Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean May Have Had a Surprising Impact on Berserk

Kentaro Miura's long-running seinen manga Berserk has followed its protagonist Guts cut bloody swathes of carnage through his enemies for over 30 years. The series is renowned for its dark stories, violent battles, complex characters and wide range of influences. Drawing inspiration from real-world history, literary classics and popular media, Miura consistently finds new ways to twist iconic tropes in surprisingly nuanced ways. Perhaps most interestingly of all, one of the strangest villains in the series, Captain Bonebeard, appears to be inspired by Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

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Guts and his companions first encountered Captain Bonebeard, looking every bit the stereotypical pirate with his pegleg, eyepatch and toothy, swollen-gummed scowl splitting his tangled beard, at the port city of Vritannis. In a brilliant bit of commentary about both the nature of his character and the world at large, he explained he was giving up piracy to sell slaves in an attempt to become a law-abiding businessman. Even this callous "redemption" did not last.

Berserk Captain Bonebeard

While one could assume Bonebeard is just a general pirate pastiche, there is evidence suggesting that he's directly inspired by the Disney Pirates films. His first appearance, in Chapter 247 of the manga, was released in 2004, one year after the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. Before Bonebeard's introduction, there wasn't even a hint of a pirate focus to the manga; Guts and his companions were busy battling an army of Apostles. The timing of the series' change in focus suggests that Miura intentionally altered the narrative (at least in part) after watching the first Pirates of the Caribbean film.

Captain Bonebeard has strikingly similar clothing and facial features to the Pirates character Captain Barbossa, played by Geoffrey Rush. The two share the same wild hair, pronounced nose and bad teeth, though Barbossa lacks Bonebeard's missing body parts and slightly wilder beard. In addition to using pirate nautical slang, Bonebeard also has a rambly style of speech that seems to combine Barbossa's menacing threats with the meandering ravings of Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow.


The action scenes in both works also have similarities. Berserk is famed for its complex fights, usually centered on Guts or his companions. Bonebeard was introduced in a swashbuckling fight that emphasized the importance of footwork when dueling in unconventional terrain -- something suspiciously similar to the duel between Jack Sparrow and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), a fight which has been cited as one of Hollywood's best-choreographed swordfights.

During the event known as the Great Roar of the Astral World, the spiritual plane altered the physical world. Bonebeard's entire crew was transformed by a sea god, taking on properties similar to both aquatic life and the undead. The parallels to the skeletal crew of the Black Pearl and the fishlike sailors serving aboard the Flying Dutchman in the second and third Pirates movies are not hard to see.

While it is impossible to know for certain whether Miura was directly inspired by the Pirates of the Caribbean films without asking him directly, the evidence suggests that Bonebeard and his crew owe their existence at least in part to the Disney franchise. Considering how Miura takes inspiration from many unexpected places, it is not a stretch to think that a major motion picture like Curse of the Black Pearl could have shaped one of the series' most memorable antagonists.

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