Yu-Gi-Oh creator Kazuki Takahashi died a “hero” on July 4th while trying to save an 11-year-old girl from drowning in Japan, according to military newspaper Stars and Stripes.
US Army Major Robert Bourgeau was set to lead a SCUBA diving class at 2:00 p.m. near the islands of Okinawa Prefecture, when he noticed a Japanese woman screaming and pointing to her daughter bobbing in the water. “The conditions were really, really rough,” he recalled, noting that a riptide had created a whirlpool effect. As the mother tried to save the 11-year-old, she, too, got caught in the tide.
Bourgeau, a US soldier, and Takashi joined in the rescue. Bourgeau managed to pull the mother and daughter to safety, though as he said later, “I didn’t think I was going to make it.” He was also able to shout directions to the soldier on how to escape the tide.
Bourgeau’s students saw Takashi struggling against the whirlpool before disappearing under the waves. Bourgeau was too exhausted to go in a second time. “That was one the hardest things I have ever had to do, I let [the man] go so I could save myself,” Bourgeau wrote in a witness statement. Takashi’s body was found two days later about 1,000 feet from Awa, Nago.
“He’s a hero,” Bourgeau said. “He died trying to save someone else.” He added, “You play that ‘what if’ game a lot. This guy had a huge impact on the world.” Major Bourgeau has been nominated for the Soldier’s Medal for heroism outside of combat.
Takashi started off as a manga artist in the 1980s, before creating a spiky-haired character named Yugi Mutou in a 1996 one-off for Weekly Shonen Jump. His tales of magical duels became a massive hit, and Takashi later developed a trading card game based on the series, as well as one of the most popular anime franchises in the world. His final project to be released during his lifetime, Marvel’s Secret Reverse, came out over the summer.