Kentaro Miura, the celebrated manga artist and creator of Berserk, has died at the age of 54.
Miura died on May 6 of an acute aortic dissection, Berserk publisher Hakusensha announced Thursday in a Japanese-language statement posted on the Twitter accounts for Berserk and Young Animal, the magazine in which the manga series is published. News of Miura’s death was later announced by Dark Horse Comics, the American publisher that brought Miura’s work to the West in English.
With a career of works going back to 1976, Miura is best known as the creator of the ongoing dark fantasy series Berserk. The manga debuted in the monthly magazine Animal House (now Young Animal) in 1989, and Miura had worked on it intermittently ever since.
Berserk follows the story of Guts, a mercenary-turned-demon-slayer who wanders the medieval kingdom of Midland on a quest for revenge against his former-friend-turned-nemesis Griffith, the leader of a mercenary group known as the Band of the Hawk. The manga has accrued a dedicated mass following over the course of its three-decade run, inspiring an entire generation of manga authors, game designers, and artists.
Miura was known as a fastidious draftsman and meticulous storyteller, taking months if not whole years off from the monthly publication schedule of Berserk in order to dedicate more time to the realization of a single panel spread. It’s not outrageous to compare him to George R.R. Martin, whose critically acclaimed fantasy novel series, A Song of Ice and Fire, is celebrated for similar themes of corruptive temptations of power and malevolent threats far beyond human understanding.
The signature of Berserk’s influence is inextricable from the fabric of modern epic fantasy. It can be seen everywhere from Capcom’s Monster Hunter series and FromSoftware’s Dark Souls and Bloodborne games to the design of Cloud Strife’s iconic Buster Sword in Final Fantasy 7 and the top-down cyberpunk brawler Ruiner. Like Jean “Moebius” Giraud or Astro Boy author Osamu Tezuka or comic artist Darwyn Cooke, Miura and his artistry set the bar for an entire generation of artists and authors to aspire to, and will continue to live on well beyond his death.
Up until his death, Miura was still working on Berserk as well as a previously announced series, Duranki. There’s no word yet on the future of those manga series, or on the potential publication of any existing or unfinished chapters.