Kentaro Miura’s death, announced Thursday, May 20, came as a shock to manga fans. As one of the greatest mangakas of all time, Miura-sama left behind a masterpiece, the black diamond of the manga: Berserker. To pay tribute to him, we wanted to return to five key scenes from Berserk. Five scenes which, without counting among the most shocking manga (which of course is not lacking), were highlights of our lives as readers and otaku. Five scenes, each illustrating in its own way an aspect of this complex work that deserves rave reviews.
Warning: given that many people are familiar with the 1997 Berserk anime and the Golden Age trilogy, and the death of Kentaro Miura will undoubtedly lead others to read the manga, we have chosen to give priority to the scenes of the first thirteen volumes for future readers so as not to spoil the pleasure of this intense discovery.
1 / The story of Guts
Obviously, Berserk is a hero: Guts. Revealed from the first pages of Berserk as a fighter and bloodthirsty, Guts is a character difficult to appreciate in the early chapters. Motivated only by his anger and revenge, he lives only to fight, cutting men, horses and pillars in his path. His initially difficult relationship with the Elven Puck makes him a deeply uncomfortable character at first glance. But things will change when, at the end of Volume 3, Kentaro Miura reveals the deeply traumatic past of his protagonist.
Guts was born to a woman and will have particularly difficult experiences in the first years: his adoptive mother dies of the plague, his adoptive father is violent against him and the wind blows a soldier from his army of mercenaries who rapes him. An event that leads Guts to commit “parricide” when he thrusts his sword into Gambino’s throat. In this scene, we wanted to come back because it largely represents what berserk is to us. Behind this fascinating story of Dark Fantasy hides in fact a story of various and varied traumas. If it happens in the manga that the main characters suffer from trauma, this dimension reaches its paroxysmal form in Berserker. Kentaro Miura analyzes the effects of trauma on his characters. And Guts has been through a lot of trauma: from his particularly dark birth to the destruction of the Falcon troop, Guts is forged by that sadness that turns into anger.
2 / The love scene between Guts and Casca
As everyone knows, Berserk is violent, bloody work with a decidedly grown-up tone. Often compared to Game of Thrones and The Witcher, other great dark fantasy landmarks, the manga features a number of sex scenes. While some of these scenes are rapes that traumatized readers (we’ll get to that later in this article), others are real love scenes. Volume 9 begins with a sex scene between Griffith and Charlotte and ends with another between Guts and Casca. The latter is in itself a real revolution.
First of all, it’s a real turning point in the relationship between the two characters. Second, because Kentaro Miura doesn’t just fix sex with one box like he did before. Like Griffith and Charlotte’s relationship, the relationship spans multiple pages (two full chapters). However, it can be interesting to compare these two sexual relations: for those of Griffith and Charlotte, the mangaka prefers close-ups, as if to stipulate that he cannot show everything, as this relation is prohibited (Griffith will be strictly of elsewhere a fine); To show the relationship between Guts and Casca, Kentaro Miura prefers wide-angle shots, which give the mangaka the illusion of more movement and therefore more freedom. The comparison between these two sex scenes shows that this thorny question in the manga is handled with great mastery by Kentaro Miura, who did a real job of composition.
3 / The victory of the Falcon troop
The Falcon Troop, revealed in Berserk Volume 4, is an important phase in Guts’ psychological construction. As he went from battlefield to battlefield until now with no other goal than to kill or be killed, the young man meets a team who will become his first real family for him. Kentaro Miura tells the story of the Falcon Troop in ten volumes and manages to write the most intense and successful review in manga history. Obviously, the Falcon Troop is that group of mercenaries that was built around the charismatic and ambitious Griffith. As a good strategist, he is also a formidable fighter who was able to overthrow Guts, who will be his second after Casca.
We wanted to come back with you to a specific scene: Gut’s first military victory in the Falcon Troop. In a few pages, Kentaro Miura shows Griffith’s strategic genius and shows the beginnings of the extremely complex relationship that Guts will have with the leader of the Falcon troop. If this scene seems insignificant at first, given the minor importance it has for the sequel, it is still very important because it has inspired many artists, including Hiromu Arakawa in The Heroic Legend of Arsan and Yasuhisa Hara in Kingdom. (Unfortunately, we couldn’t find an illustration of this battle. However, to show you the connections between Berserk’s battles and those of Arslan Senki and Kingdom, here’s an illustration of another similar scene.)
4 / The destruction of the first Falcon troop
Kentaro Miura’s inspirations are diverse. If many exegeses have spoken of the obvious inspiration of Robert E. Howard and JRR Tolkien, the two popes of the imagination, it seems that Kentaro Miura was also inspired by the great Greek tragedies. And in many ways, Berserk borrows a lot from the tragic genre. And Griffith’s development obviously deserves the great characters in the genre, at least in the first part of the manga.
Griffith is terribly ambitious and sees his hopes for advancement shattered by the punishment resulting from his carnal relationship with Princess Charlotte. Tortured for a year, he is paralyzed. At that time, he sacrificed the first Falcon troop to the hand of God. This sacrifice allows her to become Femto, the ultimate hand of God. Griffith therefore became Guts’ great enemy. The destruction of the first Falcon Troop is one of the manga’s most notable pages, like the following illustration from volume 12. This illustration shows Kentaro Miura’s skill in suggesting gigantism and monstrosity. Berserk is all about size and excess: Guts’ giant sword, Griffith’s ambition, violence. The most despicable characters are often the most gigantic.
5 / The rape of Casca
The world of Berserk is a ruthless world. It is a particularly dark and violent universe in which the strongest destroy the weakest. Kentaro Miura is not afraid of any subject and also deals with religious fanaticism, slavery and sexual violence. We wanted to come back to the rape of Casca by Griffith, which takes place in volume 13. If the rape of Casca is not the most shocking sex scene of the manga (we think in particular of the scene between Lady Farnese and the horse , fans will understand), it remains a key scene of utmost importance.
After Griffith, now Femto, sacrificed the Falcon troop, he raped Casca. One event was made all the more terrible when Casca, once steadfast as Griffith, joined the Falcon troop after rescuing them from an attempted rape. After this event, Casca will descend into madness with behavior similar to that of a child. Fortunately, she came to herself much later.
BONUS – “Death does not mean the end”
We wanted to end this Kentaro Miura tribute article with a clip from Berserk’s second animated film. This great excerpt was shared on YouTube by Crunchyroll on the occasion of the mangaka’s death and shows how Berserk knows how to be a poetic and delicate work. These moments of tenderness are like a ray of sunshine penetrating between the clouds after a storm of violence and despair. Especially this excerpt, in which Guts and young Schierke, devastated by Flora’s death, give us the consolation we needed.