Over the past few years, Japanese Manga has dominated American comic book sales! With their amazing art, compelling stories, array of anime adaptations, it’s no wonder why readers show up in droves to local comic shops and bookstores alike to pick up the latest installments of their favorite series. One among them has stood out to me personally, and countless others seem to agree. BERSERK by Kentaro Miura sits a cut above the rest!
Set in a time when knights and kings still ruled with armored fists, mythical creatures still roamed and a man’s mettle was measured by how he swung his metal. BERSERK lives up to the genre title, Dark Fantasy. This epic adventure series is black and white art at its finest with the grittiest story to match!
Guts, our main character, was born under some of the worst circumstances imaginable, raised by a band of mercenaries only to be hunted after killing his adopted father in self defense! The relative pattern of the story finds our anti-hero quite often in an “out of the frying pan, into the fire” scenario time and time again.
His grit, refusal to give in and over-sized sword called “Dragonslayer” is what gets him out of the impossible odds he is constantly faced with. This leads to both favorable and unfavorable attention from this world and the next as friends are few & far between, while enemies vary from seasoned warriors to demons and soul selling monsters! One of which having been his closest friend and ally until sacrificing everything they shared for everything he wanted!
For over 30 years, Kentaro truly developed a story for the ages. His intent was to present a hero that would never give up in the face of adversity. Though the themes were presented in fantasy, the principles were grounded in a real world and relatable fashion that readers the world over could be inspired by. So much so that there were several attempts to adapt the story to an anime series and even a full length feature!
Towards the end, Miura was plagued with health complications. So much so that his art and release schedule suffered immensely. Because he was so private about his personal struggles, the results drew harsh criticism among the industry and fans alike. Finally, May 6th, 2021, Kentaro Miura would pass due to acute aortic dissection. The symptoms are very similar to a heart attack. The final chapters that he created by his own hands were released in November of the same year.
Dark Horse Comics, his American publisher, collaborated with The Japan Foundation to present a Miura Memorial wall at the 2021 Anime NYC where fans could admire his art and to sign in in memory of the creator. But as far as the future of the series, both Japanese and American publishers would remain silent on its future for a little over a year.
Studio Gaga, the art studio that Kentaro established and worked out of, announced earlier this year that they would again resume the series. The initial two chapters having been released this past June. The efforts are spearheaded by fellow Manga artist and lifelong friend of Miura, Kouji Mori. Kouji assured fans that they would complete the current arc as closely to Kentaro’s vision, with no addition or deviation from available notes or conversations they had before his passing. However, it does seem that the publishers are committed to producing more story arcs to follow.
Regardless of the future of the story, the legend is already set and the legacy of Kentaro Miura is sure. May we remember the joy that he brought us. May we live in a manner that his gifts inspired. May a little guts get us through our toughest trials!
Mahalo for reading,
-Kk is a Native Hawaiian writer, comic book geek, and gym rat with a background in music/performing arts, MMA and security services. His driving passions today are storytelling in all its forms, physical fitness for mental health and especially in raising mental health awareness.
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