Japanese manga legend celebrates 60 years in the business

Japanese Manga legend Leiji Matsumoto celebrated 60 years in the business at France's international cartoon festival, and confessed that the experience left him feeling like a time traveller "with the strange sensation of finding myself in one of my stories".

The author of numerous cult works such as "Captain Albator" and "Galaxy Express 999", the slender, white haired 75-year-old, sporting a goatee, cap and huge glasses, was on Friday feted at the festival in southwestern Angouleme.

A precocious genius and admirer of the great mangaka Osamu Tezuka, Matsumoto published his first manga "The Adventures of a Bee" at the tender age of 15.

"Three or four years later, I saw (director Julien) Duvivier's "Marianne of My Youth" (1955). He impressed me. The film was in black and white. (And yet) today I have the impression of having seen it in 3D and in colour," he said in an interview with AFP.

Matsumoto also said he recalled his astonishment at his first visit to France and being struck by the Eiffel tower and the city's 19th century buildings.

"I was amazed. I also later flew on Concorde to Rio, via Dakar, a blessed feeling, for me the son of a pilot," he said.

"What is incredible is that I had already drawn all that in my mangas, before having experienced it, a sort of premonition," added the septuagenarian who is passionate about new technologies.

"It's like the Fukushima disaster, I also had a premonition. I had drawn it in 1954 in a manga," he said, referring to the March 2011 accident at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant.

His imaginary event took place on Mars where after a nuclear accident the entire planet was contaminated.

The Martians left for Earth but as it was already inhabited they returned home and endured the effects of the radiation.

Matsumoto, himself, lived through the 1945 atomic bombings of Japan during the closing stages of World War II.

"The plane that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima went right over my head. The second was meant for a town close to Fukuoka where I was living. It was bad weather that condemned Nagasaki," he said.

"That traumatised me, but was a source of inspiration, as were all the experiences of my youth…. Personal experience is essential for a creative spirit.

"In Hollywood, I asked Americans the same age as me what they thought of Hiroshima. 'Inhuman', they told me. That reassured me."

No Mangaka has been awarded the Grand Prix d'Angouleme even though France is the second biggest market for manga after Japan.

But Matsumoto is philosophical on the subject.

"For me, it's a question of a difference of sensibilities on the part of the jury," he said, adding that he would of course be delighted if that were to change.

Three of his compatriots Jiro Taniguchi, Katsuhiro Otomo and Akira Toriyama are each competing in one section of the festival, which is holding its 40th edition.

The four-day festival wraps up on Sunday.