Published: Aug 25, 1989 to ?
Score: 9.161 (scored by 19703 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
action fantasy horror seinen
SynopsisGuts, known as the Black Swordsman, seeks sanctuary from the demonic forces that pursue him and his woman, and also vengeance against the man who branded him as an unholy sacrifice. Aided only by his titanic strength, skill, and sword, Guts must struggle against his bleak destiny, all the while fighting with a rage that might strip him of his humanity. Berserk is a dark and brooding story of outrageous swordplay and ominous fate, in the theme of Shakespeare's Macbeth.
Related MangaAlternative version: Berserk Prototype
Adaptation: Berserk Ougon Jidaihen I: Haou no Tamago, Berserk, Berserk Ougon Jidaihen II: Doldrey Kouryaku, Berserk Ougon Jidaihen III: Kourin
"Have you ever hated someone so much, that this feeling alone would drive you to do horrific and impossible to grasp things?
Have you ever hated someone so much, that your whole life was focused on finding that person and ripping him apart?
Have you ever hated someone so much, that you would forget about your humanity, purge it all just to find enough power, for one, single fraction of a moment, one chance to get your revenge...
What would your eyes look like in that very moment...? Insane? Terrified? Passionate? Happy? Or maybe... satisfied...
Look into his eyes, and find nothing there..."
When I first learned that there is something like Berserk manga, I was a bit surprised. That was some 7 years ago and little did I know about relations between anime and manga. Either way, I took my chances and downloaded several first volumes.
You can imagine my surprise when I noticed that the manga is a far cry from the anime which really made my day some time ago. Having struggled through the first chapters I moved on to the next volumes. You know, the anime itself is, in all its ingenuity, only a small fraction of the whole manga... As small as several volumes with some deleted scenes and a bit redone ending at that. However, by the moment I reached 'the anime plotline' in manga (which is volume 3) I got already interested in the manga itself.
I think that there's no point in summarising the plot. You can read it above, and for the sake of not spoiling anything, I think you should. You have to, however know this: Berserk manga, in terms of plotline and characters development - is by far the best manga I have ever read, the most complete one, the most multi-dimensional one, the most memorable one... Nowhere else will you be told the stories of sub characters so bluntly and yet discreet that you won't even notice. Nowhere else will you receive such a huge dose of information, and yet still be able to comprehend it effortlessly. This is something uncanny, and frankly, I doubt that anyone ever will be able to reach the level.
The characters are just great. On one hand we have Gutts and Griffith, shades of black and white, fire and water. Being so different, neither can live without the other one. They're like Yin and Yang, two halves of the same coin - even in his darkest moments Griffith still finds himself as Gutts' friend, although few minutes later this friendship changes into hatred and horrific envy. Their whole story is like that, they start off as great friends who would die for each other with smiling face, but only one of them is really committed here.
Characters shine even more when we consider other protagonists and antagonists. No person is left shallow and without a story to tell. Miura-sempai explains everything in a given time and briefly enough to keep you interested. Unlike in other titles where antagonists exist only to serve as a powerup training bag for the protagonist, here all demons have their motives. Even the smallest monster is explained, by which you get attached, even to such scumbags.
The story itself is brutal, broody and hectic sometimes. But you never really lose the track if it. You can have two mini-arcs in one mayor arc, but you'll always remember what the team's real destination is. In this way, Miura-sempai makes it clear to you, that Gutts, although a little less passionately, follows his path and even if he was to be destroyed, he would neither falter nor go back. And the same goes for Griffith, who despite his appearance (nowhere else will you notice that appearance is deceitful so much as in Berserk) is a very strong-willed and straight-forward character. And in all this, having seen all the atrocities that happen in Midland, you never ever think of Griffith as the wrong one. He's not wrong, he's just following his dream, a dream that was clouded with Gutts appearance in his life.
The art itself, is a state of art to watch and read. Detailed panels, hundreds of characters on one page during a hectic battle, highly textured monsters and what I love the most - fluid, realistic and clear fighting scenes. You don't need Kubo trolling with ink to see that Gutts has his speed even despite the weight of his sword. You don't need hundreds of straight lines to increase the dynamics of the scene - Miura-sensei manages it all without a loss in quality.
Facial expressions are something completely else. Even if you cannot follow the plot for some weird reason you can always judge whether the character is good or bad by just looking at his or her face. Those are very detailed and so rich in expressions that you never get bored. You can feel the difference between smooth and angelic appearance of Griffith and a brute, yet kind rectangular face of Gutts.
The mangaka puts a lot of effort into shade and light in Berserk. By that we get a very distinctive nights, sunshines and sunsets as well as dynamic shadows (however awkward it sounds) that no anime director can mime. It's simply sensational to look at all that and even be able to read the story of it... It is clear to me, that Miura-sensei is trying to end up with a sort of masterpiece in terms of manga. And you know what? He's pretty close to achieving this.
There are, however, some bad points too. The manga is not for everyone. I would strictly add parental advisory and 18+ to it. Nowhere else will you see so much nudity, sex and violence as in this manga. It's not a hentai-like nudity and sex though. Berserk shows a violent world with all its aspects, hence these parts were as relevant as any other to make the story as believable as possible.
I'm glad I was able to read the manga. It's one of the best titles ever, if not the best so far. I sincerely hope though, that Miura-sensei lives up to the expectations and finishes this story in a fitting way. Judging by his up-to-date work, it's more than possible.
Story - 9.38
The first three volumes may discourage some of the readers because it's starts off kind of slow and the initial artwork is not quite up to today's standards. However, after the reader begins the Golden Age arc it is nearly impossible to not be pulled in and become addicted to the series. It is chock-full of action, drama, character development, twists and turns, and just a dash of romance. It defies generalization and is just damn good storytelling.
After the Gold Age arc wraps up the story come back full circle to where it left us at the end of volume 3. But by then the rhythm of the manga has changed completely. The reader has established a deep connection with Guts, Casca, and Griffith and that only grows more as the story continues. You'll be confronted with conflicting emotions and think things like "I really want to see Guts put Griffith in the ground" and at the same time "Griffith is just so damn cool". These conflicting thoughts and emotions just go to show how invested the reader becomes with the characters.
Another good thing about the Berserk story is that the protagonist (Guts) is not always the focal character in every chapter. In fact, nearly all of the major supporting cast members receive a considerable amount of page space for their own stories to be fleshed out. Each of these side-stories is not only unique and extremely well developed, but also very deep and revealing as it shows the reader why these character are the way they are. One of the side stories that I found most intriguing was Farnese and Serpico's as it was so beautifully orchestrated as part of the manga as a whole.
The only problem with the story, in my humble opinion, is the introduction of magic in the manga. I feel that the magic the group "acquires" in volume 24 is somewhat exaggerated and does not suit the dark atmosphere of the story. In fact, at times it can even make some of the chapters feel a bit shounen-esk. But even still, it's pretty much impossible not to enjoy the ongoing story that is Berserk.
Art - 9.6
The artwork in the first few volumes of Berserk won't do much to impress many of today's manga readers, but at the time when the series was first serialized (1992) it was certainly well above average. Those initial volumes feature many very unique character designs (especially the apostles) and also sport a relatively high focus on detail. However, where Miura really shows off his latent artistic talents early on is through his ability to create crisp, clear, and highly fluid fight scenes.
One of the few negative aspects of the early volumes can be identified as the simple shading techniques that Miura used. Also, sometimes the character faces will look just a bit "off" and it can be a little distracting. However, these minor quality issues were most likely due to the time constraints that were in place at the time and not entirely the fault of the artist.
Then as the series progresses the reader gets to watch the artwork literally evolve. As we learn more and more about the characters and the world in which they live, the characters themselves and their environments become more and more visually detailed. The simple shading from the early volumes is eventually replaced by a hand shading technique which gives the series a more gritty and surreal overall feeling. The character designs become more crisp and facial expressions sometimes are so vivid that one look at a character's face is often enough to tell the reader exactly what the character is thinking. By the time the reader makes it into volumes 20 and beyond Miura has made it very clear that he means for Berserk to be truly regarded as a work of art just as much as it is a masterfully epic piece of storytelling.
In my own experience I have seen very, very few other manga series that can even approach Berserk's later volumes on an artistic level and, unfortunately, I highly doubt that I will ever be able to find its peer.
Characters - 9.5
The very first character you will meet in Berserk is Guts, the "Black Swordsman" with a dark past and a score to settle with his demonic enemies. Certainly not a very revolutionary character at first glance, but even though he may start off as such, his character quickly expands, and ends up as one of the most believable and human characters I have ever witnessed.
As the story unwinds, you follow Guts through his past, allowing you to experience his personality change during his constant battle against fate. You follow Guts through waves of despair and hardships offset only by the flickering fires of friendship and trust. Eventually, Guts becomes like a maelstrom of opposing emotions, and the question arises, will he continue on his path of all-consuming revenge even if it means losing everything he has come to care for?
The other characters that appear throughout the course of the story come in all different shapes and sizes and all play their roles perfectly, just as support characters should. The more important support characters, protagonists and antagonists alike, are all draped in many layers of depth, making their characters both solid pillars and interesting ingredients within the plot as a whole. From Griffith's burning ambition to the skulduggery of the God Hand, from Puck and Isidro's antics to Farnese's troubled past and uncertain future, the characters all appear vivid and alive (Although alive might not fit The Skull Knight...) and all have their own emotions, personalities and ambitions. The supportive cast show their brilliance in how they appear to the reader as actual players in Berserk's grand game, and not just as passive plot devices.
With such a cast of strong personalities and vibrant, living characters, Berserk easily cuts it's way (no pun intended) to the top score in this category.
Enjoyment - 10
The fact that I sat and read through all 295 chapters of this exquisite manga in one sitting should justify the perfect score for enjoyment! The manga has great characters - heroes you root for and empathize with, villains you can't help but admire for their ruthlessness and charisma. The artwork is dark, brooding, and gruesome and complements the story well. And what a riveting story it is... It hooks you from the first chapter and sets the stage for the most intriguing revenge themed manga on the market. Its success is testament to its quality. My only complaint is the excruciating waits between chapters.
Also, I must throw in a cautionary note: this manga is quite definitely not for the faint hearted. There is a considerable amount nudity, sex, gore, violence, and, for the lack of a better word, bad-assery!
OVERALL - 9.69
This review is the final result of a review team composed of members from the "Critics and Connoisseurs" club. The team members were:
8GaugeBrett - Who wrote the Art section and combined the individual review parts together into a whole.
Amaity - Who wrote the Enjoyment section.
Baman - Who wrote the Character section.
Ianmessku - Who wrote the Story section.
Here are their individual scorings for the Manga:
Category - 8GaugeBrett, Amaity, Baman, Ianmessku
Story - 9, 10, 9, 9.5
Art - 10, 9, 10, 9.5
Character - 9, 9 , 10, 10
Enjoyment - 10, 10, 10, 10
Overall - 10, 9, 10, 9.75
In the club wide poll held for Berserk it received an average overall rating of 9.53 read more
While Claymore may not be just as dark and gory as Berserk, it still holds plenty of bloody battles and monsters. The characters are interesting, and so is the story.
And Claymore is full of nice women. Just so you know.
Violent action sword fighting manga that is extremely well drawn.
Monster fighting, not always ends well, dark ambience.
claymore is basicly a less explicit version of berserk except claymores characters are almost all female
Both Berserk and Claymore involve the main character battling against monsters that take the form of a human for the sake of revenge, however that is not the only thing that the two series' have in common. Both have a dark atmosphere and contain a flashback arc revealing the reasons for the protagonists goal of revenge. Aswell as that both protagonists are burdened with taking care of someone they care about. Chances are if you enjoyed Claymore, you'll enjoy reading Berserk, or vice versa.
Imagine Miura sensei working for a shonen magazine...yep that pretty much sums up Claymore. Only Claymore has more pretty girls.
Both stories are dark and violent. Both main characters wield huge swords to kill monsters.
Both are placed at a medieval world with a lot monsters.
Berserk has a superior art and gore level, but Claymore still pretty good.
Both are set in medieval style fantasy setting, although Claymore has main female character and Berserk male, they both figth with big swords, slay demons/monsters from time to time... If you liked one of them you will certainly like the other because they`re so amazing that it can`t be explained with words without spoiling the content.
Although Berserk is senien but the killing and fighting is quite similar just is that Claymore is less dark and better IMO.
Both are violent and got nicely done action scenes and interesting flashbacks. Berserk is set in a more fantasy medieval world while Vinland Saga follows the life of Danish Vikings.
Berserk Golden age part is very similar to Vinland saga, both is about a strong young boy who is a part of a mercenary group and got full respect from the leader who gives him the most important missions.
The art in the two are very close, tho Vinland Saga is a more clean while Berserk is more sketchy and more detailed.
Drawing is almost exactly the same. Not to mention the fact that the stories are very similar. Not nearly as much nudity in Vinland Saga though.
It's similar to the first volumes of Berserk, a kind of medieval historical war story, revolving around a young man.
Similar artwork and also similar level of detail. Also plenty of similar over the top fight scenes however Vinland Saga has more strategy elements than Berserk and has a more merciful approach to the slaughter of women and children
if you read berserk and like it and haven't started reading vinland saga what is wrong with you. vinland saga is very similar to berserks golden age story like before the apostles and sh!t but vinland saga is so much better. berserk was the first manga i read and have been a fan for some time now but vinland saga takes the cake i think. so if you like berserk take a look at vinland saga while you are waiting for the next chapter to come out we all know how long that takes.
Both of them have similiar art. Stories are big and epic. only differense is that vinland saga has no monster it´s more realistic. Its must see series if you like manga like beserk
Berserk and Vinland Saga are alike in many ways... Pacing, Art style, characters, etc. Vinland Saga starts off with Thorfinn who yearns to avenge his fathers death, and works for his fathers killer, while berserk follows the much more mature protagonist Guts, who also yearns to avenge his fallen comrades by cutting down his former ally Griffith. Both characters have similar appearances and goals despite their age difference. Another similarity in pacing is that both stories have an extremely long back story shown early on. Vinland Sagas backstory being around 10 chapters around 5 chapters into the series and Berserks backstory being around 7 volumes 3 volumes in.
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