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Creator / Kazuki Takahashi

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Kazuo Takahashi (October 4, 1961 – 4 July 2022), known professionally as Kazuki Takahashi, was a Japanese mangaka and game creator best known for the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise.

In a Shonen Jump interview, Takahashi shared that his favorite manga series include AKIRA by Katsuhiro Otomo, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure by Hirohiko Araki, and Dragon Ball by Akira Toriyama, but he also liked American comics, like Hellboy.

Yu-Gi-Oh!, which was first published in 1996, has received multiple anime adaptations, movies, and spin-offs including Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, 5D's, Zexal, ARC-V, VRAINS, SEVENS, and GO RUSH!!, all of which he was involved in (fairly unusual for any author!).

Besides Yu-Gi-Oh, he was also the creator of The ComiQ, a short murder mystery manga with a mangaka protagonist, and Advent Heroes, a comic and card game influenced by American comics.

On July 6, 2022, he was found dead off the coast of Nago City in Okinawa, believed to have drowned during a snorkeling accident. He was 60 years old. It was later reported by a scuba instructor in the U.S. Army that Takahashi braved a deadly rip current in an effort to save a drowning child, her mother, and a soldier.

Tropes Associated With Kazuki Takahashi's works:

  • Alternate Continuity: Yu-Gi-Oh! had 7 different spinoff series during his lifetime.
  • Art Evolution: The back of the Yu-Gi-Oh! card has changed various times in the anime. It has changed twice in Zexal.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Not only was Takahashi a major fan of manga and comics and a mangaka himself, but he was also a huge gamer (traditional, tabletop, and video game). Yu-Gi-Oh TCG was heavily inspired by Magic: The Gathering as well.
  • Central Theme: The main theme of any Yu-Gi-Oh! installment is The Power of Friendship.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Takahashi, despite his aging body and having run a highly successful franchise, chose to face a rip current to save a drowning child, her mother, and also one soldier. The three were successfully saved, but Takahashi drowned and lost his life as a result. The witness of his sacrifice, Major Robert Bourgeau, admitted that Takahashi died as a hero. Considering that one of the main characters died in a Heroic Sacrifice as well (a.k.a. Atem), his death comes off as both tragic and poetic.
  • In Memoriam: The end of the 15th episode of GO RUSH!! pays tribute to him, airing on the same week as that of his passing.
  • Life Imitates Art: The creator of a franchise featuring heroes selflessly risking their lives for others over and over again lost his own life trying to save innocent people. Specifically, his death imitates the backstory of Ryoji Kajiki/Mako Tsunami, whose father died saving people from a storm.
  • Rousseau Was Right: Most characters in Yu-Gi-Oh are complex people with deep motivations to their actions.
  • Shades of Conflict: Each installment of Yu-Gi-Oh! constantly challenges morality but most usually end towards White-and-Grey Morality, with the exception of a final villain who's Made of Evil.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: All installments of Yu-Gi-Oh! end mainly on the idealistic end of the scale. With that said, the course of the series often challenges the scale.
    • The original Yu-Gi-Oh! run had the story set in Domino City at its seediest, but through Dark Yugi's justice-dispensing Penalty Games and gradual transition to larger stories, the series is ultimately idealistic despite the massive amounts of trauma the characters go through.
    • GX started out highly idealistic, gradually became cynical, and then became idealistic again.
    • ARC-V goes back and forth on the scale, ultimately ending as idealistic.note 
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS starts out cynical and grows more idealistic.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Takahashi chose to save the lives of a child mother and a soldier at the cost of his own life, even though he was in his sixties and head of a successful franchise.
  • Write What You Know: If Takahashi's themes and moods he presents are to be indicated, his content sheds light on some of Japan's less affable aspects of life, including how High School Is Hell and society's unscrupulous and exploitative side of things. A chapter in the initial Yu-Gi-Oh manga had Yugi win by default against an abusive teacher; it should be noted that Takahashi had an incident in high school in which a teacher caught him in class drawing comics and compared him to a defecating machine. Kaiba is also said to have been based on an extremely vain card gamer he heard of from his friends, and it wouldn't be of surprise that some of the antagonists of the day were the same in this regard as well. On the brighter side of things, Takahashi's love of gaming in general was a heavy focus as it was his main hobby. The circumstances of his death also immediately led to fans writing about how he himself proved to be the same type of sacrificial hero as the main characters in his franchise.