Kazuki Takahashi, 'Yu-Gi-Oh!' Creator, Found Dead at 60

Kazuki Takahashi
Peter Endig/EPA/Shutterstock

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

Kazuki Takahashi, who earned global prominence as the creator of the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise, was found dead Wednesday in Japan. He was 60.

According to Japan's public broadcaster, NHK, Takahashi's body was found floating off the coast of Nago City in southern Japan's Okinawa, wearing snorkeling equipment. The Coast Guard is currently investigating the circumstances surrounding the death.

The verified account for the Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card game released a statement Thursday expressing shock following the devastating news.

"We are shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Mr. Kazuki Takahashi," the statement read. "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 was a titan in the comic book and trading card game world. He started his comic book illustrating career in the 1980s when he was in his early 20s. But it was the creation of Yu-Gi-Oh! that really set Takahashi on the world map following the publication of his first Yu-Gi-Oh! publication in 1996. 

The comic ran in the popular comic magazine Weekly Shonen Jump, and it gained a legion of fans after eight years of publication in that magazine. Shortly after, the comic spawned an immensely popular trading card game. The franchise also included a popular anime series, movies and even video games.

The trading card game debuted in the United States in 2002. The trading card game would ultimately become one of the most popular card games in the country. In fact, The Yu-Gi-Oh! trading cards were so popular it rivaled one of the behemoths in the trading card game: Pokémon.

According to Newsweek, the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise is estimated to have made over $17.1 billion, including over $960 million in sales of Takahashi's manga series. According to the outlet, Takahashi's last released work before his death was Marvel's Secret Reverse, where Iron Man and Spider-Man team up.