Berserk is one of the most successful manga series of all time, with many hailing it as the greatest manga ever published. The series has been running since 1989, and despite multiple periods where the series went on hiatus, has found massive success both in Japan and overseas in the west. The story follows the character of Guts as he fights for survival in a world filled with monsters and demonic creatures. Berserk is highly influential, which can be seen in various works, including the legendary Dark Souls series.
As a successful manga series, Berserk has naturally received several anime adaptations, each of which has attempted to translate the bloody dark fantasy series to the screen. However, while each of these adaptations have their own strengths, they ultimately do not adapt this legendary manga as well as the series deserves. Berserk is a landmark in the medium of manga, and a work like that deserves an anime adaptation that matches its prestige.
The Story Of Berserk
Berserk centers around the life of Guts, a dark, brooding mercenary known as the Black Swordsman. Once a member of the legendary Band of the Hawk under its leader Griffith, a tragic event and betrayal turns Guts into a man set on vengeance. As Guts travels the land, he hunts horrific demons known as Apostles as he searches for his former friend and object of vengeance, Griffith. Berserk‘s storyline is broken into several arcs, with the most well-known part of the series being known as the Golden Age arc, a story that covers Guts’s past and origin story. The Golden Age arc remains one of Berserk‘s most iconic stories, with not only anime, but video games adapting this part of the epic tale.
Berserk is a dark fantasy story with gruesome depictions of violence and slaughter. It is most certainly not a series for children, and even adults may find some of the content in this manga disturbing. However, the horrific imagery is not gratuitous, and Kentaro Miura’s artwork sells the terrifying reality of the demon-filled world that Guts lives in. While the story and world of the series is certainly grim and dreary, there are some spots of levity and lightheartedness that will be a relief to those that are struggling through the darker parts of the story. Despite its dark themes, Berserk is a story of redemption, atonement, and also forgiveness.
The Pros And Cons Of The Existing Adaptations
Berserk was first adapted into a 24 episode anime in 1997, which adapted the early arcs of the manga, including the legendary Golden Age Arc. The series was very well-received, but its short length left much of the series unadapted. In addition, a lot of the graphic content the series was known for was also toned down, and some story elements were removed in order to tell a coherent story in its short episode count. The story of the Golden Age Arc would be re-adapted again in 2012 in a trilogy of films.
In 2016, Berserk received a second anime adaptation. This new series would follow after the Golden Age Arc films, adapting the Conviction arc in its first 12-episode season and part of the Falcon of the Millenium Empire arc in its second 12-episode season. Despite covering a lot of new content, fans found the new series ugly due to its poor blend of 2D and CG animation, leading to scenes that look unnatural, awkward, and unappealing. Ultimately, fans of the series ended up disavowing the new adaptations for this reason, and hold out hope for a new adaptation that will do the series justice.
What A New Adaptation Could Bring To The Table
While it could be argued that the current adaptations are sufficient for new fans to experience a good amount of the story of Berserk, a brand new adaptation that provides a unified aesthetic while adapting the full breadth of the series would be ideal. In addition, with Berserk‘s serialization continuing despite the death of original mangaka Kentaro Miura, there is still a lot of story that has yet to be adapted in either of Berserk‘s anime adaptations. Once the series officially concludes, an adaptation that covers the entire story from start to finish would likely be one of the most wanted projects by fans of the manga.
The current landscape of anime is also quite different from when it used to be back when Berserk‘s first adaptation came out. Gore and violence are not as censored as they used to be back in the 90s, and nowadays, a more faithful adaptation of Berserk‘s mix of demonic horror and bloody violence could be done without needing to be toned down. While seeing all the horrific events and beings in Berserk is not necessary to appreciate its story and setting, it’s part of the series’ aesthetic, and it would not feel like Berserk without it.
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