Berserk, Kentaro Miura’s Unfinished Masterpiece
Kentaro Miura's death took the world by surprise.
The legendary mangaka passed away at the age of 54 on May 6, 2021 due to acute aortic dissection after suffering from several health complications for years. The announcement of his demise was made public on May 20.
Miura was much beloved in the anime community and had captured the hearts of the masses thanks to his contribution to the medium. Today, on his birthday, let us pay homage to his finest work – Berserk – which is often regarded by many as the pinnacle of dark fantasy manga.
Initially released in 1990, Berserk sold over 50 million copies worldwide making it one of the best-selling manga of all time. It is a tale set in a medieval European era and told from the perspective of a young swordsman named Guts.
Guts is portrayed as a ruthless mercenary with only revenge on his mind against the antagonist of the story, God Hand. The unfiltered violence in the early stages of the story establishes the unhinged intensity and the dark nature of the manga, while cleverly hiding the beauty of storytelling and character development to be found in the later arcs.
Struggling since birth, Guts only knew to live by the sword with no direction in life. However, that changed when he met a mercenary group called "Band of the Falcon." Together he fought wars, made friends, and fell in love.
Alas, the world of Berserk is not a fair one. Betrayal causes him to lose his close ones, bringing him back to his empty self. Engulfed in rage, Guts loses all sense of reasoning, and chooses revenge as his only purpose, making this the climax of the introduction to Berserk.
The initial story arcs are fundamental to the storytelling of Berserk, where the readers are shown the true nature of Guts, who has been living against all odds and had everything stripped away from him.
Revenge is the only option Guts has, as he is constantly reminded of what he had lost even as he tries to move on. The rest of the story follows up with Guts' struggles, his psychological development, and his bonding with other people in order to move past his traumas and pursue his goals.
Berserk is strongly entwined with gore and violence, hence many might not be able to stomach the series. However, the art, the beautiful storytelling and the character dynamic in this manga are unparalleled. There are currently 363 chapters of the manga published and is near its closure with some mysteries yet to be solved.
Fearing his deteriorating health conditions, Kentaro Miura had prepared some assistants to work on Berserk by designating them to his other work Duranki, although it is still too early to speculate if the story will be continued. There have been anime adaptations of Berserk, but they don't live up to the quality of the manga.
Nevertheless, we are very grateful to Muira sensei for giving us one of the best works of fiction, which has influenced other media as well such as the Dark Souls and the Final Fantasy franchise and shall be celebrated for years to come.
Mynul Karim is a recent graduate of Brac University.
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