Berserk pioneered modern dark fantasy with epic panels of intricately detailed monsters and medieval landscapes. It told the story of Guts, a swordsman who was hunted by demonic monstrosities because of his insignia, the Brand of Sacrifice. He swore to fight until his dying breath. But with the tragic passing of Berserk creator Kentaro Miura on May 6 2021, Guts’ conclusion may never come. Out of respect for the author, fans have been reflecting on the legendary manga’s massive cultural influence since the series began publication in 1989.
Outside of its influence on popular anime titles like Castlevania, Black Clover, and Demon Slayer, Berserk has had a profound impact on the video game industry in the last couple of decades. The most obvious game series to have been directly influenced by Berserk is FromSoftware’s Dark Souls. Director Hidetaka Miyazaki has spoken out multiple times about how Dark Souls and Bloodborne borrow heavily from the aesthetic of Miura’s manga panels in terms of monster design. There are tons of references in FromSoftware’s games directly tied to Berserk such as the moon at the end of Dark Souls 3, which serves as a reference to the infamous Eclipse event from the Golden Age Arc where everything went wrong.
Berserk’s dark tone served as inspiration for the Devil May Cry games, as revealed by director Hidetaki Itsuno during a talk at GDC 2019. Itsuno was also the director for the game Dragon’s Dogma, a cult classic RPG that ended up collaborating with the Golden Age Arc film series from 2012 by including Guts and Griffith armor sets.
Guts with his giant sword and general badassery provided a visual trend that inspired the creation of some notable video game protagonists including Dante from Devil May Cry and Final Fantasy VII’s Cloud Strife. The Dark Knight class from the Final Fantasy series was created with the intention of being a homage to Guts. After Miura’s passing, hundreds of Final Fantasy XIV players banded together in Limsa Lominsa and switched their characters to the Dark Knight class to pay tribute to the author.
Berserk has also had a few games of its own, including Berserk: Millenium Falcon for PlayStation 2 and Sword of the Berserk: Guts’ Revenge for Sega Dreamcast. These served as adaptations of the Falcon of the Millennium Empire Arc while the Dynasty Warriors inspired 2016 game Berserk and the Band of the Hawk served as an adaptation of the Golden Age Arc up to the Falcon of the Millennium Empire Arc.
Hopefully more Berserk games will be developed in the future as well as a proper anime adaptation. Even if the future of Berserk is uncertain given the unfortunate circumstances, its incredible influence will continue to send ripples that will reverberate through our culture for a very long time.