Leiji Matsumoto (松本 零士 Matsumoto Reiji, born Akira Matsumoto January 25, 1938 in Kurume, Fukuoka, Japan) is a well-known creator of several anime and manga series such as Galaxy Express 999 and Space Pirate Captain Harlock, all within a shared yet paradoxically-told universe. He is married to Miyako Maki (牧 美也子 Maki Miyako) a manga artist in her own right.
Matsumoto is famous for his space operas such as Space Battleship Yamato and Galaxy Express 999. 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.
Matsumoto's characters tend to look the same with most generic characters having distinct oval-shaped (or potato-like) features. Young women are often depicted as being tall, having light hair that goes down to their lower backs, willowy, possess long eye lashes, and glittering eyes. Some of his male characters are often lean young men with messy brown hair that covers part of their face. Most if not all major characters also have a taste for alcohol, especially wine or bourbon.
Matsumoto's spacecrafts are often considered the highlights of his series with many of them featuring elements from real life ships with the Arcadia sporting elements of a Galleon. Most ships also feature more traditional gauges, dials, and levers rather than the more advanced operating systems and interfaces seen on government backed ships.
Matsumoto's works often encompassing oppressive (often governmental) powers that are often seen on Earth and other so called safe havens. This likely references Matsumoto's time growing up during and after Imperial Japan with the country's oppressive rule on how it treated its citizens and refuges that did not have government backing. As a result, many characters are forced to fight to overcome their hardships.
Career and InfluenceEdit
Matsumoto made his debut under his real name, Akira Matsumoto, in 1953. His wife is shōjo manga artist Miyako Maki.
Matsumoto had his big break with Otoko Oidon, a series that chronicled the life of a rōnin (a young man who was preparing himself for entrance examinations to universities and colleges), 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 the debut of the highly popular series Captain Harlock and Galaxy Express 999 (both 1977). In 1978, he was awarded the Shogakukan Manga Award for the shōnen demographic for Galaxy Express 999 and Senjo Manga Series. 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. 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). 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.
Copyright Court Cases Edit
A recent work by Matsumoto called Great Yamato featuring an updated Yamato had to be renamed Great Galaxy due to legal issues with Nishizaki. 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. Since Nishizaki's death in 2010, Nishizaki's ownership of the series went on to his oldest son as well as distribution rights to another company.
Galaxy Express 999 also came under fire when a musician named Noriyuki Makihara of Chemistry had a song similar to the themes of the series. Matsumoto immediately started a lawsuit that lasted for years. Makihara however did not know about 999. From the year 2006-2012, Matsumoto's case against Makihara had brought into question about Makihara's social evaluation. After the case was resolved, Matsumoto publicly apologized, deciding not to attack Makihara again.