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Berserk, and the lazy life of Miura Kentaro

Mercenaries. Medieval battles. Minor skirmishes. Major sieges.  From goblins to dragons, there is probably no epic fantasy in the manga world close to Berserk. It literally has everything, from its iconic one-armed original black swordsman wielding a huge 500 pound blade ( the other arm being a hand cannon!) to Indian assassins that can flatten armor with just their fists, to fighting higher demons (godhands) and even merging realms, there seems to be no end to the creator, Miura Kentaro's imagination.

Falconia, a new country in the New World.

Brutal and merciless, it is an unforgiving world in Berserk, where life is cheap and blood flows freely. Slavery, wars and bandits seem to be everywhere. Constantly being hunted by monsters drawn to his sacrifical mark, the hero, Guts, sleeps with his blade in full armor, and is hunted wherever he goes. Berserk is the Game of Thrones before Game of Thrones was big.

A life of eternal vigilance being hunted by monsters

Berserk has garnered critical acclaim from all over the world since it was very first published in 1989 in the magazine young animal, selling 27 million copies locally and 8 million worldwide since its first volume and is ranked the 61th best selling manga of all time, spawning a couple of games, a 25 parter anime series and 3 anime movies. Its author, Miura Kentaro, however, is probably one of the most notorious slackers in the manga industry, "earning" his place amongst the 4 heavenly kings, namely HunterXHunter's Yoshino, the man of no background art, Five Star Stories Nagano Mamoru, the story that will probably never end in his lifetime, and Bastard's Hagiwara Kazushi, who is going in and out of mental hospitals. Guyver creator Takaya Yoshiki, for example, used to sit in one of the four thrones. But all hail the new king! Amongst them, Miura is probably the most hardworking. But that really is a very low bar, from what you can see below.

Letting fans down yet again. 

I have wrote about how One Piece creator Oda is probably the most hard working mangaka on earth, working 7 days a week. Now meet the opposite. In industrious Japan, taking a hiatus from work is generally frowned upon. Indeed there is contempt for those who do not work as hard as the rest. The same applies for the manga industry. Many mangaka die young because of overwork. The situation is so common that Japan actually has a medical term for it, Karoshi, used to describe people who die of heart attacks and strokes brought on by being overworked. Compare those facts with the schedule of the lazy Miura below. It is no wonder that fans are outraged. 

He took a break yet again after September 2014 and has only continued in July 2015, and then taking ANOTHER long break till an unknown date in 2016.

As anyone can tell, this is a ridiculously unproductive roster by ANY standard. In 2009 he practically disappeared for the entire year! Now there are genuine cases of long hiatus by mangaka who are really sick.  The creator of Dai no Daibouken and Beet the Vandal Buster, Inada Koji, for example, has been suffering from leukemia, and has to stop work from September 2006. I am glad to inform that he has just returned to drawing Beet in December and is collaborating with Nurarihyon no Mago's Shiibashi Hiroshi for a new series, Cremator, out in April 2016. Hoshino Katsura, of D Gray man fame has been hit by the Norovirus, a neck injury, and a wrist injury, yet she only took short breaks for all of those. Perhaps the most badass of them all is 30 year veteran Hara Tetsuo, of Hokuto no Ken and currently Souten no Ken fame. Struck by Keratoconus, a degenerative eye disease, he is now blind in one eye. Yet he continues to draw nearly every scene himself, leaving his assistants to do cleaning up. 

 Hara Tetsuo, looking like yakuza, from Japan Expo France, 2013. I wonder what he thinks about slackers like Miura?

The reasons for Miura's absence have been varied. There have been several weeks where he is apparently sick. While some of it is probably true, some probably are not. Miura confessed to be a huge Idolmasters fan, and readers are even complaining that he always seem to fall "sick" whenever a new Idolmaster title is released. There have been other occasions, however, when no reason was given whatsover. The recent hiatus, from september to 2016, is because of  probably his involvement in the new Berserk animation project, but his track record of long breaks remain.  It also does not help that he is also a heavy phone app gamer.

Ultimately, Berserk remains one of the best dark fantasy series out there, but , since it has recently been "relegated" to a monthly publication, one wonders if Miura can finish the series in his lifetime. A real mediocre end to an epic series. 

Written by Don

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