2021 TIME100 Next
February 17, 2021 6:55 AM EST

For almost two decades, Spirited Away was Japan’s highest-grossing movie of all time. That changed last year, when the animated film Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train logged the biggest opening weekend in Japan’s history and wound up grossing a record-setting $313 million—a surreal achievement that only deepened interest in the mysterious author and illustrator at the franchise’s heart. Writing under the pen name Koyoharu Gotouge, the author published the first chapter of the serialized Demon Slayer in 2016. The manga follows Tanjiro, the teen protagonist who trains vigorously to fight against demons—while feeling immense empathy for these creatures who were once human. While Gotouge maintains anonymity in public, Kohei Ohnishi—an editor at Weekly Shonen Jump, the manga magazine that publishes Demon Slayer—says the writer’s personality shines through the series, in particular in Tanjiro’s “serious nature, honesty and strong sense of responsibility.” And with the Demon Slayer television series now streaming on Netflix and the film slated for release in North American theaters later this year, the reach of Gotouge’s work promises to go even further. —Kat Moon

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