Kazuki Takahashi opposite his creation, Yu-Gi-Oh! (Photo credit: Peter Endig/EPA/Shutterstock, Associated Press)
Kazuki Takahashi, the creator of manga and anime Yu-Gi-Oh!, has died unexpectedly July 6. Takahashi was 60 years old.
Takahashi’s death was unexpected; according to NBC News, his body was discovered in the ocean off the coast of Okinawa Island, Japan. He was located 1,000 feet offshore and he was wearing snorkeling equipment. His body was officially identified Thursday.
According to Kotaku, Japanese coast guard officials are currently “looking into the cause of death,” but NBC News cited that his body seemed like it sustained injuries “which looked like they were caused by some sort of marine animal.” USA Today reports from sources that the injuries possibly came from sharks.
The official Yu-Gi-Oh Twitter account posted a statement informing fans about Kazuki’s passing.
“We are shocked and saddened to hear the sudden passing of Mr. Kazuki Takahashi,” wrote the account. “We are deeply grateful for the wonderful Yu-Gi-Oh! universe that he has created, and our thoughts are with his friends and family at this difficult time. Together with his countless fans, we pledge to carry on the Yu-Gi-Oh! legacy with all the love and care it deserves.”
Takahashi began professionally drawing manga in 1982, according to Kotaku, and published titles including Fighting Hawk and Tennenshoku Danji Buray before finding success with Yu-Gi-Oh! in 1996. He also leveraged his game design experience and created the rules for the card game featured in the series. The game, Duel Monsters, became a success in the toy industry is still played today by legions of fans.
The Yu-Gi-Oh franchise now includes several anime, films, books and video games, becoming one of the most popular franchises in America alongside other Japanese franchises like Pokemon, Digimon, Dragonball Z, and Naruto.