The death of “Yu-Gi-Oh”: the curtain call of the card legend

  On July 6, a man wearing diving equipment was found drowned in the waters of Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture. The next day, the Japanese police identified the deceased as Kazuki Takahashi, a famous cartoonist, who became the second famous Japanese cartoonist to die this year after he became An Sunzi Suo (Fujiko Fujio A).
  Unlike some prolific manga masters, Takahashi and Nozomi’s life is not rich in creation, and there is only one well-known work “Yu-Gi-Oh”, but this does not hinder Takahashi and Nozomi’s success.
  At the turn of the century, in 1999, a battle card game based on the content of the “Yu-Gi-Oh” comics was born. It has remained popular for more than 20 years since then, and has become the world’s three major TCG (collectible) card games along with Magic and Pokémon cards. Tens of millions of players have joined the card battles of Yu-Gi-Oh!
  Kazuki Takahashi, the creator behind this card empire, is unfamiliar. Takahashi and Nozomi rarely give interviews to the media. Although they became famous at a young age, they did not think they were qualified as professional cartoonists before creating “Yu-Gi-Oh”.
  But at the age of 33, he “drawn” a very popular card game with a pen. In addition to completing the counterattack, he also rewrote the history of the world’s card games.
Young and famous but wasted half a life

  Kazuya Takahashi, formerly known as Kazuya Takahashi, was born in 1963. He was frail and ill-spoken since childhood. In order to spend the long lunch break and leisure time at school, he picked up a paintbrush.
  When he was a student, Takahashi’s favorite was Kajihara Ikki’s original work and the wrestling-themed manga “Tiger Mask Man” drawn by Naoto Tsuji. Those elements that he created in the future, such as the bloody to slightly secondary plots, the adrenaline-rushing battle scenes and other elements, can be found in “The Man with the Tiger Mask”.
  Works that have a deep influence on Takahashi, as well as the “Ultraman” series. At that time, he even had the idea of ​​becoming the designer of Ultraman monsters. And this kind of love for monsters naturally paved the way for the birth of “Yu-Gi-Oh!”.

“Game King” comic manuscript

  In 1981, Takahashi, who had just graduated from high school, wrote the sports-themed comic “ING! LOVE BALL” won the 8th Shogakukan Rookie Manga Award, and the award for him was Fujiko F. Fujio, the author of “Doraemon”. In the latter’s view, Takahashi and Nozomi still need more work on the story and characters.
  This is a word of encouragement for the younger generation, but I didn’t expect it to become a prophecy. In the following years, Takahashi and Nozomi never got too many opportunities, and the popularity of the “Battle Ball Kid” comics written by him was pitifully low.
  In 1990, 9 years had passed since he won the Newcomer Award, and the difficulties of life did not seem to have smoothed the edge of Kazuhiro Takahashi. After hitting a wall again and again, he met Shueisha, a company that changed his destiny. After signing the contract, he serialized two fighting comics in Weekly Shonen Jump under the original name of Kazuya Takahashi, but the response was still mediocre.
  At this time, Takahashi was faced with a predicament that he had never had before: if he could not hand over his works that were popular enough, he would not only betray Shueisha’s trust, but he would also be labeled as a slow-selling manga artist, and he would be afraid in the future. Hard to come out again.
  In 1996, 33-year-old Takahashi Kazuki reflected on his past works and found that he was still obsessed with battle-related themes, but such comics were often highly homogenized. So, a seemingly contradictory idea emerged in his mind, “draw a fighting comic that doesn’t require fighting”.
  With this thought in mind, Takahashi embarked on a journey of travel.
  In Egypt, the sky full of yellow sand and the huge towering pyramids gave Gaoqiao an infinite shock. He was impressed by this mysterious ancient civilization. Unique hieroglyphs, vivid murals, the pharaoh who claimed to be the son of the sun god, and exotic culture… These elements gave Takahashi inspiration, and the idea of ​​a new comic began to become more and more clear, but it seems that there is still a key missing piece. puzzle.

Takahashi Kazuki’s self-painted image

  The Senet chess piece he encountered before ending his journey was this piece of the puzzle. This is a board game popular in ancient Egypt and is also considered to be the oldest two-player board game in the world.
  Ancient Egypt + battle + games, these three elements that Takahashi loves are superimposed together, and they become the prototype of “Yu-Gi-Oh”.
  In 1996, “Yu-Gi-Oh” began to be serialized, and this comic has a strong personal touch of Takahashi. The protagonist, who is taciturn and has been bullied by his classmates, is very similar to the author himself. Because of this, the original “Yu-Gi-Oh” is relatively realistic: the protagonist Muto Yuga accidentally got a thousand-year-old building block that houses the soul of the Egyptian Pharaoh. From then on, whenever he encountered danger, the Pharaoh’s soul would break free from the thousand-year-old building blocks, attach himself to Muto, and defeat his opponents in various game-based battles.
  Card battle is just an ordinary game type in the early “Yu-Gi-Oh”; board games, electronic pets and even yo-yos and other game elements that were popular in the 1990s were reflected in the early “Y-Gi-Oh”. Such a design was quite rare in comic stories at the time.
  However, the messy and frequent game switching brings readers a sense of freshness, but also a sense of escape. “Game of Thrones”, like Takahashi’s previous comics, has come to the brink of slashing again with the decline in popularity.
  At this time, the editor Bo Yoshihisa reminded Takahashi: Why not put the focus of the story on the card battle game called “Magic and Witchcraft”? Many readers have written to ask whether there will be content about this game in future chapters of the comic.
  At that time, Yoshihisa Boi would never have thought that his usual reminder would change the fate of Takahashi and the world card game. An enduring card game that grows under his inspiration.
Addicted to the card to create a legend

  Years later, Jijiu Bo, who has taken over as the editor-in-chief of Weekly Shonen Jump, recalls the years when he fought side by side with Takahashi Kazuki, and still sighs with emotion: In his long editing career, stories like this that help manga come back to life are rare. .
  In 1998, “Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Kingdom” began serialization, and the original simple card game named “Magic and Witchcraft” was picked up again and became a game that runs through the main line of the comics.

  At first, Takahashi did not conceive the complete rules, but the “printed” cards on the spot and the bridge section of the current rules were later talked about by players. For example, monster cards can destroy the field, causing forest fires, the disappearance of the moon and the ebb tide, which in turn affects the battle situation.

Game of Thrones Cards

  He “drawn” the hugely popular card game with a pen.

  From today’s point of view, these bridges are a bit nonsense. They not only clearly conflict with the established rules, but also make the protagonist’s aura too dazzling. But this kind of absurdity made the readers at the time hooked. After all, in such a setting, any kind of reversal is possible, and readers are therefore more looking forward to the follow-up stories.
  During the serialization of the comic, Konami purchased the copyright of the “Yu-Gi-Oh” card from Bandai. As a professional game company, Konami has set stricter and richer rules for “Yu-Gi-Oh” cards, and introduced or optimized a series of concepts such as superior summoning, magic, trap cards, and card activation chains. The playability of “Yu-Gi-Oh” cards has also become more abundant.
  In February 1999, Konami-led “Yu-Gi-Oh” physical cards began to go on sale. Under the dual influence of the comics and the theatrical version of Yu-Gi-Oh, produced by Toei, this kind of card, which is easy to use and consistent with the content of popular comics, has caused a sensation in Japan, and Konami has made a lot of money.

The virtual image system of Yu-Gi-Oh!

“Three Phantom Gods” Wing Shenlong, Giant God Soldier, Sky Dragon (from left)

  Ancient Egypt + battle + games, these three elements that Takahashi loves are superimposed together, and they become the prototype of “Yu-Gi-Oh”.

  After more than ten years of ups and downs, Takahashi finally achieved financial freedom. At that time, with a public tax payment of over 400 million yen, he defeated many well-known cartoonists such as “Dragon Ball” author Toriyama Akira, “Conan” author Aoyama Gosho, and climbed to the top of the Japanese cultural celebrity tax list.
  The success of the “Game King” card is not unrelated to Konami’s professional design, but the fire of the “Game King” story has to be attributed to Takahashi’s extensive knowledge.
  There is a virtual image system in “Game King”, which means that the setting of monsters will appear when the cards are placed in the duel plate. This inspiration comes from the Dejarik war chess in the movie “Star Wars”. Takahashi also bluntly said: “Without “Star Wars”, there would be no later “Yu-Gi-Oh”.
  In addition, Egyptian elements are in “Y-Gi-Oh”. Also everywhere. The prototype of Atum, one of the protagonists, is the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun, and the name “Atum” is also the name of the gods in the Egyptian pantheon. In addition, the thousand-year-old artifacts that caused disputes, as well as the settings of the tomb guards and priests, also evolved from the legends of ancient Egypt.
  The most typical one is the “Three Phantom Gods” cards that represent the supreme status of “Yu-Gi-Oh” – Obelisk’s giant soldier, Osiris’ sky dragon and “Ra”‘s winged dragon.
  Among them, ra is the name of the main god of the sun in Egyptian mythology worship, and the appearance of the winged dragon is relatively close to Egyptian mythology; the word “Obelisk” refers to the Egyptian religious building obelisk, whose prototype is Egyptian mythology. The god of power “Set”, but the card style design refers to the giants of the West; Osiris is one of the nine-pillar gods in Egyptian mythology and is the judge of the underworld, but the appearance of the sky dragon is similar to that of the mythical Osiris. It has nothing to do with it, it was Takahashi who designed the style by combining the wings of the dragon in European legends with the body of the dragon in Chinese legends.

Yu-Gi-Oh! booth at Tokyo Game Show 2016
duel continues

  The success of the “Game of Thrones” card has brought Takahashi to the pinnacle of his life, but his requirements for himself have never been relaxed.
  At the critical moment when the first generation of “Yu-Gi-Oh” was about to end, long hours of high-intensity work made him fall ill, and he was sent to the hospital for emergency treatment due to stomach bleeding. In a trance, he seemed to see his pharaoh beckoning. Fortunately, he was rescued after walking around before the gate of hell.
  This accident made Takahashi have the idea of ​​gradually retreating. In 2008, the new animation “Yu-Gi-Oh 5DS” came out, and Takahashi didn’t care much about the original case of the protagonist and the monster. Since then, in “Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal”, “Y-Girl King ARC-V” and “Y-Girl King VRAINS”, Takahashi is more like a name.
  As a work that has been in existence for more than 20 years, it is inevitable that the popularity of “Yu-Gi-Oh” animation and comics will decline. In order to attract new audiences, the latest work “Yu-Gi-Oh! Sevens” features elementary school students as the protagonists for the first time. It’s more and more like a “sub-supply” work.
  Still, the Yu-Gi-Oh! card’s influence remains. Since 2003, the “Game King” OCG has held a world competition every year. Card masters from all over the world will bring their own decks to compete with other players offline.
  In 2011, the “Yu-Gi-Oh” card was certified by the Guinness World Records and was the world’s best-selling TCG card game with a sales record of 25.1 billion. According to data from the Japan Toy Association, the size of the Japanese card game market has been growing steadily. In the 10 months from April 2018 to February 2019, the sales of “Yu-Gi-Oh” cards hit 27.3 billion yen.
  Interestingly, as the creator of “Yu-Gi-Oh”, Takahashi revealed in an interview that he rarely participates in the offline battles of Yu-Gi-Oh, and his level of battle is also very mediocre.
  As he said in an interview that year, “If Yu-Gi-Oh can make you even one more friend, I would think it would be great to draw this work.” Perhaps more people can enjoy the card than the group card battle. The fun of playing cards and making friends, and enjoying the process of “bringing smiles with duels” are what Takahashi values ​​more.