I remember how I initially turned my face in disgust at Berserk when I first seen images of it. That was at a point in my life when I had no way of appreciating or understanding the sheer dedication of hard work a mangaka puts into their artistic creations. The level of detail in a two-page spread was nauseating to take in and digest. And yet, I can’t help but give the respect this manga deserves, more so to Kentaro Miura, the creator of Berserk.
At the young age of 10, Kentaro created his first manga, called “Miuranger”. It was a school publication that had 40 volumes that he did just for his classmates. By the time he made it into Middle School (13), he was using the same drawing techniques as professionals. In High School he published school booklets after enrolling in an artistic curriculum, with the help of his classmates. When he became 18, he was employed as an assistant artist to George Morikawa, the author of the boxing manga “Hajime no Ippo”. Kentaro’s artistic level was so astounding that George gave him credit AND let him go since there was nothing he could possibly teach him. It’s the equivalent of having the experience and certifications for a job you applied for but you don’t get the job because you’re deemed overqualified.
Kentaro later created Berserk in 1988. It was the prototype for the story that would later take the world by surprise. The actual story became serialized in 1989 and became his most fortunate piece of work. The story pushes the theme of human resilience constantly in a hellish world that challenges the theory if we, as people, are slaves to that of destiny or free will. The protagonist of Berserk, Guts, is introduced being born from his mother’s dead corpse hanging from a tree. He is later adopted by a mercenary and participates in many deathly battles starting early in his adolescent years. His battle strength and prowess gain him a well-known reputation well into his early adulthood in which he’s feared by many and revered as a great ally in battle. Without giving away too much, the plot becomes a quest for revenge. During this journey, Guts’ life is filled with strife and agony that most humans would easily succumb to death simply due to lack of resilience and willpower or because it’s the easiest way out. This story is not for the faint of heart who become queasy from gore, death, betrayal and test the beliefs in religious doctrine.
Many triggers will be set off due to non-positive actions of morality that launch the plot for revenge. Eclipses will never be viewed in a light of positivity but instead as of pure terror. (Plus, there is an eclipse happening this week as I type this.) As stated before, the art in Berserk was disorienting to me. Not to be based on the assumption that his art was poorly drawn but rather the detail that Miura placed into each panel. We all are influenced by art by how our reality, or universe, is perceived by our senses. Miura was able to reach into the depths of many readers subconscious and bred nightmare fuel from the creatures he created alone. Pioneering as the one who created manga that was not intended for children’s’ eyes due to the many adult themes. The very first chapter set the precedence of what the reader was getting themselves into and depending on your views of vulgarity, you most likely were hooked in without having to resist.
Fast forward to now, Berserk currently has 363 chapters and 40 volumes over a span of 32 years. Chapters were released monthly but due to Miura’s health, they began to release irregularly as he would enter a state of hiatus for personal self-care. The craziest part about this is that Miura never completed the story before his death. Yeah. There was no ending in sight which is why his death greatly echoed in the manga world to artists and fans alike. The animated series currently on Netflix are tied-in to the story arcs which I highly recommend watching if you aren’t particular in reading the manga. Guts’ unparalleled will to survive will give you the perspective that the struggles of your everyday life are grains of sand in comparison to the despair and relentless bouts with death that many couldn’t even day dream about. All in all, Kentaro Miura left behind a legacy. A legacy that will forever be known as the greatest story ever, that was never finished…