There are a lot of people who think Berserk is a great anime, but the more I read about others' opinions I come to understand that the reasons it is loved vary so much, some are saying it's great b/c of y if only x wasn't there and others saying x was amazing but y was a bit overdone and so on. I do think Berserk was a great anime, but again I feel that the reasons I think t's good and what I thought was bad about it will vary greatly from others. I wouldn't write a review about an anime I thought was good and was reviewed as amazing but I need some closure with this anime, my frustrations and my admirations, will die with this record of my feelings.
There is nothing complex about the story line of Berserk, the synopsis describes it pretty well, however keep in mind that much like Claymore, this anime suffered because of it's transition from manga to anime, or at least I felt that way. While I didn't read either manga, after watching them both I felt the change of pace, story telling and flow of the anime, and I instantly recognized where one ended and the other began. For those of you who have a vague idea of what I'm talking about, you'll probably realize this is criticism of the ending (of both actually).
Berserk will appeal to those who like violence and battle anime, however I felt that unlike many of the more recent of this genre, Berserk actually had an intellectual and philosophical aspect. Not more than you'd expect out of the books you read in high school for English but enough to make it interesting. While it becomes a little hard to appreciate that aspect after the ending, I think this was the aspect I enjoyed most about the anime. In this sense the anime really reminded me of Fate/Zero, in tune with the Asian Samurai/Ninja stereotype, the honourable warrior who's dreams and path are important. While it's always a nice break from the American "gotta protect my family" type shit, it's nothing out of the ordinary.
While it's really difficult to find a section to apply the execution of the anime as a whole, as all and none of the sections cover it in a way. However the true greatness of Berserk was in it's execution, newer animes are always plagued by the same problems, it's so refreshing to escape from them with Berserk. No flashbacks of things you've already seen 20 times, no forcing down of ideas/themes over and over, Berserk accepts that most of this shit should be obvious to you and so it just goes with the flow. It shouldn't be remarkable that an anime does this but due to the problems we have now, it is.
I'm not just giving it a high rating because it was good for it's age or whatever, as it stands today it's still great. I've never been one to notice laziness that other people hate, I just focus on what stands out to me. I liked the appearance of the characters, I liked the scenery, I am getting sick of seeing all these big eye'd gorgeous/cute anime characters all the time. Berserk was a nice break, a tug back down to earth, why can't I admire a character for reasons other than how cute they look? Is it possible!?
I don't get the OP/ED, especially OP, I've heard it done a few times before but this Japanese singing in nonsense English just doesn't appeal to me as someone who understands English. It's probably really exotic and stylish in Japan but for me it just sounds like a bunch of random words with a forgettable tune in the back, which, well is really all it is. OST was good though, memorable and strong, I didn't get bored of the main themes even though they were used often. The big difference I feel between anime and T.V/Movies apart from obviously, it's appearance and style is the OST's, anime always has amazing OST but they are used extremely often, it's very important for me that I don't tire of them. That's a hard task considering I never have the patience to watch a series once per week, I just wait till they're finished and gobble them up in two or three days. So obviously it's not an easy task but rest assured that Berserk at least here stood strong. If I had a section for dialogue, I would rate that very highly but I don't know if it's appropriate to put dialogue in sound. As for the seiyu I thought they were good but nothing more to say than that, all seiyu are good after all it seems..
Again. The characters were good but that's not the most important part of the animes characters. The way that each character developed and behaved was completely in tune with itself, by that I mean unlike many animes were someone will suddenly "decide" to be a completely different person for the rest of their lives, Berserk's characters really change in a way that you can almost miss, they always act in a way befitting of what we know about them and they always stay true to themselves. While this shouldn't be a remarkable execution virtue, it is for me because so many animes simply can't do this. Perhaps it's an underrated feat or perhaps animes are just made lazily, I do not care to judge but I really enjoy said qualities in an anime, I will always point them out when I see it. The characters themselves had qualities we've all seen done many times before in all sorts of story telling forms, it was not remarkable for me in this sense but I put 8/10 because it had the foundations of everything I want from the characters in an anime, just nothing extraordinary.
Berserk has a really nice flow as an anime, everything is done right. While it doesn't attempt anything massive, the small things that go into the execution and the flow make the anime very enjoyable. The ending comes out of nowhere, it's barely related to the rest of the story and it's just completely irrelevant to it. It doesn't add character development, it isn't exciting or interesting. To the stronger willed of you out there, I would even go as far as to suggest not watching episode 25. While viewers of the manga may understand think it's great, from my understanding of what goes on in the manga, it seems way too long and it seems mindless just like the ending was. Had the ending not been there, perhaps i'd give 8.7/10 or something, but oh well.