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After Kentaro Miura, creator of the manga series Berserk, passed away in 2021, fans all over the globe lamented the loss of not just one of the most influential artists of his time. Fans were at a loss for words, as not only has this series been going on for decades, meaning that its early readers grew up with it, but they also wondered what would happen to its future. It was complicated to fathom putting the beloved series in someone else’s hands, as it is nearly impossible to imagine someone other than the legendary mangaka creating the magical pages of Berserk. This comes with the unenviable task of ending one of the most critically praised series of the previous three decades of manga.

This is no longer the case, as manga magazine Young Animal, which has been publishing Berserk in Japan since 1992, revealed in an official online statement that the series would resume after mourning. Miura’s assistants would continue drawing and publishing the series under the supervision of manga author Kouji Mori, a colleague and childhood friend of Kentaro Miura’s. Those who’ve yet to start the epic journey must be wondering: what’s all the hype with Berserk anyway that makes it the top consensus manga of all time?

It takes a lot of Guts to start reading

The scale of Berserk’s story is quite unlike any other. Many of its ideas come from other works, including Shakespearean tragedies, works dealing with universal themes like death and rebirth, religious texts like the Bible, philosophical tenets from Plato and Aristotle, classics of fantasy adventure like Lord of the Rings, and western film epics like Star Wars. The novel’s vastness is impressive, but some readers may be concerned about whether or not its many significant ideas and concepts flow naturally into one another and the story as a whole.

The variety of themes present throughout this never-ending fantasy thrill ride prevents the plot from being old and uninteresting. These composition changes to keep things interesting throughout. The term “berserk” serves as the manga’s overarching motif, as the plot of ‘Berserk’ is also wholly original. Miura ensures that the story’s climax is a culmination of its themes and events leading up to it; Berserk is not just a jumble of ideas thrown together but rather a collection of individual parts that have been expertly pieced together.

The action sequences of the Berserk manga are superb, with Miura and his staff have paid meticulous attention to every detail in depicting and directing the characters’ every action inside each panel. In addition to the spectacular action, Berserk is also one of the most gorgeously illustrated manga (including comic books and graphic novels) ever created. The mythical animals, the environments, the character designs, etc., are all stunning to the eye. The artwork is so impressive that you may look at it for long periods. In an interview, Kentaro Miura revealed that it took him about 24 hours to finish drawing just one panel to his satisfaction.

The protagonist, a definition of a tragic hero, is someone with guts. His emotional turmoil and growth as a character are unparalleled. Going to hell and back is necessary to see things from this man’s perspective, as his maturation, atonement, and transformation into a hero and guide are furthered with each new arc. The villain often serves as the protagonist’s foil, making them the show’s true stars. Fortunately, Griffith fits the bill for the ideal villain. Griffith adopts a device from traditional tragic literature—the antagonist was formerly close friends with the hero—and amplifies the agony of the antagonist’s betrayal.

The Dark Side of Berserk

Berserk has a very dark and violent tone. Some viewers feel the series is inappropriate for children due to its graphic violence and sexual content. Others may be put off by the manga’s explicit depictions of violence and gore. 

However, the severe violence and lack of clothing are not gratuitous. We must ask, “What does it mean to be human?” Everything has its ups and downs: love, hate, pain, pleasure, living, and dying. This general mood is maintained throughout the whole story. Because of this, the plot has an “epic” quality that has never been achieved in any other fictional narrative. It’s set the gold standard for the grim and grotesque fantasy adventure.

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Set in a grim and merciless world where death is ever-present, Dark Souls is a game franchise that ran away with this dark theme and not only came up with one of the most lovable franchises but also is the gold standard when it comes to the challenging-video-game trope. The fictional nation of Lordran, a once-great realm now in ruins and under the spell of an ancient evil. The player’s persona, the “Ashen One,” embarks on a perilous adventure through the bleak and twisted universe created by the renowned studio of FromSoft.

Some of the game’s characters, such as the Ashen One, have parallels to Guts and the players. Through failure and death, players are empowered to “get good” and develop as they strive to complete the tale and all of the game’s punishing stages. Like us, you can’t help but feel sorry for Guts, a hero whose sad destiny was to be shaped and shaped by the trials that were inevitably thrown his way.

As the player advances through Dark Souls, more and more of the world’s wretched atmosphere, interwoven architecture, and rich and intricate narrative are revealed. Overall, the atmosphere is foreboding and endlessly demanding, setting the stage for one of the most complex and rewarding actions role-playing games ever.

There are eerie parallels between the many biomes that Guts and his company travel through throughout the game’s several defining arcs and the dark and dismal ambience that characterises the Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Elden Ring titles. On top of this, it’s easy to mistake several characters and their outfits for being straight out of Miura’s masterwork. In addition, Guts and his Dragon Slayer greatsword serve as an inspiration for the game’s bloody violence and odd weapon options.

Berserk’s Big Beefy Blades

Berserk has inspired the mysterious and ghostly world of the Soulsborne games and the combat and weapon style of some of Japan’s most popular gaming franchises.

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The weapon arsenal of the Monster Hunter franchise draws from a wide range of sources, including the sizeable two-handed sword wielded by the Black Swordsman, Guts. The game’s armoury includes a diverse range of weapons to take down its monsters, each with its own playstyle and set of special techniques, to allow for a wide variety of hunting approaches and methods. 

More than half of the playable weapons are at least twice the player’s size. Whether it be a traditional great sword akin to the Dragon Slayer itself, a Japanese katana-style long sword, or other heavy-handed weapons such as the hammer, lance, and hunting horn, there is a wide variety of humongous gear. The Japanese’s fascination with massive equipment used to slay the most ferocious beings is a fetish that draws heavy inspiration from Berserk. 

The concept for the sword that Cloud Strife uses in Final Fantasy VII was created with the idea of highlighting its stature and might. The “Buster Sword” is a gigantic blade representing Cloud’s might and status as a warrior. The immense edge is a visual symbol of Cloud’s martial prowess and reflects his temperament as a moody and intense guy.

This complementary relationship between weapon and sword is similar to that of Guts and his Dragon Slayer greatsword. At a glance, one can even relate the two characters together, as they resemble one another in meaningful ways as fighters. They are both shown as powerful, moody, and capable adults who deal with the aftereffects of tragedy and loss through resentment, remorse, and an existential crisis. They are seen as quiet and contemplative but fiercely determined and eager to defend the people they consider family.

For its adult themes, blood and gore, and complex characters, “Berserk” is recognised for helping to popularise the dark fantasy genre in manga and anime. This can be seen in the works mentioned above and in other viral phenomena pieces like Attack on Titan and the continuing Vinland Saga, both hugely successful.

Berserk’s lasting impact on pop culture cannot be overstated enough, as it has impacted and influenced works that are some of the most popular today. It’s become a cult classic that has left an indelible mark on mainstream media and has inspired a wide range of artistic and entertaining works.