Inquiry for "Writing Miura 2.0"

I've been looking into the older posts on the forum, and remembered about the letter to Miura that was sent by the forum over 10 years ago (Writing Miura).

Since it's been over 10 years, I was interested to see how people feel about writing another letter to Miura.
I, personally, think it's a good idea and the timing seem about right as well. He's not overly busy with Berserk and parallel projects, so replying to a letter shouldn't be too inconvenient to him, all due respect. Also, since it's likely that Berserk will be around in another 10 years, though very close to its ending, sending Miura a letter every 10 years seems like a fun project to have in the forum.

So, if nobody minds, I'd like to ask everyone in the community to give their two cents on the following:
  • Should we send another letter to Miura?
  • What's the main reason you'd want to send the letter and what do you expect to learn from it that we don't already know?
  • What kind of questions would you like to ask?
 
I would love it if he anwered another letter, but the thing is... What questions are even left?

Miura has done many interviews (he did a few even this year), so finding questions that haven't been asked already would be the most difficult part.

Also about Miura having more free time now, if i remember correctly he has said that he works constantly even when he isn't drawing the next episode, so i don't know about that.
 
Miura has done many interviews (he did a few even this year), so finding questions that haven't been asked already would be the most difficult part.
You are correct. It is the most difficult part thinking of good question to ask Miura. I think this being a letter from fans, the questions could be a bit more personal instead of being purely a short interview. Of course not crossing a line and being rude with them, which is often an easy mistake to make.

What questions are even left?
I think there are questions to be asked. Even though I was the one to create the post, I didn't spend a lot of time thinking of questions to ask. I just wanted to see what people think about the idea of sending Miura another letter. Didn't want to get too caught up into it, then have no way of sending the questions myself and feeling down. But, now that I think about it, here are a few questions I'd ask Miura:
  • I'd ask the same question about his daily work schedule from the previous letter. I'm interested to see how his work schedule changed in the past 10 years.
  • I'd ask a question about Duranki and other side projects. If this is gonna be similar to Giganto Maxia or a longer project that his assistance would work on. Also, if there is a possibility of a second, smaller project that he would create and work on alongside of Berserk.
  • Miura mentioned in a resent interview that Duranki was started to, kind of, test his assistance to see if they could handle larger responsibilities with Berserk's art without sacrificing its quality. I'd like to ask a question regarding how he utilized his assistants before. Since it seems like he always had multiple assistants before, was there a time when his assistants did more than they are doing now.
  • I'd ask him what would be his thoughts if a live-action TV adapting Berserk were to start in the US. If the idea of having an american TV series with western actors adapting Berserk, not unlike Game of Thrones, is good or bad.
  • I'd ask him about his reclusive nature as an artist. There are mangaka who don't like to show their faces (I assume to be able to stay anonymous), but still have documentaries or TV interviews showing their work process. There's always something that masters, like Miura, do uniquely, and it's both interesting and educational to have it documented.
  • I'd ask him about the breaks he takes. When Berserk is on an extensive break, does Miura manage to take some time off, or is it that he spends all that extra time just to be able to product 4 or 5 episodes a year.
  • I'd ask him about the release schedule and the future of it. In the past 5 years 22 episodes have been released. This is 4.4 episodes/year. Based on Berserk's story and pacing, it's possible to roughly approximate how much of it is left to be told. With the release schedule of past 5 year, it seems that either the story needs to be shortened or release schedule increased. I'd love to hear his thought process on this.
As you can see, at least for me, there are things to be asked. Of course, these are just ideas and need to be polished to form proper question. I would not want to be rude to the author of my favorite literary work. But the concept is there.
 

Walter

Administrator
Staff member
It's been on my mind, lately. But if we're going to knock on Miura's door again, I think it's important that we of all people should respect his time with fresh questions that could deliver us with fresh answers. And that's tougher than you might think—particularly now.

For what it's worth, I did kick around the idea back in 2014 (5 year anniversary) but it didn't pick up much steam. And like @Keratos23 alluded to, circumstances are different now than they were back in 2009. We're swimming in interviews. It's obscene. Between the Natalie, Glénat, and Le Figaro interviews this year, and the Guidebook interview in 2016, Miura's doled out truly insightful answers in recent memory. It's very different from the time when I initially proposed the idea of community-fueled questions back in 2008. Miura had been relatively silent, and in lieu of that we were able to come up with some questions that hadn't previously been captured in other interviews. I think that part was key.

And though it is indeed tough to ask questions that haven't been broached before, I've been compiling a long list of questions either from that thread, elsewhere in the forum, or my own head, and I'll drop it in here for discussion purposes:

  • Did you have any specific influence regarding the association of Guts to the Beast of Darkness? Norse mythology? Ancient folklore? Or is it merely a representation of an inhuman beast?
  • Did the initiative to make the light novel (Flame Dragon Knight) come from you, or the Berserk Partners? What was your level of involvement in that project?
  • What do you think of the influence your manga has had on popular culture at large? Like for example, the influences your manga had the "Souls" games?
  • Do you enjoy getting feedback from your fans, or do you prefer not to focus on the expectations of fans?
  • How long had the idea for the design of Falconia been in your head before you set it down on the page? Was there any particular architectural style that you drew influence from?
  • Do you ever regret decisions you made with the story or a character? If so, what would you change about it, if anything?
  • Over the years your style has evolved. Is this a conscious choice for storytelling reasons, or is it simply progress as you became more accomplished as an artist?
  • Do you ever look back at your old works and want to redraw them in your newer style? Or do you think that part of being an artist is leaving things be and enjoying the work as is?
  • After working on Berserk for more than 30 years, how do you reinvigorate yourself when you reach a challenging place? [he addressed this in the Berserk Guidebook interview]
  • In the past you've mentioned manga, video games, and anime you're interested in. What are you following closely these days?
  • Which minor characters in Berserk do you enjoy the most, and think fans should appreciate more?
  • Your artistic style has become increasingly more detailed over the years. Is there a personal conviction that keeps you from employing a more economical approach to the art? [he somewhat answered this in the Glénat interview earlier this year]
  • What is the meaning of the furigana "ジャンアーニン" in the episode title for Episode 243: Superior Being? [I'm pretty confident I already solved this one, but it'd be good to know for certain, I guess]
  • There is no map of the Berserk world, but do you have one in your head or on a sketchbook somewhere?
  • I miss Delos and Prome. If you returned to the world of Gigantomakhia, what form would you like it to take? Short series, or long?

Of these, I think only the bolded ones are worthwhile enough to incorporate in a new interview, and to be perfectly honest I can sort of intuit his reply to them based on past replies. So nothing would be really groundbreaking.

Now, one could certainly argue that I'm being overly conservative in my estimation here, and that any reply would be a victory. It would be! But I feel like it's important not to retread old ground. To exemplify my point, almost all of the questions posited here have already been addressed by Miura, many of them just this year.

  • I'd ask the same question about his daily work schedule from the previous letter. I'm interested to see how his work schedule changed in the past 10 years.
He talked about it in the Le Figaro interview.

  • I'd ask a question about Duranki and other side projects. If this is gonna be similar to Giganto Maxia or a longer project that his assistance would work on. Also, if there is a possibility of a second, smaller project that he would create and work on alongside of Berserk.
I feel like he answered this in the Natalie interview, without making any promises. Duranki seems like an ongoing thing. But he's not going to define its length this early on.

  • Miura mentioned in a resent interview that Duranki was started to, kind of, test his assistance to see if they could handle larger responsibilities with Berserk's art without sacrificing its quality. I'd like to ask a question regarding how he utilized his assistants before. Since it seems like he always had multiple assistants before, was there a time when his assistants did more than they are doing now.
He addressed the level of his assistants involvement in Berserk in the fourth question of the Natalie interview (page 1).

  • I'd ask him what would be his thoughts if a live-action TV adapting Berserk were to start in the US. If the idea of having an american TV series with western actors adapting Berserk, not unlike Game of Thrones, is good or bad.
He answered this one already in the Le Figaro interview in April. It's not on his radar. "Q: With Netflix, we could turn Berserk into a TV series. A: If I can get this manga done in such a way that keeps fans to the end, then we'll talk about it again. Because right now, I'm trying to finish the manga cleanly. "

  • I'd ask him about his reclusive nature as an artist. There are mangaka who don't like to show their faces (I assume to be able to stay anonymous), but still have documentaries or TV interviews showing their work process. There's always something that masters, like Miura, do uniquely, and it's both interesting and educational to have it documented.
Not sure what the question is exactly, but I think it's getting a bit personal. This would be an interview via correspondence, so I'd steer clear of questions that could conceivably scuttle the whole endeavor.

  • I'd ask him about the breaks he takes. When Berserk is on an extensive break, does Miura manage to take some time off, or is it that he spends all that extra time just to be able to product 4 or 5 episodes a year.
He's answered this before a number of times, most recently in the Le Figaro interview and in the Glenat one (see below). In brief: he's always working on Berserk. It's just very slow these days.

  • I'd ask him about the release schedule and the future of it. In the past 5 years 22 episodes have been released. This is 4.4 episodes/year. Based on Berserk's story and pacing, it's possible to roughly approximate how much of it is left to be told. With the release schedule of past 5 year, it seems that either the story needs to be shortened or release schedule increased. I'd love to hear his thought process on this.
I think we already know what he's going to say to that one based on how he answered question in the Glenat interview: " When I started the series, I was less preoccupied with its ending than with telling a story that, in any case, would end sooner or later. But today, having realized that life does not last forever, it's by taking care of my health that I try to finish the series. As far as the process and pace of my work go, the main change is that I've become slower. You know, I feel like being in a spaceship that's hurtling towards a black hole. As it gets closer to it, the flow of time is altered. When I'm working on the manga, I don't feel like time flows differently, and yet it's gone in a flash. As if I was not moving forward at all. "
 
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Thanks Walter for your taking the time to write all this down. Much appreciated.

I still believe that it's an interesting idea to send another letter, but the list of questions definitely need more work. For the list I provided, I spent around an hour, so it's not fully thought out and most definitely needs more work. Honestly, it's more what subjects that I'd be interested in asking questions about, then a well formulated list of questions.

As an aside, we've heard in a few interview Miura's manga and movie influences, but I'd like to learn what influences Miura took from classical literature as well. I don't believe I've ever heard this question asked before.
 

Walter

Administrator
Staff member
I'd like to learn what influences Miura took from classical literature as well. I don't believe I've ever heard this question asked before.
That is true, it's a mostly untapped aspect of not just his research, but his personal interests. When he brought up The Name of the Rose as a reference point of the Birth Festival portion of the series, it was so revealing. Not only is it a solid period piece exploration, but it's a sign of his good taste. Would be nice to have a more extensive list of what he's found to be great from Western works, even beyond any potential 1:1's like that.
 
I think a second letter is definitely in order! I think its incredible that he responded to the first one, I only wish I was around at that time, cause I can only imagine how exciting that must have been.

I love all the questions you guys proposed already. I'd have to think a bit more about a few questions I may have... but just off the top of my head I know I'd like to ask him "Are you aware of the almost universal praise for every big moment in the series?" To me one of the most astonishing parts of Berserk is how ridiculously well executed every big moment in the series has been. It might not be the best question and just a little fan love sent his way, but it might be nice to sneak a little support to the man in there.

In an era where almost every long running series has gone down in flames due to disastrous writing decisions and subsequent fan outrage, Miura's work just never stops hitting homeruns. Its no wonder to me it takes so long for episodes to come out because every single episode is loaded to the absolute max with vital story telling.
 
Something else I'm interested as a fan is how long it takes him to finish an average page. This has been discussed over and over, and this could be an opportunity to learn the truth. I don't think it's an unfair question either, since different mangaka draw at different speeds regardless of the amount of detail. I say this because, as I recently found out, Vagabond had a weekly release schedule. I knew that Inoue was crazy fast at drawing, but this really blew my mind. So, in this regard I'd ask these 2 questions:
  • Knowing that each mangaka draws at different speeds, how long does it usually takes you to finish an average page?
  • What about highly dense 2-page spreads? How long did it take you to finish the 2 page spread with lots of Elfhelm creatures in episode 346?

There's another aspect to this letter that I've been thinking about as well. Asking question to Miura is awesome and I don't want to change that, but I was thinking of having a list of things (don't like calling them requests, since it sounds too demanding) that the western fanbase of Berserk would like to see from Miura. For example, I'd love to see a documentary showing Miura at work (even if his face is hidden). I'd also love to see some online presence from Miura's studio, like a twitter account. Some mangaka have this and it doesn't even have to be anything crazy. More or less an informal news feed. I'm sure some people would like to see a new and better anime adaptation, others an art book, and others a novel.
 
I'm not completely sure, but I think he has said in a previous interview that it usually takes him one day to draw a page.
I believe that's from a while ago. Don't see any reason why not to ask him again.

Also, just to clarify, I'm not interested in how long it takes him to finish a page to justify the hiatuses. It really has nothing to do with that. I'm purely interested in his process as an artist, hence why I keep bring up the idea of a documentary.

EDIT: I just spent a bit of time looking into the previous Miura interview and couldn't find the 1 day/page remark. But I found in the 1996 interview that he drew 6 pages per day. And he also talked about his daily work schedule from which is seems he draws around 14 hours per day. This means he finished a page in around 2 to 2.5 hours. Which is crazy.
 

Aazealh

そうはいかぬ
Staff member
But I found in the 1996 interview that he drew 6 pages per day.
That's just the sketching, without inking or anything. He's always been pretty quick with manuscripts and still is, according to his recent interviews.
Anyway, estimating an "average time" like this is complicated and I'm not sure Miura would be willing to go on about it in detail (more than he already has, that is).
Furthermore, while I appreciate that you guys are enthusiastic about this, I don't think we will be sending another letter for the moment.
 
That's just the sketching, without inking or anything.
That makes sense, now that I think about it. 2 episodes a month is around 42 pages. Since he worked every day without holidays, which is both crazy and awesome, that's around 1.5 pages finished per day and not 6.

To be frank, I'm interested in the process that Miura uses to create Berserk rather than the exact time it takes him to do it. That never really mattered to me. I guess asking a question about his process is more interesting than about time. :shrug:

Furthermore, while I appreciate that you guys are enthusiastic about this, I don't think we will be sending another letter for the moment.
That's fair enough. To be honest, I didn't think that you guys intended to send one yet. I just wanted to open a conversation and see what people think and share my own thoughts.
 

Victor

"Don't forget your poison arrows"
For example, I'd love to see a documentary showing Miura at work (even if his face is hidden).
This idea has likely been proposed to him before (probably by people with more credit to their names than a bunch of Western fans), so if he hasn't done it until now that almost certainly means he's not interested. While not a cultural standard or anything, Japanese artists are comparatively more reserved when it comes to their craft than the rest of the world, especially the older generations.
 
This idea has likely been proposed to him before (probably by people with more credit to their names than a bunch of Western fans), so if he hasn't done it until now that almost certainly means he's not interested.
I absolutely agree. I'd be surprised if Miura was never asked to have a documentary made on his work process. But, as people say, a river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence. So, I'm sure that us asking for a documentary isn't enough to make it happen, but it wouldn't hurt either.

While not a cultural standard or anything, Japanese artists are comparatively more reserved when it comes to their craft than the rest of the world, especially the older generations.
That is true, but Urasawa Naoki no Manben, for example, was a series that showed mangaka at work. Episodes included Takao Saito (Golgo 13), Inio Asano (Goodnight Punpun), Ryoichi Ikegami (Sanctuary), and Junji Ito (Uzumaki). These are world-renowned mangaka, and some of them are of the older generations. So, it's possible, but, I'd agree, not too likely, since if he wanted to participate in a program like this, he likely would have done it by now. That said, if given the change, I'd still ask him about it.
 

Victor

"Don't forget your poison arrows"
That is true, but Urasawa Naoki no Manben, for example, was a series that showed mangaka at work. Episodes included Takao Saito (Golgo 13), Inio Asano (Goodnight Punpun), Ryoichi Ikegami (Sanctuary), and Junji Ito (Uzumaki). These are world-renowned mangaka, and some of them are of the older generations. So, it's possible, but, I'd agree, not too likely, since if he wanted to participate in a program like this, he likely would have done it by now. That said, if given the change, I'd still ask him about it.
I am aware of Urasawa's documentary, he's one of the more influential people I had in mind in my original statement. He indeed convinced some well established mangaka to participate, but it's obviously not as simple as belonging to the new/old generation or not, stuff like legal hurdles and even personality also play a part. We know Miura is a secretive guy, and that hasn't changed all that much in the past twenty years, so I doubt that being asked about it every so often is going to eventually persuade him, especially if it's coming from people like us with no real involvement; but anyway, the ":badbone:AAZMAN:badbone:" pretty much said it's not happening anytime soon, so discussing it any further right now would be pointless.
 
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