Berserk is an unmistakable name in anime and manga it is the anime dark fantasy which has had an enormous influence on how fantasy anime is made. It has it all ; an epic and grand story , a rich lore , monsters and gods , magic ,brutal sword fights and of course the staple brutality and violence. It has also been an enormous influence on From software’s hit cult classic “ Souls “ series.
Despite its fame Berserk has always had recently had turbulent history with the production of the manga and anime adaptations with the writer famously prone to going on long hiatuses most famously when the writer took 3 months off to play the moe rhythm game “ Idolmaster “ and with weekly chapter releases jumping from 21-9 chapters a year. The original anime adaptation ran from 1997 through to 1998 covering the first arc then in 2012-2013 three golden age arc films were released to mixed review due to the CGI animation which a majority of fans were hoping wouldn’t be present in the 2016 series.. Berserk 2016 is continuation of the golden age arcs.
The Berserk manga is written and drawn by Kentaro Miura’ and began publication in 1992.
Having read all of the manga and having watched the original series and GA films I consider myself quite a big fan of the Berserk series which why I was naturally excited for continuation to the story after 3 year it really fell far from what I was hoping for it to be.
Now branded for death and destined to be hunted by demons until the day he dies, Guts embarks on a journey to defy such a gruesome fate, as waves of beasts relentlessly pursue him. Steeling his resolve, he takes up the monstrous blade Dragonslayer and vows to exact vengeance on the one responsible, hunting down the very man he once looked up to and considered a friend.
Along the way, he encounters some unlikely allies, such as a small elf named Puck, and Isidro, a young thief looking to learn swordsmanship from the former mercenary. As the ragtag group slowly comes together after having decided to join Guts in his quest, they will face incredible danger unlike anything they have ever experienced before
I was pleased with how well the anime followed the original manga script but the pacing was completely off lagging in some places ( 3 episodes of pure action and 1 episode with character development) and rushed in others.
Where the show starts to properly fall apart for a lot of people ( myself included ) is the art and animation quality. The Berserk manga has a very unique art style with hundreds of rough black lines on every page and a outstanding amount of detail put into everything from demons to armour and weaponry. To its credit the anime attempts to recreate that art style in a way that the 90s adaptation didn’t with a cell shading put over the CGI to emulate the shading and line work , in freeze frames and select scene i.e the op it can look quite striking. But it’s not enough to counteract the quite frankly terrible CGI which is stiff , cheap looking and looks far worse than the Berserk PS2 game. There was a loud majority of people upset with how the CGI animation looked in the golden arc films and that was with budget of a full length feature , with unknown running lenght ( so far ) it’s hard not to wonder how Berserk episode 30 will look when corners are being cut so early on.
The CGI animation is stiff with undetailed textures and odd movements. Lips and general facial features are horribly rubbery and always lag a beat or two behind the sound of the lines being said.
While it was a huge relief to see Berserk uncensored and keeping in all the famous gritty violence the epic and brutal fights are indescribably disappointing. Liquid textures have no personality,weight and don’t seem to be affected by lighting or gravity. Due to the unnatural nature of the character models fight scenes are slow with no weight to any blow struck and horrible choreography that too often boils down to characters just standing in front of each other and waving their swords.
For some weird reason which I can’t as of yet pin down as an artistic or budgetary constriction the backgrounds and foregrounds have no differentiation and instead all the action seems to take place on the same plane making everything feel static and disconnected.
After some initial concern the writer himself felt it was necessary to re-assure people that the characters would stay the same and so far that seems to be the case. Despite a lag in development at the start it seems to have slowly been ironed out.
My main and quite large complaint is that the character models look about 13. It’s completely disorientating when Guts a battle hardened mercenary looks fresh out of high school.
There was a large uproar that I definitely agree with after the first episode aired , within a few hours people were uploading comparison videos between the animation quality of the first episode and how it looked nothing like what was promised in the first PV. The PV itself wasn’t perfect and it received lukewarm reception but it atleast had , detailed models,dynamic lighting and backgrounds and far more compelling action scenes this all led people to lose a lot of trust in the studio and producers.
To put it simply , Berserk (2016) is not a very good anime and in fact if this was any other adaptation/stand alone anime I would have been far harsher in my review of it but it is Berserk and even if it’s not very good it’s simply a series where fans need to embrace ( reluctantly or not ) whatever content comes their way so for that reason if you are a Berserk fan you’ve probably decided whether or not to watch Berserk. If however you only have a passing or non-existent interest in the series then I’d say to leave Berserk (2016 ) and either picking up Berserk (1997) or starting the manga.