I have been a fan of Berserk for many years now ever since first seeing the anime series. With the recent release of “The Golden Arc” movies, I figured now is as good a time as any to try to show you why you should give it a chance yourself.
I do want to preface this whole write up by saying that the brutality and adult themes in Berserk make Game of Thrones look like a Disney production. If you can’t handle that sort of thing then Berserk isn’t for you.
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED
I like to say Berserk is the most horrible things imaginable presented in the most beautiful way possible.
The artwork and story is top notch and although it can be downright disturbing at times nothing is impertinent to the story and merely done for shock value. This is a dark, dark world and is unflinching on just how terrible, evil, and human nature can be.
Before we delve too deep I should provide some backstory to what I’m even talking about, so here goes.
(From The Berserk Wiki)
Berserk (Japanese: ベルセルク, Hepburn: Beruseruku?) is a manga series written and illustrated by Kentaro Miura. Set in a medieval Europe-inspired fantasy world, the story centers on the characters of Guts, an orphaned mercenary, and Griffith, the leader of a mercenary band called the Band of the Hawk. Themes of isolation, camaraderie, and the question of whether humanity is fundamentally good or evil pervade the story, as it explores both the best and worst of human nature. Both the manga and anime are noted for their heavy violence.
Miura premiered a prototype of Berserk in 1988. The first volume of the manga was published on November 26, 1990 by Hakusensha in its Jets Comics collection. In 1992, after the publication of three more volumes, Berserk began serialization in Young Animal. The series was adapted into a twenty-five episode anime series covering the series’ first story arc by Oriental Light and Magic from October 7, 1997 to March 31, 1998. A series of films, Berserk: The Golden Age Arc, were released beginning in 2012.
I started with the anime series and immediately fell in love with it. In fact, it is still one of my favorite anime series to date. The only problem with the original series is that it ends just as the real story begins at the end of the “Golden Arc” or the good old days as I like to call it.
I also think that they never really planned to continue past these twenty five episodes because they left out some of the major characters that played a large role after the Golden Arc such as Puck, Gut’s pixie companion and occasional comedy element of the series.
The anime is also dialed down quite a bit on the violence and adult themes. It is still very dark and bloody, but until you start the manga you couldn’t really understand.
So if you start with the anime consider it a great introduction to the series, but understand it will only take you to the point all hell breaks loose and leave you there.
I should also mention the new movies that started in 2012 at this time. The movies that are available at the moment are pretty much a very condensed version of the anime since the three make up The Golden Arc portion of the story. However, since the plan is continue to the next “Eclipse” arc with the movies many of the characters left out of the original anime are in the movies.
The movies are beautifully animated and I can’t wait to see the next three that make up the “Eclipse Arc.” Although the movies are ultra-violent again much of the more disturbing stuff had to be left out or was glossed over.
Much of the side story and character development is also glossed over in the movies. You can understand everything, but it carries much less impact than even the anime did.
My suggestion, if you do plan on getting into Berserk, would be to read the manga first of course, but if you just want to watch it go with the anime and then save the movies as a treat to enjoy the artwork and the polish that goes way above the anime.
So this leads us to the manga. Although the story isn’t finished the manga will get you much farther along than either the movies (at this point) or the anime series does.
It is manga style and in black and white, but the artwork isn’t typical of most manga. The story is ultra-dark and it does have some very graphic stuff in it, think Hellraiser meets Lord of the Rings, but to put it simply it is epic.
Just writing this I can’t help but feel sorry for Guts also known also as “the Struggler.” The trials and the terrible situation he is in put in makes most heroes’ quests look like a walk in the park in comparison.
I highly recommend Berserk again with the caveat that you now know what you are getting into.
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