By Markie Rustad |
On the evening of May 19th, 2021, the news was released that Kentaro Miura, creator of the widely popular manga Berserk, had passed away earlier in the month. Instantly his fans were rocked by the news that the 54-year-old was taken from the world so soon, and started sharing experiences they had with his work. Miura’s style created a visual trend that spread into things like the nightmarish world of the “Dark Souls” game franchise which borrows his monster designs, to heroes like everyone’s favorite buster-sword wielding Final Fantasy VII protagonist Cloud Strife, and the sassy but dark Dante from Devil May Cry.
In one small corner of the internet though, gamers gathered to create their own tribute. Players of the popular massively multiplayer online game Final Fantasy XIV gathered across multiple servers and data centers to form a line through the city-state of Ul’dah. Most of them were in the class Dark Knight, which has a storyline that would not exist without Miura’s work, and having a campfire placed in front of them while posing with their weapons drawn. In the global chat, players shared stories, offered free campfires for those that did not have them, gave away various in-game items, and talked about how Miura’s work changed their lives.
One such player, Liela Satana, talked about how when struggling with self-harm and suicidal ideation they were made aware of the show and decided to watch it despite the possible triggers. They said “Despite the Darkness, I found comfort in this complete other fantasy world that kept me from succumbing to the urges of the outside world. Whether he meant to or not, Miura saved me. If the least I can do to show my respect is stand in a line in a video game, I will gladly do it.” They talked about how the initial news was a shock, and they’d been emotional at first, but that being able to get together with people that were feeling the same way, and paying tribute to someone who had influenced their lives in some way had made the news more bearable.
For Torren Caldenyur, it was something he discovered after a recent cross country move and got involved thanks to a new nerdy group of friends he’d found. “Berserk was kinda this hush-hush series, the magazine under dad’s bed sorta kind, that was full of gore and sex and everything your mom hated…(it) is full of violence and graphic, graphic, stuff. It’s also an incredibly human story about trauma, and survival, and picking yourself up after everything is hitting you down and saying ‘Once more.’” It was his first manga, and to some extent his first “adult” anime, which opened him up to a large number of new things that he loved and started gobbling up. When he saw the line forming in Ul’dah, he said it was clear that Miura’s work had affected a lot of people. “It felt really good to see a lot of people out there and shoulder some of that pain of loss with each other, and know that even if we’re not going to see an end, at least by Miura’s hand, that it all did mean something all the same.
Garen Stone was introduced to Berserk when he was an early teen when the EB Games in his hometown started supplying Gundam models and Anime. The box set of the 1997 adaptation of the Band of the Hawk Arc caught his eye, sitting at the top of a shelf. “was a black and red box set with a near-figure-eight icon burned into its side. This was the Brand of Sacrifice, marking the complete set of OLM’s Berserk. I watched it all, child that I was, all the way up to the gruesome ending that was the Eclipse. I needed more, I couldn’t leave it on that ending. SO I sought out the manga, and from there, well it took a place as my favorite fantasy tale of all time.”
It didn’t end there though for Garen. He runs a guild within the Final Fantasy game, and he talked about how he mirrors the ideas of the Band of the Hawk in the foundation of that group. The idea of a “bonfire of dreams” where everyone brings their own light to add to the flames, and how there will be those that act as Guts did stop in for only a short time, but that is okay because that is what they needed at the time. When he heard of the procession beginning in Ul’dah, he couldn’t be anywhere but there. “To a man who gave us such a powerful tale of hope against all odds, of determination to near madness, a tale that this year and especially the last needed so very much, I couldn’t be anywhere else. I just had to add my flame to the bonfire, one more time.”