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In the Wake of Akira Toriyama’s Passing, the World is Left Wondering What’s Next for Dragon Ball and Beyond

In the Wake of Akira Toriyama’s Passing, the World is Left Wondering What’s Next for Dragon Ball and Beyond

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The world has become a slightly emptier, less cheerful place now that Akira Toriyama, the creator of the legendary Dragon Ball franchise, has passed at the age of 68. The news of his death, which was shared with the public one week after the fact, caused an outpouring of grief among the admirers of his work, many of whom grew up emboldened by the adventures of Goku and the Z-Fighters. However, aside from fans of Manga/anime and those in the industry — like Eiichiro Oda, Masashi Kishimoto, and Mazakazu Katsura — who have shared their thoughts on the loss of an icon, there’s also plenty of uncertainty regarding his ongoing and unfinished work.

As the world mourns the passing of a man whose work is in no small part responsible for single-handedly popularizing anime in the West, many are left wondering about the fate of Akira Toriyama’s other projects; most notably Dragon Ball Super, Sand Land, and Dragon Ball DAIMA. The latter is a limited series announced during a Dragon Ball panel at the 2023 New York Comic Con. So, what can we expect from those releases in the future?

Well, let’s start with the most imminent, the upcoming Sand Land. Sand Land is a Japanese manga series that was written and illustrated by Toriyama from May to August 2000. It followed Sheriff Rao, the demon prince Beelzebub, and his friend Thief on their journey to overthrow a corrupt and greedy king, who now controls the country’s water supply in a bid to extort citizens of their hard-earned money. Needless to say, the manga, though short, was a massive success, and it soon found its way to the United States in 2003, followed by a CGI anime release in August 2023. 

Following the success of the CGI animated movie, an animated series was announced in November 2023, with the voice cast and other crew from the animated film reprising their roles. Simultaneously, an RPG video game based on the manga series was also announced, and it’s currently in post-production for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S|X, and Microsoft Windows. The Sand Land animated series and the video game are scheduled to launch on March 20 and April 25, 2024, respectively. Sadly, Akira Toriyama died before either one of them premiered.


Given that the author was very involved with both projects throughout nearly the entirety of their development cycles, we’re positive that these releases will reflect the genius of Akira Toriyama’s vision. However, we still have to address the fate of Dragon Ball, Toriyama’s most famous work — particularly the ongoing Dragon Ball Super manga and the upcoming Dragon Ball DAIMA anime. Both works are still in production. Considering the author’s deep involvement with the project, his passing will likely affect the upcoming release in some way.

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Dragon Ball DAIMA is the new limited-series set to debut in the fall of 2024, aligning with the 40th anniversary of the original Dragon Ball manga. It’s likely to be in a mini-series or a single-season series format, consisting of 20-something episodes, and follows Goku and his friends who travel to a mysterious new world after they’ve been transformed into children. If you think this sounds familiar, then yes, the basics of the premise are basically what happened in Dragon Ball GT, which wasn’t an adaptation of any of Toriyama’s manga.

Dragon Ball GT was an anime-only exclusive sequel to the acclaimed Dragon Ball Z, and it had its own original and non-canonized storyline. However, Toriyama’s involvement with Dragon Ball GT was limited; the late artist designed the new characters for the show, but the story was conceived by the staff of Toei Animation. The series is often considered the black sheep of the Dragon Ball franchise, with many calling the series a money grab designed to profit off the back of Toriyama’s work. Fortunately, it would seem that DAIMA won’t suffer the same fate — or at least it shouldn’t, given Toriyama’s involvement.

Also, DAIMA is not likely to be canceled, given that it’s already in late stage development, but it might arrive later than planned. This leaves us with the ongoing Dragon Ball Super manga, which many believe is in danger now that it lost its creators. Something similar happened to Berserk, whose author passed away, but not before entrusting the continuation of the story to an intimate friend of his, Kouji Mori, who had demonstrated that the series was in good hands.

The same might be happening with Dragon Ball Super; Akira Toriyama’s chosen successor, Toyotarou, has been illustrating Dragon Ball Super since the series began in 2015. Working for nearly a decade alongside his mentor has earned Toyotarou more than enough qualifications to bring the manga to its end, especially since the definitive end of the manga is drawing near (this was previously hinted at by Akira Toriyama himself).

Toriyama’s passing marks the end of an era, but Goku’s journey, and the journey of other characters from Toriyama’s work, still isn’t over. His work will continue to be celebrate, studied, and, considering just how influential Toriyama’s work is, even built upon, ensuring that his legacy remains an inspiring force for future generations looking forward to Saturday morning cartoon blocks.


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