We all have to meet our Maker sometime, but some of us simply do it way too early. The man who was responsible for first bringing manga as we know it to North America, Toren Smith, has passed away. Smith's friend and writer James Hudnall reported the sad news earlier today on his blog. Smith was 52.
Toren Smith was a huge figure in the history of anime and manga in the US. Being perhaps the very first North American (he was from Canada) to engage the Japanese to bring over manga, he not only made friends with the founders of Gainax, but also many key figures in the manga industry. For his hard work he was awarded with opportunities such as creating the Dirty Pair comic with Adam Warren, and getting a nod in Gainax opus Gunbuster after living with its animators for a year.
I think it's safe to say that the manga scene in North America owes Smith a great deal. From Oh My Goddess to Ghost in the Shell to Nausicaä, Smith and his team at Studio Proteus brought over some of the best manga Japan has to offer at the time. His work paved the way for the explosive growth of manga in America since. We here at Japanator extend our condolences to the family and friends of Smith, and to the rest of the community in which has benefited so much from his works.
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