Dark, demonic and gory, Kentaro Miura’s Berserk is among the best manga of all time. Over its 30-year run, Miura has delighted fans with brilliant storytelling and stunning artwork. Unfortunately, he’s really slowed down. These days, Berserk exists in the space between full-on hiatus and painfully sporadic updates, no longer following the bi-monthly schedule it stuck to in the past. In 2019, only one chapter was released and, in 2020, it’s not looking much better. So, why the hiatus?
An absurd, but very popular, theory is that Miura is obsessed with a certain video game, that he plays instead of continuing the manga. It’s The Idolmaster, a massively popular franchise of rhythm games about managing a group of cute, frilly Japanese idols, making it possibly the most different thing from Berserk … ever.
In an interview with the seinen manga magazine Young Animal, Miura mentioned he was a fan of The Idolmaster. Of course, Miura is entitled to enjoy whatever media he likes, but that didn’t stop fans from poking fun at it. There is just something absolutely hilarious about the creator of such a dark, violent series spending his free time playing a glitzy idol game. Indeed, the Berserk meme Reddit was soon – and continues to be – overrun by fans mocking Miura’s supposed Idolmaster obsession. There were also satirical news stories and YouTube videos spreading the news that Miura was abandoning Berserk for cute anime girls.
Somehow, the idea is quite compelling. Miura’s publishing rate first started to suffer around late 2006 to early 2007, which is right around when the first Idolmaster game released. As more Idolmaster gamescame out over the years, Berserk’s publishing rate grew worse and worse, up to the point where fans expect to receive just one chapter a year. The growth of the Idolmaster franchise seemingly correlates to the slowing of Berserk. Fans would argue the idol game is also obstructing Berserk by redirecting Miura elsewhere – specifically, to other projects featuring young, cute anime girls. Beyond Berserk, Miura has a few other works, including the lesser-known Duranki and Gigantomachia. Both manga feature young girls and Miura took time off Berserk to work on them. Duranki especially has an upbeat tone a more consistent with a writer who’s been influenced by something like The Idolmaster.
There’s also been an increase in younger, female characters in Berserk. The child witch Schierke, the prophetess Sonia and the Merrow girl Isma are recent additions to the series, and these colorful children don’t exactly fit in with the Berserk of old. One could seriously argue that Miura’s interest in cute idol girls has influenced Berserk, as well as his other manga, to at least some extent. Only problem being, according to Miura, he’s not a fan of Idolmaster more than he is any other game.
Either way, fans may poke fun at Miura, but they respect him for the work he does. Berserk is on hiatus not because of his obsession with Idolmaster, but because illustrating and writing manga is incredibly taxing. Berserk is famous for having some of the most detailed artwork in all of manga, and it can’t be easy to sustain that level of quality. It’s a very common story for mangaka to overwork themselves and cut series short, so it’s much better that Miura take time off than run into serious health problems. It’s also understandable for him to venture into other manga, as sticking with one series for thirty-odd years is bound to cause some burnout.
Miura has worked hard to create what many consider the greatest manga ever made, so if he wants to relax with an idol game or stretch his legs with a different project, who could say no? For now, fans are content to meme away until the next chapter is finally released. If the rumors hold true, it’s not too far away.
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Berserk is notorious for its hiatuses. Rumor has it that its mangaka has abandoned the series for an idol game.