Japanese manga artist Leiji Matsumoto dies at 85

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Manga master Leiji Matsumoto, whose epic sci-fi stories were highly influential in Japan’s comic-book and anime worlds, has died aged 85, production company Toei said Monday.

Matsumoto’s cult works such as “Space Battleship Yamato”, “Captain Harlock” and “Galaxy Express 999” were adapted into animated TV series and films that enjoyed global popularity in the 1970s and 80s.

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He also supervised production of an anime set to the songs of French electro duo Daft Punk, who used part of the film as the music video for their 2000 hit “One More Time”.

The artist died last week of heart failure, Toei said in a statement.

A precocious talent and teenage admirer of the great manga artist Osamu Tezuka, Matsumoto published his first comic “The Adventures of a Bee” aged just 15.

From interstellar steam trains to battles against aliens wielding radioactive meteorites, Matsumoto’s fantastical depictions of machinery and space travel were revered in Japan and abroad.

The French government awarded him the prestigious Order of Arts and Letters in 2012, and even today in Japan, songs from his cartoons are karaoke favorites often played by brass bands at baseball games.

In a 2013 interview with AFP, Matsumoto described living through the 1945 atomic bombings that brought World War II to an end.

“The plane that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima went right over my head. The second was meant for a town close to Fukuoka where I was living. It was bad weather that condemned Nagasaki,” he said.

“That traumatized me, but was a source of inspiration, as were all the experiences of my youth... personal experience is essential for a creative spirit.”

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