Earlier this year in May, the manga community was shocked at the news that Berserk mangaka Kentaro Miura had passed away at the age of 54. Since it first debuted in 1989, the dark fantasy manga has been incredibly popular and influential, becoming one of the best-selling manga of all time and spawning multiple anime, games, and merchandise.
Dark Horse has been publishing English translations of the manga since 2003, and they’ve announced that the English version of Volume 41 will be releasing in summer 2022. (In Japan, where it’s published by Hakusensha, the volume was just released on Christmas Eve.) With Hakusensha and the manga’s French publisher Glénat, Volume 41 is intended to also commemorate the occasion with illustrations released in major newspapers for each country: Japan’s Asahi Shimbun, The New York Times for America, and France’s Le Monde.
When discussing the artwork in a translation of Asahi, an unnamed advertising manager at Hakuhensha’s believed that the reason that Berserk in general remained so popular over the decades is naturally owed to Miura’s award-winning artwork. He described the late mangaka’s skill as “transcending language to attract fans all over the world…Each panel is drawn with the same degree of minute detail as a work of art.” Going further, he believed that Miura succeeded by treating Berserk as something for everyone, not just manga fans in Japan. “From the very beginning of its serialization right through to the end, Miura was always conscious of creating something that would be entertaining for readers in any country…I think it would be more accurate to regard it as accessible to readers all over the world because the content was aimed at a worldwide readership in the first place.”
All three pieces of Berserk artwork are intended to be released simultaneously, and the decision to release them on newspaper as opposed to digital was to “enable the appeal” of Miura’s artwork, thereby eliciting stronger emotions. Though each artwork is different, and France’s is in color where the other two are black-and-white, the goal overall was to the artwork speak for itself. Several ideas were made for ad copy, said the manager, but eventually, they decided “that no words were necessary to convey the appeal of Miura’s illustrations.”
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Important as it was for the newspaper ads to thank fans for their support after the passing of their beloved creator, it was also done to follow Miura’s ambition of his story being something anyone could pick up and love. If the ad does its job, it’ll hopefully reach out and interest those who may have never even heard of the series. “Newspapers reach lots of people on the same day, so we could instantly accelerate the rate at which Berserk became a hot topic,” the manager pointed out. “If this leads to the Berserk fan community spreading further, I will be delighted, not only as an advertising manager at Hakusensha, but also as a Berserk fan.”
With Volume 41 releasing in the summer, fans are still wondering if the series will continue on after Miura’s passing. Following the release of Chapter 364 in September, which was his final work and finished by his assistants, manga imprint Young Animal Comics gave no real answer. In their open letter at the end of the Chapter, they stated that their “first priority will always be placed on him—what he would think if he were still with us.” Since then, they’ve been understandably quiet on the matter, and it seems like it will remain that way until Volume 41 is closer to being in everyone’s hands.
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