After Franco Battiato, Kentaro Miura. Apparently the Sicilian singer-songwriter, composer, writer and director who passed away on May 18 had very little in common with the Japanese mangaka (cartoonist) who died on May 6 (but the news was communicated only on 20) at the age of fifty-five.
Different in origin, age (born in 1945 and born in 1966 respectively), average of reference, it is true, but united by the fact that they have profoundly marked the imagination of several generations.
Miura, born on 11 July 1966 in Chiba prefecture, began making comics as a child for his classmates (binding them in volumes) and made his professional debut in 1985 with a short story for Weekly Shōnen Magazine.
Three years later he conceived the Berserk series which, after a short story in the monthly Comicomi, began to be serialized in 1989 in the Young Animal magazine. Published in Italy since 1996 by Panini Comics and inspirer of a series of anime and various animated films, Berserk impresses itself in the imagination of several generations, selling forty million copies and fascinated readers with its mix of violence and poetry.
We are in the fantasy world of an alternative Middle Ages, the protagonist is the mercenary warrior Gatsu (born from the corpse of a hanged woman) who fights evil demons and arrogant nobles, in search of a former friend turned into a demon.
It’s a dark and fascinating saga about the power of evil and how free will is ultimately illusory. The term berserk indicates who is out of control, in the manga taken by an uncontrollable murderous rampage. Miura blends Japanese influences (primarily Go Nagai, creator of the Mazinger Z and Grendizer saga but also of the horror Devilman) in the graphic sign, very effective in telling the violence of a land without hope, and Western: in the representation of an alternative Middle Ages watch movies like Love and blood di Paul Verhoeven (1985) e Ladyhawke by Richard Donner (1985) and also to the horror suggestions of Hellraiser by Clive Barker (1987).
Among the other comics made by Miura there are Il re lupo, Gigantomachia (always published by Panini Comics) and the unpublished Duranki of 2019.
Berserk never came to a conclusion, which is unusual for a Japanese series.
Some fans have complained that Berserk remains unfinished: manga differ from Western comics in that they all have an end within a limited number of years, although creators often return to their most famous characters with other versions (such as did the same Go Nagai or Leiji Matsumoto with the Captain Harlock universe), but Berserk is an exception.
And maybe that’s for the best, the unfinished sagas have a particular charm. A parallel can be drawn with A Song of Ice and Fire, the saga of fantasy novels by George RR Martin (set in a dark Middle Ages like Berserk) that inspired the TV series Game of thrones. The series is over but who knows if it will also have an ending in the novels (Martin, born in 1948, is much older than Miura).
Comics scholar Emanuele Emma commented on Facebook: “Deep down in our hearts we all knew that this journey would never end, but no one would have wanted this to be the cause.
Thanks for everything, Kentaro Miura, may the earth be light to you ››.