On July 6, 2022, Yu Gi Oh! Creator and author Kazuki Takahashi has been found dead, shocking fans around the world. Takahashi’s cause of death was determined to be drowning. Few details surrounding his death were made public at the time, but a new report from the Japanese police department has shed some detail on what has become an increasingly tragic death.
While the Japanese press did not report further details of Takahashi’s death, an American military newspaper known as Stars and Stripes reported that Takahashi died trying to help a US Army officer in rescue three people who were caught in a riptide at Mermaid’s Grotto in Onna, Okinawa. The officer in question was US Army Major Robert Bourgeau, a diving instructor. He was trying to save an 11-year-old girl, her mother and another American soldier who were all trapped in a rip current about 100 yards from shore.
According to Bourgeau, he was unaware that Takahashi was trying to help him at the time. Bourgeau told officials that Takahashi entered the water, however, he did not see Takahashi during the rescue himself. Bourgeau’s dive students are the ones who saw Takahashi in the water before he disappeared. The Japanese Coast Guard spokesman declined to confirm whether Takahashi was involved in the rescue attempt, but several sworn witness statements provided by the military confirmed the details of Bourgeau’s story.
Born on October 4, 1961 in Tokyo, Japan, Kazuki Takahashi rose to fame when he created a manga about a boy who becomes possessed by an ancient spirit who played death games. The manga was called Yu Gi Oh!, and despite the horror elements and dark beginnings, it would eventually become a worldwide sensation when the decision to revamp the series to focus on a card game called Duel Monsters. Retooling the manga (and a later rebooted anime) would result in one of the highest-grossing franchises of all time.
Takahashi completed the Yu Gi Oh! manga on March 8, 2004, but the franchise has survived with spin-offs, manga and anime sequels, and various video games (most under the supervision of master licensor Konami). The card game still has dedicated tournaments to this day. While Takahashi helped with these various projects to varying degrees (mostly character designs), he was ultimately enjoying his retirement. One of his hobbies was scuba diving and he loved being in nature. Many speculated he had a sudden heart attack or a medical condition when his body was discovered floating in the water, having been in the ocean for a few days at the time.
While this story doesn’t make the pain of losing the beloved creator any easier to accept, it should warm the hearts of its fans that their favorite creator died doing something his own characters would have done themselves (he there was a scene in the manga of Yugi jumping into the ocean to save his friend Jounouchi from drowning), making him a hero just as much as the characters he created.
MORE: Remembering Yu-Gi-Oh! Creator Kazuki Takahashi