He trusts nothing but his own sword. He has no place to call home. The lone mercenary Guts travels a land ravaged by a hundred-year war. Moving from battlefield to battlefield, his skill and ferocity eventually attract the attention of Griffith, the leader of a group of mercenaries called The Band of the Hawk. Desiring Guts's power to help him achieve his goals, Griffith succeeds in recruiting the distrustful Guts by challenging him to a duel and defeating him. As the Band of the Hawk fight together and their bond as a unit grows stronger, Griffith and Guts's bond deepens as well. With their continued success on the battlefield, Griffith achieves the first step toward his lofty goals: his band of mercenaries becomes recognized as a full-fledged army within the Midland Kingdom. Despite all their success, Guts begins to question his reasons for fighting for Griffith's dream, which, unbeknownst to Guts, is destined to bestow a monstrous fate on them both.
Let me start by saying that I am a very big fan of the manga and anime. However, I would say that this movie is a terrible summary for the amount of time it covers, so much so that I would be inclined to believe that it make me disinterested in either the manga or show. Some of my reasoning being... Story: The fact that it's a compilation of points within the Gold Arc is somewhat off-putting. Sure it's not going to be able to replicate the anime or, for that matter, the manga. I wouldn't expect that. Rather, I would expect it to do what it did, just better. Better in that it maintains what one feels for the development of characters and progression of story as presented in the other works. I would say that you can see this in other anime movies that followed a pre-existing series. A good example is the Gurren Lagann movie. Granted, it changes a few things around, but overall it is in close quarters, if not the same room, as the series. This movie (Berserk movie) is in the same block as the other works but in a whole different building. One small thing that comes to mind is how Berserk feels very much dirty and medieval where as the movie presents more of a clean idealized version of the Renaissance. That, I believe, takes away from what has been established in the other works. Another issue being that one cannot become invested, or reinvested for those familiar with Berserk, in the characters and their experiences given who fast they blow by certain scenes. There are a few more problems I have with the film in regards to the story, but I wish for this section not to take up too much of the review. Animation: The animation is actually really cool, yet, it's incredibly too vibrant and flashy compared to the dark and gritty feel Berserk normally has. This style could work with something else, just not Berserk. Now, I can see someone making the argument that "That's just how the anime looks!" True, however, the manga has this style as well. Even the most current still have that dark and gritty feel. Also, the CG modeling that can be seen in many of the battle scenes feels too awkward and is ultimately a hindrance to the overall presentation given that it clashes with animation style seen in the rest of the film. If said CG modeling were not present, I’d give the animation 9.5 or 10. Sound/Music: Now, I like Susumu Hirasawa. His music is one of the defining characteristics of the Berserk anime. So much does the music reinforce the emotion in the scenes it’s presented in that to be without it makes one feel empty or lacking. Yeah, there’s the new track Aria, but the one time it’s played, it doesn’t heighten the intensity of the battle scene it’s in unlike Forces which when heard by itself makes the blood and adrenaline start to pump. Perhaps I am overly biased towards Hirasawa’s music, but the fact that there really isn’t any throughout the movie, and especially in certain scenes where music is somewhat crucial, is most disappointing. Characters: The characters are who they are in the anime and manga, but one doesn’t get the chance to really know them well enough to care about what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. Granted one can make the argument that the movie is for those familiar with the Band of the Hawk and those they encounter, but even still, that doesn’t excuse the oh so little amount of work they put into connecting the audience with the characters.
Critic’s Log - Earthdate: May 1, 2014. Review #84: Berserk: The Golden Age Arc I - The Egg of the King. In February of 2013, I reviewed an anime that was an adaptation of the well-known dark fantasy manga juggernaut by Kentaro Miura known as Berserk. I bring this up because back in 2010, the news of a set of Berserk movies were announced for theatrical releases. Many Berserk fans got excited. Now with all 3 movies released in the United States, it is time I revisit the tale of Guts and his days with the Band of the Hawk in theatrical form. The question is… Does this adaptation hold up? Well, I can assure you that this will take three reviews for me to explain that with the first being Berserk: The Golden Age Arc I - The Egg of the King Guts is a young and highly skilled mercenary living in the era of the Midland monarchy. During a siege of a castle, he catches the attention of Griffith, leader of a mercenary army called The Band of the Hawk. As the two clash, Guts ends up joining The Band of the Hawk. There’s your brief synopsis of the first movie and I don’t think I need to add anymore when the synopsis is concerned. If you’ve read most of the manga and/or saw the anime adaptation, I don’t need to say much about the premise of Berserk. This first part of the Golden Age Arc is a Studio 4°C production and this studio doesn’t really get the appreciation where the credit is due. This studio produced a film called Tekkonkinkreet which I’ve heard is alright. I also heard they produced an OVA series called Detroit Metal City, which I heard is awesome and they also produced the 2011 remake of ThunderCats which sadly got cancelled after one season consisting of 26 episodes. The ThunderCats remake may have not been a Masterpiece but it was a nice change of pace considering how Cartoon Network doesn’t have as much animated shows worth watching as they used to years ago. As for the first Berserk movie… We are going to be here for a while. The original Berserk anime had flaws with its animation. There were some inconsistencies here and there and there were even some moments where it felt like a slideshow. The slideshow moments from the original anime are gone in this remake but the animation in this movie is also flawed. What’s the problem? THE USE OF CG ANIMATION IS TERRIBLE. seriously, some scenes in this movie make them look like video game cutscenes. What’s even surprising is that some scenes actually do look pretty good. Most of the animation does look good, but I hate to say that the CG animation is very distracting and it really did not sit well with me. The animation is inconsistent and it is the movie’s weak point. With this being the second anime adaptation, it’s totally understandable to go back to the source material being Kentaro Miura’s Juggernaut Manga which its artwork still looks sharp compared to the blunted anime adaptations The music this time around is by Shiro Sagisu who you may be familiar with the name. He also has done the soundtracks for animes like Neon Genesis Evangelion (plus the Rebuild movies), and Bleach. Yes. This guy is doing the soundtrack for these Berserk movies. In all honesty, the soundtrack really compliments the movie well. It may not be as memorable as the original anime soundtrack, but since the soundtrack has more themes than the original anime. There is more room for the music to sync in with the emotions that are conveyed in these films. Susumu Hirasawa’s soundtrack to the original anime soundtrack was fantastic and it was nice that he lended a hand with the opening theme “Aria”. It’s a nice little nod to the original anime and I like this opening theme a lot more than the original anime opening that really didn’t hold up for me to say the least. Shiro Sagisu’s soundtrack compliments this movie and that’s all I can say about the guy for this movie. In regards to the Japanese cast, Hiroaki Iwanaga debuts as Guts and I can’t say it is an impressive performance. Comparing Iwanaga-san’s performance to Nobutoshi Canna’s performance in the original anime, Iwanaga-san sounds a little off. Toa Yukinari is not too bad as Casca despite she hasn’t had many roles leading up to the Berserk movies. Yuko Miyamura is not a bad seiyu when she voiced Casca in the original anime, but Yukinari-san’s performance makes Casca sound believable in the Subbed version. Takahiro Sakurai was an interesting choice for Griffith, but I can’t say I favor his performance compared to Toshiyuki Morikawa in the original anime. It’s still listenable but I think Morikawa-san could have played it again if the casting staff gave him another shot at it. The other cast members play their roles just fine for the most part. As for the English Dub. This will probably be the most interesting part when it comes to voice acting for the Berserk movies. I found the Dub of the original anime to be hit and miss. Some performances were okay, some were not. In my opinion, the original dub was laughable at times when the skewed dialogue kicked in. When it was announced that the English voices of Guts, Casca, and Griffith were reprising their roles, I had some skepticism towards that casting decision and I had no expectations of a better dub than the original anime. Now that I sat through the dub, I was completely surprised that the quality of the dub far exceeded my expectations. Marc Diraison reprises his role as Guts and he is far more listenable than the original anime despite he was mostly not too bad back then as Guts. Carolyn Keranen returns as Casca and she is terrific in this movie whereas in the original dub, she was alright but she sounded off at times. This dub has shown quite a number of improvement compared to their original performances. If there is one voice actor in the dub that has improved greatly, that would be Kevin T. Collins as Griffith. His performance in the original anime was hit and miss. This time, he doesn’t sound laughably bad. It is a nice improvement from the original dub to this newer dub. The dub has miraculous improvement and Michael Sinterniklaas deserves major props as the ADR director of this movie’s dub compared to the original series. This dub makes up for the previous dubbing’s hit and miss performances. This series could not be the way it is without its characters. But I should inform you that there’s really nothing new compared to the original anime and its source material as well. Guts fights with impulse, Griffith is quite the strategist with his swift skills in swordsmanship. Casca is still an interesting character that still stays true to the source material like the original anime did. The rest of the Band of the Hawk are great characters too but I have some nitpicks in regards to how the characters are written in these movies but I’ll save that for another time. The animation may have been the movie’s downfall. But that’s not the only thing I had an issue with this first movie. Another issue that this first Berserk movie has is the film’s entire pacing. The entire first movie of Berserk has the runtime of 75 minutes. This movie could have been 10 to 20 minutes longer than it is now. This is technically spoilerish, but if you’ve seen the original anime or read the manga, my biggest disappointment with this movie’s portrayal of the plot is Guts’ backstory being condensed. it was a very interesting and tragic backstory in the manga, but with the way its portrayed in this movie. They didn’t show much and these glimpses of Guts’ backstory lasted around 2 minutes. I wouldn’t mind the movie being 20 minutes longer because of it. But they decided to show a little and not tell much. The original anime got this right, this movie does not. When it comes to story arcs in Berserk, The Golden Age arc is a Masterpiece of a story arc. This movie had its potential of portraying the first third as much as possible, but it feels rushed and this is only building up to the next movie which I will review it next time. Berserk: The Golden Age Arc I - The Egg of the King is available by Viz Media, the original manga by Kentaro Miura is available by Dark Horse. With all that said, The first Berserk movie is somehow faithful to its source material like the original anime that preceded it. The soundtrack compliments the movie extremely well and the characters are still portrayed well as far as this movie goes, but the story’s pacing is too quick even though the Golden Age arc is a terrific story arc in Berserk. The movie suffers with 3D animation that looks like shit and it just doesn’t mix well with the 2D animation that is actually worth seeing. You should see this if you are a fan of Berserk. The 3D animation will be a turnoff for most people but it doesn’t affect the story (albeit rushed) which is not a turnoff. I give Berserk: The Golden Age Arc I - The Egg of the King a 8.1 out of 10, it is VERY GOOD! Feel free to leave a comment.
I absolutely LOVE Berserk and think it is one of the greatest manga series ever made, ever. I was psyched to see that they were going to take another crack at animating this series and immediately put it on my to-watch list. Here's what I found. Story: So Berserk is VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY LONG. Like, holy shit. As this review is being written, there are over 300 chapters and it only just feels like we've reached maybe the half-way mark of this gory Iliad. Because of that, it would take lots and lots of time and effort to animate every single story arc and happening verbatim. This movie cuts lots of stuff out and only shows us the rough synposis of maybe 50+ chapters' worth of material. It's not great, and for a fan it's kind of disappointing, but for someone who just wants a refresher on what happened a long, long-kind-of-forgot-exactly-what-happened-exactly-time ago. Still, it cuts from Guts being forcibly recruited by Griffith to three years later, which nixes any and all friendship/camaraderie development with the Band of Hawk. Kind of sad. Animation Now I was a little jarred in the beginning when I saw that the opening castle siege was animated in some weird CGI, but I thought "hey, maybe it'll only be here and there". Oh no, it is dolloped EVERYWHERE. So much so that by the end I was feeling put out. I feel very, very disappointed that they didn't animate this movie more naturally, because when it is NOT CGI the colors and the characters are very beautiful and captivating to watch. When the soldiers are slashing at each other in their weird computer-made graphics, your eyes kind of go wonky because the moving objects are somehow "there" but ...blurry. Out-of-focus just a tad and enough to frustrate you or invoke within you the urge to play a Unity-engine-powered 3D RPG game on Kongregate.com. Needless to say, I was not satisfied with these images. If only, if only they had just animated it normally! It would look so much better down the road, too! Sound No complaints. I really didn't pay attention to the sound. It was subtle and a little generic, but not really a bad thing inofitself. Characters Because the story was hacked at in order to compact it into the allotted time, much character development that you saw in the original anime and, of course, the manga was subsequently omitted as well. You get the basic gist of the three key characters in the story: Guts is a tsundere, Caska is a ...tsundere, and Griffith is a charismatic pretty boy. I'm not really eschewing discussion about how much the Berserk characters we all know and love were flatlined with limited meaningful interaction that would result in growth on-screen, but... You know, time constraints. Overall: I really wanted to love this to death, but the animation just brought the score down, as well as the fact that this was a basic synopsis of Guts's time with the Band of Hawk, even though it was the very DEFINITION of rough and by no means informative or even linear.
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