Yu-Gi-Oh! creator dies at 60

Yu-Gi-Oh! fans are wishing they could activate the Monster Reborn card following the death of the trading card game‘s founder, Kazuki Takahashi.

Sixty-year-old Takahashi was discovered dead in snorkeling gear floating off the shore of southern Japan on Wednesday, according to the New York Times. Authorities believe he had gone snorkeling while traveling alone in Nago, Japan, and they are investigating the cause of his death.

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“Regardless of if you grew up with Yu-Gi-Oh or not, if you only played the card game or only read the manga, if you watched the anime in English or in Japanese, we were all brought together by one man’s passion,” a tribute posted on his Twitter account said. “That’s the lesson he taught us.”

Takahashi began working as a manga artist, a person who creates Japanese comic art, in the 1980s. In 1996, his creation of a spiky-haired boy named Yugi Muto who “dueled” his rivals with a mystical card game that drew from ancient Egyptian mythology catapulted him to prominence. His comic story caught fire with audiences and became the inspiration for the real-life trading card game, movies, TV shows, video games, and more comics.

The sensation quickly spread around the world in the late 1990s and transformed into a multibillion-dollar global enterprise, rivaling Pokemon. Schoolchildren would trade the cards with each other and compete in duels to see who could first reduce the other’s life points to zero.

Players battled each other with monsters that wielded attack and defense points while deploying spell and magic cards to counter their rival’s moves. Some even participated in tournaments, mirroring the fictional events that transpired on the Yu-Gi-Oh! TV show, albeit with dramatically lower stakes.

Decades after the game first became a reality, it remains a hit with its dedicated fan base. Earlier this year, Konami Digital Entertainment released Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel, which surpassed 30 million downloads within three months of its release.

“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!’ 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,” Konami Digital Entertainment, which runs the trading card game, said in a statement.

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Tributes for Takahashi began pouring in from the gaming community after word of his death spread.

“Just woke up and the first thing I see is Kazuki Takahashi has passed away at age 60. YUGIOH! was easily my favorite card game growing up and still is to this day. In a strange way, it also got me interested in studying Ancient Egyptian culture. Rest In Peace,” Anime YouTuber Matt Crawford tweeted.

The game had been recognized as the largest trading card game in the world, touting over 25 billion cards sold in 2011, according to Guinness World Records.

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