Kazuki Takahashi, the creator of the manga and card game Yu-Gi-Oh!, has been found dead in the waters off the coast of Nago City, in the Okinawa Prefecture of Japan. He was 60 years old. As reported by the Japan Times (opens in new tab), the coast guard confirmed that his body was found on Wednesday, and identified Thursday.
The Japanese authorities have said that Takahashi’s body was found floating and equipped with snorkelling gear, and had suffered injuries to the abdomen and other parts consistent with bites from sharks or other marine life. This does not mean Takahashi was attacked by something: the likelier explanation is that the bites occurred after death. The cause of death is yet to be officially confirmed.
Per the Tokyo Broadcasting Service, Takashi was travelling in Okinawa, and authorities were alerted when a car rental company contacted them to say they couldn’t get in touch with him.
Kazuki Takahashi, also known as Kazuo Takahashi, was born in Tokyo in 1961, and began his career in manga in 1982. He did work-for-hire and eventually managed to launch his own projects, including 1990’s Fighting Hawk, but found little success until he came up with the idea of Yugi, a game-loving boy who accidentally awakens his shadow self and ends up getting drawn into various games with enormous stakes.
Yu-Gi-Oh! was first published in 1996, and was an instant smash both in Japan and soon globally. As well as creating the manga, Takahashi designed the structure of the card game, which was initially called Magic & Wizards (as a tribute to Magic: The Gathering) before the name was changed to Duel Monsters. Konami released the first iteration of the Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card game in 1999: as of 2021, it had sold approximately 35 billion cards and made around ¥1 trillion (just under $10 billion).
The card game is the biggest success, but Yu-Gi-Oh! is also a popular anime, has had four movies, several videogames, and countless spinoffs.
The most recent digital iteration of the game, Yu-Gi-Oh Master Duel, launched on Steam to great success earlier this year. In the real world the physical version of the game remains one of the most popular card games around (here’s how to get started (opens in new tab)).
In the final volume of the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, Takahashi wrote:
“As we go about our lives, we touch people, we see people, and interact with them; and in doing so we feel and think many things. Sometimes we make others happy, sometimes we hurt them, we sympathise, and we disagree. In the midst of this, we learn that people’s thoughts and feelings are not a one-way street. You may say that’s something very basic and natural, but what I wanted to draw and write in this work was just that interaction between people, and in order to do that, I used ‘games.'”