Multimillionaire Manga Creator Secretly Died a 'Hero'

Kazuki Takahashi drowned in Japan in July while attempting to save a girl and her parents
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 28, 2022 10:08 AM CDT
Multimillionaire Manga Creator Secretly Died a 'Hero'
This photo shows “Yu-Gi-Oh!” manga comic and trading cards in Tokyo on July 7, 2022.   (Shohei Miyano/Kyodo News via AP)

When Kazuki Takahashi, creator of the popular manga Yu-Gi-Oh!, died in July, Japanese authorities gave few details on what had happened. They said the 60-year-old, whose body was found in snorkeling gear off the coast of Nago city in Okinawa, had died by drowning. But that wasn't the whole story. As authorities now admit, the celebrated manga creator had entered the water at Mermaid's Grotto, a diving and snorkeling spot in Onna, on July 4 to help a 12-year-old American girl and her parents, who were struggling in rip currents. US Army Capt. Neda Othman, an onlooker who called police and the Coast Guard while her husband and diving instructor set out for the swimmers, tells the New York Times that she saw a tall, thin man in a snorkeling mask heading right for them.

Her husband Nathan Feura, who was soon fighting for his life, says he saw the man, later identified as Takahashi, trying to hold the hand of the girl's father. "Then some really big waves came, and I didn't see him again after that." The diving instructor, Maj. Robert Bourgeau, eventually helped the girl and her mother to safety. But when he, Feura, and the father reached shore, the girl only wanted to know where her dark-haired helper had gone. "Where's the other guy?" she kept asking, per the Times. The aftermath was chaos but Othman and Feura say they informed authorities about the man in snorkelling gear using an interpreter. Police and the Coast Guard, however, say they were unaware someone was missing as helicopters remained hovering overhead.

An outpouring of grief met the discovery of Takahashi's body two days later. Though Coast Guard officials admit they knew by July 11 that Takahashi was involved in the incident at Mermaid's Grotto, where his rental car was found, they say they did not disclose it for fear of upsetting the girl. They believed "psychological care for the young survivor should take priority," reports the Japan Times. The NY Times notes "they reversed course only in recent weeks, in response to inquiries from the news media." Bourgeau, honored for his heroism, is glad of it. Takahashi was a "hero" who "died trying to save someone else," he tells Stars and Stripes. Feura adds praise for this multimillionaire "on a tropical vacation" who "is still willing to risk his own life to help strangers in distress." (Read more drowning stories.)

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