As I was going to bed on March 7, I came across a Tik Tok that I thought was somebody trolling, claiming that legendary mangaka Akira Toriyama had passed away. Immediately I went to Google and saw dozens of articles confirming that he had died, from official posts to reaction. Someone who had a profound impact on my childhood and my entire life through his work was gone, at just 68 years old.

According to a statement from BIRD Studio, Toriyama died due to a blood clot in his brain on March 1, and all of the services were private.

For those who don’t know, Toriyama is the creator of “Dragon Ball,” one of the most successful franchises in the history of animation. Alongside “Dragon Ball,” Toriyama is known for his other manga “Dr. Slump,” as well as contributions of his art to the video games “Chrono Trigger” and the “Dragon Quest” series.

Without Toriyama, the world of animation would not be what it is now, his influence on animation and storytelling is borderline unparalleled. References to his work and clear inspiration are evident not only in Japanese animation, but in American animation as well. Growing up, many of the shows I watched on Cartoon Network specifically would imitate scenes from “Dragon Ball,” due to the show’s mega popularity.

In Japan, vaunted series like “Naruto,” “One Piece” and “Bleach” simply would not be what they are now, were it not for Toriyama’s influence on the industry.

For me I don’t even know where to begin with what “Dragon Ball” has meant to me as a child but literally to my entire life. My earliest memory of “Dragon Ball” is one of its most iconic moments, I couldn’t have been older than three or four, but I vividly remember the episode as it was when Goku, the show’s main character, tapped into his Super Saiyan powers for the first time after watching his best friend be killed by the villainous Frieza. From that moment on, I was hooked.

Some of my favorite memories from the show include Goku’s battles with Piccolo, Vegeta, Frieza, Cell and Majin Buu. And while “Dragon Ball Z” is largely focused on the battles, there is also a lot of jokes and laughs to be had in the moments in between. Plus, the character development is some of the best I’ve seen in all of media. Take Vegeta – my favorite character – for example, at the beginning of DBZ he is an absolute evil menace until he is defeated by Goku and his friends, and Vegeta makes it his mission to beat him. As you move along with the series, he’s still pretty evil but you start to see signs that he’s changing, beginning with his tearful death at the hands of Frieza, reflecting on what had happened to his people, before he is later resurrected by the Dragon Balls. By the end of the series, Vegeta becomes a father and is moved by the connections to his wife, Bulma, his son, Trunks, and even his rival Goku. Vegeta also comes to accept that Goku is stronger than him as he watches him fight Majin Buu and gives his famous “you are number one” speech, reflecting on his journey to that point and just how strong Goku had become.

While Goku is a silly character, growing up as a boy with a monkey tail and turning into a musclehead with a thirst for battle unlike any other, he always has a smile on his face, no matter how tough things may be. Like Vegeta, we see Goku grow into the father of two boys, Gohan and Goten, with a strong desire to protect them and his wife, Chi-Chi.

If you were a boy in the late 90s and early 2000s, there is a good chance your after-school schedule included watching Toonami, hoping for the next episode of “Dragon Ball Z,” with the off chance that they went back to the beginning of the series again. At that time, you watched what you could, even if it meant watching the same episode you had already seen a bunch of times. Just the other day I was reminiscing with Staff Writer Sarah Heinonen and Executive Editor Payton North about going and renting movies at Hollywood Video and I mentioned that I would always rent the “Return of Cooler” movie, because it was all they had, and it was how I got my DBZ fix.

For me I collected as many “Dragon Ball Z” action figures as I could, with my favorite being Goku in the gi with this patch on his chest and one on his back, which has once again become his main outfit in the current series.

Like many kids of the time, I tried to fire off the famed Kamehameha blast or screamed at the top of my lungs in an attempt to “power up” and go Super Saiyan. As I got older, I fell off the action figure and “powering up” train, but continued to play the video games. I vividly remember playing the Game Boy Advance game “Dragon Ball Z: Legacy of Goku 2” while I was learning how to read. I remember dressing up as Goku for Halloween one year and not being able to wear the wig because there was a lice breakout at school.

As I grew even older, getting closer to high school and adulthood, DBZ became an inspiration to me, to constantly seek improvement and growth in my own life, both physically and mentally. It drove me to want to work on getting stronger, just for the sake of it and to try to live life to the fullest.

Despite the sadness I feel about his passing, I was heartened the following morning to see so much love pouring out into the world in honor of Toriyama. Whether it was larger news organizations reflecting on the impact of his work, like the Washington Post and others, or fans sharing their stories watching “Dragon Ball” as children, it’s clear that he had a profound impact on society, as well as animation.

In the last volume of “Dragon Ball” before a near 20-year hiatus, Toriyama wrote, “Tackle life with as much energy as Goku,” and that is exactly what I plan on doing, even more so now.

I’m going to close here with a quote from Goku’s grandpa, Gohan.

“Saying ‘goodbye’ is never easy Goku, but it is a necessary step before we can say ‘hello’ again and we will, I promise!”