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Series: Berserk
Genre: Action, Medieval, Fantasy
Creator: Kentarou Miura
Anime Length: 25 episodes
Manga Length: 28+ manga volumes
Anime Release By: Media Blasters
Manga Release By: Dark Horse
Rating: Teen/Mature (15+)

» Introduction
Many people, including myself, started the Berserk obsession by watching the animated TV series. It's a wonderful series intended for more mature audiences. Berserk has a really deep emotional story, lots of bloodshed, some nudity, and has a few explicit scenes in it. It could be bloody and disgusting at times so if you can't handle it, this series is really not for you. For everyone else, prepared to be enthralled.

» Synopsis
The TV series is about Guts, Griffith, and The Band of the Hawk. The Kingdom of Midland is at war and The Band of the Hawk, led by Griffith, is becoming the best military force available. Guts impresses Griffith with his fighting abilities and is asked to join up with The Hawks. Griffith has never asked anyone to join his group until now...

There must be something special about Guts. Perhaps its his attitude of "never run from a fight" or maybe it is his uncanny raw talent at combat. He does wield a sword 3 times as big as normal one, and swings it with just as much ease. Griffith's desire is to be king at Midland's castle. He was born a peasant, which means social hierarchy disables him to ever grow that high in status, but still, he desires it. Griffith's battle technique is just as impressive as Guts. His agile movements and lighting quick attacks make him what he is, the leader of The Hawks. Also known as the White Hawk, Griffith will capture his prey, which is Guts.

With the two joining together, Griffith will lead them to many battles in which he will never fail. 3 years after The Hawks first battle with their new recruit, Guts, they still remain undefeated. It is unheard of in that era and Midland's King has taken great admiration to them because of it. New opponents face The Hawks, deadly challenges await, and nothing is as it appears. Relationships will be born; relationships will be broken. The world of Berserk is a serious one and there's no room for the slightest mistake.

» Region 1 Release Info
Berserk has been released in America by Media Blasters. It spans 6 DVD's and does a nice job presenting Berserk. The image quality is high, and the subtitles are accurate. The only negatives to this release are the stale menus, which appear the same on each DVD. The extras include image galleries, interviews, and a very cool "Paint It Berserk" skit. There are also "dubbed outtakes," which are outtakes from the English Dubbed version. This is overkill, not just because it is stupid to add humorous extras to a serious series like Berserk, but because the English dubs are already laugh out loud horrendous.

» Positives
Berserk is a fine example of what anime can become. In my eyes, Berserk's story alone is far and beyond any other anime series out there. It is simply at a point where all other series either fail or fail miserably when being compared to Berserk. It's what I felt the first time I witnessed Berserk, and years after, as I write this now, I still feel the same exact way after watching countless other "attempts" of anime.

However, do notice I wrote above "Berserk's story" and not simply the Berserk animated series. There is a reason behind my madness. The Berserk anime does have noticeable flaws. Of course these flaws are miniscule in comparison to what the Berserk anime accomplishes. It accomplishes introducing one of the greatest fictional stories I have ever seen.

The Berserk anime spans only 25 episodes and covers less than 1/3rd of the story. It covers the flashback scene (the word "scene" being an understatement) when the main character, Guts, thinks back on his days as a Hawk. This flashback is the core of Berserk. Every single twist and turn in the plot can be traced back to this part of the story.

The anime to me is simply perfect. The pacing may seem slow at first, but there are defining moments that get people hooked on Berserk. Literally too, I'm not just saying that to make a point. One or two of the earlier episodes in this anime series got me hooked and I never looked back.

So why exactly is this series so good? I will say it only once: story and the characters. These two aspects in Berserk are the main things that make it so good. The characters have real emotions and are some of the best you will ever see. The story is hands down one of the best things I have seen... and that doesn't just include anime stories. How can I go further into depth without giving crucial spoilers away? I really can't.

You will have to take my word for it I suppose. The drama and emotion involved in Berserk is also crucial. Berserk has raised the bar, at least in my mind, for what anime should become. No series I have seen thus far has topped it or has even came close. If that isn't enough proof that this series is extremely good, then I have no idea of how to convince you!

» Animation/Music
The animation may not seem very high quality at first, in fact it appears to have a grainy texture, but it grows on you in a hurry. There are many still frames that are thrown in at critical times during almost every episode. These still frames may seem like a lazy way to end an episode, but they do have a purpose, and that is to create a lasting impression of that particular scene. Also these frames are a nice addition to the sub par (to today's standards) animation because they seem almost like watercolor. It really allows for the beautiful illustrations to be shown. I must also mention the fact that Kentarou Miura is one of the best artists in the anime industry, so every character, battle scene, etc is drawn to the last detail. Unfortunately he wasn't the one who did all of the animation since he was still working on the manga, but the quality still shows.

The music of Berserk is one of the most unique sounds in all of anime. No expenses were cut in the production of the Berserk TV soundtrack. The producer, Toshio Nakatani, made sure to get the music that inspired Miura when he was actually working on the Berserk manga. This music fits the world of Berserk perfectly. I could think of no better alternative then the works of Hirasawa. I can't even place the Berserk music in a certain genre since it is so unique.

» Negatives
The only glaring flaw I see in the Berserk anime is the simple fact that it ends practically at its climax. I would only say this is a huge negative if you don't intend to read the manga. However, with the manga being distributed now in America, there is a viable option to those seeking the manga. Trust me, you will want it badly because you'll be dying to find out what happens next. To me this is a good thing because it opens up the world of the Berserk manga, and it is why I call it the perfect introduction to Berserk. You can consider the abrupt ending negative, but those people might not understand that the series continues in the manga, which is many times better then the anime.

» Conclusion
Berserk is simply the best series I have seen. The anime series does have its flaws, but it is a great introduction to the series. You will be hooked on this great series after watching the anime. It has one of the deepest stories I have seen, and outstanding realistic characters. If you don't like this, you don't like anime.

Perfect score, 5 out of 5. Berserk has raised the bar of anime that no other series will surpass in my eyes. The anime has faults, but the manga is simply flawless. Watch the perfect introduction to one of the best manga series out there.

Review by: Fusiongt on October 11th, 2004 - For more Berserk info check out the FAQ

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