There's no denying the sheer number of franchises that have been inspired by Kentaro Miura's Berserk. Starting in 1989, Kentaro Miura's gothic fantasy is a key pillar of manga that has gone on to fuel the dreams of many other famous creators.
They say imitation is the highest form of flattery, and many franchises have been inspired by Berserk. From the world of Final Fantasy Tactics to most of Dark Souls/Bloodborne, the dark-but-hopeful world of Miura's manga has touched millions.
Why Kentaro Miura was so special
It’s not a stretch to claim that Kentaro Miura could be the Tolkein of manga. Miura sat alongside Akira Toriyama, Naoko Takaeuchi and Hirohiko Araki as the medium's most hardworking and talented mangaka creators of all time.
What sets Miura apart from those artists is the sheer amount of artistic talent poured into every single panel. There's an iconic two-page panel in Berserk of a titanic dragon curling around a castle spire. It would be an awe-inspiring shot in any manga, but Miura's unparalleled sense of detail makes his version unforgettable.
Miura started drawing manga at just ten years old. His first manga series, Miuranga, was a 40-volume fantasy series that was published in his school for his classmates. At the age of 18, Miura would work become mentored Hajime no Ippo's George Morikawa. Morikawa would later tell Miura that he had nothing to teach that the artist didn't already know.
Miura had an attention to detail the likes of which is never seen in serialised manga or comics. Every single panel feels almost hyper-detailed with each object having an otherworldly aura as if you're looking through a magnifying glass. But Miura wasn't just a phenomenal artist, he was also a beautiful storyteller.
Berserk is a story of fighting your trauma
Berserk is the only manga or comic I've ever kept up with. I love Dragon Ball, but I've never seen Dragon Ball Super. Naruto is an important series to me, but I've never sat through Shippuden or even started Boruto. However, I've always sat with Berserk, eagerly awaiting the next chapter. As much as it hurts to say, there will never be another.
Broken down to its simplest themes, Berserk is a story of good and evil and how dreams can ruin relationships. Much like the story of Naruto and Sasuke, Miura's masterpiece is entwined around the bond between Guts and Griffith.
The first arc of the series shows a growing relationship between Guts and Griffith and The Band of the Hawk. Guts starts out as an angry, lone mercenary that eventually learns to open up to those around him. It’s a hopeful story that eventually crushes your hopes as the group’s leader Griffith trades in those he loves for the sake of his dream.
Despite it being one of the best-selling mangas of all time, I don't want to spoil Berserk. However, I think it's fair to say that things don't go well for Guts. At this point, it's hard to not have seen what Guts becomes; that hopeful mercenary we see grow up is eventually broken down to a nightmarish warrior that looks like evil incarnate. On the other hand, manga's vilest villain, Griffith, is portrayed as an angelic messiah.
His body and mind broken, Guts is a traumatic soul that keeps fighting for the sake of revenge. Berserk shows a character that is built up, broken down and then has to find new people to help show him why life is still worth living. It's a remarkably human story for a franchise wrapped around hyperbolic ultra-violence and extremely dark actions.
“It’s alright... it’s just a small pebble in your path. Just a tiny pebble. The place you want to be is further than this, right? That's why it's okay. You can get up... and immediately... continue on... your journey.”
Berserk won't get its ending, but that's okay
The Berserk Community has often joked that the Kentaro Miura would pass away before finishing the series. Years of joking doesn't prepare you for the reality of that actually happening. Yes, we would've loved to see the series end, but that means nothing if its creator can't deliver that ending and close the book themselves.
I think I'm prepared for a Berserk without a real ending. The series' recent chapters were getting more hopeful. Guts has a party of close friends, a beloved character is finally starting to find peace, and the world was displayed in a more fantastical, light artstyle.
It was starting to look like there would be a good ending to Berserk. Maybe Guts would actually find peace, maybe everything would be alright. Guts is a character that continually pushes forward in the face of unbelievable trauma, and giving that character a light near the end of the tunnel gives us the hope that he could've found peace.
Oh, and before this article ends, Griffith did everything wrong.