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Kentaro Miura, creator of influential 'Berserker' manga, dies at 54

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May 20, 2021, 11:45 AM EDT

Kentaro Miura, a writer and illustrator known for creating the influential Berserk manga, has passed away at the age of 54. According to the manga's official Twitter account Miura died on May 6 from complications relating to acute aortic dissection. "All us editors sincerely pray for his repose, expressing our deepest respect and appreciation for his work," Japanese publisher Hakusensha said in a statement (via BBC News), adding that a private family funeral had already been held.

Launched in 1989, Berserk is one of the longest-running mangas in history. True to its title, the ultra-violent comic follows Guts, aka the Black Swordsman, a feared warrior known for his giant sword, iron hand, and supernatural brand that draws dark forces to his general vicinity. Accompanied by the annoying Puck the Elf, Guts slays anything in a winding path of death of vengeance that leads to his archenemy, Griffith.

"I was a manga reader. There are things that I’ve consciously borrowed from, but there are also things that have sunk to the bottom of my consciousness and pop up out of nowhere later," Miura said during a 2015 interview. "They’ve become part of me. Violence Jack and Guin Saga are things I was obviously really into, and I do think that Guin Saga was the biggest source for this fantasy universe. That atmosphere it has just stuck with me and now I think of it as the standard to measure things against."

Berserk has been adapted for animation three times — once as an anime series in 1997; again as a trilogy of films between 2012 and 2013; and then as another anime series in 2016. "He's been involved from top-to-bottom. From the script all the way to the voice recording," Reo Kurosu, a producer on the most recent anime, told Crunchyroll in 2016. "In fact, Episode 1 is partly original and the story was thought up by Miura."

Born in Chiba, Japan in 1966, Miura created his very first manga, Miuranger, at the age of 10. In the mid-1980s, he began studying art at Tokyo's Niho Daigaku University and began work on two new projects —  Futatabi and Noa — which got him recognized by Shonen Magazine prior to the creation of Berserk. The long-running manga, which is said to have served as an influence on the creatives behind video games like Dynasty Warriors and Dark Souls, nabbed Miura the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize for Excellence in 2002.

In addition to his seminal work, Miura is also associated with several other titles: King of WolvesOurou Den, Japan, and Gigantomachia.