The brutality of the Berserk series returns many years later in film form long after the TV series concluded, and the animators at Studio 4ºC have taken up the task of telling the tale.
The first movie starts in middle of a huge medieval battle, with one force trying to storm a castle full of soldiers. Everyone stops when a large man with an axe begins to hack away at folks and challenges people to come at him. No one will until one warrior with a big sword shows up. He offers to fight for 10 coins (and is counter-offered 7 instead.) Accepting the deal, he fights the axe man and hacks at a mid-section crack in his armor to defeat him, and eventually kills the axe man as he yields and begs for mercy. Meanwhile, a small group of soldiers led by a mysterious man looks on from distance.
After the battle is over, the sword warrior named Guts gets his coins but refuses to stay on permanently as the army conquers the castle and leaves bodies piled up. As he rides away, Guts is attacked by the onlooking force who watched his earlier fight. No one is able to take him down, however. A female lieutenant enters the fray, but she’s unsuccessful until the group’s leader named Griffith comes and defeats Guts with a single thrust to wound him and knock him out. Guts wakes up later and tries to leave camp but winds up fighting Griffith for the right to leave. Griffith wants him to stay with his army and tells Guts he will be the one to determine when and where Guts dies, and the two have a fierce battle.
As the movie progresses, we’re given interesting bits of intrigues, and more of Griffith’s affiliations and past come to light. The group gets into a pretty hellified battle against a monster with a dire warning for Guts, setting up potentially interesting events to come.
The second movie begins with Guts and Casca fighting a powerful warlord and his army. Guts holds them off, eventually reuniting with Griffith and the Band of the Hawks. There’s not much time to rest, though, as the team decides to take over their enemies’ castle and ensure total victory in a battle for the ages. This earns the team wealth and privileges undreamt of but this isn’t enough for Griffith, who has other desires, or Guts, who simply wants to leave and forge his own destiny. The results of these happenings leave the Hawks in a pretty dire situation by film’s end.
Director Toshiyuki Kubooka makes excellent use of Studio 4ºC and their talents, particularly in the action sequences and the overall animation. The screenplays by Ichirô Ôkôchi (Code Geass, Rahxephon), based on the manga by Kentaro Miura, give a good balance of action and character development. Bloody battles ensue and the look is rather clean and clear. This works for some of the quiet outdoor scenes (particularly at night) and especially an exquisite festival / dance that takes place. Chandeliers and general walls are just beautiful sights to behold in this scene. But for the outside battles, the cleanliness takes away a bit from the grit and hard edged brutality that the Berserk TV series had with the sketch lines and implied motion prevalent throughout the show.
That’s not to say the movies aren’t worth watching; far from it, in fact. They tell a pretty hard hitting story, though it still leaves one wanting a bit more of a resolution to the arc than the TV series gave. The video quality on the Blu-ray discs is very nice and clearly rendered; there were no issues with distortion at all. The English voice acting is pretty good; no one’s made me cringe or anything. There’re only a few extras though. The first disc has a small art gallery, while the second has more art and interviews with two of the seiyuu, who are always fun to listen to in order to get some perspective on anime production. These two ladies in particular had apparently just finished performing for the third film and seemed both excited but melancholy the project was over.
Stay tuned for our thoughts on the home video release of the third Berserk anime film!
Distributor: Viz Media
© KENTARO MIURA (STUDIO GAGA)
HAKUSENSHA/BERSERK FILM PARTNERS
– [Review] Berserk Golden Age Arc III: Descent
– [Review] Berserk Golden Age Arc I: Egg of the Supreme Ruler
– Berserk Manga to Resume This Month
– Guts Eats Burgers in Berserk Fast Food Promotion
– Next Berserk Chapter Debuts September 26