I like this adaption of Berserk and I know what a lot of you are thinking. “HOW DARE YOU”, “THIS ANIME GOES AGAINST WHAT MIURA EVER DID WITH HIS MANGA”, “THE CG IS TERRIBLE, HOW COULD YOU STAND IT”, and many other angry internet comments. Yeah, you can go ahead and throw books, rocks, or bricks here. I never follow popular internet trends or opinions, because I only rely on my own. Opinions are never wrong, despite how many people on the internet seem to think theirs are objective. That’s now how those work. I know that this Berserk anime is far from flawless and isn’t close to what is in the manga, but I am not a manga reader (it’s too expensive) and I am finding a lot of good things about it anyway. This Berserk adaption has three things going for it that make it incredibly interesting to me. The characters, the story, and the world are still great.
Every single character in Berserk is great. From Schierke, the newest addition to the crew to Guts, our main protagonist. Schierke is a young witch apprentice that recently lost her master and her home. Suddenly, she finds herself traveling in this group of crazy people in order to find herself and grow her own abilities on the road. This traveling group is full of people like that. There is the fallen female knight who used to work for the Holy See and is not following Guts, because he is the one who opened her mind to other possibilities then her former rigid life style and her bad ass servant, that is a royalty as well, who follows her on this journey resultantly. Basically, everyone in Gut’s group has some sort of complex relationship with him. Guts isn’t that bad of a character either. He isn’t the most interesting, because he’s just out for revenge and killing tons of demons, but as he interacts more with these characters, he grows in interesting ways as well. Maybe it’s not written as well as the source material, but what I am seeing is good.
The story and the world work together to make something interesting. By itself, the story has been done over and over again, but is still great. Guts and crew traveling from place to place dealing with super natural conflicts or fighting demons. Okay, that is mainly Guts’ story and it is incredibly bad ass. But Like I said above, everyone else is following Guts for their own particular reasons and arcs. The devil is in the details. All of these connecting character arcs add the meat to the bones of the basic plot, which makes the whole thing complex. The world itself makes the story even more complex. Each city and village that Guts and crew enters has their own issues. This could be because they are completely blinded by the church that is forced on them, they are being invaded by the Kushans, or whatever realistic medieval world politics are going on. It reminds the viewer that the world our adventuring crew are traveling in is living and breathing. When the story, the world, and the character elements are combined together, the material stuff is almost unstoppable. Almost.
Moving on to the bad thing everyone is talking about, the cg is pretty awful most of the time. I think that this year’s portion is a little better then what came out last year, but there are still a lot of horrible and disastrous instances in this anime. Especially with the reveal of the Berserk armor. I could tell why the studio between Berserk released a recap episode after this episode. It was obvious that the production crew needed a break because they all ran out of gas. Everybody has seen the Guts duck walk gif, right? What about the bad head and limb slice gif from the same episode. This Berserk anime has a lot of bad moments of animation in it that are usually far spread out with some acceptable cuts, but this episode was the pinnacle of it all. Even from a still frame perspective, the anime can’t compare to the manga. I mean, have you seen even just quick shots of the manga? That art is beyond insane. There is so much detail put into each frame that I can see why Miura goes on hiatuses. Most mangaka doesn’t even get close to that level of quality. It’s pretty sad that is the major issue behind it all.
I don’t think that there is a single studio can do the combined art work and animation that Berserk really needs. Ufotable would be great for still frames, but they can’t do animation as well as people think they can. Their characters move incredibly stiffly and barely feel like they are alive a lot of the time, but they do know a lot about art work and lighting. Berserk isn’t close to the style that Bones usually goes for, so they wouldn’t do it. A studio like Madhouse or Production I.G. might be able to do it, but some sacrifices would have to be made to get the animation the show needs. One Punch Man is a good example of this, because while the animation is beyond anything I’ve ever seen from a tv anime perspective, the art style suffers a little bit. While it’s great, it’s not a 1 for 1 with the manga. Still, Madhouse and Production I.G. would be the studios to go with. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened and the anime world suffered for it.
This is where subjective opinions come in. This might sound blasphemous, but I don’t think that art and animation are the main two factors that make an anime great. Look at Tsukigakirei that is airing this season. The weakest aspects of that show are the visual aspects outside of the main character animation. There are terrible crowd cg shots that are incredibly obvious and some background scenery that looks characters are standing in front of a green screen effect. Also, they repeat some cuts all the time. All of that isn’t the main point of the anime though. Tsukigakirei is about these two awkward teenagers trying to figure out how a romance works and fighting to make sure it stays together. The emotions are what make this anime work. I know that Berserk is an action fantasy series and the two series are very different, but the same principle is at work for me here. The most important aspects that I look for in an anime are the story, characters, and world with art and animation very close after those three. There have been many great fantasy series that have awful animation and just alright art design, like Shinsekai Yori, Beast Player Erin. I would put Berserk on a lower tier then those, but it’s still good in my eyes. It’s about the same level of Arslan Senki to me.
I know that I stated this many times before, but I know that this isn’t the manga. To me, an adaption should be its own thing. The anime and the manga are two different entities. Considering that there are a lot of time constraints from episode length, a certain amount of episodes that the studio is prepared to air, and other production issues, an anime can’t be a 100 percent copy of the manga. If there is one thing a manga doesn’t have as much of an issue of, it’s time constraints. As long as the manga sells well and gets good reception, a manga can go on until dooms day if it wants. Unfortunately, anime doesn’t work that way. Here’s another thing, I am not much of a manga reader. Even if I read it all digitally, it’s too expensive of a hobby for me to get into. I can barely do the occasional anime purchase, because I have to pay for college and other things. Also the Berserk manga is printed in english by Dark House. Berserk is one of their cash cows and they sell at a higher price than normal manga. I also don’t have enough storage space right now to put manga, so this anime is what I’m going with right now. I mean, I just started getting into reading actual books again and I barely have time for that. I like to keep myself busy with a lot of activities. If I don’t, I won’t feel like myself.
Lastly, please don’t come here looking for a fight. I’m not going to give you one. Writing this blog post is about as much effort as I am going to give to explaining my point of view and I don’t have any left to say. This is everything that I wanted to say about this matter. I’ve seen an endless amount of videos and opinions on the internet about what this Berserk adaption sucks from people Super Eyepatch Wolf and Gigguk to other less popular people I have also seen random people on twitter complaining about the adaption as well, which is pretty common. This is my response to all of them. I respect all of their opinions, but I completely disagree with them. Maybe because that’s because I am not a manga reader and I wanted a feel of what Berserk is like after the Golden Age arc. This current adaption has at least been filling that need for me. I would like to thank everybody who reads my posts about my bad opinions and continues to read them anyway. Hopefully, I didn’t scare any of you away with this post