Thursday, October 6, 2022

Was the founder of ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’ games murdered?

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Like their favorite heroes, every anime fan has an origin story. The story that got them into manga or the character cards they’ve loved trading since they were kids. Yu-Gi-Oh! is one of the biggest Japanese manga series for this very reason.

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It’s unknown whether creator Kazuki Takahashi anticipated this level of worldwide fame. Regardless, the series soon became a household name and fans were equally in awe of the man behind them. Takahashi hadn’t just created a series of interesting stories, he’d created a legacy.

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Therefore, it’s with great sadness that we learn of the Yu-Gi-Oh! creator’s untimely passing. Authorities have declared the cause of his death, but many still wonder if everything is as it seems. Was Takahashi’s death an accident or was something more sinister at play?

Time to duel

In the early 1980s, Takahashi was making a name for himself as a humble manga artist. It wasn’t until 1990 that Tokio no Taka became his first major work published in Weekly Shōnen Jump. Takahashi put in much more work later on, but it wasn’t well-received and he was even considered a flop.

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Then, in September 1996, used the same publishing company to debut Yu-Gi-Oh! games. Takahashi experienced overnight success and quickly rose to prominence as one of the biggest Japanese manga artists around the world. His flop days were officially over.

The plot follows Yugi Mutou and his journey toward solving the ancient Millennium Puzzle. The series was so popular, that it spanned a wide array of adaptations. Fans were able to enjoy it in the form of video games, movies, novels, trading card games, TV shows, and of course, spin-offs.


Yu-Gi-Oh! games ran until March 2004. During this time, the series didn’t just amass a huge following of fans. In 2011, Guinness World Records recognized it as the best-selling trading game. A great feat considering other trading games released at this time included Cards Against Humanity and Lord of the Rings.

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The trading game inspired by Takahashi’s manga series sold over 25 billion sets internationally. It had become an essential part of many fans’ trading experience. It wasn’t just something they played, it was an experience they enjoyed and shared with others.

Takahashi saw massive success with the Yu-Gi-Oh! games, while continuing to watch the manga series capture new fans. In 2019, Takahashi even wrote Secret Reverse, which included Marvel favorites like Spider-Man & Iron Man.

An unfortunate end

On July 6th, Takashi was found dead off the coast of Nago in Okinawa. Japan Coast Guard officers had been alerted by a passing boat. While they determined his death was recent, his time & cause of death are still unknown. His death has been ruled an accident.

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As of July 7th, the Japan Coast Guard is still investigating the incident. Perhaps this is what makes death seem mysterious. Sometimes an accidental death is a series of unfortunate events. However, sometimes an accidental death is more than what it seems. For the creator of Yu-Gi-Oh! games, it’s a sad day for his fans regardless of what went wrong.

Fans in mourning

Fans all over the world have taken to social media to express their grief. People take it very seriously when they connect to an artist’s work. They feel as if they’re connecting to the artist themself. For many, losing Takahashi feels very personal even if they never knew him in real life.

Yet, fans are also sharing personal stories of what the Yu-Gi-Oh! games and other iterations have meant for them.

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Yu-Gi-Oh! games weren’t just games for fans any more than Takahashi was just a creator. They represent the innocence of their childhood or the friends they’ve made along the way. They were gateway points into other Takahashi works or the wider world of manga in general.

Takahashi will live on in his work as well as in the hearts of his many, many fans. He’s inspired other creators and he’s also inspired studios & publications to believe in those creators. His time to duel has ended, but for the many he inspired – it’s just getting started.

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Are you a fan of Yu-Gi-Oh! games? What’s your favorite Takahashi work? Let us know your manga-related thoughts in the comments below!

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