Kentaro Miura, the creator of Berserk, one of the most beloved and famous manga of all time, died of acute aortic dissection on May 6, 2021, according to the official Berserk Twitter account and the Twitter account of Young Animal magazine which publishes the manga.
The best-selling manga not only inspired anime and video game adaptations as well as famous works in other mediums from Dark Souls to the Netflix Castlevania show, but inspired fans to keep moving forward no matter how bleak things get.
Here’s everything you need to know about the legendary manga artist.
1. Kentaro Miura Started Drawing His Own Manga Series at 10 Years Old
Miura was born in 1966 in the Chiba Perfecture of Japan. His father drew storyboards for commercials and his mother taught art, according to Berserk fan site Skullknight.net. Miura drew art at an early age and used it to make friends as he and his family moved throughout the country.
At 10 years old, Miura created his first manga series, Miuranger, which was published in his school’s newspaper, according to Crunchyroll News.
When he turned 18, Miura broke into the professional manga industry as an assistant to George Morikawa, the creator of boxing manga Hajime no Ippo. Morikawa dismissed Miura after he recognized his talent and saw that there was nothing left he could teach him, according to Crunchyroll.
Morikawa told a story about when they worked together on Twitter. He had Miura copy his own art to see how well he could draw.
“I was stunned by the results,” Morikawa said (translated from Japanese). “His age utterly belied his talent. After he’d drawn a few things for me, I already felt myself drawn to him.”
Miura then showed Morikawa his sketchbook which had drawings of what would later be known as Guts and Puck, the main characters of Berserk. Miura told Morikawa that they were “just some things in my head. Something I’ve been wanting to put effort into drawing.”
“It [Berserk] was the series that Kentaro had put his heart and soul into, that he drew on his own terms,” Morikawa said. “I was sure that the public would be just as captivated by his art as I had been. By his exquisite artistic talent and fervor. I have nothing but respect for the sheer energy that went into every chapter.”
2. Miura Published Berserk After Its First Draft Won an Award
Miura created the first prototype edition of Berserk and submitted it to Monthly ComiComi magazine in 1988. The manga won the magazine’s Manga-School prize for second place, according to Crunchyroll.
After Miura graduated from Nihon University in 1989, the first installment of the revised Berserk was published in Animal House (a magazine which would later be succeeded by Young Animal). The series would be published in the United States by Dark Horse Comics.
A following quickly built for the story of a swordsman named Guts who traveled his brutal medieval world on a quest for revenge. The manga was known for balancing gruesome violence and cruelty with touching and beautiful character moments. Many were inspired by the perseverance of the characters despite living in a world that wanted them dead.
The release of story chapters for Berserk had slowed down in recent years, and fans joked that Miura had abandoned work on Berserk to play the Idolm@ster video game which he has shown to be a fan of.
The last chapter of Berserk, chapter 363, released in the January 2021 issue of Young Animal. The story had yet to be concluded.
Fans payed tribute to the late, great artist and discussed how the manga personally affected them and got them through hard times:
3. The Berserk Story Has Gone Beyond Manga
The manga has also been adapted several times into anime. First from 1997 to 1998 there was a 25-episode run by OLM, Inc. Then a trilogy of anime films by Studio 4°C released from 2012 to 2013. After that we got an anime series from GEMBA, Millepensee and Liden Films in 2016.
There are also several video games based on the story. Yuke’s Media Creations developed a Sega Dreamcast game Sword of the Berserk: Guts’ Rage in 1999 and a Japan-only PlayStation 2 game Berserk Millennium Falcon Chapter: The Holy Demon War Chronicles in 2004. Omega Force took the gameplay of their Dynasty Warriors franchise and used it to create their own take on the Berserk story with 2016’s Berserk and the Band of the Hawk.
4. Berserk Has Inspired Other Great Works
According to CNET, Berserk is one of the most influential manga of all time, and has inspired other great works inside and outside of manga.
Hidetaka Miyazaki, the director of Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls and the President of their developer From Software, counted Berserk as one of the biggest influences for the games along with other dark fantasy and adventure books. Both games have become household names in the video game community, inspiring an entire sub genre of challenging action role playing games that involve players exploring an oppressive world with a risk-and-reward progression system.
Many players have found a number of similarities between the characters, weapons and armor in Dark Souls and that of Berserk. The Greatsword weapon looks nearly identical to the blade that Guts weilds. In an old interview, Miyazaki likened the design of the armor for fan favorite character Siegmeyer to the armor of Bazuso from Berserk.
Miura’s influence can also be seen in the Final Fantasy series, one of the most seminal role playing game franchises of all time. To pay their respects to the late manga artist, players of Final Fantasy XIV gathered in servers to line up while wearing their Black Knight gear as the appearance of the armor has inspiration from Miura’s work.
It’s not just video games that Berserk inspired. Adam Deats, the associate director of Powerhouse Animation and the assistant director for the Castlevania anime on Netflix, said that a quarter of the staff for Castlevania drew inspiration from Berserk.
5. Miura Is Just One Notable Japanese Artist to Pass Away in 2021
This year has already seen the death of a few seminal figures in Japanese art. In March, the great Yasuo Otsuka died of a heart attack at age 89, according to CartoonBrew. Otsuka was a famous animator and educator who lent his hand to 1958’s Hakujaden (a.k.a. The White Snake Enchantress) which was Japan’s first color animated feature. He mentored Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata who went on to co-found Studio Ghibli, and he even worked with the pair on their own projects at the studio including Lupin the Third.
In April, Anime Director Osamu Kobayashi died at 57 after battling kidney cancer, according to Heavy. He created the cult classic anime BECK and Paradise Kiss, along with directing individual episodes for Naruto: Shippuden and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and working on the 1997 RPG Grandia.