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'Yu-Gi-Oh!' creator Kazuki Takahashi found dead

Updated July 7, 2022 at 11:37 AM ET

Kazuki Takahashi, creator of the popular Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise, was found dead on Wednesday, according to Japan public broadcaster NHK and other media sources. He was 60 years old.

Takahashi's body was reportedly found floating off the coast of Nago in Okinawa, wearing snorkeling gear.

Takahashi, a comic book artist, started his career in the 80s. But his big success came in 1996, when he first published the Yu-Gi-Oh! in the popular comic magazine Weekly Shonen Jump. The series focused on a spiky haired precocious boy named Yugi who, after solving an ancient puzzle, gets possessed by an ancient spirit that helps Yugi challenge various bullies and bad guys to mystic games.

Visitors play Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links at the Tokyo Game Show in 2016 in Chiba, Japan.
Yuya Shino / Getty Images for Tokyo Game Show
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Getty Images for Tokyo Game Show
Visitors play Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links at the Tokyo Game Show in 2016 in Chiba, Japan.

The comic ran for 8 years and became a worldwide sensation, inspiring a trading card game that's sold billions of cards, a popular anime series that ran in the U.S. for 6 years, and various other spin-off series, movies, and video games.

Takahashi stayed working in comics, recently publishing the limited series The Comiq about a comic artist who finds out his backgrounds are being drawn by someone in prison, as well as collaborating with Marvel for a book starring Iron Man and Spider-Man.

The Coast Guard is currently investigating Takahashi's death.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Andrew Limbong is a reporter for NPR's Arts Desk, where he does pieces on anything remotely related to arts or culture, from streamers looking for mental health on Twitch to Britney Spears' fight over her conservatorship. He's also covered the near collapse of the live music industry during the coronavirus pandemic. He's the host of NPR's Book of the Day podcast and a frequent host on Life Kit.