anime, Reviews

Game of Thrones-esque setting + suffering = One of the most epic tales in anime: Berserk (1997) review.

I’m just as surprised as everyone else that it’s taken me this long to watch the notorious Berserk. Hailed as one of the greatest manga of all time, I was recommended Berserk constantly. Gore, epic battles, and medieval fantasy (!!) – it was practically written for me. After almost watching ‘CLANG: The Anime‘ instead of the 1997 anime, I finally decided to check out the world of The Black Swordsman and…wow. Colour me impressed.

KEPUU DENKI BERSERK (BERSERK)

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“Born from the corpse of his mother, a young mercenary known only as Guts, embraces the battlefield as his only means of survival. Day in and day out, putting his life on the line just to make enough to get by, he moves from one bloodshed to the next.

After a run-in with the Band of the Hawk, a formidable troop of mercenaries, Guts is recruited by their charismatic leader Griffith, nicknamed the “White Hawk.” As he quickly climbed the ranks in order to become the head of the offensive faction, Guts proves to be a mighty addition to Griffith’s force, taking Midland by storm. However, while the band’s quest for recognition continues, Guts slowly realizes that the world is not as black-and-white as he once assumed.” (MyAnimeList)

From the get-go with that first line of the synopsis, you get a taste of what Berserk has to offer. This isn’t your run of the mill anime, with battles being won with the power of friendship, or situations being escaped with the protagonists plot armour. Berserk doesn’t hold back at all. To me, I could compare it to the ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series by George R.R. Martin. Not because they’re both brilliant, dark fantasy tales, but because neither series is afraid to hit their main characters with the same suffering they’d give to the most villainous characters in any other standard tale.

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With that being said, Berserk is also great in the sense that whilst it doesn’t just reserve depravity for its villains, this could be partly because the tale makes it extremely difficult to determine who is a villain in the first place. Take the tales main antagonist, Griffith, for example.

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Character design alone, one wouldn’t suspect that Griffith is commonly named one of the greatest antagonists of all time. He’s given a very handsome design, and with the usage of a lot of white, we’re led to see Griffith as a purist, or a do-gooder. And that’s what many view him as, especially as the charismatic and successful leader of the Band of Falcons. This charisma goes as far as to carry the Band of Falcons to be the most celebrated group in the kingdom. However, the acts that got Griffith this title mainly involved cold-blooded murder, and even high Treason in some cases. Whilst it is all done in the name of his dream, as he and the rest of the Falcons continually remind us, Griffith’s motivations, as well as the contrast against Guts’ character, open up an interesting viewpoint in Berserk’s view of human morality. Guts and Griffith may literally be black and white, but humanity isn’t that simple.

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Aside from the great characters in Berserk, the world building is truly fantastic. The creator did an amazing job of mixing a typical medieval fantasy with some disgustingly terrifying horror aspects. Whilst the battles and political woes that trouble any medieval story were epic by themselves, we also have the threat of otherworldly demons and creatures. As if it wasn’t enough watching some decapitations on the battlefield, just check out how vile these monsters are.

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I ended up enjoying Berserk at least 10 times more than I ever imagined to, and I’m finding myself itching to read the manga, so long as that hiatus doesn’t push me away!

My rating – Strong 8/10.

Berserk fans – where do I go from here? Non-Berserk fans, what’s stopped you from watching? What’s your favourite medieval show?

Until next time!

cfb

P.S – Griffith did nothing wrong.

4 thoughts on “Game of Thrones-esque setting + suffering = One of the most epic tales in anime: Berserk (1997) review.”

  1. Glad you liked the show! I think this is probably my favourite anime. The manga has some huge differences at the start of the show where the first 3 volumes don’t even take place in the anime. Those chapters are some of my favourites and definitely worth checking out. Then carry on with the manga basically. It’s quite similar to the show so you could skip to where it ended.

    The Berserk 2016 and 17 adaptations are not very good. It’s all cgi, terrible, and awkward so I recommend just reading the manga instead.

    Liked by 1 person

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