Plot: Set in medieval Europe, a man named Guts who was supposed 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 Band’s leader, Griffith. The animes 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.
Reasons for rating:
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 lots of loose ends are left dangling.
The entire anime series runs like this;
At the start yousee Guts in “the present” (for the timeline of the story anyway). He has a fake arm and has lost 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 that one to tell his master that The Black Swordsman is coming.
Later, he’s seen defeating a huge demon while the soldiers around him, who aren’t with him, they were trying to defend their village, notice the mark on his neck (Which won’t be explained until the final episode).
Now Guts basically 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 basically 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. As in 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 apparently the manga is still ongoing to this day and has very, very irregular updating times.)
So, the series is sorta 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 very gripping tale. But the ending was just so abrupt and unsatisfactory that it just ruins it all…
There was a short continuation of the series a couple of years ago that I have yet to watch. Maybe that will hold some answers.
Art: Well, 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 animation budgets, however, there are numerous instances where they substitute animation for still-frames, which can get annoying.
Music: The action music, the tense moment music I love. But there’s 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!! GAH!
Voices: English dub- 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.
Guts: He’s rough, he’s tough, he was born from a corpse, this guy has slain 100 men by himself at once and if he gets stabbed in the arm it magically recovers an hour later (Guts vs. Caska)
Guts is a very cool character. I don’t adore him, but he’s awesome and pretty memorable.
Griffith: The noble commoner Griffith is loved by all. His followers look up to and respect him to the point of which they’d happily die for him, and the government officials (Well, the ones that don’t want to kill him anyway) value him as a proud member of their forces. Griffith’s character is hard to peg. I love him, yet there are times when I hate him, ya know?
Caska: Caska’s initial character personality was a kick-ass female warrior, and though she never really fails to be this, there are times where the sexism kicks in and makes any girl who watches this shake her head.
She cries all the time, is constantly being saved by Guts, keeps almost getting raped, the works…
What’s even worse is that, she’s awesome in regular battles, but when an enemy actually calls her out for being a woman, she can never seem to actually stand her ground. I also find her to be somewhat stupid. Who falls for the whole “begging for mercy” bit? Especially when the enemy who’s doing it has been nothing but sneaky and underhanded and brutal?
Caska’s great and all, she’s a strong warrior and a strong woman, but I wish they had wrote her parts a little better.
Pippin: Who doesn’t love Pippin? He’s the big ol’ teddy bear of the series. Huge and powerful looking, but loyal and kind to his comrades.
Judeau: Probably my favorite side-character alongside Rickert, Judeau is that “best friend” kinda character that you just can’t help but love. His fighting style is also my favorite with knives thrown with deadly accuracy. Shows that you don’t need a huge sword to be an awesome fighter.
Rickert: Rickert Is SO cute. :3
Cute, definitely not a word you use all too often in this series, but he is. He’s the kid of the group. Looks to be about 12 or 13 when the series starts out. Despite all he’s seen, and probably done, Rickert still holds this amazing child-like innocence and never fails to have a smile on his face.
Number 1 thing that bugs me about him; he never grows up! He’s 12 or 13 like I said in the beginning, and has a semi-high pitched, scared-little-kid voice. This never changes over the course of almost 5 years. Age stays the same, height, voice all the same. What the hell?
Additional Information and Notes:
Berserk was based on a manga by Kentaro Miura. The anime was directed by Naohito Takahashi and produced by OLM.
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 really does fit into the category of “WTF?! That’s the ending?! BS!”
Preferred Audience: Be at least 16 before watching this. It is brutally gory to the core. Blood EVERYWHERE, people getting killed every which way, beheaded, tortured, self-mutilation, the works.
There’s nudity for both genders, though no genitals are ever shown (Breasts are shown in full view, though.) Rape scene, mentions of rape, sexual abuse, regular sex scenes, yeah…
There’s some swearing but it is never continuous or rampant.
This series is fun at times, but it is dark, dark, dark. It’s even been a labeled a “horror” anime.
Watch with caution, but watch it anyway.