Kazuki Takahashi has been found dead in the sea in Japan.
According to a BBC report, Takahashi’s popular manga comic series Yu-Gi-Oh! became a global franchise including TV shows, films and a hugely successful card game.
The 60-year-old died after an apparent snorkelling trip near the southern Okinawa Island, the coastguard said.
He was found off the coast wearing an underwater mask, snorkel and fins, an official for the city of Nago added.
“We are investigating the case as both a possible accident or crime,” he said.
Yu-Gi-Oh!, which means King of Games, is about spiky-haired teenager Yugi, who receives an ancient puzzle that awakens in him the alter ego of an Egyptian pharaoh. He then solves conflicts using games.
It was published in Japanese comic magazine Shonen Jump between 1996 and 2004, and in 1999 was turned into a real-life trading card game.
Media outlets including public broadcaster NHK said Takahashi was found around 300 meters offshore and pulled from the water. According to broadcaster TBS, Takahashi was travelling in Okinawa alone. A car rental company contacted police on Wednesday night saying it could not reach him, prompting the coast guard to suspect the body was his, TBS said.
The manga gave rise to a media franchise including a trading card game as well as anime series and films.
It was later published as a series of 38 books by Japanese publishing powerhouse Shueisha, which did not issue any immediate statement on Takahashi’s death.
Takahashi wrote under a pen name and his real first name was Kazuo.