The manga author Leiji Matsumoto, creator of “Albator”, died at 85


The author became known in the 1970s with his first works of science fiction, but it was the adventures of Captain Albator, a pirate with a scarred face, that brought him worldwide success.

He was the father of the “privateer captain” whose adventures rocked the children of the 1980s. Leiji Matsumoto, a legend of manga and Japanese animation, died last week at the age of 85, of heart failure, announced Monday, February 20, the production company Toei. The author was particularly known for science fiction works such as Yamato, the space battleship (1974) or Galaxy Express 999 (1977).

But it is especially the series Captain Albator (Harlock in the original version and in English) which made it impossible to circumvent in the whole world. It tells the adventures of a space corsair with a scar on his face and a long black cape with a skull on it. Published in Japan between 1977 and 1979 and then adapted into a cartoon, this work has been a worldwide success, including broadcast on French television from 1980. “Albator is my oldest and most faithful friend. He is my alter ego in his determination,” said Leiji Matsumoto in 2011 at the Annecy Animation Film Festival, where he came to present the trailer of the film Albator, Space Pirate.

Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters
Born in 1938 on the island of Kyushu, in southwestern Japan, this precocious genius, an admirer of the great mangaka Osamu Tezuka, published his first manga at age 15. The artist said he was inspired to create his work by the atomic bomb dropped by the United States on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, when he was 7 years old and living in Fukuoka, 300 km from there.

This pop culture icon also signed in the early 2000s a medium-length animated film for which the album Discovery by the French band Daft Punk provided the soundtrack. Decorated in 2012 by France with the medal of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Leiji Matsumoto celebrated in 2013 his 60 years of career at the Angoulême Comics Festival, where he was the guest of honor. He had more recently participated in the Japan expo, a major exhibition dedicated to Japanese pop culture, in Paris, in 2019, with another legend of manga, his compatriot Go Nagai, author of Goldorak.