Berserk, a long-running manga that began in 1989, will never be completed. Kentaro Miura wrote and illustrated the manga from its first issue until his death on May 6 at the age of 54 due to acute aortic dissection, as announced by publisher Young Animal Comics last night. The action series focused on mercenaries Guts and Griffith and took frequent breaks over the decades as Miura struggled with his health. Today, fans mourn not just the man, but also the fact that the story will never end by the same hand that started it.
Despite that, the enduring legacy of Berserk lives beyond its own work. Berserk did not create dark fantasy, but Miura’s influence created a generation of people who associate dark fantasy with the art, action, and design of the manga. A number of video games in the last thirty years have looked to Berserk for influence from people who grew up reading, watching, and wholly absorbing the series.
It’s difficult to imagine a world without Berserk deeply entrenched in Japanese game development over the years. It’s entirely likely we would never have the iconic Buster Sword from Final Fantasy VII, much less the character of Cloud in the same way. The Devil May Cry series redesigned itself around the concept of “things a 14-year-old would find cool,” director Hideaki Itsuno admitted during a GDC talk in 2019, a concept he learned from reading Berserk.
Itsuno took this idea into Dragon’s Dogma, which was so influenced by Berserk that the original release even straight up included armor sets of Guts and Griffith.
Most famously, the FROM Software’s portfolio after in the last 12 years has been a long running series of references to Miura’s work. Hidetaka Miyazaki, president of FROM and director of Dark Souls, Dark Souls III, Bloodborne, and more, has been unabashed in his love for the series and its influence on the games. Everything from world design to characters to armor and weapons to iconography has in some way drawn from Berserk over the years.
Last night, after news of Miura’s death broke, players in Final Fantasy XIV donned their Dark Knight armor and massive swords — which is, of course, heavily inspired by Berserk — and stood in the streets of Balmung, the most populous North American server.
Final Fantasy XIV players have paid tribute to Kentaro Miura dressing black armors and wielding big swords… pic.twitter.com/P8iFos5sYS
— Rage Of Berserk (@RageOfBerserk) May 20, 2021
Someone else may take up the pen and finish Berserk. It may even be good. But it will just be one more addition into the long list of things Miura influenced. That remains the actual life of the series, and the legacy of Miura’s work: a generation of media that loved his series so deeply that it made fans think of it as their baseline for what they create.