The Legacy of Akira Toriyama: How Dragon Ball Shaped Pop Culture

Remembering the Late Creator and His Indelible Impact on Manga, Anime, and Video Games

The sudden passing of Akira Toriyama, the legendary creator of Dragon Ball, has sent shockwaves through the manga and anime communities. At the age of 68, Toriyama leaves behind a legacy that has forever altered the landscape of pop culture. From the groundbreaking success of Dragon Ball to his contributions to the global reach of anime and the JRPG genre, Toriyama’s influence is immeasurable. As fans and industry titans mourn his loss, it is essential to recognize the profound impact he has had on modern entertainment.

Defining the Golden Age of Manga

Before Dragon Ball, Toriyama had already established himself as a versatile artist with his hit comedy manga, Dr. Slump. However, it was Dragon Ball that propelled him to new heights and defined the Golden Age of manga magazine Weekly Shonen Jump. Toriyama’s ability to create a sci-fi fantasy adventure that captivated audiences showcased the breadth of his talent and the power of manga as a medium.

Introducing Anime to the World

Dragon Ball’s greatest legacy lies in its role in introducing anime to a global audience. While the series was a hit in Japan, its popularity skyrocketed internationally, particularly in the United States and Latin America. The adventures of Goku and his battles on Toonami became a rite of passage for many turn-of-the-millennium youths. Dragon Ball’s cultural impact was further solidified by its presence in mainstream media, with references to Super Saiyan mode appearing in rap songs and even on Saturday Night Live.

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Influence on Western Pop Culture

Toriyama’s influence extends beyond the realm of anime and manga. His iconic characters and storytelling techniques have seeped into Western pop culture, including the world of American superheroes. The storyboard artist for Man of Steel drew inspiration from Dragon Ball Z for the film’s climactic battle scene. Even the recent Superman cartoon, My Adventures with Superman, openly acknowledges the franchise’s influence. Toriyama’s impact is also felt in the gaming industry, where his artistry in Dragon Quest and Chrono Trigger helped shape the JRPG genre.

Lessons for Life

Beyond the flashy battles and muscular characters, Dragon Ball carried an underlying message of self-belief and the power of camaraderie. Many fans encountered the series at a formative stage in their lives, and its lessons of perseverance, friendship, and personal growth resonated deeply. Toriyama’s work continues to inspire generations, reminding them that with determination and support, anything is possible.


The passing of Akira Toriyama marks the end of an era in manga, anime, and gaming. His contributions to pop culture are immeasurable, from defining the Golden Age of manga to introducing anime to a global audience. Toriyama’s influence extends beyond his original medium, permeating Western pop culture and inspiring countless individuals. While he may no longer be with us, his legacy will continue to unfold and shape the future of entertainment. The impact of Akira Toriyama and Dragon Ball will forever be etched in the annals of pop culture history.