In this world
is the destiny of
by some transcendental
entity or law?
Is it like the hand of god
it is true...
that man has no control
even over his own will.
- What is Berserk?
Berserk is a long-running dark fantasy manga written and drawn by author Kentaro Miura. The first volume was released in December of 1990 and it's still being released to this day with the 37th volume releasing this December.
Over the years Berserk has received a ton of recognition for its unparalleled art and a story that has fans squirming for the tale to continue after every single release.
- Yeah, but what's the actual story about?
The story centers around Guts, a lone mercenary going from battle to battle to survive in a harsh world named Midland which is inspired by medieval Europe. Soon enough the leader of an up and coming mercenary group - Band of the Falcon - becomes infatuated with Guts and insists on Guts joining his army to one day conquer Midland.
As the story proceeds it goes to some dark places touching upon several dark and mature themes and thus it would be spoilery to say any more.
- Alright, how do I get into this?
The obvious answer would be to buy the manga, supporting the author for the work he's put into this over the years and Dark Horse for the great localization.
However, my recommendation would be to watch the 1997 anime first. It beautifully stays true to Berserk's original art style and has one of the greatest soundtracks ever. Guts and Forces never fail to come up when discussing music from anime.
After that you'll definitely want to read the manga. The anime covers volumes 3-12, but it's entirely worth reading them when you go to the manga after watching the anime because of the added depth.
- I saw that there's some animated movies of Berserk that are recently released? I'll watch those instead and be done with it!
Don't. They are the worst thing you can do to yourself if you want to enjoy the story of Berserk. Nearly everything about them is bad with the ending of the third movie being the only thing about them I can say I like. The soundtrack is very mediocre, the art direction is a far cry from the original designs and the animation is very wonky with some of the worst use of CG I've seen in anime. And I haven't even mentioned the amount of pivotal scenes they jam into a few lines of dialogue instead of fully letting them bloom.
That said, the ending of the third one was really well done and I hope they continue into territory that hasn't been animated yet.
- Helpful links
Berserk (1997 anime)
Berserk 1997 anime OST playlist
Berserk (2012/2013 movies)
Berserk (Dreamcast game)
Berserk (PS2 game)