On May 19, it was announced that Kentaro Miura — the beloved mangaka of Berserk — passed away on May 6, 2021. He died at the age of 54 due to acute aortic dissection. Fans around the world immediately mourned upon seeing the announcement from publisher Young Animal Comics. Not only had Miura passed, but the legendary manga that has influenced whole generations of dark fantasy stories may never be completed. Fans paid tribute in numerous ways, as is fitting for a person whose work had an impact on the lives of so many.
Final Fantasy XIV fans, in particular, are aware of Berserk’s impact on the game. Pictures of hundreds of community members lining the streets of Ul’dah while donning their Dark Knight armor and weapons quickly went viral after the news came out. (The Dark Knight job is heavily inspired by Berserk and its main character, Guts, as Yoshida confirms in his interview with PC Gamer following the news.)
As an entrenched member of the MMORPG’s community, I’m no stranger to seeing it come together to hold these kinds of thoughtful events. The community does it fairly often. Even so, as I watched videos and saw screenshots on Twitter while reading the tributes friends and strangers were paying Miura on the timeline, I was deeply moved.
Balmung’s dark knight memorial to Berserk author Kentaro Miura. I love this community. pic.twitter.com/QYveSkQ9Go
— Oz! @ 5.5 (@localhyurzen) May 20, 2021
The first server reported to hold these vigils in Ul’dah was Balmung, which is largely known as an RP (role-playing) server that has a particular love for the game’s lore. This identity is why those who play in the server weren’t surprised to see such a swift and touching display of appreciation for Miura.
“Something I’ve realized with RP communities, and lore communities especially, is that there’s a really strong sense of shared experience,” Twitter user @xIngenue tells me through DMs. “All our characters have lived through the same story. This really resonated when Soken talked about [his] cancer [at the 2021 Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festival]. So much of his music is the soul of these experiences. With Miura, it’s because so many games — Dark Souls, Final Fantasy, Monster Hunter, Dragon’s Dogma, etc. — have been so heavily influenced by him. We’ve lost a creator who was writing this shared story we’ve all experienced far too soon.”
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— Athenya (@AthenaWX) May 20, 2021
Reflecting on the world-renowned manga specifically, they tell me, “Casca living through her trauma and fully recovering, Guts learning how to rely on people… There’s a shared struggle and healing [in Berserk] that resonated with so many people. Even if the story didn’t resonate with you, the impact the manga had on the art direction of so many Japanese games is insane.”
An observation I saw numerous times on social media, and among the community members who reached out to me privately, is that there were several people attending these vigils who were giving out the Wanderer’s Campfire minion. Anyone who didn’t already have it and was joining the memorial was handed it. It didn’t matter if they were a Dark Knight; it only mattered that they wanted to join others in honoring Miura.
I was told of vigils happening across the Adamantoise, Midgardsormr, Twintania, Behemoth, and Hyperion. I can only imagine this moving tribute happened on most servers, and not just the ones specified. They also happened in other in-game locations besides Ul’dah, like the Limsa Lominsa Aetheryte Plaza. It happened far and wide, just like the reach of Miura’s influence.
It’s the latest example of how wonderful Final Fantasy XIV’s community can be. On a daily basis, its player base is welcoming and helpful, making this the only MMO I and many others can comfortably play. But it’s in special times like this, as the community collectively mourns such a powerful storyteller, that I am reminded of its unique generosity and kindness.