Updated: Jan 2
art by Kentaro Miura
When it comes to players’ conquest of challenging and difficult games there is one modern franchise that stands above all. The soul series, has captured the hearts of many gamers including me, and the creator Hidetaka Miyazaki has made such a dark and twisted world that one may ask where did he find his inspiration? The answer to this question is incredibly simple and it’s called Berserk.
Berserk is a Japanese manga written by Kentaro Miura and has been serialized from 1989 to the present. Berserk quickly rose to the top of one of the best manga's I have ever read. It’s very rare for me to finish a series and ask myself “wait that’s it?” and be left with a sense of wonder and emptiness as I wait for the next chapter. Expect a podcast about Berserk because there is so much about this manga that will be explored but this is the start.
The story of Berserk follows a man named Guts an infamous swordsman that wields a massive black sword whose journey is enclosed in tragedy and hardship as he struggles to find out who he is and protect the one he loves. The world of Berserk is incredibly dark and the manga explores themes such as free will, destiny, Human resilience, and even Predeterminism.
art by From Software
As much as I would like to dive into Miura’s world of Berserk we will save that for a later date and return to how Miyazaki has incorporated Berserk into the soul’s games. You can find a Berserk reference in all Miyazaki games, yes Sekrio, Bloodborne, Demon, and Dark Souls all have them if you know what you’re looking for. However, if you’re like me and haven’t read Berserk it’s hard to put two together, so I will show you where I made the connection, and it’s very simple because Berserk shows up in Miyazaki design.
One of the best parts of From Software games are their bosses and the first game I went through was Dark souls III and I think the best-designed boss and there are a lot of good ones is Slave Knight Gael. Slave Knight Gael has a very unique movement, a crossbow under his cloak, wields a giant sword, and his cloak moves like it’s alive. All very similar to Guts move set and movement in his berserker armor as the repeating crossbow, lively cape, and unique movement are all trademarks of guts. However, many people didn’t start with dark souls III and missed out on the original Demon Souls, it all starts with Dark Souls and there is an Iconic boss that represents Guts and Berserk more than others and his name is Artorias, the Abysswalker. Artorias is a merciless boss fight swigging his great sword with ease, he is hard to predict and well the fandom wiki sums up his comparison to Guts perfectly.
"Both Artorias and Guts, the main character in the Berserk manga, are unmatched with greatswords, and are both outright stated to be defined by their incredible unbending will, yet whose fighting style is defined by becoming possessed by the darkness of humanity and fighting recklessly and brutally, like an animal. Both are legendary for being the first to survive existing in a plane of greatly lethal darkness and are cursed by this experience. Many of Artorias's attacks are direct references to attacks Guts makes throughout the manga, notably his flip and spinning move. The design decision to have Artorias fight with one arm disabled greatly parallels Gut's lack of an arm, which is highly distinctive. Both characters have predominate wolf motifs, with Artorias being called the Wolf Knight, having Sif as a companion, and howling like a wolf when fought, while Guts' spirit is depicted as being a wolf, much like the berserkers of old, which is channeled in its wolf-like design. Artorias's armor looks greatly like renditions of Gut's armor, especially his Berserker armor."(https://darksouls.wiki.fextralife.com/Artorias+the+Abysswalker)
And if you are not convinced yet the cover art of both Berserk issue 28 and Prepare to Die Edition sums up just how much Berserk means to From Software, Hidetaka Miyazaki, and the games we came to love.
As I am currently making my way through Bloodborne and eagerly waiting for Elden Ring news I am reminded continuously of Berserks influence. Bloodborne’s Hunters mark compared to Berserks brand of sacrifice, Sekiros prosthetic arm, and the variety of tools just like Guts Cannon Arm. I can’t wait to see how George R. R. Martin, Hidetaka Miyazaki do with Elden Ring for both have created fantastic worlds Inspired by the legend of King Arthur, Lord of the rings, Devilman, Harry Potter, History, and of course Berserk. I have yet to play Demon souls and Dark souls and you can find more Berserk References from, From software games here, and the lesson I have walked away with is that you can pool inspiration from anything.