If you are a Yu-Gi-Oh! fan, or just a fan of anime in general, then you’ve probably heard the horrible news concerning the manga/anime artist, Kazuki Takahashi. He was found dead earlier this week, near the coast of Nago, Okinawa. Investigators are still looking into how it happened, but it appears that he was snorkeling in the ocean, as his body was seen in snorkeling gear when he was found.
While I may have hinted at this in some of my previous posts, I’m a huge Yu-Gi-Oh! fan and have been since it first aired here in the States on September 29th, 2001. It was a huge blow to me when I first learned of Takahashi’s death earlier this week. Although I’ve never met him, he has had a huge influence in my life over the last 20 years. His characters have been a part of me and in some weird way, has helped shape me into who I am today. And no character has done this more than Yugi Muto/Yami Yugi/Atem. Similar to Yugi, I too was a very shy and quiet kid in school, like him, and scared of nearly everything, especially social interactions with others. But over time, I feel like I have grown out of that and have matured into a more bolder and confident individual, similar to Yami Yugi/Atem. Now don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that I’m like this because of these characters, as I have had many positive influences in my life from real people to help shape who I am now. But like Yugi, I too have grown and matured. Those of you who know the first show and have seen it through to the end know that Yugi becomes very similar to his friend, Yami Yugi/Atem, who is very bold and assertive. I think a lot of people can relate to this concept as there is always room for every person to grow, no matter who they are. Some of you are probably wondering how I can feel grief for someone that I have never met. Well, I’ll give an example. For all of you Star Wars fans out there, think of how you would feel if something similar happened to George Lucas. You may have never had met him, but if you’re a fan of the Star Wars films, wouldn’t you feel a bit sad also?
Well that’s me right now with Takahashi. I want to share part of a quote that he said at the end of his original Yu-Gi-Oh! manga series, as it will bring home of what I’m about to say next.
“As we go about our lives, we touch people, we see people, and interact with them. And in doing so, we feel and think many things. Sometimes we make others happy, sometimes we hurt them, we sympathize and we disagree. In the midst of this, we learn that people’s thoughts and feelings are not a one-way street.”
I absolutely love what he said here because it’s so true. We encounter all sorts of people over the course of our lives. Some we like. Some we don’t like. Some become friends. Some are just friendly people that we pass by or briefly interact with and never encounter again. But no matter the case, we are who we are; people; human beings; trying to make it through the day to day vicissitudes of life. And many people have hurt me over time. I have hurt them. Last year, I hurt a dear friend of mine. My friend hurt me in turn. I was grieved over it for a long time. We have thankfully worked out our misunderstanding and are on good terms again. I have another friend who I care about deeply, but I disagree with her on a good amount of subjects. We come from two different backgrounds. But we are still friends at the end of the day. And Takahashi exemplified what I’ve gone through, and what many others have gone through, with his writing and art. Many will look at Yu-Gi-Oh! and see only a bunch of teenagers dramatically slapping trading cards down on tables and fighting monsters. And they are right, as that is what it is, on the surface. But underneath all that, it’s about relationships, particularly friendship. It’s a story about coming of age, growing up, facing the world, and doing things that you don’t want to do, or are too afraid to do. But you do them anyway and face them anyway because you must. One of the hardest things that I had to face was losing my dad, back in February of this year. I was not ready to face such a hardship. Death of a loved one is probably one of the most difficult things a person can face in life. No one or nothing can prepare you for such a thing. But you must face it eventually. We all do. Takahashi was only 2 years younger than my dad when he died. They both died young (by today’s standards). Death does not discriminate. It can come to you whether you are 8 years old, or 80 years old. We are all subject to it and we must all face it one day…
This is starting to sound rather morbid, so I’ll end with this. Be nice to someone today. Whether it’s towards a stranger, holding a door for them or picking something up that they dropped and handing it to them, or a friend. Support him or her. Be kind to them. Answer that e-mail they send to you. Support their blog or website and leave a kind comment. Call them up or text them. Send a card. Meet them for dinner or coffee or tea. Do something. If you wait too long, if you keep putting it off, one day, you may be too late…
Rest in peace, Mr. Takahashi. You may be gone, but your work lives on. And your fans will keep your spirit alive always.