Fans and industry members are responding to the recent death of Yu-Gi-Oh! manga creator Kazuki Takahashi. The 60-year-old artist was found deceased by the Japan Coast Guard off the coast of Nago city in Okinawa on July 6 reportedly wearing snorkeling gear. The Coast Guard told NHK that Takahashi was visiting the area alone.
The news quickly spread across social media and news outlets, including The Washington Post, BBCand NBC. Takahashi’s friends, peers, and fans shared their memories of the creator whose work was a gateway to the anime, manga, and comic fandom as well as a beacon of hope during difficult periods in their life.
Hajime no Ippo creator George Morikawawho was also friends with the late Berserk creator Kentarou Miura, shared his memories of Takahashi on Twitter.
Morikawa wrote that Takahashi is “Kazuo Takahashi” to him. “Kazuo” is Takahashi’s birth name while he wrote under the penname “Kazuki.”
We were close friends because our [manga] debuts were close and we had the same editor. We were also mahjong buddies. From the time he was a rookie, his drawing ability was outstanding, but he lacked the spirit of conquest. He wasn’t really obsessed with selling copies.” Morikawa said that during the time when they were both scraping by, Takahashi said he’d “go make some money at JumpMorikawa thought that Takahashi’s “flashy art” would be a great fit for Shonen Jump but knew it would not be easy.
Sure enough, while they were both working on Yu-Gi-Oh! and Hajime no Ippo respectively, Takahashi called Morikawa on the phone for advice. According to Morikawa, Takahashi was considering opening a studio and let him know how much money he’d made. “It wasn’t just pocket change,” Morikawa wrote. However, he said that Takahashi kept a humble demeanor about it all and didn’t come off like a big shot who hit the jackpot.
The last time Morikawa heard from Takahashi was several years ago. He asked that they play mahjong together again.
“I guess you really were the King of Games,” Morikawa wrote.
Seto Kaiba voice actor Kenjiro Tsuda forewent retelling an anecdote and instead shared an image of the famous Yu-Gi-Oh! card Blue-Eyes White Dragon.
Marvel Entertainment, the publisher of Takahashi’s Secret Reverse manga about Spider-Man and Iron Man traveling to Japan to battle an evil gaming magnate, shared a message.
Marvel is saddened to learn about the passing of visionary manga creator Kazuki Takahashi who graced the Marvel Universe with his imaginative storytelling earlier this year. Our condolences go out to his family, friends, and many, many fans worldwide. pic.twitter.com/NsGHXdSJIX
— Marvel Entertainment (@Marvel) July 7, 2022
The Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card game wrote:
— Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG (@YuGiOh_TCG) July 7, 2022
In memory of Mr. Kazuki Takahashi
We are shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Mr. Kazuki Takahashi.
We are deeply grateful for the wonderful “Yu-Gi-Oh!“The 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.
Voice actress Megumi Ogatawho played Yūgi Mutō in the 1998 series shared that she heard it was Takahashi who first recommended her for the role.
“The audience rating soared after the second season, the trading cards sold like hotcakes, and the movie version was decided…The cast worked as a team and overcame many obstacles together to create this memorable work. Thank you, Takahashi-sensei. I pray for your soul from the bottom of my heart.”
Yu-Gi-Oh! animator and animation director Takahiro Kagami wrote on Twitter:
I read the obituary at noon. What do you say… Suddenly, I feel like I’ve been cut off from a part of myself. I think that the existence of “Yu-Gi-Oh!” and “Kazuki Takahashimerged with me.
Thank you, Kazuki Takahashi-sensei.
However, I am sure I will continue to be of help to you someday in the future.
When I talked to him last year he said, “When the corona virus calms down, let’s have dinner together.” Just like with the launch of DSOD [Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Dark Side of Dimensions]he was so passionate and positive that I felt energized when I listened to him, so I wanted to talk to him again.
Voice actor Tetsuya Iwanaga (Malik Ishtar) wrote that the first time he met Takahashi he told him that he initially didn’t have a voice attached for Dark Malik, but after hearing Iwanaga’s voice, he drew the character with his rendition in mind.
“I was really happy. I pray from the bottom of my heart that he will rest in peace,” he wrote.
Voice actor Haruhi Nanao (Mai Kujaku) shared that she hasn’t processed the news yet and so she’ll “lock it away in a special place in my heart for a little while.”
Hiroki Takahashi (voice of Katsuya Jōnōchi) simply expressed his gratitude.
Voice actor Eric Stuart (English voice of Seto Kaiba) posted a photo of he and Yugi voice actor Dan Green on Facebook, and recalled a heartwarming anecdote: “So Dan and I were performing one of our Yu-Gi-Oh! live duels and were told Sensei wanted to meet us. It was exciting he was there to watch the event. I asked what the protocol would be. Would we shake hands, bow, could we speak? I mean he is the creator of the show! Anyway, we were told to ‘play it by ear and follow his lead’. After we got the bows and awkward “normal” photos out of the way I then asked him ‘Hey, do you want to do an Anime pose with us like we do with the fans?’ The translator’s eyes popped wide open and quietly told Sensei. He smiled and said ‘YES!’ Here is the infamous photo. Not only the creator of Yu-Gi-Oh! But like all of us, a fan. RIP. Love, Kaiba.”
Voice actor Veronica Taylor (Carly Carmine, Mira Tsukumo) wrote on Twitter: “This is stunningly sad news. The talents and influence of Kazuki Takahashi have played a monumental part in our lives for so long. His legacy will live on as we all deal with this incredible loss. My sincere sympathies to his family and the many lucky enough to work with him.”
This is stunningly sad news. The talents and influence of Kazuki Takahashi have played a monumental part in our lives for so long. His legacy will live on as we all deal with this incredible loss. My sincere sympathies to his family and the many lucky enough to work with him. https://t.co/pf8dd4dC31
— Veronica Taylor (@TheVeronicaT) July 7, 2022
Voice actor Lisa Ortiz (Serenity Wheeler) wrote: “Saddened by the death of Kazuki Takahashi. Yu-Gi-Oh! was a great part of my life & formative years in this industry. I always felt blessed to be part of his wonderful work that touched so many lives. May he rest in peace.”
Saddened by the death of Kazuki Takahashi. #Yugioh was a great part of my life & formative years in this industry. I always felt blessed to be part of his wonderful work that touched so many lives. May he rest in peace #KazukiTakahashi #SERENITYhttps://t.co/EJ9Ak3vzbT
— Lisa Ortiz 🇵🇷 (@Lisalisejam) July 7, 2022
Voice actor Cassandra Lee Morris (Tori) wrote: “RIP Kazuki Takahashiand eternal thanks for creating Yu-Gi-Oh! I’m forever grateful for the memories and still amazed I got to be part of it. Your spirit will live on in the heart of the cards.”
RIP Kazuki Takahashi, and eternal thanks for creating Yu-Gi-Oh! I’m forever grateful for the memories and still amazed I got to be part of it. Your spirit will live on in the heart of the cards 💜 https://t.co/vaMAR3Doij
— Cassandra Lee Morris (@SoCassandra) July 7, 2022
Fans are also sharing Takahashi’s comments from his previous publications, including his anti-war readers stance, his hope that would exercise their right to vote, his art exchange with American comics artist Mike Mignola, and his desire that games would bring people to understand one another.