Kazuki Takahashi (né Kazuo Takahashi), the manga creator behind the global mega-hit Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise, was found dead off the coast of Nago, Japan. The 60-year-old artist’s body was recovered by the coast guard Wednesday following a report from a passing boat; Takashi was estimated to have died a couple days earlier.
According to Japanese media outlets NHK and TBS, Takahashi was apparently on a solo snorkeling trip in Okinawa Prefecture. His body was found wearing a t-shirt, underwater mask, snorkel and swimming fins. A local car rental company contacted police on Wednesday night to report they could not reach their client, prompting the authorities to connect Takahashi’s name to the recovered deceased.
The Japanese coast guard is investigating Takahashi’s cause of death.
Takahashi was born in Tokyo on October 4, 1961. He began his career as a manga artist in 1982, publishing his first work Fighting Hawk in 1990, followed by Tennenshoku Danji Buray, which ran for two volumes. He also created the one-shot Drump (2013) and the limited series The Comiq (2018).
The extraordinarily successful manga Yu-Gi-Oh! ran in the weekly comics anthology Shonen Jump from 1996 to 2004. Later, the epic was published as a series of 38 books by Shueisha. Takahashi continued to supervise the storyverse after concluding the original manga run, including writing and providing original character designs for its animated projects.
Inspired by Takahashi’s own love of board games, card games and role-playing games, the story follows tenth grade game enthusiast Yugi, whose life is forever changed when he solves the Millennium Puzzle — a mysterious Egyptian artifact — and becomes possessed. Yugi is transformed into Yu-Gi-Oh, the King of Games, and sets out to challenge evildoers to the strange and high stakes Shadow Games.
VIZ Media publishes the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga series in North America.
The manga was first adapted into the extremely popular Yu-Gi-Oh! anime TV series in 1998 by Toei Animation for TV Asahi; the latest iterations, Yu-Gi-Oh! Sevens (2020-22) and Yu-Gi-Oh! Go Rush!!, which debuted on TV Tokyo in April, are both produced by studio Bridge. The property has also enjoyed several popular feature films, most recently Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Dark Side of Dimensions, released in 2016 6o mark the manga’s 20th anniversary.
Yu-Gi-Oh! also leapt off the screen to become a Guinness World Record (2011) top-selling trading card game. As of January 2021, the collectible card battling game was estimated to have sold some 35 billion cards worldwide and grossed over $9.64 billion.
Takahashi was honored for his contribution to the art of comics with the Inkpot Award from Comic-Con International in 2015, joining the ranks of legendary manga-ka including Osamu Tezuka, Monkey Punch, Naoko Takeuchi, Stan Sakai, Tite Kubo and Hayao Miyazaki.
[Source: Japan Times]