Mon, October 25, 2021

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Remembering Kentaro Miura, creator of Berserk, which inspired countless fantasy stories


Kentaro Miura, author and creator of the influential manga "Berserk," died on May 6 of acute aortic dissection, according to a statement from publisher Young Animal Comics. He was 54.

Miura's influence on modern fantasy writing and art can hardly be overstated. "Berserk" is a serial dark fantasy story about a knight named Guts and his extremely big sword. The series, most famous for its dark themes and violence, has sold over 50 million copies since its first entry in 1989 - arguably on the strength of its character work and its complicated intrapersonal relationships as much as its Hieronymus Bosch-inspired art style.

"Berserk" helped start a visual trend that continued in video game heroes such as Cloud Strife of "Final Fantasy VII" and Dante from "Devil May Cry." Perhaps the most famous example of his inspiration is within the "Dark Souls" series by From Software, which borrows much of Miura's monster design to create its own nightmarish hellscapes.

The "Berserk" story is most famous for its Golden Age arc, the second story in the series. The arc is arguably the series peak, telling the origin of the complicated hero-villain relationship of Guts and Griffith, the beautiful and charismatic leader of mercenaries who eventually becomes obsessed with Guts. The name of the arc belies its dark nature. To this day, when artists and creators think of dark fantasy, they often think of the Eclipse moment within the Golden Age arc, which makes the red wedding sequence of "Game of Thrones" feel like a tea party by comparison. The Golden Age arc has been adapted into anime and a film trilogy.

Thousands of players of the online role-playing game "Final Fantasy XIV" gathered online Wednesday night and Thursday morning to memorialize Miura. Many of those paying their respects are within the Dark Knight class, which was heavily inspired by "Berserk" and Miura.

"Berserk" may be a story that remains unfinished; it is still going. Miura famously took long breaks (often measured in several years) between stories. His readers were often very patient with these breaks, particularly since "Berserk" is more detailed and meticulously drawn (and planned out) than many standard manga works. It was a popular meme to guess what Miura might be up to during his hiatus, including his admiration for pop-idol video games.

"Berserk" and Miura's other art have endured throughout the decades and will live on through the countless other fantasy worlds he's inspired. Like "Berserk," Miura's ability to inspire and move entire universes may never end.

Published : May 20, 2021

By : The Washington Post · Gene Park