumoto.
I woke up every morning at 6 AM, long before I needed to to get ready for school, because I couldn’t miss an episode of STAR BLAZERS. That relentless countdown of days left to save the earth…
Leiji Matsumoto‘s genre was ostensibly science fiction, but he called it “Boy’s Romance.” And that’s what it was; it sparked my imagination and emotions in ways that no other stories had. It showed me who I wanted to become.
Leji Matsumo’s work was the foundation of what we know as “anime/manga fandom,” in both the US and Japan. There is a reason the first every anime convention held in the US was called “Yamato Con.” And the first ever anime cosplay was a collection of Leiji Matsumoto characters.
Leiji Matsumoto‘s influence on the modern world has been as profound as George Lucas. There are echoes of his work everywhere. He was as large as any of his characters. A dreamer who dreamed great dreams.
Papuwa manga creator Ami Shibata tweeted: “When I was still a newcomer, I received a long message that was filled with sternness, kindness, and a lot of heart. It can also be a message to every aspiring manga creator, so I have decided to post it. Matsumoto-sensei, I became a manga artist because of the numerous works of yours that I read.”
In the message, Matsumoto described Shibata as someone who stands at the forefront of the new generation and praised her storytelling ability. He then wrote the work of a manga artist is a lifelong endeavor, and that in order to maintain the stamina required to keep drawing over a long haul, one must have a target or a source of power. He encouraged Shibata to taking on new challenges and to take pride in who she is.
Dance in the Vampire Bund manga creator Nozomu Tamaki tweeted:
I’ve only met Leiji Matsumoto once. It was when I interviewed him about a Space Battleship Yamato PlayStation game. After we had a lively discussion about a wide range of topics, he asked me on the way home: “What kind of manga are you drawing?”
At the time, I was barely eking out a living with an adult magazine. Sheepishly, I told him the gist of it. In response, he encouraged me: “That’s fine, isn’t it? Draw that kind of thing while you can. Before long, you won’t be able to draw it even when you want to!”
I asked, “When you say ‘not being able to draw it,’ are you talking about age?” to which he grinned in response and said, “You’ll get teased by children in school.”
I suppose he was recalling his experiences drawing Sexaroid and Mystery Eve. It was a moment that stood out to me even more than the interview.
Sources: Mainichi Shimbun’s Mantan Web, Yasuhiro Nightow‘s Twitter account, Leijisha’s Twitter account, Hirotoshi Sano‘s Twitter account, Discotek Media‘s Twitter account, Zack Davisson‘s Twitter account, Ami Shibata‘s Twitter account, Nozomu Tamaki‘s Twitter account