As a long time Berserk fan my excitement for this new anime adaption of Kentaro Miura’s manga was through the roof, I was literally counting down the days to see all the dark and slimy elements of Miura’s masterpiece come to life. My first introduction to the world of Berserk was through the 1997 series which covered the first ten volumes of the manga or better known as the Golden Age arc. My young mind was enthralled with the lore and strong characters that Miura so painstakingly developed. To this day it remains in my top 10 list of best anime series despite its many shortcomings. Later I would move on the soul crushing manga that is Berserk. As amazing as the manga is I always yearned to see it animated in all its bloody glory. Now a few years have gone by and I’m all caught up with Gut’s story, waiting months on end sometimes over a year for Kentaro Miura to release a new chapter to sate my longing pallete. Finally about a year ago I got word that a new anime was in the works and despite being somewhat disappointed with the movie trilogy I started my countdown.
Finally the first episode aired just a little over three weeks ago, adrenaline pumping through my body as I loaded up Crunchyroll on my Playstation. At the end of the 20 or so minutes that made up the episode I was left feeling a bit confused, asking myself who’s in charge of this show? Why does it look so bad and worst of all why is it so boring! All my hopes for the new series seemed to crash back to Earth. Admittedly CG animation is not something I look forward to, as a 90‘s baby I’ve always enjoyed hand drawn anime and the new Berserk show offered up some of the ugliest animation I’ve seen in quite a while. Thats not to say it all looks bad but where it suffers is in the action scenes, the cuts were sloppy and disorienting. The icing on the cake for me was the music, the oddly placed metal really really left a bad taste in my mouth, especially when I’ve grown accustomed to Susumu Hirasawa’s epic scores in the original Berserk series and movie trilogy.
Still I saddled up the following week to catch episode two and luckily I felt the show had redeemed itself by a considerable measure. To be honest I was a little miffed at how the show skipped over many important parts of the manga like the Lost Children arc but I understand that the people who make the show are on a time budget and need to put things in motion. This time around the animation looked much better, the frame rates were smoother in the action scenes and the odd manga style shading looked more appropriate than it had in episode one. The introduction to Farnese and the Holy See Knights was done well, allowing for much more character development for Guts. Farnese’s character was portrayed in earnest as well, her stern attitude and self important nature gleamed brightly. After giving the first episode a D- I found myself delighted in my grading for the second episode, which I rank at the border of a B-.
Feeling ready to take yet another stab at the meaty flesh that is Berserk, I geared up for Episode three, looking forward to seeing Guts wield the Dragon Slayer against any foe foolish enough to cross eyes with him. This episode felt a little less polished than the previous one with a few sloppy cuts and that awfully out of place metal the show so desperately shoves in our faces. In terms of character development Farnese is forced to come to terms with her faith and eventually herself, realizing her God exists in name only as well as how her devotion and self flagellation is a twisted function of sexual desire. I was honestly pretty shocked to see how far the show went in its portrayal of this, sticking very close to the source material in a scene so gruesome it put my stomach in knots when I first read it in the manga so many years ago. By the end of the episode we learn a bit more about Gut’s mission to slay every apostle in search for the God Hand, the four ruthless demonic entities that led his once comrade Griffith to betray the trust and kinsmenship of the Band Of The Hawk.
While I can’t say that I’m anywhere near as excited about this show as I once was, I can say that there is a glimmer of light. The direction of the series seems to be lining up with all the major plots of the manga and the bore factor from the first episode has been rightly extinguished. At the end of the day my main issue with this show is the poor animation choices. Miura’s dark fantasy will hold up on its own but I just cant get my mind around why this is done in CG. I imagine that Kentaro Miura, the mangaka and man behind Berserk is a bit mystified as to the shows proceedings as we the fans most certainly are as well but all in all I’m still happy that this twisted tale of revenge and betrayal is getting new life poured into it. Maybe its because I’m such a die hard fan of the original anime and manga series or maybe like Farnese I find pleasure in pain but one thing is certain, if your a Berserk fan you ought give it a shot.