Earlier this week it was announced that Kentaro Miura, the creator of the manga Berserk, had died at the age of 54. It's hard to overstate the influence Berserk has had on videogames, from Final Fantasy 7's iconic Buster Sword to the monster and world design of the Dark Souls series. But news of Miura's death seemed to particularly affect the Final Fantasy 14 community, who quickly organized enormous gatherings to pay tribute to him.
Across multiple servers, thousands of players donned their Dark Knight gear—which heavily resembles Berserk's main character, Guts—and stood vigil in the streets of one of the major cities, Ul'Dah. It was a touching and emotional memorial to one of Japan's most influential anime artists and creators. And to those players who participated in honoring Miura's passing, game director Naoki Yoshida has a message: Thank you.
"It goes to show just how much people have received from Mr. Miura and his artwork," Yoshida told me during an interview yesterday. "It was heartwarming to see how much influence he has had on players. I also want to thank players for taking the time to acknowledge that. Even players in Japan, too, are very much affected by this and there's a lot of shock among the fandom as well."
It's a grief that Yoshida said he deeply shares with players. He told me he first began reading Berserk decades ago when it was being published in Young Animal, a monthly magazine in Japan. "It's not an exaggeration to say that I kept on buying the latest installment of the manga magazine just to read Berserk," Yoshida said. "So definitely a very sad and unfortunate loss."
"Honestly speaking—and this is not limited to Final Fantasy 14 but with any game that I have been a part of—there are elements where, consciously or subconsciously, I was influenced by Mr. Miura's work," Yoshida continued. The most obvious of those inspirations is Final Fantasy 14's Dark Knight, which wields a massive sword in combat. "We took inspiration from the way that Guts stands in those panels in Berserk, and that was the images I showed to my team to reference when we were thinking about [Dark Knights]. Even when we were thinking about how to position and the composition in each of the cutscenes, there were a lot of times we referenced [Berserk]."
Yoshida said that referencing Berserk became a tried and true method for communicating a mood and style for some FF14 cutscenes. When words failed to convey what Yoshida was envisioning, he'd show the development team specific panels from the manga. "Mr. Miura's work was definitely very artistic and wonderful in the way he depicts some of those cool elements."
"It's unfathomable just how much influence he has had on everybody," Yoshida said, clearly getting emotional. "It's such an unfortunate loss."
Kentaro Miura passed away on May 6 from acute aortic dissection. News of his death was only made public earlier this week when Young Animal's editorial department released a statement through Berserk's official social media channels.