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Yu-gi-oh Cards Time Magazine Article #2 On Yugioh
JUNE 4, 2001

Item# yugcartimmag1

Product Description

 
Yu-Gi-Oh creator Kazuki Takahasi at work in his Tokyo studio.
'I've Always Been Obsessed With Games'
TIME's exclusive insight into the world of Yu-Gi-Oh creator Kazuki Takahashi

Kazuki Takahashi is famous. As the creator of the Yu-Gi-Oh comic series -- the game that has replaced Pokemon as Japan's No. 1 fad and is expected soon to enter the global lexicon -- Takahashi has sparked a boom that is echoing around the world. So far, the manga has spawned a megahit card game, GameBoy and PlayStation video games, and an animated TV series. But while the comic's spike- haired hero, Yugi, appears on pencil boxes and T-shirts and countless other doodads, Yugi's creator has remained a mystery. Because Takahashi, 39, never speaks to the press, few of his fans know much more about the artist than his name -- and as he has never been photographed, he walks the streets in total anonymity. With the TV show and the card game set to launch in the U.S. this fall, Takahashi gave TIME an exclusive peek into his suburban Tokyo studio. In an apartment building surrounded by grand old estates, Takahashi and five staff artists -- all young men -- scratch out 19 pages every week for publication in Shonen Jump, the weekly manga magazine where Yu-Gi-Oh (which means "King of Games") has appeared since 1996. The studio is crowded with racks of CDs and toys from children's shows like Wallace and Gromit, Pokemon, and, of course, Yu- Gi-Oh. Here's our interview (his second ever) with Takahashi, the imaginative creator of the explosive hit.

TIME: How did you get your start in manga?
TAKAHASHI: As a kid, I always liked to draw. But it wasn't till high school that I tried to actually put a manga together. I published my first one 20 years ago. It was a cartoon comedy about a high school, and it was a total flop. Then I followed with one about pro-wrestling, which was also a failure. I don't really like to think about it.

TIME: How did the idea for Yu-Gi-Oh come to you?
TAKAHASHI: I've always been obsessed with games. Certainly as a kid, and even today, I like blackjack and board games like Scotland Yard. In a game, the player becomes the hero. And that's the basic premise for Yu-Gi-Oh. The main character, Yugi, is a weak and childish boy who becomes a hero when he plays games.

TIME:
In the early episodes, Yugi plays a whole variety of games, some with toys, others with gadgets. But the manga didn't take off until you introduced the card game.
TAKAHASHI: That's right. Originally, I'd planned to phase out that particular game in two episodes. But the reader response we got was enormous. Shonen Jump started getting calls from all these kids who wanted to know more about the game -- how to play it, where they could get it. At the time, kids didn't really play card games; they were way into video games. But it's much more thrilling to battle against a human being while looking them in the eye than playing with a machine. I realized I'd hit on something, so I began to concentrate on the card game.

TIME: Is it hard to come up with unique creatures for the cards, each with their own set of strengths and weaknesses? I heard you've created something like 700.
TAKAHASHI: I stopped counting, but I think it's more like 1,000. And, yeah, it's hard. I'm not sure how many more I've got left in me. But all boys love monsters, and I'm no different, so it's also really fun. What I try to do is fit the creature to the characteristics of the character playing the card. For instance, Kaiba, Yugi's archenemy, is mean and vicious, so his cards tend to be that way, too.

TIME: What's your favorite?
TAKAHASHI: Blue Eyes White Dragon. It's the very first card I introduced, so it has special significance.

TIME: Yu-Gi-Oh has been called the next Pokemon. What has turned it into such a monstrous hit?
TAKAHASHI: The thing about the card game is that you can't play by yourself. You have to play with friends. That's how it spread: one kid saying to another, let's play Yu-Gi-Oh. As far as the manga story goes, I think all kids dream of henshin -- the ability to turn into something, or someone, else. Yugi's henshin into a savvy, invincible games player is a big appeal [to children]. There's also the mystery surrounding the games and the characters on the cards. Kids like that, too.

TIME: How do you think Americans will respond to Yu-Gi-Oh?
TAKAHASHI: The story centers on the life of a normal Japanese schoolboy, so I'm not sure they'll understand all of it. But here's the main thing I want them to understand: if you combine the "yu" in Yugi and the "jo" in Jounouchi [the main character's best friend], you get the word yujo. Yujo translates to friendship in English, but it's actually more powerful than that. If American kids get a strong sense of friendship among the characters in the story, I'll be happy.




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