Kazuki Takahashi, the creator of the popular "Yu-Gi-Oh!" manga series who died in July, apparently died trying to rescue an American girl in the sea off Okinawa, coast guard officials said Friday.

The Japan Coast Guard refrained from making public any further details about the death of Takahashi after consultation with his bereaved family, believing that psychological care for the young survivor should take priority, they said.

Takahashi noticed the girl and her parents adrift in the sea off Onna when he was snorkeling on the afternoon of July 4, and rushed to help them along with two U.S. service members nearby.

The personnel rescued the girl and her parents managed to reach the shore by themselves, but Takahashi was apparently caught in a wave, the officials said.

The body of the 60-year-old manga artist, whose real name was Kazuo Takahashi, was found in waters off Nago, near Onna, two days later.

The Stars and Stripes, an American military newspaper, reported Tuesday that Takahashi had made an effort to help in the rescue, quoting Maj. Robert Bourgeau, a U.S. Army officer, as calling the artist a "hero" who "died trying to save someone else."

"Yu-Gi-Oh!" was serialized in Shueisha's Weekly Shonen Jump magazine from 1996 to 2004, with total circulation, including digital publications, reaching over 40 million.

The official card game based on the series was released in more than 70 countries and regions and was certified as the "best-selling trading card game in the world" by Guinness World Records.