Japanese manga legend Jiro Taniguchi passes away at age 69

Source:AFP Published: 2017/2/12 17:08:39

Jiro Taniguchi, a legend in Japan's comic art of manga, died in Tokyo on Saturday at the age of 69, leaving behind an international following for his exquisite line drawing of scenes from everyday life.

The artist's French publisher Casterman announced his death on its website, adding that he had been seriously ill, as it expressed its deep condolences to his family.

Taniguchi first shot to fame in Japan at the end of the 1980s with the first volume of The Times of Botchan, which centers around Natsume Soseki, one of Japan's greatest writers.

Just over a decade later, he hit the international manga scene with A Distant Neighbourhood, about a Japanese salaryman who travels back to his childhood - widely seen to this day as his masterpiece.

Taniguchi's detailed landscapes populated by vaguely cartoonish characters drew comparisons in the West with some of the better-known European comic heroes, such as Tintin.

Born in 1947 to a modest family in the city of Tottori, 100 kilometers northwest of the old imperial capital Kyoto, Taniguchi had his first cartoon published in 1970.

He became especially popular in France, one of the biggest markets for graphic art.

In 2011, the France awarded Taniguchi the Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters.

Four years later, the annual cartoon festival in the French city of Angouleme held a retrospective of his work.

Taniguchi "really did bridge the two worlds of cartoon art - Japan and France," said Sebastien Langevin, a graphic art specialist and Canal BD Manga Mag chief editor.

Casterman, his publisher, also praised Taniguchi's character, describing him as an "extraordinarily kind and gentle" person.

"The humanism that imbued all his work is familiar to his readers, but the man himself was much less well-known, naturally reserved in character and more inclined to let his work speak on his behalf," it said.

Posted in: ART,COMICS

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