Yu-Gi-Oh! creator dies: here's why it was a legendary franchise

A collector holds up a full hand of Yu-Gi-Oh! cards
A collector holds up a full hand of Yu-Gi-Oh! cards Copyright FRANK BOXLER/AP2003
By Jonny Walfisz with AP
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The body Kazuki Takahashi was found floating off the coast of Japan. We look back at the incredible manga and card game he created.


Kazuki Takahashi, the creator of Yu-Gi-Oh! has tragically died after snorkelling off the coast of southwestern Japan.

Takahashi, 60, was found floating off the coast of Okinawa and his body has since been identified by family and a driving licence found in a nearby car.

His body showed signs of animal attack, potentially by a shark, but the cause of death is still under investigation.

If this is the first you’ve heard about Yu-Gi-Oh!, here’s what you need to catch up on.

Yu-Gi-Oh!’s history

Takahashi was the creator of the manga Yu-Gi-Oh! which spawned a card game and an anime show that quickly took over popular culture from the 90s through the early 2000s.

The Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise is one of the most successful ever, with a total revenue of nearly $20 billion since Takahashi launched the first episode of the manga comic in 1996.

But it was the tie-in trading card game that really blew Yu-Gi-Oh! into the stratosphere.

The plot of the original manga had the heroes fighting monsters through a variety of games instead of just using the card game battle format. Takahashi originally only intended for the card game to feature more than twice.

Released in 1999, the card game was immediately popular in Japan. After that, the card game battle format became a greater part of the manga’s identity.

Card game battles became the full face of Yu-Gi-Oh! after the launch of the anime show ‘Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters’. Coming after a Japan-only anime adaption, the 2001 show was broadcasted internationally.

Shohei Miyano/AP
This photo shows “Yu-Gi-Oh!” manga comic and trading cardsShohei Miyano/AP

US and European audiences were introduced to the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise through a show that focused entirely on the card game format.

And suddenly every kid who watched was desperate to play too.

With the cards outside of Japan altered to match the variations to the show that was hitting TV screens in each country, kids could get immersed in a simulation of the epic monster fighting game the heroes on screen played.

The popularity of the anime and the game spawned toys, music and video games all released to rave fans.

Yu-Gi-Oh! caused a riot

Yu-Gi-Oh! was popular in Japan before it hit US and European shores.

In 1999, when there was a Yu-Gi-Oh! themed event at a Tokyo baseball stadium, Japanese riot police were called in when too many children and parents came to buy the cards.

The tournament swap and meet held at the Tokyo Dome offered kids the chance to buy packs of limited edition cards with the 700 Yu-Gi-Oh! characters.

Christy Radecic/2019 Invision
Caleb Wilson of Fresno, CA (right) teaches Tim Chung of San Jose, CA (left) how to Speed Dual in Yu-Gi-Oh! at the much tamer Comic-Con International on Thursday, July 18, 2019Christy Radecic/2019 Invision

40,000 people were expected, but 55,000 people turned up. The extra thousands of people unable to get into the event surrounded the stadium and refused to leave.


Riot police were called to de-escalate the situation. Two people were taken to hospital and dozens more were treated at on-site clinics.

A card worth $85,000

When Yu-Gi-Oh! popped off across the globe, playgrounds everywhere suddenly had a new currency. Yu-Gi-Oh! cards were designed to be traded and swapped for each other as most kids did.

But alongside that, a market exploded for people to buy rare and unusual cards.

A quick search of eBay for ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’ returns over 650,000 results.

So it’s not surprising that some particularly rare cards have sold for eye-watering prices.


The top amount ever goes to a 1st edition version of the Blue-Eyes White Dragon. Released in the 2002 Legend of Blue-Eyes White Dragon (LOB) expansion pack, the monster card was a focal point of the 2001 anime show.

At time of release, it was one of the strongest cards in the game.

In 2020, a PSA Gem Mint 10 first-edition of the 2002 LOB Blue-Eyes White Dragon was sold on eBay for $85,100.

Although that’s the most a card has gone for, it’s not the rarest card.

That honour goes to ‘Tyler, the Great Warrior’. The one-of-a-kind card was made for 14-year-old Tyler Gressle in 2005 after his diagnosis of liver cancer.


Make-A-Wish Foundation commissioned the card for the Yu-Gi-Oh! fan and gave him and his dad a tour of the New York Yu-Gi-Oh! facility.

Gressle thankfully survived his ordeal with cancer, and still has his rarest of Yu-Gi-Oh! cards.

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