The creator of Yu-Gi-Oh! has apologized for posting politically charged statements on his Instagram account that used some of the characters from the series to criticize the current Japanese government in light of upcoming elections.
Kazuki Takahashi is the creator of the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga series, which eventually led to the creation of a competitive card game of the same name. Yu-Gi-Oh! would go on to become one of the best-selling card games of all time, where it would compete with the likes of Magic: The Gathering and the Pokémon Trading Card Game.
The original Yu-Gi-Oh! anime and manga have concluded their respective runs, but Takahashi still posts artwork related to the series on Instagram. There is an upcoming election in Japan for seats within the House of Councillors and Takahashi decided to use his Instagram profile as a means of encouraging people to vote, which involved using some of the most popular characters from Yu-Gi-Oh!.
View this post on Instagram
YU-GI-OH! OCG 20th ANNIVERSARY MONSTER ART BOX が11月に発売されます。😀😳内容はボリュームたっぷりなのですが、値段も高く, 分厚い本なので購入される方、 そして宅配業者の方にはホント 申し訳ありません😓そして ありがとうございます！😃😃 表紙イラストなのですがカード部分は編集さんにはめ込んでもらうのですが、7月21日に選挙があるので投票している王様イラストにアレンジしました！😳😳 本当に今の売国政権で日本の未来は大丈夫かと思うわ！😩😩😭😳ヤバイ〜〜！！😱😱 アテム「決闘者のみんな！ 今こそ正義の一票スタンバイだぜ！！👍」
According to Anime News Network, the Dark Magician and Dark Magician Girl are saying that the current administration is betraying Japan and that the future won't be safe in their hands. Atem is holding papers saying "Let's Vote" while the text on the Instagram post encourages all duelists to vote.
Takahashi then posted a second image the next day showing a photo of a sunset, where he apologized for expressing his opinions through the Yu-Gi-Oh! characters. The original image of Atem, the Dark Magician, and the Dark Magician Girl is still up, however, so he might not be as apologetic as his statement suggests.
It's not unheard of for creators to use their characters to express their political opinions or religious beliefs within their work, but there tends to be more of a backlash when it's used in a direct manner in relation to real-life events. One example of this was when Nancy Cartwright used the Bart Simpson voice to promote Scientology events in 2009, which prompted a response from 20th Century Fox. Takahashi has the right to express whatever political opinions he chooses to on his own social media platforms, but there is a certain amount of bad taste in having his words come out of the mouths of some of his most famous characters.