Kazuki Takahashi, the creator of the “Yu-Gi-Oh!” manga and trading card game, has died. He was 60 years old.
Takahashi died from unknown causes while snorkeling, according to authorities in Japan. A Japan Coast Guard spokesman said his body was found floating off the Nago coast in Okinawa Prefecture on Wednesday, according to The New York Times.
The Coast Guard was first alerted to the scene by tourists who discovered the body before noon. Takahashi was found wearing snorkeling gear 1,000 feet offshore, according to NBC News.
When police determined that an abandoned rental car on a local beach was his, they contacted Takahashi’s family, who identified the body Thursday.
Authorities are now investigating the cause of his death, while family, fans and colleagues around the world grieve the monumental loss.
Takahashi, whose real first name was Kazuo, leaves behind a legacy that spanned five decades. When he began creating mangas in 1982, titles such as “Fighting Hawk” failed to strike a popular chord, according to Kotaku. But in 1996, “Yu-Gi-Oh!” broke through.
The serialized manga centered on a young ruffian with magical powers who challenged rivals during endless adventures across the land. While “Yu-Gi-Oh!” was originally intended as a one-off, it ran for eight years in Japan’s comic magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump.
Takahashi had an impressive talent for expansion, however, and also designed a trading card game that was featured in the manga itself. Produced by world-renowned video game company Konami, the cards debuted in Japan in 1999 and hit the United States in 2002.
“Yu-Gi-Oh!” became such a phenomenon that the manga sold tens of millions of copies and the cards sold tens of billions. This led to a torrent of long-running anime shows, movies and video games. “Master Duel,” the latest game, was released in early 2022 — and was downloaded 30 million times in the first three months.
The ingenious move to feature his characters playing a card game in most of these spinoffs only made Takahashi’s source material more popular. The collectible “Yu-Gi-Oh!” trading cards are second only to Pokemon’s — and continue to generate billions in revenue for Konami.