Kazuki Takahashi, 'Yu-Gi-Oh!' Creator, Found Dead

Kazuki Takahashi, the beloved manga artist best known as the creator of the Yu-Gi-Oh series, has died. The Japanese national broadcaster NHK confirmed Thursday that Takahashi, whose real name is Kazuo Takahashi, was found dead Wednesday morning in the waters off Nago, Okinawa Prefecture. He was 60.

Anime News Network, citing local outlets, reported that Takahashi's body was found floating while wearing snorkeling gear in the waters off Nago, Okinawa Prefecture after a person on a passing boat reported seeing a body floating in the water at around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. The body has injuries to the abdomen and lower portions of the body, though it is believed the injuries were made by sea creatures, according to The Japan Times. The Coast Guard confirmed Takahashi's identity Thursday and are currently investigating the circumstances surrounding his death. Per local outlets, the Coast Guard, Takahashi "was traveling in Okinawa alone, and a car rental company contacted police on Wednesday night saying it could not reach him, prompting the coast guard to suspect the body was his."

Born in Tokyo in 1961, Takahashi began his manga career in 1982, though he struggled to find success with titles like Fighting Hawk and Tennenshoku Danji Buray. Speaking with Time For Kids in 2002, per Newsweek, he called his early work a "total flop." Takahashi's career gained traction in 1996 when he released Yu-Gi-Oh, which was serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine. Per the outlet, "after one issue mentioned an in-universe card game called 'Magic and Wizards,' the magazine received so much correspondence about the game that it became integral to the manga." In 1999, Yu-Gi-Oh was spun off into a real card game, first called Magic & Wizards, but later changed to Duel Monsters. Guinness World Records named the game the top-selling trading card game in the world, with over 35 billion cards sold. The manga went on to be adapted into a TV series in 1998, with the first anime movie following in 1999. The franchise is estimated to have made over $17.1 billion.

Along with Yu-Gi-Oh, Takahashi's other works include the 2013 one-shot Drump and the 2018 mystery mini-series The ComiQ. His last released work before his death was Marvel's Secret Reverse. The comic is a team-up between Iron Man and Spider-Man that saw Tony Stark taking on the CEO of a world-famous card game company.

Amid news of his death, many have taken to social media to pay their respects, with one person tweeting, "Rest in Peace, Kazuki Takahashi-sensei. Your manga has always and will always continue to inspire us for generations to come." Another person wrote that Yu-Gi-Oh "was the cornerstone of my childhood and my life today. And the lives of so many others around the world. You will be forever remembered."