Jiro Taniguchi, the award-winning creator of The Times of Botchan, The Walking Man and Kodoku no Gourmet, has passed away. Celebrated for his signature fine line art style, he was 69 when he died, having made his debut as a mangaka at the age of 24. His French publishers Casterman broke the sad news on Saturday.
Taniguchi was born in 1947 in Tottori City, in the west of the island of Honshu. He started out his working life as a clothing wholesaler in Kyoto, but moved the Tokyo to pursue his dream of being a manga artist. His first published work was Kareta Heya, and from then on he developed his bright and intricate art style in manga such as The Times of Botchan. This particular series, written by Natsuo Sekikawa, follows the fictionalised life of the real Botchan author Soseki Natsume. Taniguchi created many other works for mature readers, depicting the lives of ordinary people, but this one would go on to earn the Japan Cartoonists Association Awards’ Excellence Award and the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize.
Even overseas, Taniguchi’s work found recognition in a 2010 Ignatz Award nomination, as well as several Eisner Award nominations between 2007 and 2010. But his work was especially beloved in France, where he was named a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters in 2011. His work A Distant Neighborhood, about a middle-aged salary man who travels back in time to embody his younger self, inspired the 2010 French-language film Quartier Lointain, and his Summit of the Gods is set to be adapted as a French CG film.
His famous fans include Pan’s Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro, and French comic artist Moebius with whom he worked on the manga Icaro. But he will also be missed by his many ordinary fans across the world, and on their behalf as well as ours, we send our thoughts to his loved ones.