When Yu-Gi-Oh! first emerged as a phenomenon almost 20 years ago, it made Kazuki Takahashi into an instant icon of the manga and anime worlds. That's why many fans were so saddened by the news that Kazuki had died in July. At the time, police reported that Kazuki had drowned, but no further details were given. Now, a recent report has clarified that the manga artist displayed great bravery in the moments before his death.
How did Kazuki Takahashi die?
According to reporting in Stars & Stripes, the news bulletin for the US Department of Defense, a "US Army officer [has been] recognized for rescuing three people from a riptide at a popular Okinawa dive spot in an episode that apparently killed a well-known Japanese manga artist.”
Major Robert Bourgeau was recommended for a medal following events that occurred at Mermaid's Grotto in Okinawa on July 4.
Robert apparently saw three people struggling in a dangerous riptide, including two Japanese civilians and a fellow soldier, and raced out to help while still wearing his running shoes. Robert, who is a trained scuba diver, was able to get both civilians to shore, and then guided his fellow soldier back as well.
During the rescue, though, several sworn statements from witnesses that spoke to the army claim that Kazuki also dived in to help. The reporting said that those watching the events unfold only “caught glimpses of him until he disappeared beneath the waves.”
Kazuki's body was found the next day by the Japanese Coast Guard floating off the coast of Nago, a city in northern Okinawa, and his car was later discovered parked at Mermaid's Grotto.
Reporting suggested that the riptide was strong, and that there were also massive waves crashing against it. These waves created a whirlpool which began sucking the swimmers in, and ultimately claimed Kazuki's life.
“He’s a hero,” Robert said in speaking with Stars & Stripes. “He died trying to save someone else.”