Tezuka Osamu Tezuka Osamu

Osamu Tezuka, CEO and president of leading Japanese media company and anime powerhouse Toei Company, has died. He was 62.

No cause of death was provided for the executive, who is not related to the manga artist of the same name, nor was the exact date of his passing made public.

Toei managing director and chairman Noriyuki Tada is taking over as president following Tezuka’s passing.

Tezuka joined Toei in 1983 and spent the next four decades at the company. He became a member of Toei’s board in June 2012, before being promoted to managing director in June 2016. In June 2020, he was promoted to president and CEO and served in that role until his death.

Toei’s assets include Toei Animation Studio and Toei Animation Museum; live-action studios in Tokyo and Kyoto; two film and video production sites in eastern and western Japan – Toei Digital Center and Toei Labo Tech; the Zukun Laboratory dedicated to digital visual content research; the T-Joy theater chain; and much more.

During Tezuka’s time at the company, Toei Animation expanded into an animation powerhouse that now boasts a catalog of more than 13,300 films and tv episodes. Major Toei franchises include Sailor Moon, Digimon, Dragon Ball, One Piece, Slam Dunk, and many more.

Under Tezuka’s leadership, Toei had its best box office year ever in 2022, powered by feature films from the One Piece and Slam Dunk franchises. Toei’s total box office revenue for the year reached a company record 32.56 billion yen (USD$246.6 million).

“Our company adapts to change and produces visual content with unchangeable appeal, no matter how the media and platforms transform,” said Tezuka in a recent message outlining the state of the company.

“The Toei Group will continue to create and deliver visual content and characters that can entertain people domestically and globally,” he added. “Toei has the passion, affection, and technology for creation, and with our mission to ‘forever provide content enjoyed and loved by many people around the world,’ we will continue contributing to society.”

After announcing Tezuka’s passing, Toei outlined the company’s ten-year plan. In a document accompanying the announcement, Toei recognizes that it’s now operating in a globalized content market and that audiences are becoming more spread out and more diverse. By focusing on content for the global marketplace and establishing production bases outside of Japan, including in the U.S., the company hopes to grow its international revenue as a share of its total revenues from 30% today to 50% by 2033.

Toei plans to produce two live-action films and one animated feature each year and is aiming for average box office grosses of around 3 billion yen (USD$23 million) for each. The company also plans to invest further in virtual production and artificial intelligence tools.

A private ceremony will be held for close friends and family with another larger memorial held for colleagues at a later date.

Pictured at top: One Piece: Film Red, Osamu Tezuka, The First Slam Dunk

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Jamie Lang

Jamie Lang is the Editor-in-Chief of Cartoon Brew.