Remembering The Life, Work, And Influence Of Kentaro Miura

Kentaro Miura has tragically died at the young age of 54. Known as the creator, writer and illustrator of the critically acclaimed Berserk, it is difficult to overstate the tremendous impact his work has had on the world of games, manga, film, anime, and even literature. The man left behind a monumental legacy, and one we’ll continue to admire in the years to come as new creators take inspiration from his wondrous body of work. He’s gone far too soon, so we want to look back on Miura’s career and the lasting body of work he’s left behind, alongside how much we’ll miss him and the worlds he helped create.

Berserk first burst onto the scene in 1989, taking inspiration from the likes of Violence Jack and Fist of the North Star to craft a darker, more poignant tale that wasn’t afraid to delve into the wider themes of destiny, morality, and the resilience of humanity in the face of untold adversity. It was unbelievably morbid, awash with sex, violence, and plot revelations that frequently made readers feel uncomfortable. It was groundbreaking, an identity evident in its immediate success. Berserk established itself in one of the best selling manga series of all-time, leading to endless adaptations that expanded upon the universe to great effect, yet never reached the excellence of Miura’s original work.

The manga went from strength to strength throughout its extended original run, showcasing Miura’s immense talent as both an artist and a storyteller. As an illustrator, he feels almost unmatched when expressing the hopeless folly of man, presenting protagonist Guts going up against otherworldly beasts and monstrous obstacles that no human should ever be forced to contend with. Miura was throwing out panels so gorgeous that they could be displayed in a museum, a modern revival of Dore’s illustrations from Dante’s Inferno, presenting horrors that our mind shouldn’t be able to even conjure up. But Miura almost made it look easy. Without such things, dark fantasy simply wouldn’t be the same.

Despite such challenges, our hero keeps pushing forward, much like Miura did with each new narrative arc that wasn’t afraid to push boundaries, to cement his name as one that belongs firmly in the annals of history. If you’ve not read Berserk – you’re sorely missing out. It’s been absurdly influential, inspiring a number of the biggest games in recent history.

Dark Souls is the most obvious example. Hidetaka Miyazaki’s twisted world of Lordran drew directly from the excessive hopelessness of Berserk and translated it into an unforgiving RPG experience that sees players find pleasure in the act of punishment. You learn to overcome obstacles, to beat your hands bloody against a wall that refuses to budge.

Once it all clicks, it almost feels welcoming, a comfortable journey through a lonely world where all hope seems lost, but there was still something to fight for amidst the horde of hostile creatures and cryptic tales of darkness. Bloodborne, Sekiro, and Elden Ring continue to build upon the realm of dark fantasy that Berserk helped pioneer, and many similar efforts will follow, because Miura’s work left that much of an impact.

We sadly never saw the full narrative of Berserk reach its conclusion, with Miura becoming renowned for his extended hiatuses between releasing chapters. The story became disparate and inconsistent in its delivery, but the quality remained, as did the passion to tell a story that despite revolving around graphic violence and awful monsters, managed to craft a touching tale of love, grief, and acceptance in a world that tried to beat you down. We’ve lost an iconic individual far too soon, and need to remember everything he stood for and how his creative endeavours inspired so many.

His influence is almost unmatched, with the dark knight archetype that we’ve come to know spawning from his work and his alone. Ever seen a dude carrying a giant sword in a game or anime you love, well Berserk’s Guts was the guy with a big sword. Now, it will be planted into the ground as a vigil for everything Kentaro Miura stood for. Rest in peace.

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