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Tuesday, December 3, 2019

10 Manga Artists Who Died Before Finishing Their Masterpiece

Every fan would grieve upon realizing that their favorite anime and manga will no longer continue, as the man behind the masterpiece has passed away too soon.

Talk about hitting someone's heart with two stones:

  1. The story you're following every week will no longer reach its conclusion. As such, you'll never see your favorite characters in a new scene again, and you'll try to satiate your cravings by re-watching the anime. If you couldn't get out of the obsession, you might start campaigning for someone else to continue the dead mangaka's work, which is a hopeless case as it didn't happen to many unfinished novels that we know. If nothing feeds your fantasy, the ghost of the unintendedly killed series will haunt you for a long time.
  2. The poor mangaka-sensei died, and that alone is devastating already. A successor may replace him, but nothing compares to that artist who inspired people with elements only he can deliver. As the legacy continues, you remain unsatisfied with what you see because you believe that the story could go better if it were sensei who still runs it.
Crayon Shin Chan a fat cartoon kid wearing red shirt and yellow pants winking and smiling while his hand high and a beautiful mecha girl with blue eyes and brown hair wearing red suit.

When you discovered a good anime with no conclusion, you'll realize how bad it feels compared to a hiatus.

If a manga author like Yoshihiro Togashi puts Hunter x Hunter in a break for the nth time, fans knew that he'd be back again. Moreover, updates, crossovers, and new merch appear just around the corner from time to time.

But when the mangaka suddenly dies while their novel is at its climactic point, the impact will cut deep into the hearts of many fans. Think about what will happen to the world if Oda dies before finishing One Piece.

Fans are not the only people affected here. Don't forget the family and close friends of the creator who passed away. It's every mangaka's dream to finish what they started, especially if it's a good story and if it means a lot to them. In many of the stories we have in this list, people close to the Japanese novelist thought that it would please the creator's soul if someone would help finish their work for the whole world to see.

We bring this heartbreaking discussion to you, as they indeed happened. So if you don't want to end up having a life-long frustration, you may want to check out this list to avoid watching anime and manga series with no endings.

But if you're stubborn and curious enough to watch their life's work, feel free to do so. Read on to learn more about these manga creators who perished before they could finish their masterpiece.

#11 - Noburo Yamaguchi (The Familiar of Zero)

Japanese guy novelist Noburo Yamaguchi wearing format suit and red tie speaking to a microphone

With only 20 out of 22 chapters finished, The Familiar Of Zero is one of the ultimate cliffhangers after its creator, Noburo Yamaguchi died of an advanced stage cancer.

The mangaka amassed great popularity when he started his light novels Kaze No Kishime and Zero No Tsukaima (The Familiar Of Zero).

OVA banner of The Familiar Of Zero with beautiful magical anime girls wearing gowns and tiaras in pink background.

Yamaguchi went on hiatus due to a series of surgeries performed to thwart cancer growth. Before Yamaguchi's death in 2013, he was able to share the plot, including the ending of his life's work, The Familiar Of Zero to his editors.

Yamaguchi's family and his fans also wanted to see the completion of the said series. As such, Media Factory was able to release its 21st volume in 2016 and the last chapter in 2017.

#10 - Tomohiro Matsu (Hatena Illusion)

A coffin with anime girl drawing in tribute to a dead manga creator Tomohiru Matsu

Known for his of light novels series such as "Listen To Me, Girls. I Am Your Father! (PapaKiki!) and "Mayoi Neko Overrun! (Stray Cat Overrun!)" These two novels with 18 and 12 volumes respectively became an anime series.

His last novel series, Hatena Illusion, remains unfinished after his death in 2016, due to liver cancer. Despite the short amount of content, the 4-novel series earned an anime adaptation in 2017.

#9 - Takeyuki Kanda (The 08th MS Team)

Old Japanese man named Takeyuki Kanda wearing white jacket and blue shirt standing behind wall with anime stickers

Famous for his outputs on Dragon Warrior, Metal Armor Dragonar, and Ultraman Anime, Takeyuki Kanda's demise makes another blow to the Japanese animation industry.

Banner a rusty battle mecha gundam robot sitting and holding a gun with text that says Mobile Suit Gundam The 08th MS Team

The 08th MS Team, an original video animation of Kanda, outlines the exploit of the Earth Federation Ground Unit during a year war. He worked half of the series (6 out of 12) before he died on July 27, 1996, due to a car accident.

#8 - Yoshito Usui (Crayon Shin-Chan)

Old Japanese man smiling for camera and a fat cartoon kid wearing red with a cartoon dog and his sister

Many fans were shocked by the untimely death of Yoshito Usui, the author behind the popular Crayon Shin-Chan series. The novel depicts the story of an adventurous five-year-old boy.

Usui went missing on September 12, 2009, from hiking in Gunma Prefecture. After a week, his dead body was found and identified. Three thousand people who knew him personally and loved his work attended his funeral service.

Yoshito Usui did not finish the manga and never intended to end it anytime soon. As such, the story remained hanging until Usui's team began a new Crayon Shin-Chan manga in 2010.

#7 - Shotaro Ishinomori (Cyborg 009)

A team of red suit warriors with text label Cyborg 009 Call of Justice

Ishinomori became an influential manga artist, tokusatsu, and artist for his massive works such as Cyborg 009, Sabu and Ichi's Detective Memoirs, and Hotel. His name is also attached to other famous creations like Kamen Rider, The Legend Of Zelda, Power Rangers, and more.

In 1968 and 1988, he received a Shogakukan Manga Award for his works Sabu to Ichi Torimono Hikae and Hotel and Manga Nihon Keizai Nyumon, respectively. Ishinomori died of heart failure a few days after his 60th birthday. He died without resuming the famous Cyborg 009, but was resumed in 2012 with his original novel drafts, concept notes and sketches.

#6 - Ken Ishikawa (Getter Robo)

Red robot armor and half guy wearing red scarf with Getter Robo logo in the corner.

Getter Robo is another series that went on hiatus after an important production person's death. Go Nagai, co-creator of the said series, started the mecha show with his friend Ken Ishikawa, who illustrated and also wrote parts of the novel.

Getter Robo mecha revolves around the story of Hayato Jin, Ryoma Nagare, and Musashi Tomoe. They piloted three combat jets, named Jaguar, Eagle, and Bear, uniquely designed for them. If the three mecha joins together, they become a giant fighter robot.

In 2007, after a golfing event, Ishikawa collapsed and rushed to the hospital, but he was pronounced dead. Following that year, Naoto Tsushima continued Ishikawa's continuity of the series and released the manga entitled Getter Robo Hien: The Earth Suicide. The story of this new arc roots from the drafts and notes of Ishikawa before his death.

#5 - Kaoru Tada (Itazura Na Kiss)

Cover of Kaoru Tada's Itazura No Kiss with anime boy and anime girl about to kiss

Young Kaoru Tada started with a shojo genre as a highschool student. Her works feature love stories and usually revolve around a female protagonist and her love interest. Though it may sound cliché, fans never grew tired of her outputs, with many of them becoming immensely popular.

Some of her timeless novels include Tiinzu Burabo, Kimi No Na Wa Debora, and the unfinished Itazura Na Kiss (Mischievous Kiss).

Tada suddenly passed away due to a horrific accident. While moving to a new home, she accidentally hit her head on a marble table and fell into a coma. Three weeks after a long slumber, she passed away at a very young age of 38.

Itazura Na Kiss manga did not meet its finalization. But her husband gave the nod to its anime adaptation, which ended its story.

Tada's masterpiece inspired many novels and live-drama adaptations, which became popular in many Asian cultures. Her promising works are evidence of what she could have contributed further to Japanese culture, particularly in anime-romance niche if she only lived longer.

#4 - Umanosuke Iida (Towa no Quon)

Blue eyed anime boy with spiky hair and brown quote with a slight smile.

Iida is a Japanese director, anime creator, and screenwriter who played a huge role in some of the most sought-after anime series such as Cowboy Bebop, Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind, Lupin III Part III, and Towa No Quon, an unfinished project.

Towa No Quon is a six-film anime series that portrays the story of Quon, a leader of humans with distinct abilities who try to defend themselves from a secret organization, Custos, who seeks to hunt them down.

#3 - Satoshi Kon (Dreaming Machine)

Black and white image of the late Satoshi Kon wearing glasses and pony with his hands crossed while looking at the camera

Known for his dark creations and exploration of the human psyche, especially of fondness of female characters, Satoshi Kon arises as a one-in-a-billion talented artists. Some of Kon's most talked about animation include Paprika, Perfect Blue, Paranoia Agent, and the unfinished Dreaming Machine.

Dreaming Machine entails the story of three robots. Although the whole plot is not made public, it was reported to be a fantasy-adventure show many kids and adults would love. This anime could have been a promising project until his death shocked the whole world.

Satoshi Kon chose to remain silent and out of the public eye after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. His health quickly deteriorated after he learned of the disease and was embarrassed to appear in his emaciated state.

Kon recorded his last message for everyone, and his family uploaded it in his blog upon his death.

Image of a girl android robot running wearing red suit and holding a pink bag in her left arm running around a fancy building with view of the city

The Dreaming Machine remained canceled as of this writing. Madhouse production wouldn't mind continuing this project if a talented Japanese animation director at par with Satoshi Kon's ability came along.

#2 - Osamu Tezuka (Phoenix)

Osamu Tezuka creator and animator with his work Astro boy a young robot with shiny hair and huge anime eyes and a small lion named kimba caught by a huge black dog

Known as "The Father Of Manga," "The Godfather of Manga," and "The God Of Manga," Osamu Tezuka's life's work and even his death made a significant impact to the Japanese culture. Tezuka's unmatched output, innovative techniques, and unique redefinitions helped honed animation to what it is today.

Some of Tezuka's creations include Astro Boy, Black Jack, Princess Knight, Kimba the White Lion, Unico, Message to Adolf, The Amazing Three, and Buddha.

Phoenix, Tezuka's life work, consists of 12 books about independent stories that took place in different eras. One notable story involves a man's journey to attain immortality through the blood of a Phoenix. This attempt to a complete depiction of life's story started in 1956 and ended after his sudden passing in 1989.

Manga cover of the Phoenix Volume 9 by Osamu Tezuka

Phoenix had its final chapter in the production, but they remained unfinished after Tezuka's death. The mangaka died of stomach cancer, and his last words were, "I'm begging you, let me work," which he utters after a nurse took away his drawing equipment.

#1 - Akira Toriyama (Dragon Ball)

News broke out about the sudden death of Akira Toriyama, the man behind the Dragon Ball franchise. This left our childhood anime favorite, which captured our hearts since the 90s, unfinished. 

Toriyama died due to subdural hematoma, which occurs when a blood vessel in the brain gets damaged and causes blood clot formation. With 260 million copies sold, Toriyama is one of the most successful mangakas and has inspired millions of otakus. Although he worked for 45 years, the fate of Dragon Ball remains unknown due to his passing. His death crushed the hearts of many fans.

Updated: 03/10/2024


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  2. So sad to hear about so much talent coming to an end just because of their physical circumstances. Rest in piece.

  3. Now you can give Kentaro Miura the number one spot...

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