It’s a well-known fact that Berserk is one of the most influential manga in history. It also paved the way for the anime that was loved by a multitude of people. It most likely ranks high up in many people’s lists of all-time favorites. Its blend of intricately detailed fantasy and gruesome violence paved the way for a lot of works that would inspire, such as Monster Hunter, Dark Souls and Dynasty Warriors.
Its creator, Kentaro Miura, passed away on May 6.
I have never read the manga or watched the anime and because of that, I cannot speak from the heart regarding how his work impacted me or how his characters touched me. I simply can’t do that for obvious reasons or I’d end up being overly pretentious. However, what I can talk about is how his death swiftly made me realize a lot of things about life.
I’d always heard mumblings and rumblings about Berserk mainly due to its unfinished state. Kentaro Miura had been working on the series since the late ’80s and from what I’d heard, he would dip in and out of his magnum opus for unspecified amounts of time. He’d write and draw a number of chapters then the gaps between updates would be long and for the fans, arduous. At a writing workshop I attended, one of the “unanimous truths” (as I’d like to call it) shared by each one of us attendees and the writing professor was that Berserk should be finished by now. I only had a passing knowledge of what it was about, but I assumed it should have ended by now and on a high note at that
Not being aware of the work itself, I can only contemplate on Miura’s decision to prolong the series as a whole. Was there something wrong with his health that forced him to work on it as little as he’d liked? Did he have too much going on personally and such, writing the story became a burden? Or maybe, he grew too fond of his creation that he struggled with moving forward because moving forward meant letting go… and who would want to let go of something that important in their lives?
Regardless, learning of his passing and being an aspiring author myself, it hit me hard. He was 54 years old and it can’t be denied that he should have left us much later than this. The most painful part is that his story will now be unfinished, or at best, not fully realized. He could have his assistants finish it – but we all know it wouldn’t be the same.
With this realization, I was in turn confronted by own mortality.
No activity in the entire world makes me feel alive more than writing. To put my thoughts, essentially jumbled, incoherent and formless, into strings of words that can capture and encapsulate the complexities of what I feel – nothing else gives me satisfaction and bliss. With writing, I can make sense of the senseless and turn imagination into reality.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, I have had many secret fears regarding writing and my stories. What if my stories aren’t good enough? What if they’re not worth telling? What if people wouldn’t like them? Some of these fears even mixed that paranoia with physical dismemberment. What if I end up being blinded? Or what if I lost my hands or arms? What if I’m rendered paralyzed or immobile? Any of these could stop any of my planning, plotting and writing dead in its tracks. Most tragic of all, death as a whole would supersede my ambitions because unlike in fiction, we don’t get resurrections or reboots.
It was coming across Kentaro Miura’s death that for the first time, the grandeur and the spectacle of all my planned stories locked eyes with the lurking, looming shadow of my fears.
To my absolute surprise, my passion didn’t flinch.
During a really rough time in my life, it was a dear friend’s words that woke me up from a desired yet almost manic brush with death. If I were to entertain that allure, she said, then the story of my stories would end then and there. They would just end, and would no longer go on. I’m reminded of that again as I try to process Miura’s death. While tragically his story is unfinished, what mattered more was that he was doing what he loved. He was working on what he was passionate about, and he did not care whatever came his way. He tried and things came to pass. Isn’t that what makes life worth living?
For even with all the violence, brutality and struggle found within the pages of Berserk, it was still a story centered on optimism, hope and finding your way even when it feels like you’re sinking in life and there’s no way out.
I am scared of what life has thrown at me and what it will continue to throw at me.
But as long as I’m still doing what I love the most, I shouldn’t be scared.
I will die once it’s time to go, but I know in my heart that I would want my stories – much like Berserk – to live forever.
And to the best of my ability, starting today, live forever they shall.
“If you don’t sacrifice for what you want, what you want becomes the sacrifice.” – Anonymous
Hi, I’m Firebrand and you just read an article I contributed for I Drink and Watch Anime If you’d like to see more of my work, please feel free to visit my site (firebrandwriter.wordpress.com) or follow my Instagram account (@firebrandwriter).