User ReviewsReview this title
In summary, Berserk is a ten hour mini-series that consists of 25 20+ minute episodes detailing the life of a rogue swordsman named Guts. Guts, in short, is simply the most intriguing fictional character ever constructed. Guts, first of all, is one of the finest examples of an individual driven entirely by self preservation and improvement. Throughout the series Guts grows stronger and more deadly before our eyes, with each thrust of his massive sword. The personal relationships that he develops over time, especially with Griffith and Caska, are totally believable and honest. In particular, the love/hate relationship that Guts has with Caska sucks the viewer into their world and with each episode end leaves you literally thirsting for more. I can honestly say that I had never so anxiously awaited a release as I did with each progressing volume.
The score, other than being entirely redundant, creates an additional emotional appeal that quite literally leaves a mark in your mind. The opening theme song, although an acquired taste, becomes somewhat of a necessity to mark the beginning of each additional episode that will bring you deeper into the world of Guts and the Band of the Hawk. In no time at all you find yourself singing along with it as if it were a top forty tune. The climactic theme played every 3 episodes or so, is absolutely haunting, leading one to wonder how it came to be included in an anime.
Berserk is a definite must-see for all fans of anime. For those who dislike anime or are indifferent to it, the mediocre visuals may tarnish your opinion of it, yet the rock solid plot and character depth with leave you amazed.
Rating: Animation Quality: 7/10 Character Development: 10/10 Plot Line: 10/10 Overall Enjoyment: 12/10 (If that's at all possible)
I am not going to spoil anything but will tell you that the series features some of the most interesting characters i have ever experienced. Although the animation is rarely top notch and the voice acting isn't always perfect i still found myself captivated by each and every second of the series. If you value plot and don't mind flagrant amounts of violence and some nudity this is definitely and anime series for you. If you have ever liked anime or enjoy more medieval types of live action films even you should give Berserk a try.
P.S. after watching the series you should definitely check out the forums or the manga, it will make you feel a lot better i promise.
Overall 10/10 for an incredible experience, despite some technical flaws. Watch Berserk as soon as you can, you will not regret it!
As for the music, it's not standard anime j-pop crap. It's not movie-score like music either. It's definitely not for everyone, as far as just listening to it goes (but I must say I've developed a liking for Susumu Hirasawa's work), but most of it fits quite well (although with the rampant re-use it's bound to not work sometimes), and some of it is great regardless what it's presented with. "Behelit," and "Forces" being the real stand-outs, both in terms of being listenable, AND in terms of reuse with varying degrees of appropriateness. The opening theme does suck though. No question. (In stark contrast to the end credits song, which, while also being an abomination of Engrish, sounds perfect.)
I used to be really into anime. I fell out of it a few years ago, and stopped giving a crap about almost all the anime I'd ever seen or heard of. But as all the chaff blew away, this was one of the few grains to remain. It's unforgettable, especially if you watch the whole series in order. It's unspeakably grim when viewed as a whole, but contains a growing optimism throughout most of the series.
There are only a tiny handful of animes which can stand beside Berserk in the quality of their storytelling. Hell, only a small portion of ANY fiction can be compared favorably to it. Berserk is not just good anime, it's good drama. If you like the fantasy genre in any format, you must see this show. If you like stories about people growing through hardship, you must see this show. If you like stories about unrelenting badasses, you must see this show. If you don't care about anything but eye candy, or you're an anime dork looking for wank-fuel, look elsewhere. Berserk may not have something for EVERYONE, but it has something for MOST people.
Until Berserk my favorite anime had been Tri-gun. Upon seeing this anime I had been blown away by the sheer magnitude of story, characters, etc. I loved it.
This anime is one of the best ones I have seen. The story and Characters were developed over time all 25 episodes not just the first 3 or 4 as is typically found. The story raised the same emotions of excitment that FF7 did when I first played it.
I really wish the ending would have been different, but it only meant that more is to come. I am really hoping that they decide to do a 2nd season of Berserk, if they don't I'll just have to get my hands on the manga that everyone has been talking about.
Overall the series is very good. there are minor flaws in the animation at times but for the most part its smooth sailing.
I especially liked how you can definitely find a character to identify with, even if it is not the main character. You start understanding why some things happened a few episodes before and why some of the things will happened next. Unfortunately the story ends with a HUGE twist, without any hope of continuation, which leaves you wanting.
I have watched a few anime series start to end these days, including Hellsing, Tsukihime, Elfen Lied, but I liked Berserk a lot more than any of them. Unfortunately I don't have the patience to read the comics, so I guess this is where the story ends for me. I wish they would do more episodes.
Again, I noticed this series described as horror. There is no horror within, except maybe the last episode, but it is moving something inside for sure. Watch it.
At first, Berserk seems crude beyond belief. It's certainly not brilliantly scripted, and the animation isn't top quality, but it grows on you remarkably fast. The European medieval setting makes the intensely bloody action and philosophical musings seem more natural, and character of Guts is solid enough to give some substance to the series as a whole. He's pure killing power, untempered by reflection or remorse. But as the series goes on, he learns some responsibility and compassion. It doesn't happen in some sudden epiphany, but gradually. Also, a lot of his history is revealed in flashbacks. We learn the unflinching truth of how he became so unfeeling.
So overall, Berserk is definitely worth seeing. It's character driven in spite of its intense violence, and it has some genuine emotions in spite of its hardcore narrative cruelty.
2) Gore, splatter, nude and sex. This almost goes without needing an explanation. Sex and violence always sell and this anime has buckets of it. Sounds like brain-dead superficial entertainment but unlike most shows Berserk is only using them as attraction and not as definition. Because to be honest, most heavy on action and/or nude series are usually nothing without these elements while Berserk works fine even without them. Plus, it uses a form of violence that is quite appealing to me; hand-to-hand and sword-to-sword battles between frenzied armored warriors. Using magic or lasers to do the same just doesn't look raw enough.
3) Interesting characters. The main three characters are interesting, even if there wasn't a ton of violence and gore in the show. You gradually see them revealing all their inner thoughts to you, their pasts, their goals, their desires and hopes. You see them getting beaten, learning from their mistakes, maturing, being broken by betrayal and coming out more crazy than what they already were. Plus, the aforementioned violence is used to bring out their weak side and hidden thoughts.
4) Political power struggles. The show is not centered on a team of warriors, strolling a generic kingdom and doing stand-alone missions. The world they live in has affected them and is affected back by them, all part of Griffith's goal to leave his mark on the world by getting his own kingdom. Along the way many aristocrats get annoyed by his continual successes and fearing their own agendas to be stolen by him continually try to assassinate him. And he reacts by plotting his own assassinations. All of which happen in secrecy, while the kingdom is at war with its neighbors. So it is not a story about a few brave warriors protecting their good homeland by invading monsters; it is a simple war of political agendas between local kings for whom gets to have all the lands for himself. And not only that; it is also about the internal double crossing the aristocrats do to one another every time one wants to steal the glory from the other.
5) Atheistic take on humanity. Although religion is a topic hardly mentioned directly in anime, over here it is openly trampled as nothing more than a false ideal to hide one's dark desires. It is extremely interesting how the show uses ideals and hopes as means for clergy and ambitious leaders to control their underlings. This was never done before so openly. It even goes as far as claiming how all the demons in the show are in reality people willing to sacrifice everything in order to fulfill their desires, even if it means losing their humanity and killing everyone they love. I really liked how monsters are not treated as generic incarnations of evil or plain misguided mortals; they are shown to be the pure form of ambition liberated by the constraints of morality, emotions and ideals.
6) Psychological symbolisms and imagery. Many parts of the show, usually those involving demons, are full of WTF sceneries, all of which have to do with basic carnal desires and fears. Unlike most shows with demonic dimensions, which are nothing but generic depictions of torture of the damned, here all the monsters and their Eclipse world are directly attributed to their personalities having been given in completely to their desires. The characters are not scared of getting crazy because of them. Heck, they are mostly terrified of becoming like that as well. Not because it is bad or wrong, but because it feels inappropriate for any human being to end up like that. Which is again very interesting as a concept.
Cliffhanger ending. This is a part most hate about the show, as it ends in the most exciting and agonizing way possible. But in reality, that is also a plus of the show as it is almost demanding from you to read the manga just to see what happens next.
The animators had lots of sloppy moments inserted in the show and most of them have to do with lack of animation and repeated footage and not with bad drawings. The drawings are in fact great. The music score is amongst the most blood boiling pieces of grudge rock and orchestrated epic music even made and easily tops even the animation part of the show. The characters have really appropriate voice actors with no stupid pitches in voice. Even the sound effects were successful, as simple as they may have been.
Bottom line, Berserk is fine dark fantasy material, with great action and story and characters. The manga version is of course continuing the story far more than where the anime stops and features far more gore and sex scenes.
Both subbed and dubbed versions are pretty good though I am neutral on the subbed/dubbed debate personally. But the English dub did pick good voice actors and what captured me on the dubbed version was Marc Diraison voice performance as Guts.
This is a great anime of the one of the longest and still good manga out there written and drawn by the great Kentaro Miura! The anime did his manga a decent amount of justice at least.
I would like to point out that Animes are not for kids, and especially not this one.
Berserk has probably one of the best character building processes ever. The series of 25 is largely enough to fall in love with all the characters, well except Griffith. I think the last 3 episodes are only about survival in hell. The first episode however is actually the very last, so it creates a nice effect of a flashback over the remaining episodes.
The end is rather tragic as most heroes die, except Gatsu and Caska. But this again, is not shown in the Anime, so i really can't wait till season 2, and i really hope they do make it.
Gatsu, is a brave hero that is not affraid of any foe, he shows the courage of men, and great skill. He has a tough blade, which basically needs extreme strength of arms even to hold it. The Anime however, is centered around Griffith who is the final foe. And this shows the hero, anti-hero combination.
I recommend Berserk to anyone, if you don't like Animes, I think Berserk is an excellent starting point.
It tells a compelling story mainly about 3 characters and how their relationship starts and evolves through time. The thing about Berserk is that all the characters, even secondary, support characters are very interesting and it's pleasing and exciting to watch them every moment you watch the show. It has a very unique way those relationships between characters is and evolves.
There's action, drama and some funny moments. I was completely stupefied while watching every episode. I had to read the manga after watching the show, which is also superb.
Don't listen to people who say the animation looks too old, this is traditional animation, they also use moving images in an amazing way to tell the story I've never seen done in any other anime or series.
The only "bad" thing about this is that it ends in a cliffhanger and the new seasons or adaptations are awful in every sense of the word. And that the manga isn't over yet, too many hiatuses.
In any case, I'd highly recommend this anime to anyone.
The author is plainly a talented storyteller, with an ability to create reasons for combat and danger that parallel literature at its finest. The protagonist, Guts, is a mercenary warrior of the Conan bent, who thrives in combat via the use of his immense sword, which is as large as he is. The first episode serves as an introduction to the character somewhat; it plays out like a pilot episode to an action show, with the plot itself really kicking in over the next five episodes, which take us back to the events which lead into the present. This is a narrative weakness, because the show goes from extremely dark, with supernatural elements, to a daylight ridden but still bloody martial world.
That being said, the remainder of the anime is concerned with the events that, I assume, lead in to the events of the first episode. Guts is subdued by a mercenary gang leader, Griffith, and is forced to join his group via a life debt. Guts and Griffith form a bond that is part romantic and part friendship, while Guts has a antagonistic relationship that blossoms into a romantic one with Griffith's second in command, Casca, with a long development period.
All of the characters that are part of the main cast are extremely well developed; Griffith is a leader in all ways, exceptional and ambitious, but distant and dismissive, but all too fragile in the end. Casca is touchy about her femininity, and is protective over Griffith to the point of injury. Guts is the main character, and is probably the most enigmatic lead I have seen in a long time.
However, the end of the anime, drawn out over the last four episodes, is an exercise both in jumping the shark, and in theatre of cruelty imagery. I will not spoil it by describing the events of the piece, but I have a fairly strong stomach, and I can honestly say that I will not be delving further into this series due to how this anime ends.
Theatre of cruelty, for those who don't know, is a theatrical convention where the art is intended to alienate the audience, by any means necessary; sound, visuals, concepts. This anime demonstrated that capacity in spades, the finale replete with lovecraftian imagery mixed with demonic iconography to create a masterpiece of pain, jealousy and brutal utter torment that is harrowing to view.
That said, I really thought it went too far. There are some things that should be left unsaid, and some acts too cruel to depict.
None the less, this anime is very good for the most part; it plays out like a game of thrones intrigue, mixed with battles that channel tales of King Arthur in terms of deeds. If the ending was not so brutal, so vile, then this would be a well characterized but middling production; that it is makes for something that is thought inducing, horrifying, and utterly unforgettable, and not necessarily for the right reasons.
Berserk is realistic in that people are not doing over-the-top, impossible things, all the time that is. Gravity defying moments occur occasionally, but can be viewed as realistic due to the attention to detail and logic of the rest of the show. You will not scratch your head and say things like "That's not possible" with this series. Everything makes sense and the situations will grab your attention.
The story is very well told and follows a long arc from beginning to end, explaining Gatts past to the reason of why he ended up the way he did in the first episode. (In other words, the entire series is a flashback.) In it, you see the lithe and powerful Griffith do whatever it takes to achieve success, with his dark-eyed beauty of a lieutenant Caska ever faithful and always vying with the newcomer, Gatts.
Based on a comic book (manga), the battles are usually shown with interesting single cell depictions of events. And the fighting tends toward a realistic hack and slash as you see each person fight and defeat their opponents. The violence level is high, there is a lot of blood. With such a serious subject matter, some light moments are injected, as well as occasional bits of comedy, to help keep the audience from getting bored.
For such a great series, it lacks in a couple areas. Namely that there are only three main characters, for the rest of the "Band," we have faces and names, but no backgrounds. Also, like other anime series, there are bouts of empty blandness that, one must assume, are supposed to convey emotional impact of statements said by characters. These moments do no translate well and you would just wish the director would get back into the action.
The only other problem is that there is only one season.
If you want to know if you'll like the series, watch the first episode. If you enjoy it, then you will love the series.
That being said I do like well written shows. Live action, animated, and mixed. Thus I do like some anime shows.
Berserk is one of the better ones out there. A fairly faithful rendition of the second story arc of the manga which has been going on since 1989. (With a small bit of the 1st)
The cliff hanger it ends with, is because the second story arc is the part where readers learn "how we got here" Its all back story. And to be honest its also the least violent and disturbing section.
Other commentators have said that the author must be disturbed. I have to agree. I doubt there will ever be a completion to it in any media other than the manga because simply put its to grotesque. An R rating would not cover the story. We are nearing X rated on quite a few scenes.
I have to say though that for me this original berserk anime stands in high isolation on a desolate peak. It is in my mind pure art and I cannot praise it enough.
The story is one of the most gripping, guttural and awe-inspiring journeys ever committed to moving pictures. If Shakespeare had written this I'd wager he might have called it his masterpiece.
It is brutal, it is twisted, it is raw. But is also honest about the world and incredible intelligent. It deals with complex topics such as ambition, honor, destiny and righteousness almost in passing, and without breaking a sweat.
The honest truth is that if you do not like this anime you may not be ready for it. To fully understand it you must be willing to accept certain truths about the world.
It is not an "easy watch", but if you understand it you may come to think like I do. With hindsight I have even come to think that the ending is nigh on perfect. Think Shakespeare and you will understand what I mean.
The story follows the exploits of rogue swordsman Guts. Based on the hit manga series from Japan the anime retells the origin story of how Guts got to where he is in the world. In it we see how he went from a lone wolf only interested in his own well being to a loyal, unflinching, protector of those close to him. We see his bouts with love and loyalty to his friends. It becomes apparent that this man deals with some pretty hard conflicts not entirely unlike our own. He isn't just some dumb brute capable of destroying entire armies but a man with a heart. It's truly heartbreaking when we find out the dark sinister plan in store for him and his comrades.
The story is solid if not a bit slow at times. Many themes discussed are the importance of friends and the dangers of too much ambition. I didn't give it a full ten because like I said the plot while solid can be sluggish a bit especially since the entire series, sans the first episode, is in a flashback and doesn't really scratch the surface of Berserk itself. The ending for those not familiar with Berserk is greatly different from the manga. The anime unlike the manga ends in an abrupt halt. The manga however extends many more volumes onward so if you don't like the ending of the anime don't worry you can just read the rest. The ending is only a small set back.
Since this anime came out back in the early 90's don't expect the cutting edge animation that we've come to expect today. However it does offer a refreshing look into pre Cowboy Bebop anime. The musical score, while not typically changing all that often, is well suited for this anime. If I had to point out any parallels connecting this anime to the anime of today I would say it's more like the granddaddy of the anime for Gungrave. The stories are similar in their themes and the pacing is the same. If you liked Gungrave you'll like this. Berserk is an anime that starts slow but I guarantee by the end you'll have some deep emotion for it one way or the other.
I came to know about the anime/manga Berserk accidentally about a year ago. I was searching for some sites which listed a top xx off best anime/manga. That's when it cached my eye that in most top xx manga, the manga Berserk was always mentioned. But I never heard of it before. So I went to IMDb typed in 'Berserk' and....BINGO! There exists an anime-derivative of the manga. So I read some reviews and brief introduction to the story and characters and I became obsessed. I had to watch this anime sooner or later.
Thankfully that day has come to be. Before watching this anime, I really didn't know what to call my personal favorite in the genre. Was it Akira, Ghost in The Shell, Ninja Scroll, Wolf's Rain, Jin Roh, etc. But Berserk surpasses those great titles BY FAR!!! The mean character in the story has to be Guts a very big and powerful swordfighter, who at some point in the story joins up with the mercenary band: Band of the Hawk lead by the charismatic Griffith. Who is also one of the mean characters. The other one is Caska a female member of the band. Although this is certainly a rough anime with loads of blood and death body's, that what really makes this anime/manga superior to all other anime I've ever seen, is the character development of the leading characters. And the triangular relationship between the main characters.
It is that what from time to time made me shiver. I had hard times trying to tear myself away from the desire to watch the next episode. It is seldom seen that you develop such a great affection towards the characters in the story.
What a great series this was. That what most people resented about this anime was its abrupt ending. I was already warned about it before watching. So the ending landed a little softer on me. But for sure the end can be called a cliffhanger. You're dying to know what will happen to Guts and the others. But to be honest about it, I think it was a great ending to the anime. Because I think the makers of the anime really wanted to shock you and to hunger you for the rest of the story. It is almost if the author of the story, Kentaro Miyura made the first part of the manga or to say the biggest part of the anime to be something which serves the power of the dramatic ending of the anime. I find this to be a genius way off story telling and making viewers/readers interested in reading the manga where the story definitely will be continued. Which is also what I'm doing at the moment: I'm reading the manga and it's great! For sure Kentaro Miyura has made a grand, beautiful and intriguing Fantasy world with great characters included. But then again I also have to stress out the achievements of the makers of the anime for bringing this world and its people so vividly alive. But be warned I can understand that the anime is somewhat heavy, because of its grim and bloody content but it is still not that heavy when compared to the manga. Things that happen to Guts in the manga where probably too much to show on a late-night TV-series but it does give more dept to the characters.
It's true, especially in 2006, don't expect great animated graphics, that's not what makes Berserk memorable. But for sure it's not bad. It's just not that great either. I've you want to watch this anime do it because of the story and the characters and nothing else. There are about 4 to 5 themes in the anime and it fits the anime, according to my taste, very well even though it's being repeated over and over again.
Anyway I'm glad that I watched this anime. Ladies and gentleman it's a 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
P.S. PLEASE, PRETTY PLEASE, IF YOUR READING THIS, YOU POWERFUL Japanese ANIME PRODUCER YOU, CREATE A SECOND ANIME SEESON FOR BERSERK!!!!!
I highly recommend it to everyone over 17 without a faint heart because it was a very powerful and emotional series.
I found this series to be visually appealing and engrossing on a personal level. Running almost entirely on character development, you develop an attachment to each individual character who has his or her own strengths, weaknesses, and most importantly, dreams.
This was hands down, one of the best animes ever made. And that is despite the fact that it had limited funding and the animation was not the best. The story telling is superb as you follow the lives of a group of mercenaries who rise to every challenge they are hired to do no matter how improbable. It centers on three main characters, a cold and calculating leader (Griffith), his loyal lieutenant (Casca) and the hot blooded warrior (Gutts) who wanted no part of joining them but was indentured to them via a reckless bet. You also get to know a bunch of minor characters who are important to the mercs.
You follow them around for 24 episodes (note that 1st episode is misleading) as the commander tries to build his own army and build his own kingdom. But this is not a happy hero show, its a bit more realistic. There is plenty of satisfying fighting but also awkwardness, tragedy, espionage and luck (both good and bad).
In many ways the story makes a great effort to make the show believable and you wont see any clean cut heroes in this one. Yet you still can understand them even when they do wrong. You will run into some demons and magic here and there but it is not the focus of the story which is why I say the 1st episode is very misleading since it makes you think that its a show about the supernatural.
This show is a lot like Game of Thrones and predates GoT by more than a decade. Like GoT it has supernatural elements but they are not really the focus. The focus is on the characters and their struggle and I argue the characters here are much better.