What grows worse daily is the pressure not to die. Have I ever before wielded a sword so heavy?
Berserk has been around for a long time. From its debut in 1989 in the ‘Young Animal’ magazine, we’re presented with a mature, dark and bloody series that kicked off its 27-year history. Most notably, the late 90’s anime adaptation of its ‘Golden Age’ arc has just come out on Blu-Ray, so we thought it would be a great time to tell you where you should start watching Berserk. The monolithic series that has an Anime TV Show from the 90’s, three compilation movies that are a mix of CGI and Anime, the brand-new 2016 CGI TV Show which picks up after the movies and of course, the manga source material.
Berserk kicks off with Guts as a lone wolf working as a mercenary in the middle of a 100-year war that’s created an ecosystem of mercenary bands that fight under any banner for money. After a big job, Guts encounters The Band of The Hawk, lead by the charismatic and effeminate Griffith. From here, Guts continues on his path making new friends and getting embroiled in political assassinations, betrayal and learning to trust after his storied history.
The most striking thing about this small animated part of Berserk is that it is a part of a larger cohesive whole, and is almost all entirely set up for the rest of the series, which has continued in the form of a CG/Anime production initiated in 2016. This bleak series is not for the faint of heart, Berserk deals with mature themes such as abuse, loss and extreme violence. However, one of the more interesting bits of Berserk are the moments of calm, where characters comfortably ruminate on their situation. Without divulging into spoilers, it’s difficult to pin down what makes Berserk so good.
Yours is a black path through the night. When you confront those who lurk in the darkness, you also envelop yourself in it. Good journey, struggler.
– Skull Knight
Amidst all the political intrigue are incredible battle set-pieces, where you see The Band of the Hawk and Guts come into its own with unique strategy and fighting in pivotal battles. Though they’re not strictly a part of the two warring factions, their influence is undeniable.
Where Should I Start Watching Berserk?
The 90s TV Adaptation retains the panache and detail of the source Manga, with the compilation movies being a good refresher on the broader details. The 90’s adaptation ends after the Golden Age arc, which has since been followed up by the 2016 CGI Series.
Scored by Susumu Hirasawa, the eclectic soundtrack gives Berserk a distinct soundtrack that separates it apart from many other Dark Fantasy affairs, the choral soundscapes create an alien world that is like our own, but discordant. This beauty of the dissonant gothic themes make Berserk tonally unique and is completely different to anything that has ever come since. This particular adaptation of Berserk is one of the best ways to start off on Guts’ journey and get into Berserk. Incorporating soft supernatural elements is great, and reminds us of the ‘low fantasy’ of Game of Thrones, utilising magic and mythology in the best ways possible- with scarcity.
All of these elements come together into a cohesive whole that can only be described as a masterpiece in design and animation. Now is a great time to dive into Berserk, with the release of ‘Berserk and the Band of the Hawk’ game, which also chronicles Guts’ journey far beyond what we see in this series. Berserk is going worldwide in a big way, so this is an excellent time to get onboard onto one of the best journeys in modern fiction.