Leiji MATSUMOTO, Akira MATSUMOTO being his real name, was born in 1938 in Kurume, Fukuoka prefecture. He got keen on drawing when discovering Osamu TEZUKA’s manga and Walt DISNEY’s animated films. He started drawing himself at 9 and made his first comics. His passion for pirates already showed and he created the first of them, Bokenki, when he was still in primary school.
At 15 only, he sent pages from a manga called Mitsubachi no Bôken (the adventures of a bee) to Manga Shônen magazine. Leiji MATSUMOTO got selected for their contest of young artists and won it. His manga was published the following year and the young mangaka got spotted by Osamu TEZUKA. He became his assistant. After finishing high school, he left for Tokyo and started earning his living with shôjo. He switched to shônen with a successful first western in 1960, Laramee Tokujô (1960).
In 1968, he started science fiction with Sexaroïd. Then followed Otoko Oidon (1971), his first social comedy which won the Kôdansha Manga Award. In the 70s, science fiction and space opera were very successful all around the world and Leiji MATSUMOTO distinguished himself in this genre, first in 1974 as a designer on the animation series Space Battleship Yamato which made a deep impression on whole generations of fans and artists, and on which he worked again later in his career. A few years later, in 1977, he created two of his more famous works, Galaxy Express 999 and Captain Harlock, whose hero had first appeared in 1969 in Dai-Kaizoku Captain Harlock. The anime adapted from Harlock’s adventures made Leiji MATSUMOTO’s work even more successful abroad. In 2001, Harlock made a comeback in Cosmo Warrior Zero, an OAV series on which Leiji MATSUMOTO worked on the script.
His creativity expressed itself beyond science fiction: he used the western codes in Gun Frontier and developed the theme of war in The Cockpit and Battlefield Manga. Music also has an important place in his work: in 1992, he adapted an opera by Richard WAGNER in Harlock’s universe in Der Ring des Nibelungen, the first manga ever published on the Internet. He developed this passion and collaborated with the French electro duo Daft Punk on the film Interstella 5555, used for the DVD of the Discovery album (featured at Cannes Film Festival in 2003), and on the One more Time music video.
In 2013, Leiji MATSUMOTO’s mythical hero is brought back to life in the 3D animated film, Space Pirate Captain Harlock. After over 40 years, the success of the hero created in 1977 hasn't faltered. In 2015, Leiji MATSUMOTO also worked as the chara-designer of the anime Kanpai, about sake.
For more than 60 years, Leiji MATSUMOTO has been casting a spell on manga fans science fiction enthusiasts all around the world. He is one of the great names who contributed to lay down the foundations of today’s manga and anime, and inspire the new generations of artists who fill our dreams.
Don’t miss one of the major authors in the history of manga. Japan Expo is inviting you to meet Leiji MATSUMOTO at signings and attend a panel that will end with an exceptional live drawing! He will be attending the festival on Thursday and Friday.
- Mitsubachi no bôken (1954)
- Sexaroid (1968)
- Dai-Kaizoku Captain Harlock (1969)
- Otoko Oidon (1971)
- Gun Frontier (1972)
- Space Battleship Yamato (1974)
- The Cockpit (1975)
- Captain Harlock (1977)
- Galaxy Express 999 (1977)
- Queen Emeraldas (1977)
- Space Battleship Yamato II (1978)
- Queen Millenia (1980)
- Harlock Saga: Der Ring des Nibelungen (1989)
- Fire Force DNAsights Fortress 999.9 (1996)
- Cockpit Legend (1999)
- Space Battleship Great Yamato (2001)
- Space Battleship Great Galaxy (2003)
- Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem (2003)
- Captain Harlock Dimensional Voyage (2014)
Follow Leiji MATSUMOTO on leijimatsumoto.jp