- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Not even a historical
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- I tried to get Berserk published by Hakusen
- 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.