Leiji Universe: Akira Matsumoto and his sci-fi (Topic)

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Leiji Universe: Akira Matsumoto and his sci-fi


When talking about the main person in anime history, Osama Tezuka is often remembered for a reason. He is truly the "godfather of anime". However, he had many successors who worked after him and significantly developed the industry. As for me, one of his main successors is Akira Matsumoto, aka Matsumoto Leiji. It was with his cosmic and immersive 70s anime that modern otaku culture began and has evolved into what we know today. During his life, Leiji made about 30 sci-fi anime that are considered classics today. Such creations as Galaxy Express 999, Space Battleship Yamato, Space Pirate Captain Harlock - came out from under his hand. From all his works, he created a whole cosmic and unified universe with crossovers between characters, which is known as the Matsumoto Universe. So who is Leiji Matsumoto? Let's take a look.

Sex, Robots, Career

Leiji is one of those manga artists, to which fame did not come immediately. He has been working as an ordinary artist for 10 years. He was brought into the industry by his wife, who already worked there [she later created Likku-Chan - the Japanese equivalent of Barbie].


Although even before that he had an addiction to manga at school, and he sent his works to local newspapers, magazines, and after that he moved to Tokyo to conquer the city. It was difficult at first, but over time he still became an artist, working for various magazines. He was fortunate enough to work as an assistant to Osamu Tezuka for a long time before starting his own career, where he experimented with different genres: story novel, comedy, historical war stories and even shoujo until 1968, when he wrote a manga with the self-explanatory name Sexaroid. Where he first portrayed the main character as a tall, slender girl with long hair, which will later become a characteristic feature of all his heroines.

However, the attraction was not so much the plot as the sci-fi elements in the work. Then, in principle, there was some kind of obsession with science fiction in the world, and this was the same trend as today, for example, isekai.

After gaining publicity after this manga, he began to create other works in this genre, which can be described as the setting of World War II within the framework of science fiction. From here the work of War Stories also appeared. He received considerable publicity when he wrote the first version of Harlock's Great Pirate Captain Harlock.

Space battleship flying into the hall of fame

Despite the large number of good works, real fame came to him after the release of Space Battleship Yamato. It is an anime that a whole generation of Japanese people grew up on, and the name Leiji itself has become synonymous with science fiction in anime. Yamato told the heroic story of the crew of a WWII battleship converted for space travel to save Earth from the evil aliens who turned the planet into a nuclear wasteland. He set many standards for science fiction in anime that are evident to this day, from telling an epic story that spreads throughout the season, to insisting that death and loss always accompany war.

In addition, Yamato himself was the national pride of Japan during World War II, known as the largest of all battleships in existence Despite the fact that now the anime and the name Laizdi go together, the author of the idea was not he, but the producer of the series Yoshinobu Nishizaki ... Matsumoto himself was the character designer as well as the director of three seasons of the series.


After the series ended in 1980, Matsumoto's creativity began to peak. He began writing and filming a bunch of works within his emerging universe: Space Pirate Captain Harlock, Galaxy Express 999, Queen Millennia, Queen Emeraldas. He also started working in the main genre of anime - furs, and from under his hand came two furs from the anime Starzinger and Planet Robot Danguard Ac.


These works are often considered to be the best in his almanac. Of course, we can say that the number of all the anime released by Matsumoto exceeds their quality, but often his most famous paintings, namely Yamato and the Galactic Express, are not the only ones worthy of attention.

Unfortunately, many works have not received their logical conclusion.

Post-war rise

Like most authors who grew up during the Second World War and the nuclear bombing, Akira included his autobiography in his work as a person who survived all this. In addition, often all of his works are of a military nature. We wrote earlier about how a nuclear strike affected the minds of Japanese manga artists - Akira is one of them.

The metaphor of World War II is present in all of Matsumoto's works. But not only in the space opera about Yamato, which brought him his initial fame, but also in later works. The metaphor refers to the post-war period, when Japan rebuilt itself from the ashes of defeat and the price paid for the war.

For Matsumoto, who grew up in the post-war period, these stories carry a strong autobiographical element: watch almost any animated adaptations of his futuristic universe [up to recent works] and you'll find the archetype of an angry young boy growing up in poverty .

And this is one of the characteristic features of his works - the combination of the greatness of space and poverty. All his heroes are poor revolutionaries who reflect the unfulfilled dreams of youth and the ideals of the author. They have a grain of morality, and the characters are not difficult to empathize.


And on this dream, which has not come true in life, the plots of those about whom Matsumoto writes are largely built.

In addition, his anime has influenced many other films, such as Cowboy Bebop. Cowboy Bebop has made several direct references to Matsumoto's futuristic universe - the most obvious of which is Vicious's character, who borrowed certain design elements from Harlock.

Matsumoto's futuristic universe, like Cowboy Bebop, also combines elements from different genres: Western-style adventure films with Errol Flynn, pictures about samurai by Akira Kurosawa and even Gothic horror. This genre mix is perhaps best exemplified in Galaxy Express 999, which [much like Cowboy Bebop] was a journey between various exotic planets in the Matsumoto universe, each with their own unique appearance.

The Topic of Article: Leiji Universe: Akira Matsumoto and his sci-fi.
Author: Jake Pinkman