Akira Toriyama at the Shonen Jump launch party, New York (2002)
|Born||April 5, 1955|
|Occupation||Manga artist, character designer|
|Employer||Shueisha, Bird Studio|
Dragon Quest (character designer)
Chrono Trigger (character designer)
Blue Dragon (character designer)
Yoshimi Katō (m. 1982)
|Awards||Shogakukan Manga Award (1981)|
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|Anime and manga|
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Akira Toriyama (鳥山 明 Toriyama Akira, born April 5, 1955) is a Japanese manga artist and character designer. He first achieved mainstream recognition for his highly successful manga series Dr. Slump, before going on to create Dragon Ball—his best-known work—and acting as a character designer for several popular video games such as the Dragon Quest series, Chrono Trigger and Blue Dragon. Toriyama is regarded as one of the artists that changed the history of manga, as his works are highly influential and popular, particularly Dragon Ball, which many manga artists cite as a source of inspiration.
He earned the 1981 Shogakukan Manga Award for best shōnen or shōjo manga with Dr. Slump, and it went on to sell over 35 million copies in Japan. It was adapted into a successful anime series, with a second anime created in 1997, 13 years after the manga ended. His next series, Dragon Ball, would become one of the most popular and successful manga in the world. Having sold 250–300 million copies worldwide, it is the second best-selling manga of all time and is considered to be one of the main reasons for the period when manga circulation was at its highest in the mid-1980s and mid-1990s. Overseas, Dragon Ball's anime adaptations have been more successful than the manga and are credited with boosting anime's popularity in the Western world. In 2019, Toriyama was decorated a Chevalier of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for his contributions to the arts.
Akira Toriyama was born in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan. He has recalled that when he was in elementary school all of his classmates drew, imitating anime and manga, as a result of not having many forms of entertainment. He believes that he began to advance above everyone else when he started drawing pictures of his friends, and after winning a prize at the local art studio for a picture of One Hundred and One Dalmatians, began to think "art was fun".
Before becoming a manga artist, he worked at an advertising agency in Nagoya designing posters for three years. After quitting his previous job, Toriyama entered the manga industry by submitting a work to an amateur contest in a Jump magazine in order to win the prize money. While it did not win, Kazuhiko Torishima, who would later become his editor, contacted him and gave him encouragement. His debut came later in 1978 with the story Wonder Island, which was published in Weekly Shōnen Jump. However, he did not rise to popularity until the comedy series Dr. Slump, which was serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1980 to 1984. It follows the adventures of a perverted professor and his small but super-strong robot Arale. He began the series at age 25 while living at home with his parents, but when the series ended in 1984 he was a "manga superstar". In 1981, Dr. Slump earned him the Shogakukan Manga Award for best shōnen or shōjo manga series of the year. A very successful anime adaptation aired on TV from 1981 to 1986, with a remake series airing from 1997 to 1999. By 2008, the manga had sold over 35 million copies in Japan.
Toriyama's official fan club Akira Toriyama Hozonkai (鳥山明保存会, "Akira Toriyama Preservation Society") was established in 1982. Its newsletters were called Bird Land Press and were sent to members until the club closed in 1987.
In 1984, Weekly Shōnen Jump began serializing Toriyama's Dragon Ball, which became an instant hit. As of 2014, it has sold 159.5 million tankōbon copies in Japan alone, making it Shueisha's second best-selling manga of all time. It began as an adventure/gag manga but later turned into a martial arts fighting series, considered by many to be the "most influential shōnen manga". Dragon Ball was one of the main reasons for the magazine's circulation hitting a record high of 6.53 million copies (1995). The series' success encouraged Toriyama to continue working on it from 1984 to 1995. At the series' end, Toriyama said that he asked everyone involved to let him end the manga, so he could "take some new steps in life". During that 11-year period, he produced 519 chapters that were collected into 42 volumes. Moreover, the success of the manga led to five anime adaptations, several animated movies, numerous video games, and mega-merchandising. The third anime adaptation, Dragon Ball GT, was not based on his manga; however, Toriyama was still involved in coming up with the name and designing the main cast. Aside from its popularity in Japan, Dragon Ball was successful internationally as well, including Asia, Europe, and the Americas, with 250–300 million tankobon copies of the manga sold worldwide.
Toriyama's design sense led to a position designing characters for the popular Dragon Quest series of role-playing video games (formerly called Dragon Warrior in North America). He has also served as the character designer for the Super Famicom RPG Chrono Trigger and for the fighting games Tobal No. 1 and Tobal 2 for the PlayStation.
Toriyama's own studio is called Bird Studio, which is a play on his name; "tori" (鳥) meaning "bird". Toriyama does nearly all of the work at Bird Studio himself, and even when he employed an assistant (until 1995, and only one at a time, which is itself rare for manga artists), the assistant did mostly backgrounds. The studio founded in 1983 has produced occasional one-shots, or stand-alone manga that are not serialized, and some other design work. All of Toriyama's manga after Dragon Ball tend to be short (100–200-page) stories, including Cowa!, Kajika, and Sand Land.
On December 6, 2002, Toriyama made his only promotional appearance in the United States at the launch of Weekly Shōnen Jump's North American counterpart, Shonen Jump, in New York City. Toriyama's Dragon Ball and Sand Land were published in the magazine in the first issue, which also included an in-depth interview with him.
On March 27, 2005, CQ Motors began selling an electric car designed by Toriyama. The one-person QVOLT is part of the company's Choro-Q series of small electric cars, with only 9 being produced. It costs 1,990,000 yen (about $19,000 US), has a top speed of 30 km/h (19 mph) and is available in 5 colors. Designed to look like an American street rod, the QVOLT has a top and a door that are both opened by pulling a cord. Toriyama stated that the car took over a year to design, "but due to my genius mini-model construction skills, I finally arrived at the end of what was a very emotional journey."
He worked on a 2006 one-shot called Cross Epoch, in cooperation with One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda. The story is a short crossover that presents characters from both Dragon Ball and One Piece. Toriyama was the character designer and artist for the 2006 Mistwalker Xbox 360 exclusive RPG Blue Dragon, working with Hironobu Sakaguchi and Nobuo Uematsu, both of whom he had previously worked with on Chrono Trigger. He announced that his help with the making of the Blue Dragon anime might very well be his final work in anime. In his own words, he said:
The offer to direct an animated version of Blue Dragon came in February of last year . Studio Pierrot approached me regarding it. I knew that Sakaguchi had been working on assembling staff to produce a game, although at the time Blue Dragon hadn't yet been formally announced. According to the materials, it was to be a fantasy world like Lord of the Rings, with a detailed world view and story. This may be my final anime, I'm a little worried (about it). There's incredible pressure, but at the same time, there's a sense of accomplishment – that it's worth doing. Blue Dragon will be a masterpiece, not simply because I'm working hard on it, but because the staff is expecting nothing less.
In 2008, he collaborated with Masakazu Katsura, his good friend and creator of I"s and Zetman, for the Jump SQ one-shot Sachie-chan Good!!. It was published in North America in the free SJ Alpha Yearbook 2013, which was mailed out to annual subscribers of the digital manga magazine Shonen Jump Alpha in December 2012. The two worked together again in 2009, for the three-chapter one-shot Jiya in Weekly Young Jump.
Avex Trax commissioned Toriyama to draw a portrait of pop singer Ayumi Hamasaki; it was printed on the CD of her 2009 single "Rule/Sparkle", which was used as the theme song to the American live-action Dragonball Evolution film. Also in 2009, Toriyama drew a manga titled Delicious Island's Mr. U for Anjō's Rural Society Project, a nonprofit environmental organization that teaches the importance of agriculture and nature to young children. They originally asked him to do the illustrations for a pamphlet, but Toriyama liked the project and decided to expand it into a story. It is included in a booklet about environmental awareness that is distributed by the Anjō city government.
He collaborated with Shōnen Jump to create a video to raise awareness and support for those affected by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, the series' first theatrical film in 17 years, opened on March 30, 2013 and marks the first time Toriyama has been deeply involved in an animation, in this case as early as the screenwriting stages. A special "dual ticket" that can be used to see both Battle of Gods and One Piece Film: Z was created with new art by both Toriyama and Eiichiro Oda, creator of One Piece.
His one-shot Kintoki, originally published in 2010, was released in North America's online manga anthology Weekly Shonen Jump on January 28, 2013. On March 27, the "Akira Toriyama: The World of Dragon Ball" exhibit opened at the Takashimaya department store in Nihonbashi, garnering 72,000 visitors in its first nineteen days. The exhibit is separated into seven areas. The first provides a look at the series' history, the second shows the 400-plus characters from the series, the third displays Toriyama's manga manuscripts from memorable scenes, the fourth shows special color illustrations, the fifth displays rare Dragon Ball-related materials, the sixth includes design sketches and animation cels from the anime, and the seventh screens Dragon Ball-related videos. It was there until April 15, when it moved to Osaka from April 17 to 23, and ended in Toriyama's native Nagoya from July 27 to September 1. To celebrate the 45th anniversary of Weekly Shōnen Jump, Toriyama launched a new series in its July 13 issue titled Jaco the Galactic Patrolman. Viz Media began serializing it in English in their digital Weekly Shonen Jump magazine, beginning just two days later.
The follow-up film to Battle of Gods, Resurrection 'F', released on April 18, 2015, features even more contributions from Toriyama. Toriyama currently writes the story for Dragon Ball Super, which began in V Jump in June 2015. Although its anime adaptation ended in 2018, he continues to write the manga while Toyotarou illustrates it. Dragon Ball Super: Broly, released in theaters on December 14, 2018, continued Toriyama's deep involvement with the films.
Toriyama married his wife Yoshimi Katō (加藤由美) on May 2, 1982. She is a former manga artist from Nagoya under the pen name "Nachi Mikami" (みかみなち), and occasionally helped Toriyama and his assistant on Dr. Slump when they were short on time. They have two children: a son named Sasuke (佐助) born on March 23, 1987, and a daughter born in October 1990. Toriyama lives in his home studio in Kiyosu. He is a well-known recluse, who avoids appearing in public or media.
Toriyama has a love of cars and motorcycles, something he inherited from his father who used to race motorbikes and operated an auto repair business for a brief time, although he does not understand the mechanics himself. The author is an animal lover, having kept many different species of birds, dogs, cats, fish, lizards and bugs as pets since childhood. Some were used as models for characters he created such as Karin and Beerus. Toriyama has had a lifelong passion for plastic models, and has designed several for the Fine Molds brand. He also collected autographs of famous manga artists, having over 30 including Yudetamago and Hisashi Eguchi, a hobby he gave to Peasuke Soramame.
Toriyama admires Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy and was impressed by Walt Disney's One Hundred and One Dalmatians, which he remembers for its high-quality animation. Jackie Chan's early movies also had a noticeable influence on his stories, particularly Chan's martial arts comedy film Drunken Master. Toriyama stated he was influenced by animator Toyoo Ashida and the anime television series adaptation of his own Dragon Ball; from which he learned that separating colors instead of blending them makes the art cleaner and coloring illustrations easier. It was Toriyama's sound effects in Mysterious Rain Jack that caught the eye of Kazuhiko Torishima, who explained that usually they are written in katakana, but Toriyama used the Roman alphabet which he found refreshing. In his opinion, Torishima stated that Toriyama excels in black and white, utilizing black areas, as a result of not having had the money to buy screentone when he started drawing manga. He also described Toriyama as a master of convenience and "sloppy, but in a good way". For instance, in Dragon Ball, destroying scenery in the environment and giving Super Saiyans blonde hair were done in order to have less work in inking and drawing. Torishima claimed that Toriyama draws what he finds interesting and is not mindful of what his readers think.
Dr. Slump is mainly a comedy series, filled with puns, toilet humor and sexual innuendos. But it also contained many science fiction elements; aliens, anthropomorphic characters, time travel, and parodies of works such as Godzilla, Star Wars and Star Trek. Toriyama also included many real-life people in the series, such as his assistants, wife and colleagues (such as Masakazu Katsura), but most notably his editor Kazuhiko Torishima as the series' main antagonist, Dr. Mashirito. A running gag in Dr. Slump that utilizes feces has been reported as an inspiration for the Pile of Poo emoji.
When Dragon Ball began, it was loosely based on the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West, with Goku being Sun Wukong and Bulma as Tang Sanzang. It was also inspired by Hong Kong martial arts films, particularly those of Jackie Chan, and was set in a fictional world based on Asia, taking inspiration from several Asian cultures including Japanese, Chinese, South Asian, Central Asian, Arabic and Indonesian cultures. Toriyama continued to use his characteristic comedic style in the beginning, but over the course of time this slowly changed, with him turning the series into a "nearly-pure fighting manga" later on. He did not plan out in advance what would happen in the series, instead choosing to draw as he went. This, coupled with him simply forgetting things he had already drawn, caused him to find himself in situations that he had to write himself out of. In a rare 2013 interview, commenting on Dragon Ball's global success, Toriyama admitted, "Frankly, I don't quite understand why it happened. While the manga was being serialized, the only thing I wanted as I kept drawing was to make Japanese boys happy."
Toriyama was commissioned to illustrate the characters and monsters for the first Dragon Quest video game (1986) in order to separate it from other role-playing games of the time. He has since worked on every title in the series. For each game Yuji Horii first sends rough sketches of the characters with their background information to Toriyama, who then re-draws them. Lastly, Horii approves the finished work. Toriyama explained in 1995 that for video games, because the sprites are so small, as long as they have a distinguishing feature so people can tell which character it is, he can make complex designs without concern of having to reproduce it like he usually would in manga. Besides the character and monster designs, Toriyama also does the games' packaging art and, for Dragon Quest VIII, the boats and ships. In 2016, Toriyama revealed that because of the series' established time period and setting, his artistic options are limited, which makes every iteration harder to design for than the last. The series' Slime character, which has become a sort of mascot for the franchise, is considered to be one of the most recognizable figures in gaming.
Manga critic Jason Thompson declared Toriyama's art influential, saying that his "extremely personal and recognizable style" was a reason for Dragon Ball's popularity. He points out that the popular shōnen manga of the late 1980s and early 1990s had "manly" heroes, such as City Hunter and Fist of the North Star, whereas Dragon Ball starred the cartoonish and small Goku, thus starting a trend that Thompson says continues to this day. Toriyama himself said he went against the normal convention that the strongest characters should be the largest in terms of physical size, designing many of the series' most powerful characters with small statures. Thompson concluded his analysis by saying that only Akira Toriyama drew like this at the time and that Dragon Ball is "an action manga drawn by a gag manga artist." However, James S. Yadao, author of The Rough Guide to Manga, points out that an art shift does occur in the series, as the characters gradually "lose the rounded, innocent look that [Toriyama] established in Dr. Slump and gain sharper angles that leap off the page with their energy and intensity."
—Akira Toriyama, 2013
Thompson stated in 2011 that "Dragon Ball is by far the most influential shonen manga of the last 30 years, and today, almost every Shōnen Jump artist lists it as one of their favorites and lifts from it in various ways." David Brothers for ComicsAlliance wrote that: "Like Osamu Tezuka and Jack Kirby before him, Toriyama created a story with his own two hands that seeped deep into the hearts of his readers, creating a love for both the cast and the medium at the same time." Many artists have named Toriyama and Dragon Ball as influences, including One Piece author Eiichiro Oda, Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto, Fairy Tail and Rave author Hiro Mashima, Boruto: Naruto Next Generations illustrator Mikio Ikemoto, Venus Versus Virus author Atsushi Suzumi, Bleach creator Tite Kubo, Black Cat author Kentaro Yabuki, and Mr. Fullswing author Shinya Suzuki. German comic book artist Hans Steinbach was strongly influenced by Toriyama, and Thai cartoonist Wisut Ponnimit cited Toriyama as one of his favorite cartoonists. Ian Jones-Quartey, a producer of the American animated series Steven Universe, is a fan of both Dragon Ball and Dr. Slump, and uses Toriyama's vehicle designs as reference for his own. He also stated that "We're all big Toriyama fans on [Steven Universe], which kind of shows a bit."
In 2008, Oricon conducted a poll of people's favorite manga artists, with Toriyama coming in second, behind only Nana author Ai Yazawa. However, he was number one among male respondents and among those over 30 years of age. They held a poll on the Mangaka that Changed the History of Manga in 2010, mangaka being the Japanese word for a manga artist. Toriyama came in second, after only Osamu Tezuka, due to his works being highly influential and popular worldwide. Toriyama won the Special 40th Anniversary Festival Award at the 2013 Angoulême International Comics Festival, honoring his years in cartooning. He actually received the most votes for the festival's Grand Prix de la ville d'Angoulême award that year; however, the selection committee chose Willem as the recipient. Toriyama was decorated a Chevalier or "Knight" of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government on May 30, 2019 for his contributions to the arts. He was also a 2019 nominee for entry into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame. Due to his video game design work, IGN named Toriyama number 74 on their list of the Top 100 Game Creators of All Time.
|Awawa World (あわわワールド Awawa Wārudo)||1977||Unpublished, submission for Monthly Young Jump Award. Printed in 1983 in Toriyama's fan club newsletter, Bird Land Press # 5 & 6.|
|Mysterious Rain Jack (謎のレインジャック Nazo no Rein Jakku)||1978||Unpublished, submission for Monthly Young Jump Award. Printed in 1982 in Toriyama's fan club newsletter, Bird Land Press # 3 & 4.|
|Wonder Island (ワンダー・アイランド Wandā Airando)||1978||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump 1978 #52|
|Wonder Island 2 (ワンダー・アイランド2 Wandā Airando Tsū)||1978||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump January 1979 Special Issue|
|Today's Highlight Island (本日のハイライ島 Honjitsu no Hairai Shima)||1979||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump April Special Issue|
|Tomato, Girl Detective (ギャル刑事トマト Gyaru Keiji Tomato)||1979||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump August Special Issue|
|Dr. Slump (Dr. スランプ Dokutā Suranpu)||1980–1984||236 chapters in Weekly Shōnen Jump 1980 #5/6 - 1984 #39, assembled into 18 tankōbon, reassembled into 9 aizoban in 1990, 9 bunkoban in 1995, and 15 kanzenban in 2006|
|Pola & Roid||1981||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump 1981 #17; Toriyama's prizewinning entry in the 1981 "Jump Readers' Award" competition|
|Escape||1981||One-shot in Shōnen Jump January 1982 Special Issue|
|Mad Matic||1982||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump 1982 #12; Toriyama's entry in the 1982 "Jump Readers' Award" competition|
|Pink||1982||One-shot in Fresh Jump December 1982 issue|
|Hetappi Manga Kenkyūjo||1982–1984||1 tankōbon originally serialized in Fresh Jump, drawing lesson co-authored with Akira Sakuma|
|Chobit||1983||2 one-shots in Weekly Shōnen Jump and Fresh Jump|
|Dragon Boy (騎竜少年 Doragon Bōi)||1983||2 one-shots in Fresh Jump|
|The Adventure of Tongpoo (トンプー大冒険 Tonpū Dai Bōken)||1983||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump|
|Akira Toriyama's Manga Theater Vol.1||1983||1 tankōbon, collects previously published one-shots|
|Dragon Ball||1984–1995||519 chapters and one extra chapter in Weekly Shōnen Jump 1984 #51 - 1995 #25, compiled into 42 tankōbon, reassembled into 34 kanzenban in 2002 with an altered ending, and 18 sōshūhen in 2016|
|Mr. Ho (Mr.ホー)||1986||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump 1986 #49|
|Lady Red||1987||One-shot in Super Jump #2|
|Kennosuke-sama (剣之介さま)||1987||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump 1987 #38|
|Sonchoh||1987||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump 1988 #05|
|Mamejirō (豆次郎くん Mamejirō-kun)||1988||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump|
|Akira Toriyama's Manga Theater Vol.2||1988||1 tankōbon, collects previously published one-shots|
|Clear Skies, Karamaru (空丸くん日本晴れ Karamaru-kun Nihonbare)||1989||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump|
|Rocky||1989||One-shot in Dōjinshi Neko Jū Jisha to Sono Yūjin-tachi (猫十字社の同人誌), a collection of works by different artists.|
|Wolf||1990||One-shot, published in the art book Akira Toriyama: The World|
|Cashman – Saving Soldier (貯金戦士 CASHMAN)||1990–1991||3 one-shots in V Jump|
|Dub & Peter 1||1992–1993||4 one-shots in V Jump|
|Go! Go! Ackman||1993–1994||11 one-shots in V Jump|
|Alien X-Peke (宇宙人ペケ Uchūjin Peke)||1996||Two chapters in Weekly Shōnen Jump|
|Tokimecha||1996–1997||Three chapters in Weekly Shōnen Jump|
|Bubul and the Majin Village (魔人村のBUBUL Majin Mura no Bubul)||1997||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump; Toriyama's winning entry in the revived "Jump Readers' Cup ’97" competition, and prototype for his series Cowa!|
|Akira Toriyama's Manga Theater Vol.3||1997||1 tankōbon, collects previously published one-shots|
|Cowa!||1997–1998||14 chapters serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump, collected in 1 tankōbon|
|Kajika||1998||12 chapters serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump, collected in 1 tankōbon|
|Mahimahi the Lungfish (ハイギョのマヒマヒ Haigyo no Mahimahi)||1999||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump|
|Neko Majin||1999–2005||3 one-shots in Weekly Shōnen Jump and 5 one-shots in Monthly Shōnen Jump, collected into 1 kanzenban|
|Hyowtam (ヒョータム Hyōtamu)||2000||One-shot drawn entirely on a computer for E-Jump, a special edition of Weekly Shōnen Jump focusing on electronics.|
|Sand Land||2000||14 chapters serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump, collected into 1 tankōbon|
|This is the Police Station in front of Dragon Park on Planet Namek (こちらナメック星ドラゴン公園前派出所 Kochira Namekku-sei Dragon Kōen-mae Hashutsujo)||2006||1 chapter of Super Kochikame (超こち亀 Chō Kochikame), Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Kōen-mae Hashutsujo and Dragon Ball crossover with Osamu Akimoto for 30th anniversary of Kochikame.|
|Cross Epoch||2006||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump, Dragon Ball and One Piece crossover with Eiichiro Oda|
|Dr. Mashirito – Abale-chan (Dr.MASHIRITO ABALEちゃん)||2007||One-shot in Monthly Shōnen Jump|
|Sachie-chan Good!! (さちえちゃんグー!! Sachie-chan Gū!!)||2008||One-shot in Jump SQ, art by Masakazu Katsura|
|Delicious Island's Mr. U (おいしい島のウーさま Oishii Shima no Ū-sama)||2009||One-shot in the pamphlet Saishū Senryaku Biosphere (最終戦略 バイオスフィア) for 2030 Magazine|
|Jiya (JIYA -ジヤ-)||2009–2010||3 chapters in Weekly Young Jump, art by Masakazu Katsura|
|Kintoki (KINTOKI-金目族のトキ- Kintoki - Kinmezoku no Toki)||2010||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump|
|Jaco the Galactic Patrolman||2013||11 chapters serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump, collected into 1 tankōbon|
|Dragon Ball Super||2015–present||Currently serialized in V Jump, art by Toyotarou, collected into 9 tankōbon|
Occasionally, due to forgetting something from the earlier part of the manga, Toriyama writes himself into a hole and has to get out of it. The fact that Toriyama plotted pretty much on the fly is one of its charms; there's so many retcons it becomes a game to spot them.
Hans' art sensibilities have been strongly influenced by Japanese artists, especially Go Nagai (Devilman) and Akira Toriyama (Dragon Ball).
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