Plot: Set in medieval Europe, a man named Guts, infamous for being birthed from a corpse, teams up with a group of mercenaries called the Band of the Hawk. He forms an especially strong bond of friendship with the group’s leader, Griffith. The story follows Guts and Griffith through their friendship as they bring the Band of the Hawk from a lowly mercenary team into something much more powerful. However, power that great is not easily obtained. Sacrifices must be made in spirit and blood.
Breakdown: Berserk has a wonderfully thought out and gripping storyline. My beef with the story of the anime is the fact that it ends extremely abruptly and a lot of loose ends are left dangling.
The entire anime series runs like this – at the start you see Guts in “the present” (for the timeline of the story anyway). He has a fake arm and is missing an eye. He saves a girl in a bar from being harassed by a band of mercenaries. He kills them all except one of them, telling the surviving one to tell his master that The Black Swordsman is coming.
Later, he’s seen defeating a huge demon while the nearby village’s soldiers notice the mark on his neck (Which won’t be explained until the final episode).
Guts has a flashback that lasts the entire series and never ends, never even glimpsing into “the present” to see what Guts is currently up to. All the flashback episodes are about who he was as a child, as a young adult, and builds up to why he is who he later becomes in “the present.”
The series sorta comes full circle, as we see how Guts lost his arm, lost his eye, who this “Master” is that he’s looking for, and what the mark on his neck meant. The problem is that it never builds on the present. We never see present Guts meet his goal. In fact, we never see present Guts again after the first episode, and quite a few questions are left unanswered (Some are answered in the manga, but the manga is still ongoing to this day with very, very irregular updating times. Very Late Edit: Due to the author, Kentaro Miura’s, tragic passing in 2021, the manga remains incomplete and will most likely never be finished by any other author in his stead.)
As a result, the series is only slightly satisfactory, if your main goal was trying to figure out what happened to Guts, but if you’re curious as to what the ending was, or even what the “present” storyline was, you’re out of luck.
To showcase how sudden and cliffhanger-y the series end is without many spoilers, I will say that a huge betrayal is involved, many people die, and just overall bad things happen. Guts is lunging at the camera towards the source of said bad things and the episode ends right as he’s attacking.
The story, like I said, is very well written and interesting. It’s a gripping tale. But the ending was just so abrupt and unsatisfactory that it just ruins everything.
Art and Animation: Berserk holds two kinds of art, sorta like Elfen Lied; the animations and the still frames, which look like paintings. The still frames are wonderful, and the animation is fluid and detailed, but nothing really awe-inspiring. To save on their animation budget, however, there are numerous instances where they substitute animation for still-frames, which can get annoying.
Music: The action music and the tense moment music I love. But there are one or two scores in this series that never cease to get on my nerves. When there’s a “touching” moment the same vocals play and they’re so annoying. AhhhhhhAHHHHHH OhhhhhhhOohhhhhOOOhhhh!! Please stop.
Voice Acting: English – Very fitting voices. From the noble (Almost Kurama-like) voice of Griffith to the gruff manly-man voice of Guts, I have no qualms about anyone’s voice acting.
Bottom Line: I really wish they’d make one more season to this show. The ending was just too abrupt and unsatisfactory. This anime is truly a great one, but it does fit into the category of ‘shows ruined by bad endings.’
Additional Information and Notes: Berserk was based on a manga by Kentaro Miura. The anime was directed by Naohito Takahashi and produced by OLM.
Recommended Audience: It is brutally gory to the core. Blood everywhere, people getting killed every which way, beheaded, tortured, self-mutilation etc. There’s nudity for both genders, though no genitals are ever shown (Breasts are shown in full view.) Rape scene, mentions of rape, sexual abuse, regular sex scenes etc. There’s some swearing but it’s never continuous or rampant. 17+
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