(CNN) — Kazuki Takahashi, the creator of the international hit manga series and trading card game “Yu-Gi-Oh!”, was found dead on Wednesday. He was 60.
Takahashi’s body was recovered off the coast of Okinawa in southern Japan, a coast guard official in the city of Nago told CNN. He was found in snorkeling gear, including a mask and fins, the official said, adding that an investigation into his death is underway.
Created by Takahashi in 1996, “Yu-Gi-Oh!” started as a manga series in the pages of Weekly Shōnen Jump, a Japanese anthology that’s also been home to popular series like “Dragon Ball” and “Demon Slayer.”
“Yu-Gi-Oh!” tells the story of Yugi Muto, a teenager who, after solving an ancient Egyptian puzzle, unleashes a mysterious alter-ego, who resolves conflicts through differentgames.The franchise,which went on to include video games and anime series,found worldwide popularity in the 2000s. More recently, there was a resurgence in interest in the accompanying trading cards during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Guinness World Records has recognized “Yu-Gi-Oh!”as the world’s best-selling trading card game with over 25 billion cards sold around the world as of 2011.
The 100th Yu-Gi-Oh! Championship Series, held in Long Beach, California in 2013, is also recognized as the largest trading card game tournament ever held. A total of 4,364 players, known as “duelists”, battled against one another at the event, breaking the record previously held by a”Magic: The Gathering” tournament, which attracted over 2,227 players in Madrid, Spain, in 2010.
Tributesto Takahashi quickly poured in from anime fans and the entertainment industry.
Japanese entertainment and video game company Konami, which produces and distributes”Yu-Gi-Oh!” trading cards, pledged on its website to carry on the franchise’s legacy alongside Takahashi’s “countless fans.”
“We are shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Mr. Kazuki,” Konami posted on Twitter.
“We are deeply grateful for the wonderful ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’ universe that he has created, and our thoughts are with his friends and family during this difficult time.”
Marvel Entertainment meanwhile wrote that it was saddened to learn about the passing of the “visionary” manga creator, “who graced the Marvel Universe with his imaginative storytelling earlier this year.” The company accompanied its post with a photo of Takahashi’s “Secret Reverse,” a 2022 manga novel that saw Iron Man and Spider-Man team-up in a “technological adventure with a dash of danger.”
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