Leiji Matsumoto

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Leiji Matsumoto
Leiji Matsumoto - Salon du Livre Genève, 3rd May 2014 3 - cropped.jpg
Matsumoto signing books at the Geneva book fair in May 2014
Akira Matsumoto (松本晟, Matsumoto Akira)

(1938-01-25) January 25, 1938 (age 85)
Kurume, Fukuoka, Japan
Known forcharacter design, illustration
Notable work
SpouseMiyako Maki

Leiji Matsumoto (松本零士, Matsumoto Reiji, born Akira Matsumoto 松本晟, January 25, 1938) is a Japanese mangaka, creator of several anime and manga series. His wife Miyako Maki is also a manga artist.[3][4]

Early life[edit]

Matsumoto 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. At 18, he moved to Tokyo, to become a mangaka.[5]

Space opera[edit]

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


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

Matsumoto made his debut under his real name, Akira Matsumoto, in 1954 with Mitsubachi no bōken in the magazine Manga Shōnen.[6]

Matsumoto had his big break 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 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.

He was involved in Space Battleship Yamato (1974) and created the highly popular series Space Pirate Captain Harlock and Galaxy Express 999 (both 1977). In 1978, he was awarded the Shogakukan Manga Award for shōnen for Galaxy Express 999 and Senjo Manga Series.[7] Animated versions of Captain Harlock and Galaxy Express 999 are set in the same universe, which spanned several spin offs and related series, most notably Queen Emeraldas and Queen Millennia.

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.

About two dozen bronze statues – each perhaps 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.[8] Each statue includes a plaque at its base explaining the character, and featuring Matsumoto's signature.

Himiko, a water bus of Tokyo Cruise Ship 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).[9][10] 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.

A recent work by Matsumoto called Great Yamato featuring an updated Yamato had to be renamed Great Galaxy due to legal issues with Nishizaki.[11][12][13][14] 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.[15] Since Nishizaki's death in 2010, it is uncertain whether these restrictions will continue to apply.

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.[16] Dimensional Voyage is a retelling of the original 1978 Space Pirate Captain Harlock manga. It had been licensed in the U.S. by Seven Seas.[17]

Matsumoto is one of the 'Frontier Ambassadors' of Koriyama City (Fukushima Prefecture).

Personal life[edit]

His wife is shōjo manga artist Miyako Maki (better known as the creator of the doll Licca-chan, the Japanese equivalent of Barbie).


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.[18] However, he was considered to be out of danger two days later.[19]

List of works[edit]

Name Year(s) Role(s) Reference(s)
Arcadia of My Youth 1982 Story
Arcadia of My Youth: Endless Orbit SSX 1982-1983 Story
Arei no Kagami 1985 Story
Captain Harlock: Dimensional Voyage 2014 Story
Cosmo Warrior Zero 2001 Story
Dai-yojo-han series 1970–1974
Fairy Hotaruna 2008
Fire Force DNAsights 999.9 1998
Galaxy Express 999 1977–1981 Story
Great Galaxy
Great Yamato No. Zero 2004-2007 Story
Gun Frontier 1972–1975 Story
Harlock Saga 1998-1999 Story
Insect 1975
Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem 2003 Production
Kousoku Esper 1968–1970
Machinner series 1969–1970
Maetel Legend 2000 Story
Maeterlinck's Blue Bird: Tyltyl and Mytyl's Adventurous Journey 1980 Character
Mystery Eve 1970–1971
Otoko Oidon 1971–1973
Ozuma 2012 Story
Planet Robot Danguard Ace 1977–1978 Story
Pu Pu 1974
Queen Emeraldas 1978-1979 Story
Queen Millennia 1980-1983 Story
Saint Elmo – Hikari no Raihousha 1986 Credited
Senjo Manga series 1973–1978
Sexaroid 1968–1970
Space Battleship Yamato 1974
Space Pirate Captain Harlock 1977–1979 Story
Space Symphony Maetel 2004-2005 Producer
Starzinger 1978–1979 Story
Submarine Super 99 1970-1972 Story
The Cockpit 1993 Story
The Galaxy Railways 2003-2007 Producer
The Ultimate Time Sweeper Mahoroba 1993-1998
Tiger-Striped Mii 1978

Collected editions[edit]

Manga collections (American publishers)[edit]

Captain Harlock and Yamato[edit]

  • Captain Harlock: Dimensional Voyage Vol. 1-10 Publisher: Seven Seas (September 5, 2017 – 2019)
  • Space Battleship Yamato: The Classic Collection Publisher: Seven Seas; Translation edition (April 9, 2019)
  • Captain Harlock: The Classic Collection Vol. 1-3 Publisher: Seven Seas; Illustrated edition (June 12, 2018)

Galaxy Express and Emeraldas[edit]

  • Queen Emeraldas volume 1 - volume 2 Publisher: Kodansha Comics; Illustrated editions (July 26, 2016)
  • Galaxy Express 999, Vol. 1-5 Publisher: VIZ Media LLC; Original edition (March 8, 1999 – 2002)

See also[edit]

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


  1. ^ "Leiji Matsumoto, Shigeru Mizuki Earn Government Honors – News". 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. ^ "Leiji MATSUMOTO (manga artist)". Anime News Network. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  5. ^ Tatsumi, Mook (2005). The World of Leiji Matsumoto.
  6. ^ "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.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ "Friday, May 1 Tsuruga, Japan". Starblazers. Archived from the original on November 16, 2012. Retrieved May 15, 2015.
  9. ^ "Leiji Matsumoto 1978 Interview". StarBlazers.com. Archived from the original on March 21, 2012. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  10. ^ "Leiji Matsumoto 1976 Interview". StarBlazers.com. Archived from the original on March 12, 2012. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  11. ^ 宇宙戦艦ヤマト事件判決. law.co.jp (in Japanese). Retrieved July 20, 2008.
  12. ^ "Yamato dispute arises again". Anime News Network. July 10, 2008. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  13. ^ "Cosmoship Yamato Part 1: The Leiji Matsumoto Manga". StarBlazers.com. Archived from the original on January 5, 2011. Retrieved October 2, 2008.
  14. ^ "Cosmoship Yamato Part 2: The Leiji Matsumoto Manga". StarBlazers.com. Archived from the original on March 14, 2012. Retrieved October 2, 2008.
  15. ^ "Leiji Matsumoto: A Tribute". StarBlazers.com. Archived from the original on October 2, 2009. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  16. ^ "Leiji Matsumoto to Launch New Captain Harlock Manga". Anime News Network. July 18, 2014. Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  17. ^ "Seven Seas Licenses Captain Harlock: Dimensional Voyage Manga". Anime News Network. January 11, 2017. Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  18. ^ Lorenzetti, Simona (November 15, 2019). "Malore a Torino per Matsumoto: il papà di Capitan Harlock è grave". Corriere della Sera.
  19. ^ "Torino, migliorano condizioni Matsumoto, sveglio e cosciente il creatore di Capitan Harlock". torino.repubblica.it.

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