Its not often an anime really grabs me, but Kentaro Miura’s Berserk is one that literally blows me away.
Originally published in Hakusensha mag in 1990, then serialized in 92, Berserk was something different from the standard fare. Dark medieval settings, strong lead characters, a cast you to love and the blood ran freely…very freely
Kentaro Miura’s art…amazing
The stories told of a young Mercenary, Guts, who’s exploits across Midland chance him upon meeting a Mercenary War-band “The Band of the Hawk”, lead by a young warrior, Griffith. Griffith’s aspirations are to rise from mere Mercenary to a Lord and potentially something more…
After a heated meeting and a duel to decide whether Guts goes free or joins the Band of the Hawks, the two become friends. From battle to battle they ride, tearing foe asunder and rising up in rank in the eyes of the Lords. Slowly but surely, Griffiths destiny draws closer, gaining power and the respect he wants…but…there’s something more to this, something…Dark and ungodly….
So…cryptic spoiler free paragraphs aside…
What made Berserk so enjoyable? To me, its a few things. Initially, the setting. Medieval Europe was something that really surprised me. After seeing countless anime’s set in Japan, space and demon realms, Europe was a breath of fresh air. Gone were the psychic powers of Tetsuo, the lasers and tentacles of Urotsukidoji and in came cavalry and swords! Hooray! Up until that point, watching the original anime in my early 20’s, i hadn’t seen an animated sprawling battle on horseback, where castles are under siege and the heroes plow through the lines swords and axes slashing. It was intriguing action of the highest regard.
“Band Of The Hawks”
We have some really strong and enjoyable characters here as well. Guts, while initially, seems the stereotypical silent badass, later on opens up as a loyal and caring person especially to Casca, one of the Hawks second in charge…if you will. She alone, is a fantastic character, a proud leader with a temper, but despite her warrior ways, is torn inside by Griffiths ambition and his trust in Guts. While Guts and Casca always get on each others nerves, and sometimes it seems like they generally dislike each other, a mutual respect grows, and the two work together fantastically. Major characters aside, the smaller roles are just as likable, with the members of the Hawks each having their own distinct personality and charm, making the viewer really care about them.
Initially released as a 25 episode Manga in 1997, to rave reviews, the main reason why i am here…is to talk about the glorious remakes done via a trilogy of movies, from 2012 to 2013.
Berserk has become one of the cult hits, and it was only natural that it got a snazzy re-imagining. The 3 films cover the Golden Age Arc, which is pretty much the 25 episode series in a nutshell, condensed down and presented in an awe inspiring trio of films.
Original Anime Series 97
New films…Phwoooaaarr! Nice!
The use of CGI with flat 2D effects over the top really brings the characters to life. The opening scene where a huge army on horseback charges a castle is utterly breathtaking, as are the battles for Doldry and Guts’ infamous 100 man battle. The camera angles and movement give you the feel of being there, or at least watching something akin to Lord of the Rings. While the CGI isn’t used entirely throughout the film, its used when its needed the most, and its used well.
Sadly, like the original series, we are left wanting more (and left in shock too…but shhhh, that’s for you to find out), as only the Initial Arc is covered, but for fans wanting to continue the tales, the new series is airing currently.
Madman Entertainment have released the entire Trilogy in one handy box set, on either DVD or Blu Ray, and is a must for Berserk fans.
Along with the 3 feature films there’s a slew of extras including:
- Interview with Aki Toyosaki and Minako Kotobuki
- Interview with Eiko Tanaka
- Susumu Hirasawa “Aria” Live Concert
- Movie Production Art Galleries
- The Battle for Doldrey U.S. Premiere Highlight Reel
- Japanese and International Trailers
So, if your after something different, that’s wholly memorable and will, suck you in, make you feel, then spit you out, Look no further.
Available now via Madman Entertainment.
© ORIGINAL JAPANESE VERSION © NTV ? VAP. ENGLISH DESIGN AND PACKAGING © 2002 ANIMEWORKS.