Coroners in Japan have ruled that the death of Yu-Gi-Oh creator Kazuki Takahashi (real name Kazuo Takahashi) was from probable accidental drowning. Takahashi’s body was found off the coast of Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture on July 6. While the circumstances surrounding his death are still under investigation, the chances of foul play have been deemed ‘low’. He was 60 years old.
After the news of the death of Kazuki Takahashi broke on Thursday, tributes and notices poured out and came from places beyond the somewhat insular comic book and gaming spheres – from UK music site NME, the New Zealand Herald, the BBC, tech site Gizmodo, and more. And not just the English speaking world – in so many languages languages, too: just Google the news and you will see the number of multilingual hits you get. The influence of Takahashi and the power of Yu-Gi-Oh left such a mark on the world (and particularly the childhoods of kids of the 2000s).
Kazuki Takahashi was best known as the creator of Yu-Gi-Oh! (meaning ‘King of Games’). The manga series debuted in Weekly Shonen Jump in September 1996 and ran for 8 years. The comic spawned a Guinness World Record setting card game and multimedia franchise, all based on the Duel Monsters card game featured in the manga.
Born Kazuo Takahashi October 4, 1961 in Tokyo, Japan, he grew up with a passion for drawing and games, both of which had a heavy influence on his work. His early work debuted in the 1980s, and the ‘80s and ‘90s were peppered with a succession of short works, one-shots or short-lived series (the longest of which filling two tankoban collections). His first high profile work was the 1990 one-shot Tokio no Taka (闘輝王の鷹, Fighting Hawk) for Weekly Shonen Jump. The debut of Yu-Gi-Oh in 1996 changed his fortunes.
The Yu-Gi-Oh manga centres on shy, spiky-haired, game-obsessed teenager Yugi who solves a millennia-old puzzle that unlocks a confident risk-taking alter ego. This alter ego would fight bullies and injustice with the creative use of ‘shadow games’ which, at the start, changed from story to story – many of which wholly invented by Takahashi. A short time into the manga’s run, a card game called Duel Monsters was introduced and it caught the imagination of readers – eventually becoming the main plot device of the series. Gaming company Konami developed and brought Takahashi’s fictional game to life in 1999 and by 2009 it had set a Guinness World Record for Top-Selling Trading Card Game – which it again beat in 2011.
Yu-Gi-Oh has since become a multimedia franchise – spawning movies, toys, games and animated TV shows. While the original manga ended in 2004, the series has had multiple spin-off anime and manga – the most recent of which Yu-Gi-Oh! Go Rush!! (遊☆戯☆王ゴーラッシュ！！) began airing in April.
At a special SDCC appearance in 2015, Takahashi was given an inkpot award by Comic-Con International.