Leiji Matsumoto

Leiji Matsumoto

Matsumoto signing books at the Geneva book fair in May, 2014.
Native name 松本零士
Born Akira Matsumoto (松本晟 Matsumoto Akira)
(1938-01-25) January 25, 1938
Kurume, Fukuoka, Japan
Nationality Japanese
Known for character design, illustration
Notable work Space Battleship Yamato, Space Pirate Captain Harlock, Galaxy Express 999
Awards Order of the Rising Sun[1]
Ordre des Arts et des Lettres[2]

Leiji Matsumoto (松本零士 Matsumoto Reiji, born Akira Matsumoto (松本晟), January 25, 1938 in Kurume, Fukuoka, Japan) is a well-known creator of several anime and manga series. His wife Miyako Maki is also known as a manga artist.[3]

Space opera

Matsumoto is famous for his space operas such as Space Battleship Yamato. His style is characterized by tragic heroes; tall, slender, fragile-looking heroines with strong wills and in some cases, god-like powers; and a love of analog gauges and dials in his spacecraft.


Leiji Matsumoto in 2008.

Matsumoto made his debut under his real name, Akira Matsumoto, in 1953. His wife is shōjo manga artist Miyako Maki (better known as the creator of the doll Licca-chan, the Japanese equivalent of Barbie).

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. 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.[4] 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.[5] 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).[6][7] 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.[8][9][10][11] 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.[12] Since Nishizaki's death in 2010, it is uncertain whether these restrictions will continue to apply.

List of works

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
Cosmo Warrior Zero 2001 Story
Dai-yojo-han series 1970–1974
Fairy Hotaruna
Fire Force DNAsights 999.9
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 1998-1999 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
Tiger-Striped Mii


  1. "Leiji Matsumoto, Shigeru Mizuki Earn Government Honors – News". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  2. "Celebrated Manga Author Leiji Matsumoto Honored With Prestigious Ordre des Arts et des Lettres At The Rank Of Knight". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  3. "牧美也子のプロフィール". allcinema. 1935-07-29. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  4. 小学館漫画賞:歴代受賞者 (in Japanese). Shogakukan. Retrieved 2007-08-19.
  5. "Friday, May 1 Tsuruga, Japan". Starblazers. Archived from the original on 2012-11-16. Retrieved 2015-05-15.
  6. "Leiji Matsumoto 1978 Interview". StarBlazers.com. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
  7. "Leiji Matsumoto 1976 Interview". StarBlazers.com. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
  8. 宇宙戦艦ヤマト事件判決. law.co.jp (in Japanese). Retrieved 2008-07-20.
  9. "Yamato dispute arises again". Anime News Network. 2008-07-10. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
  10. "Cosmoship Yamato Part 1: The Leiji Matsumoto Manga". StarBlazers.com. Retrieved 2008-10-02.
  11. "Cosmoship Yamato Part 2: The Leiji Matsumoto Manga". StarBlazers.com. Retrieved 2008-10-02.
  12. "Leiji Matsumoto: A Tribute". StarBlazers.com. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
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