The publisher Hakusensha has officially disclosed that Dr Kentaro Miura, the author of manga such as Berserk and Duranki, had passed away on May 6th 2021 from aortic dissection.
Miura was a singularly talented artist and storyteller. Showing prodigious talent from the age of 10, Miura would go on to birth a body of work that includes Miuranger (1976), Ken e no Michi (1977), Futatabi (1985), Noa (1985), King of Wolves (1989), Ourou Den (1990), Japan (1992), Gigantomakhia (2013-2014) and Duranki (2019–2021). His seminal work, the dark fantasy Berserk (1989- now), is one of the best-selling manga of all time. Telling the tale of Guts the Black Swordsman, it follows his journey from a young soldier to an increasingly damaged, monster-slaying warrior, steadfast in his futile struggle against an exceedingly cruel world where evil is ever-present and often triumphant. While well-known for its upsetting imagery and graphic violence, the story is punctuated with lovingly drawn moments of levity, tenderness, and introspection that encourage the reader to persevere. The manga received two anime adaptations as well as a trilogy of films that serve as a prequel to the latter. In particular, the first anime adaptation, Berserk (1997), is considered a classic.
In addition to there being three video games featuring the world and characters of Berserk (Sword of the Berserk: Guts’ Rage (1999), the Japan-only Berserk Millennium Falcon Arc: Chapter of the Record of the Holy Demon War (2000), and the Musou game Berserk and the Band of the Hawk (2016)) the manga’s influence can be felt in games such as Dark Souls, Bloodborne and Dragon’s Dogma. The main character Guts is arguably the codifier, if not the creator, of the enduring “brooding anime swordsman” archetype still seen in pop culture today. Berserk’s DNA is everywhere. This influence has not gone unnoticed. Globally, fans are paying their respects; this has been seen all over the internet. In the Final Fantasy XIV community for example, players have formed the ‘Great Wall of Dark Knight’ using the Berserk-inspired character class.
Berserk had 40 volumes published and was ongoing with an infrequent release schedule. The manga was on the latest of many hiatuses, and it is currently unclear if the manga’s story will be able to continue with his death, though it seems unlikely that we will see Guts and Griffith cross paths again. Berserk was, at its core, a story about finding the strength to carry on living despite the overwhelmingly bad hands life can deal us. It is my hope that the story, finished or not, can continue to be used as a source of strength for its readers both now and in the future.
The manga is available in a variety of formats at most good book retailers. I personally recommend the hardcover Deluxe Edition released by Dark Horse Comics, if you have the room.