Leiji Matsumoto

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Leiji Matsumoto
Matsumoto signing books in 2014
Akira Matsumoto

(1938-01-25)January 25, 1938
Kurume, Fukuoka, Empire of Japan
DiedFebruary 13, 2023(2023-02-13) (aged 85)
Tokyo, Japan
Known forCharacter design, illustration
Notable work
SpouseMiyako Maki
Websiteleiji-matsumoto.ne.jp Edit this at Wikidata

Leiji Matsumoto (Japanese: 松本零士, Hepburn: Matsumoto Reiji, born Akira Matsumoto (松本晟); January 25, 1938 – February 13, 2023) was a Japanese manga artist, and creator of several anime and manga series. His widow Miyako Maki is also a manga artist.[3]

Matsumoto was famous for his space operas such as Space Battleship Yamato and Galaxy Express 999.[4] His style was characterized by mythological and often tragic storylines with strong moral themes, noble heroes, feminine heroines, and a love of strange worlds and melancholic atmosphere.[5]

Early life[edit]

Leiji Matsumoto was born on January 25, 1938, in Kurume, Fukuoka.[6] He was the middle child of a family of seven brothers, and, in his early childhood, Matsumoto was given a 35mm film projector by his father, and watched American cartoons during the Pacific War. During this time, he gained an interest in science fiction novels by authors Unno Juza and H. G. Wells.[7] Matsumoto started drawing at the age of six, and began drawing manga three years later after seeing the works of Osamu Tezuka.[6] At 18, he moved to Tokyo to become a manga artist.[7]


Leiji Matsumoto as the honorary stationmaster of Ōizumi-gakuen Station in 2008

In 1954, Matsumoto made his debut under his real name, Akira Matsumoto, with Mitsubachi no bōken in the magazine Manga Shōnen.[8]

Matsumoto's big break came with Otoko Oidon, a series that chronicled the life of a rōnin (a young man preparing for university entrance exams), in 1971. In 1972 he created the mature-themed dark comedy Western seinen series Gun Frontier for the Play Comic magazine, which ran from 1972 to 1975. Around the same time he started a series of unconnected short stories set during World War II, Senjo Manga Series, which would eventually become popular under the title The Cockpit.[5]

He was involved in Space Battleship Yamato (1974) and created the highly popular series Space Pirate Captain Harlock (1977) and Galaxy Express 999 (1977). In 1978, he was awarded the Shogakukan Manga Award for shōnen for Galaxy Express 999 and Senjo Manga Series.[9] Animated versions of Captain Harlock and Galaxy Express 999 are set in the same universe, which spawned several spin offs and related series, most notably Queen Emeraldas and Queen Millennia.[5]

Matsumoto supervised the creation of several music videos for the French house group Daft Punk, set to tracks from their album Discovery. These videos were issued end-to-end (making a full-length animated movie) on a DVD release titled Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem.[5]

Approximately two dozen bronze statues – each four feet tall – of characters and scenes from Space Battleship Yamato and Galaxy Express 999 were erected in the downtown area of Tsuruga in 1999. Each statue includes a plaque at its base explaining the character and features Matsumoto's signature.[10]

Himiko, a Tokyo Cruise Ship water bus designed by Leiji Matsumoto

Matsumoto worked with Yoshinobu Nishizaki on Space Battleship Yamato (known outside Japan under various names, but most commonly as Star Blazers).[11][12] Matsumoto created a manga loosely based on the series, and the Yamato makes cameo appearances (sans crew) in several of his works including the Galaxy Express 999 manga.[5]

A later work by Matsumoto called Great Yamato featuring an updated Yamato was renamed Great Galaxy due to legal issues with Nishizaki.[13][14][15][16] As of 2009, Matsumoto and Nishizaki were working on independent anime projects featuring the acclaimed Space Battleship Yamato, with the conditions that Matsumoto cannot use the name Yamato or the plot or characters from the original, and Nishizaki cannot use the conceptual art, character or ship designs of the original.[17]

In August 2014, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of his debut, Matsumoto launched the manga Captain Harlock: Jigen Kōkai (Captain Harlock: Dimensional Voyage), illustrated by Kōichi Shimahoshi, in the pages of Akita Shoten's Champion Red magazine.[18] Dimensional Voyage is a retelling of the original 1978 Space Pirate Captain Harlock manga. It had been licensed in the United States by Seven Seas Entertainment.[19]

Personal life[edit]

Matsumoto was married to manga artist and Licca-chan creator Miyako Maki.[20]

On November 15, 2019, Matsumoto suffered severe respiratory problems and collapsed during an event in Turin, Italy, for the 40th-anniversary tour celebrating the Captain Harlock anime adaptation. He was taken to a hospital in critical condition and had a breathing tube inserted after he was admitted to the emergency unit.[21] However, he was considered to be out of danger two days later.[22]


Matsumoto died of acute heart failure at a hospital in Tokyo on February 13, 2023, at the age of 85.[20] Various manga artists offered condolences, including Yasuhiro Nightow, Nozomu Tamaki, and his wife Maki. Galaxy Express 999 voice actress Masako Nozawa and translator Zack Davisson also gave their condolences.[23]

Selected works[edit]

Name Year Role(s) Ref.
Arcadia of My Youth 1982 Story [5]
Arcadia of My Youth: Endless Orbit SSX 1982–1983 Story [5]
Arei no Kagami 1985 Story [24]
Captain Harlock: Dimensional Voyage 2014 Story [18]
Cosmo Warrior Zero 2001 Story [5]
Fire Force DNAsights 999.9 1998 [5]
Galaxy Express 999 1977–1981 Story [5]
Great Yamato 2000–2001 [5]
Great Yamato No. Zero 2004–2007 Story [5]
Gun Frontier 1972–1975 Story [5]
Harlock Saga 1998–1999 Story [5]
Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem 2003 Production
Maetel Legend 2000 Story [5]
Maeterlinck's Blue Bird: Tyltyl and Mytyl's Adventurous Journey 1980 Character
Otoko Oidon 1971–1973 [5]
Ozuma 2012 Story [5]
Planet Robot Danguard Ace 1977–1978 Story [5]
Queen Emeraldas 1978–1979 Story [5]
Queen Millennia 1980–1983 Story [5]
Saint Elmo – Hikari no Raihousha 1986 Credited [5]
Senjo Manga series 1973–1978 [5]
Sexaroid 1968–1970 [5]
Space Battleship Yamato 1974 [5]
Space Pirate Captain Harlock 1977–1979 Story [5]
Space Symphony Maetel 2004–2005 Producer [5]
Starzinger 1978–1979 Story [5]
Submarine Super 99 1970–1972 Story [5]
The Cockpit 1993 Story [5]
The Galaxy Railways 2003–2007 Producer [5]
The Ultimate Time Sweeper Mahoroba 1993–1998 [25]

See also[edit]

  • Marianne Hold—German actress who is the template for Matsumoto's lead female characters.[26]


  1. ^ "Leiji Matsumoto, Shigeru Mizuki Earn Government Honors". Anime News Network. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
  2. ^ "Celebrated Manga Author Leiji Matsumoto Honored With Prestigious Ordre des Arts et des Lettres At The Rank Of Knight" (Press release). Anime News Network. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
  3. ^ "牧美也子のプロフィール". allcinema. July 29, 1935. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
  4. ^ Yamaguchi, Maria (February 20, 2023). "Leiji Matsumoto, creator of 'Space Battleship Yamato,' dies". ABC News. Retrieved February 20, 2023.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af Toole, Michael (June 3, 2012). "The Mike Toole Show: A Leijiverse of Possibilities". Anime News Network. Retrieved February 21, 2023.
  6. ^ a b 松本零士が85歳で死去、零時社・松本摩紀子氏「星の海に旅立ちました」. Natalie (in Japanese). February 20, 2023. Retrieved February 21, 2023.
  7. ^ a b Tatsumi, Mook (2005). The World of Leiji Matsumoto.
  8. ^ "松本零士の漫画家60周年を記念する3期構成展覧会、第1期は松本作品の原点を紹介 | CINRA". www.cinra.net (in Japanese). Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  9. ^ 小学館漫画賞:歴代受賞者 (in Japanese). Shogakukan. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved August 19, 2007.
  10. ^ "Friday, May 1 Tsuruga, Japan". Starblazers. Archived from the original on November 16, 2012. Retrieved May 15, 2015.
  11. ^ "Leiji Matsumoto 1978 Interview". StarBlazers.com. Archived from the original on March 21, 2012. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  12. ^ "Leiji Matsumoto 1976 Interview". StarBlazers.com. Archived from the original on March 12, 2012. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  13. ^ 宇宙戦艦ヤマト事件判決. law.co.jp (in Japanese). Retrieved July 20, 2008.
  14. ^ "Yamato dispute arises again". Anime News Network. July 10, 2008. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  15. ^ "Cosmoship Yamato Part 1: The Leiji Matsumoto Manga". StarBlazers.com. Archived from the original on January 5, 2011. Retrieved October 2, 2008.
  16. ^ "Cosmoship Yamato Part 2: The Leiji Matsumoto Manga". StarBlazers.com. Archived from the original on March 14, 2012. Retrieved October 2, 2008.
  17. ^ "Leiji Matsumoto: A Tribute". StarBlazers.com. Archived from the original on October 2, 2009. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  18. ^ a b Sherman, Jennifer (July 18, 2014). "Leiji Matsumoto to Launch New Captain Harlock Manga". Anime News Network. Retrieved February 21, 2023.
  19. ^ "Seven Seas Licenses Captain Harlock: Dimensional Voyage Manga". Anime News Network. January 11, 2017. Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  20. ^ a b 「宇宙戦艦ヤマト」「銀河鉄道999」松本零士さん死去、85歳 急性心不全. Nikkan Sports (in Japanese). February 20, 2023. Retrieved February 20, 2023.
  21. ^ Lorenzetti, Simona (November 15, 2019). "Malore a Torino per Matsumoto: il papà di Capitan Harlock è grave". Corriere della Sera.
  22. ^ "Torino, migliorano condizioni Matsumoto, sveglio e cosciente il creatore di Capitan Harlock". la Repubblica. November 17, 2019.
  23. ^ Morrissy, Kim (February 20, 2023). "Anime, Manga Industry Members Honor Leiji Matsumoto's Memory". Anime News Network. Retrieved February 21, 2023.
  24. ^ Clements, Jonathan; McCarthy, Helen (2006). The Anime Encyclopedia: A Guide to Japanese Animation Since 1917. Stone Bridge Press. ISBN 1845765001.
  25. ^ Loo, Egan (December 19, 2011). "Leiji Matsumoto Plans Cosmo Super Dreadnought Mahoroba Film". Anime News Network. Retrieved February 21, 2023.
  26. ^ Croquet, Pauline (February 20, 2023). "Leiji Matsumoto, l'auteur de mangas japonais et le créateur d'«Albator», est mort". Le Monde (in French). Retrieved February 21, 2023.

External links[edit]