The Following Review will contain subject matter that would not be suitable for young children, viewer discretion is advised
Critic's Log - Earthdate: February 16, 2013. Review #35: Berserk
With that trailer out of the way, let's annihilate our way through on Berserk!
This is the tale of Guts and his chronicles upon his days serving as a member of a group of mercenaries known as The Band of the Hawk, nicknamed "the Grim Reaper of the Battlefield." Led by the ambitious, ruthless, and charismatic man named Griffith, together they fight in the battlefield onto their way into the royal court, and are forced into a fate that may change their entire lives. This is a tale of a warrior’s fight for survival, a young woman’s search for meaning, and an ambitious man’s quest for glory.
To be technical, this is a OLM Inc. production and even though the artwork looks nice in Berserk, the animation is a bloody mess and it is pretty bad in this show and that’s one of the major drawbacks in Berserk. Enjoy the frozen images and… glorious slideshows? Yeah, parts of the show have some slideshow-like effect, which are nice for the end of some episodes, but not right in the middle of it. Oh well…The animation rarely moves but I got used to it right when I was in the middle of watching this anime.
The music by Susumu Hirasawa is something worth mentioning. There’s some medieval instruments used as well as some passionate folk singing which some themes sound a bit techno-ish, it is really fitting with the show and sounds amazing. There’s not a whole lot of musical themes used in the show and some songs are overplayed. The opening “Tell me Why” is decent outside the show; I don’t care for its insertion in this anime. “Waiting So Long” is a decent closing theme I guess.
When it comes to voice acting, the Japanese cast is excellent, the English dub is a little hit and miss. On the Japanese side, Nobutoshi Canna is great as Guts, Toshiyuki Morikawa is terrific as Griffith, and Yuko Miyamura is excellent as Casca. Other notable seiyus would be Akira Ishida as Judeau, Norio Wakamoto as Gambino, and Unsho Ishizuka as the Narrator as well as another character in the series that I’ll keep silent just for the sake of this review. On the English side, Marc Diraison is great as Guts, Carolyn Keranen is alright as Casca, Kevin T. Collins is hit and miss as Griffith, but his voice fits. Not to mention, he can sing pretty well.
or should I say he's sings pretty well to some extent?
If there’s any worthy performances in the dub, Christopher Kromer was great as Judeau even though he never gets many roles though. Rachael Lillis is also great as Princess Charlotte as well. Also, Sean Schemmel’s in the dub of Berserk as well. Don’t know Mr. Schemmel? Does the English voice of Goku ring any bells? That’s right! the voice of Goku is in the dub of Berserk! No joke. If you’re seeking better voices, stick with the subs here. If you want to give the dub a try, be my guest. Just don’t expect an all-star cast on the dub. The major flaw in the dub is that there are times when the voices don’t sync with the lip flaps. That’s my only major nitpick in the dub. The voices are not completely terrible to say the least. Michael Sinterniklaas was responsible for the ADR direction and I guess the dub was a decent effort on his part.
One of Berserk’s greatest strengths is the characters. The character writing is terrific in this show. The dynamics between Guts and Griffith is just brilliant. Guts is all tough, impulsive, and no tact while Griffith is skilled and a great tactician which compliments eachother perfectly and both characters change eachother drastically. Between these two , there’s the female warrior Casca and she’s by far a relatable character and a strong female character at that instead of being used as fanservice even though she is nude in some moments in the show, but that was because it was for PLOT REASONS! The Band of the Hawk members are also written pretty well too. Other characters are also memorable too. The characters are simply memorable because there are some characters you could relate too and most of these characters are three-dimensional and well-thought out.
What makes Berserk enthralling regardless of which medium is the story. The story is a masterpiece in terms of Dark Fantasy with well written characters and unforgettable moments. Like the character writing, the writing to the story is also brilliant. I also get this feeling that the story plays likes something from a Greek Tragedy or a Roman Tragedy and so forth. Before I go any further, what I will say at this point will contain SPOILERS! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! One nitpick I had with this show is the first episode. In chronological terms, it takes place at the last. While the rest of the show is all backstory. Remember I mentioned about the animation being one of the major drawbacks, well the other major drawback is that when all hell breaks loose, the show…Ends!
That’s right, Berserk has the “Read the Manga” ending and its biggest crime is making this one of the most cruel mortifying cliffhangers in an anime…Ever! I kid you not, this show has no closure, it ends... ON A FUCKING CLIFFHANGER! A lack of an ending really hurts this show and this is the lowpoint of the entire anime. I am not the only one that was pissed off over this ending. One thing that could’ve been done is continuing the story as its own standalone series and give it a somewhat proper conclusion instead of being a commercial for the manga in disguise. I don't know why Naohito Takahashi (The director of the TV series of Berserk) didn't consider to make an anime-only continuation. But I digress, this anime got me to read the manga which the art is unbelievable and jaw-dropping and nothing is toned down regarding violence, nudity, sex, and even rape. It’s all in the manga in its untamed nature.
Yeah, it looks fucking badass too. I strongly recommend reading Berserk if you watch the anime or want to see some unbelievable artwork in a manga.
Berserk was available from Media Blasters but since the rights expired, it is out of print. The manga by Kentaro Miura is available from Dark Horse Comics, A film series remake starting with “The Golden Age Arc” are licensed by Viz Media. At the time this review has been made, the first movie “The Egg of the King” is available from Viz Media, the Second movie “The Battle for Doldrey” has not been released yet, and the same goes for the third Golden Age movie “Descent”, which that movie is still in theaters at Japan at this time. Also, be on the lookout for the bloopers on each disc. They're downright hilarious to listen to even if you don't like the dub.
With all that said, Berserk has an enthralling gripping story as well as captivating unforgettable characters, an amazing soundtrack, and some good artwork. The Berserk anime suffers with poor quality of animation and an incomplete ending that will tear your guts out to shreds and leave you disappointed with a bad taste in your mouth, so read the manga as a remedy to cure all that frustration before you become emotionally upset with the anime's ending. It's still a great show until it ended.
I give Berserk an 8.8 out of 10, It is VERY GOOD!
Feel free to comment below. Now if you'll excuse me, I got to take my meds after all that rage I dealt with.