Berserk is a long-standing manga series dating all the way back to 1997, with the anime series first released in 2012. Based on the journeys of a wandering swordsman, Guts, in a fictional medieval-type era, it is often overlooked by younger, more causal anime viewers due to its excessively violent nature. The plot line, character development, and especially the splendid artistic details in the original manga series offers promises of a spectacular transition into anime.
The first set of anime adaptation, the 2012 “Golden Arc” movie series, did not disappoint in both the character portrayal and setting. Just look at the beautiful sky behind Guts and Casca, the female protagonist.
The continual anime adaptation in 2016 and 2017 carries even greater potential for plot development, with the majority of the original cast, members of the mercenary group Band of Hawk, to which Guts belongs, having been killed off in a sacrificial ritual by their leader Griffith to help him obtain god-like status. Leaving only Guts and Casca, the 2016 and 2017 anime adaptation provides the possibility to introduce a new set of casts and capitalize further on the amazingly beautiful details of the artwork.
It failed to deliver.
Instead of continuing the previous style that has made the 2012-13 anime movie adaptation such a beautiful success. The author, for reasons known only to him and his anime gods, decided to venture into 3-D land for the 2016-17 TV series. Instead of allowing the characters to thrive in a medium that should offer more realism, the 3-dimensional adaptation created scenes more similar to those of Nintendo 64 gaming graphics, and the lack of natural fluidity in the characters’ movements is reminisce of an old, arcade version of “Tekken”. The newly introduced monsters, released into the human world after Griffith’s sacrificial ritual, looks more like cheaply-animated props from a B-movie. To put it bluntly, true anime fans would probably puke at the sight of such poorly adapted anime version of a beautifully drawn manga series.
The new set of characters, including former foes Farnesse and Serpico from the Holy Sees Knights, offers an interesting opportunity to provide a strong supporting cast alongside Gut’s overwhelming physical strength. Instead, the audience is left with an unarmed Farnesse constantly fleeing for her life alongside a demented Casca, And Serpico’s intriguing presence as a formidable rival to Guts in the 2016 season is reduced to just another member of the party not strong enough to hold his own against a real enemy, even after being bestowed an enchanted weapon, and have to be constantly bailed out by Guts. And then there is Isodoro, the street urchin who claims to be a swordsman in training but does more talking and running than actual fighting. At this point, Gut’s new allies offers little to no challenge in a potential showdown against Griffith and his army of demons and demi-gods.
Not all is lost, however. On the positive side, Guts, once the lonely swordsman with no regards to anyone except his love interest Casca, who has lost all her memories after Griffith’s sacrificial ritual, has begun to develop into more of a team player. On the one hand entrusting the defenseless Casca to the care of his former foe and equally defenseless Farnesse, whom Casca seemed quite attached to. And on the other hand, entrusting the coordinated efforts of team combat to the inexperienced witch apprentice Schierke, who in her own rights is developing into a strong supporting cast. In addition, for former Holy Knight Farnesse to embrace witchcraft and seek to learn magic from Schierke also indicates the potential for her expanded role. Now it is left up to Serpico and Isodoro to step up their game.
Overall, the story line is fascinating with an interesting set of characters that carries diverse roles, with the potential for further development, unless you’ve already read the manga and spoiled the plot.
Here’s hoping the next season will be even better. And here’s hoping the producers will drop the 3-D nonsense and go back to pure, beautiful anime.