“He’s a Hero”: ‘Yu-Gi-Oh’ Creator Drowned Aiding Rescue, Says U.S. Soldier

The mysterious drowning death of Yu-Gi-Oh! creator Kazuki Takahashi, whose body was recovered July 6 off the shore in the Awa district of Nago on Okinawa Island, has been revealed as an act of heroism. The 60-year-old mangaka had reportedly entered rough water attempting to assist in the rescue of a young girl and her mother, a U.S. Army Officer involved in the event told Stars and Stripes magazine.

Major Robert Bourgeau, deputy operations officer for the 10th Support Group at Torii Station in Yomitan, has been nominated for the Soldier’s Medal for his actions during the July 4 rescue which tragically claimed Takahashi’s life. Bourgeau, a scuba diving instructor, had met students at Mermaid’s Grotto that afternoon and noted the rough conditions. He then spotted a Japanese woman calling for help, pointing at her 11-year-old daughter and another U.S. soldier being pulled out to sea. A rip current combined with incoming six-foot waves had created a whirlpool.

Bourgeau swam out to rescue the girl, grabbing the mother who had somehow entered the water and taking them to the shallows before returning for the other soldier. The Major said he did not see Takahashi enter the water, but his students did, and by the time he returned the second time he was too physically spent and felt he could drown himself if he made another attempt on the whirlpool. The scuba students reportedly glimpsed Takahashi multiple times before he disappeared.

Bourgeau wrote in a witness statement: “That was one of the hardest things I ever have had to do, I let [him] go so I could save myself.”

“You play that ‘what if’ game a lot,” he told Stars and Stripes this week. “This guy had a huge impact on the world … He’s a hero. He died trying to save someone else.”

Takahashi was born in Tokyo on October 4, 1961. He began his career as a manga artist in 1982, publishing his first work Fighting Hawk in 1990. His breakout hit Yu-Gi-Oh! ran in Shonen Jump from 1996 to 2004 and was later published in 38 books by Shueisha. Takahashi continued to supervise the Yu-Gi-Oh! universe after the original manga run, including writing and providing original character designs for its animated adaptations. The original anime series from Toei launched in 1998.

[Source: Stars and Stripes]

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