The body of Takahashi, 60, was found floating about 300 meters (330 yards) off Okinawa on Wednesday by a person running a boating recreation business, a Naha Coast Guard Station official said in Nago.
Coastguards and firefighters went by boat and craft and found the body, face down and wearing a snorkeling mask. He may have been dead for a day or two, according to the coastguard official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because their work did not allow them to be named.
The body showed signs of attack by a sea creature, possibly sharks, but the cause of death was still under investigation, the official said.
Takahashi was identified after police in another part of Okinawa contacted the Coast Guard on Thursday, saying a rental car was found abandoned on a beach. The car had a driver’s license, confirming identity. Takahashi’s real first name was Kazuo. His family have been contacted and identified him, the coastguard official said.
“Yu Gi Oh!” which debuted in Shonen Jump magazine in 1996, became a hit, selling over 40 million copies in manga form, although the number of cards released worldwide was far greater, numbering by billions.
The official card game went on sale in 1999. A television show and video games, as well as action figures and toys, were also part of the franchise.
There was a wave of mourning on social networks.
Eric Stuart, the American actor who did the voiceover for the animation, said he was saddened by the news.
“Insanely talented man. Sensei created a role that would help define my acting career,” Stuart tweeted, using the Japanese word for “teacher.”
Fans around the world have posted their manga cards and images online. Some noted that this was how they became interested in Japan. People recalled how the cards helped them make their first friends.
“We are deeply grateful for the wonderful ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’ the universe he created, and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time,” the London-based YuGiOhNews account said on Twitter and on its official website.
Georgia’s Ambassador to Japan Teimuraz Lezhava said “Yu-Gi-Oh!” evoked a separate world.
“I will never forget the excitement of playing the game,” he said on his official Japanese Twitter.
Takahashi’s job had children, and the young at heart, collecting the cards, decorated with mechanical monsters and wizard-like creatures, with a frenzy. The prices of some soared at the height of fashion.
When a “Yu-Gi-Oh!” The event took place in a Tokyo baseball stadium in 1999, so many children and parents came to buy the cards, game maker Konami, the organizer, had to call the riot police.
“Yu Gi Oh!” is played by having two people face each other and placing cards from their deck with different powers to try and defeat the other. Each player starts with 8,000 “life points”, which are chiseled as your cards lose.
The main character is a doe-eyed boy with spiky blond hair called Yugi Muto, a card game expert. “Yu-Gi-Oh” means “king of games”.
The most expensive cards, the literally glittering ones, are powerful in the game, called “super rare” and “secret rare”. But they weren’t so easy to find, so people bought more packs, or cartons, of cards.
The success of “Yu-Gi-Oh!” in the West was similar to that of other Japanese animations and games like Pokemon.
Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama