Berserk: A Look Back at Kentaro Miura’s Legendary Legacy

In an official statement from Young Animal Comics on May 20, it was announced that Kentaro Miura had died. Miura's passing is a massive loss for the world of manga and many others he inspired. Best known as the creator of Berserk, Miura's impact and legacy extend far beyond that legendary series.

Berserk was Miura's debut manga, beginning in 1989. Telling the brutally violent tale of the Black Swordsman, Guts, the manga is about what one man is willing to sacrifice in the name of getting his revenge. Berserk's dark take on the fantasy genre is immediately arresting even now, 30-odd years into its serialization. Aside from his intensely detailed art -- some of Berserk's hand-drawn panels look like they belong in a museum -- Miura's storytelling is a major part of why. In the midst of all the swords and sorcery and death and destruction, Miura told a story firmly rooted in real emotion, from raw fury over a betrayal to uncertainty about the future -- Berserk is grounded where it counts.

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It's difficult to overstate just how influential Berserk is. From Final Fantasy VII to Devil May Cry, even up to the recent Castlevania, swordsmen swinging ridiculously huge blades across genres and mediums can usually draw a connection back to Guts. This is particularly true for the Dark Souls series, with its nightmarish dark fantasy setting and monster designs that are clear callbacks to Berserk. Kentaro Miura truly left his mark on the fantasy genre, even as Berserk remains unfinished.

It's easy to look at Miura's passing and lament Berserk's uncertain future, but it's important to remember the man behind the manga. According to a 1996 interview published in Berserk Illustrations File, Miura mentions that, when starting out, he didn't have a particular plan. As the series progressed, Berserk would also become notorious for hiatuses that rival Hunter x Hunter's worst, with some fans jokingly blaming it on Miura's storied love for The [email protected] games distracting him. When Miura recently began another manga series, the also-unfinished Duranki, he pushed the fantasy genre in new directions, much like he did with Berserk, despite some seeing it as a missed opportunity to make more of the classic. 

All this to say, Kentaro Miura was a mangaka who made what he liked and what he wanted to see, bringing unparalleled quality to each of his works one step at a time. Of course, like most mangaka, Miura's work schedule was an extremely demanding one, according to that same '96 interview (and that likely stayed consistent over time), so it's not as though he were taking it easy. Regardless, Miura's quirks and bright personality are as much a part of his legacy as any of his manga. In remembering Miura's impact, it's important to remember what we know of who he was, as well.

With memorials going on and up in Final Fantasy XIV and across the internet, it's clear that Kentaro Miura's work touched the lives of many. Few manga have been as thoroughly praised, analyzed and influential as Berserk, which will likely carry on into the future as more people come to the series on the word of its vocal fanbase. Kentaro Miura's legacy is undeniable -- we can only hope he understood how just much his work meant to his fans before he passed.

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