Kazuki Takahashi, Yu-Gi-Oh! Creator, dies at 60

TOKYO — Kazuki Takahashi, the creator of the manga and trading card game Yu-Gi-Oh!, has been found dead in southern Japan, the country’s coast guard said Thursday. He was 60 years old.

His body was discovered floating off the coast of Nago in Okinawa Prefecture on Wednesday. Mr Takahashi was traveling alone in Nago, a popular holiday destination, and had apparently been snorkeling when he died of unknown causes, a coastguard spokesman said.

Kazuo Takahashi was born on October 4, 1961 and began working as a manga artist in the early 1980s. But it wasn’t until 1996 that he began his rise to international fame with the story of a spiky-haired boy who challenges his enemies to duels involving magic games.

The story began as a one-off, but ended up running for almost eight years in the pages of the popular Japanese boys’ comic magazine Weekly Shonen Jump. Along the way, it inspired movies, TV shows, video games, and a trading card game, which rivaled Pokemon as one of Japan’s most recognizable cultural exports.

The series and its spinoffs became a marketing giant that sold itself: the movies and TV shows featured the characters playing a card game very similar to the one fans could buy at local hobby stores. . New maps have been released regularly ever since, continuing to update even after the manga and anime ended.

Yu Gi Oh! the manga made frequent appearances on bestseller lists, and the collectible card game generated billions of dollars in revenue for its publisher, Konami. A new version of the video game, released in January, was downloaded 30 million times in its first three months.

Local firefighters discovered Mr. Takahashi’s body at 11:27 a.m. Wednesday, following a report from local tourists, the Coast Guard said, adding that it was investigating the cause of his death.

News of his death broke late afternoon in Japan and sparked an outpouring of grief on social media, both in his home country and around the world.

Rhymestyle, a YouTuber with over a million subscribers, said on Twitter that Mr. Takahashi gave him “the greatest childhood ever” and that he still plays Yu-Gi-Oh! today.

One fan, Liam Burchell, 23, from Nova Scotia, Canada, said Thursday morning that he was already watching some of his old Yu-Gi-Oh! maps. He was introduced to the series when he was 4 years old.

After years of collecting up to 2,000 cards, some stored in binders and others kept in a box in his closet, Mr Burchell said he walked away from the game with no concrete plans to return.

But, he admitted, “Once in a while it’s fun to get some friends together and play and relive those older memories, whether it’s playing the actual cards or playing one. online simulators. »

Derrick Bryson Taylor contributed report.

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