What I particularly find interesting in the interview with Kentaro is his openness about his process. How he openly talks about how he borrows from other creators. The animation in the clip is really nice, especially the backgrounds and details.
Kentarou Miura was born in Chiba City, Chiba Prefecture, Japan, in 1966. He is left-handed. In 1976, at the early age of 10, Miura made his first manga, entitled Miuranger, that was published for his classmates in a school publication; the manga ended up spanning 40 volumes. In 1977, Miura created his second manga called Ken e no michi (剣への道 The Way to the Sword), using India ink for the first time. When he was in middle school in 1979, Miura’s drawing techniques improved greatly as he started using professional drawing techniques. His first dōjinshi was published, with the help of friends, in a magazine in 1982.
That same year, in 1982, Miura enrolled in an artistic curriculum in high school, where he and his classmates started publishing their works in school booklets, as well as having his first dōjinshi published in a fan-produced magazine. In 1985, Miura applied for the entrance examination of an art college in Nihon University. He submitted Futanabi for examination and was granted admission. This project was later nominated Best New Author work inWeekly Shōnen Magazine. Another Miura manga Noa was published in Weekly Shōnen Magazine the very same year. Due to a disagreement with one of the editors, the manga was stalled and eventually dropped altogether. This is approximately where Miura’s career hit a slump.
In 1988, Miura bounced back with a 48-page manga known as Berserk Prototype, as an introduction to the current Berserk fantasy world. It went on to win Miura a prize from the Comi Manga School. In 1989, after receiving adoctorate degree, Kentarou started a project titled King of Wolves (王狼 ōrō?) based on a script by Buronson, writer of Hokuto no Ken. It was published in the monthly Japanese Animal House magazine in issues 5 and 7 of that year.
In 1990, a sequel is made to Ourou entitled Ourou Den (王狼伝 ōrō den, The Legend of the Wolf King) that was published as a prequel to the original in Young Animal magazine. In the same year, the 10th issue of Animal House witnesses the first volume of the solo project Berserk was released with a relatively limited success. Miura again collaborated with Buronson on manga titled Japan, that was published in Young Animal House from the 1st issue to the 8th of 1992, and was later released as a stand-alone tankōbon. Miura’s fame grew after Berserk was serialized in Young Animal in 1992 with the release of “The Golden Age” story arc and the huge success of his masterpiece made of him one of the most prominent contemporary manga artists. At this time Miura dedicates himself solely to be working on Berserk. He has indicated, however, that he intends to publish more manga in the future.
In 1997, Miura supervised the production of 25 anime episodes of Berserk that aired in the same year on NTV. Various art books and supplemental materials by Miura based on Berserk are also released. In 1999, Miura made minor contributions to the Dreamcast video game Sword of the Berserk: Guts’ Rage. 2004 saw the release of yet another video game adaptation entitled Berserk Millennium Falcon Arc: Chapter of the Record of the Holy Demon War.
Since that time, the Berserk manga has spanned 36 tankōbon with no end in sight. The series has also spawned a whole host of merchandise, both official and fan-made, ranging from statues, action figures to key rings, video games, and a trading card game. In 2002, Kentarou Miura received the second place in the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize of Excellence for Berserk.
Here is an interview I found with Kentarou:
|Today, I’d like to interview the creator of Berserk, Mr. Kentaro Miura about how Berserk was created.||Hello, nice to meet you.|
|The first question is how did you come across the idea of Berserk? Would you tell us how you came up with the concept for Berserk?||I didn’t have a solid idea of how I wanted Berserk to be in the beginning, but the idea grew gradually by watching my favorite anime shows when I was in college. If I was interested in something, I’d be looking up information. It was like kneading clay, the concept of Berserk slowly came together. I didn’t have the clear picture of what I really wanted to do at first.|
|I thought the subject matter of Berserk is pretty complicated.||Well…|
|You talk about the universal law of Karma.||Well, how do I put this… When you’re a cartoonist and working at home you sit at your desk pretty much all day. You get most of your information about the world from the news on TV. I think that’s how most cartoonists spend their days. And then I start to see the whole picture of my point of view towards all the problems that are happening in the world. An average working man living in an average world would have a personal problem. He’d be worried about how his kids are doing in school. But I live in isolation, watching the world only on the news on TV so I start to see the bigger picture. I can look at the world from another angle. I’m not talking about one specific event. If I see news about war in another country of if there’s a massacre somewhere in Japan I just look at the world objectively. Religious cults or acts of atrocity have been the topics of the news recently. When I hear those stories, not that I want to find some kind of answer, but it makes me want to visualize what’s happening. I just want to see it in my world in my own way. The idea becomes clearer and polished in the process. I think I’ve said this in an interview before, but when I learned about Tsuchizoku and Futsuzoku, it did influence Berserk. I was writing Berserk watching the incident on the news. And a little while later I wrote about mass psychology in Berserk. I believe that incident made me want to write about it so I would understand it myself. In the beginning, about up to volume five, I was still writing stuff that I had thought of when I was in college. So my real life reflected a lot in the stories in the beginning. And after a while, I started to see the bigger picture.|
|I see. That’s actually similar to the second question. I’d like to know if anything influenced Berserk.||It is a Japanese novel, but… a novel called “Guin Saga” written by Kaoru Kurimoto was the most influential. Guin Saga is a fantasy novel series, and it’s been trying to set arecord in the Guinness World Records as the longest fantasy work ever written by a single author. It was planned to be 100 volumes from the beginning. But it’s already 80-something, so it’ll go over 100 easily. I started reading it when I was in junior high and I’m still reading the new volume every month. So I could say Guin Saga is the most significant novel. And other stuff like movies and cartoons influenced me, too.|
|I see. I’d like to talk about a little more about the concept. The timeline in Berserk seems to be sometime in the medieval period. It has the whole medieval theme, like it’s happening somewhere in Europe. Is there any real historical events you based Berserk on?||Not really, I don’t really use specific historical events but rather I use fairy tales or fantasy movies. I’ve been working on the concept of my own fantasy world since I was in high school and college. Like I mentioned, I got ideas from Guin Saga, and from films, like “Excalibur” and “Conan the Barbarian.” I came up with the dark fantasy concept from those movies. I don’t think I get inspired by the actual historical events. I simply used them as data. I’ve thought of writing a story based on Dracula. I’m talking about Vlad Tepes, the real Dracula. I wanted to use the real historical records. And there’s the famous story from Sherlock Holmes. The story where Conan Doyle got tricked by the Cottingley fairy hoax…|
|I’m sorry, I’m not familiar with it.||I didn’t write the exact same thing, but I wrote a story similar to that. There was a story about a fairy in… I can’t remember exactly which volume, but I think it was around 15 or 16.|
|I’d like to ask you a technical question now. Your drawings are very well detailed. From every nook and corner, they are drawn in depth. Do you use anything as reference when you draw?||I do have a huge pile of pictures that I use as reference. I use a collection of photographs from different countries… but it’s actually easier to find the pictures of armor or landscape in Japan. So whenever I need some pictures l’ll go find it by myself or ask somebody to get it. So the collection is really big now.|
|I see.||Pictures are the best reference for a cartoonist. It’s all about how something looks. If you really talk about technical stuff you’ll notice that some armors aren’t supposed to be used around that time. But I really don’t go that far.|
|I see.||I simply like things that look cool.|
|I see. And now I’d like to ask you about this main character, Guts. He’s got some personality, he’s a deep character. Is there anybody in particular that you used as a model for Guts?||Well, Guts’ friends in the Band of Hawk are actually based on my friends from college. But there wasn’t anybody in particular for Guts and Griffith.|
|Not even a historical figure?||Well, it’s funny that you mentioned it, but l’ve heard about this knight who helped a peasant revolution in Germany and the knight’s name was Goetz. And he had an iron artificial arm. When I found out about it, I thought it was a strange coincidence. I don’t know if he shot arrows from it. It was especially uncanny because I had already started Berserk. I wasn’t really thinking of anybody at the time I created Guts. But if you’re only talking about his looks and not about his personality then I guess Rutger Hauer was the model. I saw him playing a mercenary in a medieval movie, “Flesh & Blood” and I really liked him in that movie. He also played the lead in “Salute of the Jugger.” It was an Sci Fi movie, but I thought the character he played was similar to Guts. And the main character from “Highlander” kind of reminds me of Guts. I think it had a lot to do with those cool collected type heroes I admired when I was in college. But if it’s about Guts’ personality or his belief… I guess some of it comes from myself. And sometimes I use my close friends as examples. So Guts’ personality isn’t always based on one person, but it’s more abstract. His actions and state of mind depend on the situation. So Guts doesn’t have a specific model.|
|I see. In the U.S, Media Blasters is introducing Berserk the anime to audiences. Did you have any requests when Berserk became an anime series for the first time? What kind of advice did you give to the production studio?||Berserk is my very first comic book and anime. So I was very excited, and I wanted to make something good. I could’ve just let the studio staff do the work, but I gave some advice on the outlines of the character designs. But my main concern was the scripts. They’d send me the scripts and I’d revise them and make changes. I checked all scripts, and made a lot of changes and requests on all of them. I bet the writers hated me.|
|But that’s natural, that’s how much you care about your show.||Yeah, I guess that’s about it.|
|I’d like to ask you a couple of personal questions now. We talked about Kaoru Kurimoto’s Guin Saga earlier. And my next question is… Is there any cartoonist, director or movie that influenced you?||Well, it’s a Japanese cartoonist, but… like Mr. Go Nagai, I believe he’s very famous in the U.S. He was a big influence on me. I love his dynamic style. And I have a couple of favorite American film directors. I like the movies of Tim Burton and Sam Raimi. This is another strange story. Back then I was still in college, it was the day I finished the first episode of Berserk and there was “Evil Dead 2” playing at theaters. So after I mailed it to the publisher, I went to see it. It was so similar to Berserk, I was really surprised by myself. In “Evil Dead 3,” I also know it as “Captain Supermarket”… the main character had his arm cut off and he had a chainsaw attached to his arm and had a shotgun on his back. I was like “What the?” Because Guts has a gun on his arm and a huge sword on his back. It was just like Ash. I remember getting worried that I might get sued. I just finished my very first cartoon, but I was already nervous. I’m a big fan of Sam Raimi’s movies, I like “Dark Man”, too. He got really big after “Spider-Man,” but I still like his movies. And I like Tim Burton, because his movies are always ‘offbeat.’ It’s almost strange that a person can be that offbeat and big at the same time. But that’s why I love his movies. James Cameron lost his touch after he got big. Well, I don’t know if he thinks of himself as offbeat. But when I saw “Terminator,” as a Sci Fi fan, I was really excited that he was one of those offbeat geniuses, like Tim Burton… but turns out he wasn’t. And of course, “Star Wars” is my all-time favorite movie. I saw it when I was little, so I was really shocked, I was a big Star Wars fan ever since. But “Episode 1” was very weak. The script needed some work.|
|And another question… As a lot of people know, you started writing Berserk when you were in college… and finally it’s been animated and people can see the world you’ve created. You’ve mentioned it earlier, but tell us how you got a chance to publish Berserk.||I tried to get Berserk published by Hakusen Publisher.|
|Get it published?||Yes, in Japan, a cartoonist would write a cartoon of about 25 pages… and send it to a publisher. And if they picked yours, it would be a series in the magazine. And fortunately, I was picked. The publisher liked Berserk, so I would be able to make Berserk into a series. Usually, those first ideas always seemed to have something special.|
|I see. And this is the last question. Berserk is a huge success in the U.S.||Thank you very much.|
|Berserk fans abroad are very happy. If you have any messages to the fans in the U.S…||Actually I kind of have a question. What do Westerners think of this fantasy world created by an Oriental? Many of us Orientals feel that the fantasy worlds created in Hollywood… or believed in by Westerners are more genuine fantasy worlds. And I think Berserk is strongly influenced by Western culture. I’m trying to create something from what I learned from the West. So I’m curious about what people in the West think of Berserk. That’s my question to the fans in the U.S. I hope they like it.|
|I’ll make sure to tell Berserk fans in the U.S.||Thank you.|