‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’ Creator Kazuki Takahashi Died Saving a US Soldier and Girl From Riptide

The circumstances surrounding Kazuki Takahashi’s untimely death on July 4 have come into more focus. People are remembering the Japanese manga artist as a “hero” because he died while trying to save a U.S. soldier, an 11-year-old girl and the girl’s mother from a current at a dive spot in Japan.

Major Robert Bourgeau, who was 49 years old told the military newspaper Stars and Stripes that Takahashi drowned while trying to help people who were caught in the riptide. Takahashi’s body was found 1,000 feet from the shore of Awa, Nago, said a Japan Coast Guard spokesman.

NHK in Japan said that a marine official said on July 6 that a body was floating in the water. When first responders got there, they said that person was dead. It was proven to be Takahashi the next day. He was 60.

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“You play that ‘what if’ game a lot,” Bourgeau told Stars and Stripes, adding of Takahashi, “This guy had a huge impact on the world.” Around 2 p.m. on July 4, Bourgeau, who is from Missoula, Montana, was teaching scuba diving at Mermaid’s Grotto.

Yu Gi Oh Creator Kazuki Takahashi Died a Hero
Yu Gi Oh Creator Kazuki Takahashi Died a Hero

He recalled, “The conditions were really, really rough.” He saw a local woman yelling for help as her daughter and a soldier who was 39 years old were swept away by a strong current. When the six-foot waves hit them, they were about 100 yards from shore.

Bourgeau and one of his scuba diving students worked together to help the snorkelers, while another student called for help.

Even though Bourgeau was able to save the girl, he said that as he pulled her closer to the shore, he quickly got tired. Along the way, he found her mother who had also been pulled into the dangerous water by the current.

“I grabbed mom and I grabbed [the girl] and I just kicked for all life,” he said. Bourgeau told Stars and Stripes that he didn’t see Takahashi in the water when he indicated that Takahashi had intervened and jumped in. One of Bourgeau’s students saw him going in and out of the water until he was completely pulled away.

“He’s a hero,” Bourgeau said. “He died trying to save someone else.” Bourgeau said that he was able to save the mother and daughter, but he couldn’t help the soldier while he was in the water.

“That was one the hardest things I have ever had to do, I let [the man] go so I could save myself,” he stated in a witness statement that the Army gave the publication. “I didn’t think I was going to make it,” he said. Bourgeau also said that he was thinking about his children during the ordeal.

Once he got out, he told the soldier how to get out of the current and into shallow water. The manga artist was traveling alone and was found wearing snorkeling gear, according to NBC News. The Coast Guard also told that “damages to his body looked like they were caused by some sort of marine animal.”

NHK also heard from sources that Takahashi rented a car for about three weeks. But before he was supposed to give it back, the company found out that it had been sitting there for a while. Employees found the car about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) away from where Takahashi was found.

Sources say that Takahashi, whose real name was Kazuo, got his start as a manga artist. He got ahead when people liked a story he wrote about a boy with spiky hair named Yugi who could play games magically.

Yu-Gi-Oh! went on to become a worldwide craze that led to trading cards, a long-running anime series, books, movies and video games.

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