Over the last few decades, no other manga/anime creator has been more influential or inspirational than acclaimed Dragon Ball creator, Akira Toriyama. And on May 30th, the French Embassy in Japan held a special ceremonial event decorating Toriyama with the ‘Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres‘ (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters), officially recognizing him for his massive achievements within the arts.

Other members on the list of recipients of the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres are Shakira, Cate Blanchett, Ang Lee, and Tim Burton, to name a few

Popularizing anime and manga across the globe in many forms, Toriyama was individually recognized for this by France last week and awarded with recognition of such significant contributions to literature, art or any combination of these fields pertaining therein. There are only 200 members awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres each year, with extremely specific criteria having needed to be met in order to qualify.

As many of you may not know, Akira Toriyama is an extremely private individual, rarely showing up to public events of any kind, including this one. Instead of Toriyama appearing to accept the award, his publisher Akio Iyoku stood in his place to accept on his behalf.

Explains why this appears to be the only image of Akira Toriyama in existence. Seriously, have any of you ever seen another pic of Toriyama in your life?

Mr. Toriyama is always very grateful to his French fans who have appreciated his works since the early days of his career. Unfortunately, Mr. Toriyama almost never attends ceremonies and so I have the honor of receiving this award in his place. He instructed me to tell you how honored he is to receive this award from your country.

-Akio Iyoku

Dragon Ball and its many spin-off/sequel series are likely what you know Toriyama from, and after the Dragon Ball manga was localized in France in 1993, it quickly exploded into popularity, making manga and anime a much more common form of entertainment and literature appearing in households across the country.

According to the Anime News Network (ANN), “Toriyama joins fellow knighted manga and anime creators Leiji Matsumoto, Jiro Taniguchi, Katsuhiro Otomo, Isao Takahata, and Takeshi Kitano.”

Click on the image above to pick-up a copy of the first 3 volumes.