Our Berserk-loving reporter finds something to smile about while still dealing with the sadness of the series creator’s death.
It’s been almost a year and a half since the passing of the manga artist Miura Kentaro, but the shock still hasn’t faded entirely. As the creator of Berserk, which had been running since 1989, Miura felt like a permanent presence in the manga/anime world, and the suddenness of his death, at 54 years old, wasn’t something fans had been at all bracing for, as there was no public knowledge of his health ailments.
Our Japanese-language reporter Mr. Sato still remembers when he found out that Miura had passed away. It was while he was out in the field doing legwork for an article, and when, in an idle moment, he checked the news on his phone, there it was. A surreal emotion came over Mr. Sato, like time had stopped, and his heart still felt heavy as he headed to Tokyo’s Ginza neighborhood this week for an advance look at the Berserk art exhibition.
Officially called the Great Berserk Exhibition: 32 Years of Kentaro Miura Artwork–Ginza Editionthe event is being held at the Matsuya department store. One of the first things guests will see upon entering the venue a full-scale recreation of the Dragon Slayerthe massive greatsword/”heap of raw iron” wielded by Berserk’s protagonist Guts. Seeing it in the real world drives home the inhuman strength required to swing it around like Guts does, and also the amazing destructive force it would unleash on anyone or anything unlucky enough to be on the receiving end of its strikes.
The Dragon Slayer isn’t the only intimidating 1:1 recreation either. One of the highlights of the exhibition a life-size rendering of Zoddone of Guts’ monstrous foes,
On the other end of the spectrum, the displays from high-end statue/figure makers Prime 1 Studio. The level of detail is astounding, and Mr. Sato thinks if he had one of these pieces gracing his home, he could spend all day admiring it without ever running out of aspects to admire.
▼ If the name Prime 1 Studio rings a bell, it might be because they’re the company that made that amazing Final Fantasy VI statue a while back.
But for a long time Berserk fans, the best part of the exhibition is the walls of Miura artwork.
These are the original hand-drawn illustrations that were used for the pages of the manga, and there’s also a section with the color artwork that serves as the covers for the collected volumes.
▼ Befitting their status as true works of art, the drawings are individually framed.
As a loyal reader, none of these were new to Mr. Sato, in the sense that he’s seen all of these illustrations before while reading the series. Seeing the original pieces, though, the exact points where Miura took pen and pencil to paper and the images in his mind became artwork for all the rest of the world to see, was a deeply moving experience, and in that sense it felt to Mr Sato like he was truly seeing them for the first time.
The Berserk Exhibition is a traveling event that’s also been held in other parts of Japan over the past year, but the current Ginza iteration is the first time for 12 pieces of artwork to be publicly displayed. Out of those 12, the six shown above are among the final pieces of art that Miura completed before his death.
It’s hard not to wonder if Miura had any idea that these would be among the ending points to his prolific career, and standing there, Mr. Sato once again felt that sensation of time stopping. Eventually, though, he turned his attention to the other six pieces that are being exhibited for the first time.
These six were drawn not by Miura, but by Studio Gagathe team of Berserk assistant artists who Miura worked with.
As mentioned above, Berserk started in 1989. It was never concluded and then rebooted or restarted with a sequel. It’s still an ongoing series, with the fate of its character arcs and conflicts unknown…except to one man, Miura’s close friend and fellow manga creator Kouji Mori. Decades ago, Miura laid out his entire intended plot for Berserk to Mori, who says the manga had been following that roadmap right up until Miura’s passing. After much soul-searching, Mori came to the conclusion that Miura would want fans to see the ending he had planned out for the series, and the decision was made for Studio Gaga to resume drawing Berserkwith Mori supervising the story in accordance with Miura’s plan.
Seeing the new Berserk artwork, exquisitely drawn reminders that the series will go on, Mr. Sato felt like time was moving forward again, but he was still happy and grateful for the chance to look back on the story so far too.
Great Berserk Exhibition: 32 Years of Kentaro Miura Artwork–Ginza Edition / 大ベルセルク展 ～三浦建太郎 画業32年全軌跡～ 銀座Edition
Venue: Matsuya Ginza (8th floor) / 松屋銀座（8階）
Address: Tokyo-to, Chuo-ku, Ginza 3-6-1
Runs September 21-October 4
Open 10 am-8 pm (until 7:30 pm on September 25 and October 2, until 5 pm on October 4)
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