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A Tribute to Akira Toriyama from the Streaming Community

As kids, millennials around the globe began their days engrossed in Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball. As they scarfed down breakfast, these kids watched in awe as muscled fighters wreathed in golden auras screamed their lungs out. Dragon Ball was a 30 minute trip to another world, another culture, before reality came crashing back in as they raced off to school.

Many of these children are now stars of the streaming and online communities. So when they heard that Akira Toriyama had passed away, the man behind such a formative show, the love and tributes poured out in waves. On March 8th, Bird Studio announced that Akira Toriyama had died a week earlier. He was just 68, still actively involved in the franchises he had crafted through his life: Dragon Ball, Dragon Quest, and SAND LAND just to name a few. He left behind a legacy that touched games, manga, anime, art and culture.

In the wake of his passing, fans and creators alike revisited Toriyama’s works. They held tribute streams, honoring the impact of his masterful character designs and the forthright morality championed in his stories.

Akira Toriyama Created Worldwide Phenomenons Spanning Decades

Akira Toriyama had a hand in many of the most iconic Japanese franchises from the 80’s onward. Dragon Ball was one of the trio of manga from Shonen Jump’s golden age, along with Takehiko Inoue’s Slam Dunk and Yoshihiro Togashi’s YuYu Hakusho. At the same time, he began work as a character designer for the RPG series Dragon Quest, creating one of the most iconic enemies in video game history: Dragon Quest’s Slime. With his style imbued into two massive franchises, Toriyama’s career took off.

In total, he created 519 issues of Dragon Ball, while lending his talents to 49 Dragon Quest video games. But perhaps most impressive is the sheer reach of his work: Dragon Ball aired in 81 countries over its many iterations, bringing anime to a mainstream audience around the world even before Pokémon. All shōnen anime since, from Naruto to One Piece, owe their existence and success to the precedent set by Toriyama’s work.

Dragon Ball and Dragon Quest Endured Into the Age of Streaming

Toriyama’s work pervaded into the streaming arena as well, pulling in competitive creators playing Dragon Ball’s fighting games or more casual fans playing RPGs like Dragon Quest and Chrono Trigger. Dragon Ball FighterZ was by far the most popular game on streaming platforms, with 65M hours watched generated from 3M hours aired since its release in 2018. A surprising success on streaming platforms was Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride, originally a 1992 title for the SNES. The game is a classic, again featuring Toriyama’s iconic character designs, which even 30 years later brings back in fans of retro games.

Dragon Ball games had a fantastic year in 2022, buoyed by a collaboration with Fortnite. But even in 2023, 39 years after its inception, the series continued to hold strong. With over 50 games within the Dragon Ball franchise being played across 13 distinct genres, there is truly something for everyone to find comfort in. This flexibility speaks to the absorbing nature of Dragon Ball’s world and characters, allowing them to be iterated upon in different forms and different contexts while still packing the same excitement as always. Streamers clearly love revisiting that world, with over 1M hours of airtime in 2023 alone.

Tributes for Akira Toriyama Flood Streaming Platforms from Around the World

Data for tribute streams was found by searching for keywords in stream titles such as “Akira Toriyama”, “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Quest”, to name a few

The love of Toriyama’s work was truly global. Despite almost all of his works being originally created for a Japanese audience, the largest demographic paying tribute to Toriyama on Twitch was Spanish-speaking users at 48.2%. French-speaking Twitch users sat at 4.4%, reflecting Toriyama’s 2019 honor of being knighted as France’s Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters. Ultimately across all platforms, 2.1K channels created streams to pay tribute to the iconic mangaka, with 1.1M hours watched over these streams.

This global outpouring of respect spread into group meet-ups as well. People rallied around the world to show their love, gathering in places as distant from Japan as Argentina to celebrate Toriyama’s life. The online community, of course, joined the tributes as well. On the MMO Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, players congregated to recreate Goku’s iconic Spirit Bomb move, a symbol of souls combining as one toward a shared purpose. 

Tumblurr was by far the most watched streamer paying tribute to Toriyama. Tumblurr’s Twitch stream on the 8th of March garnered 160K hours watched, with the first hour devoted to chatting about the unfortunate news and paying his respects. Attrix also created a near 7 hour stream, devoting part of it to playing the Dragon Ball Super Card Game online. Internet personalities from outside of Twitch paid their respects to Toriyama as well, from Ben Schwartz to Jacksepticeye to Team Four Star, the group behind the much-loved Dragon Ball Z Abridged. The list of fans and mourners runs far too long to put here.

Although Toriyama is gone, his work lives on. Of course his art will be there for future generations to enjoy, and the impact of his designs on other mangaka and artists is undeniable. But this year there are also two new works which Toriyama directly worked on: The video game SAND LAND, which releases on the 24th of April, and a new series Dragon Ball DAIMA which marks the 40th anniversary of the original Dragon Ball manga. Stream Hatchet is excited to see the new ideas Toriyama has weaved into these stories.

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