For my review I will simply break things down by the rating system here and explain my choices. A little background on me.. I have been a Berserk fan since I discovered the series back in 2001. This is the series that originally got me into anime and eventually manga. I have owned and watched the 25 ep anime countless times and have read and own all the currently existing manga chapters. This is my favorite story series, bar none.
Okay, lets begin..
Story: The problem with the story is pacing. The movie leaves off way to many character building moments in favor of action
and try to compress all of it in a laughably short time frame(88mins if I remember correctly). There is simply no time to make the connection with the characters and hurts immersion badly in my opinion. Many scenes were cut and not for the better. To be honest not many movies nowadays have such a short run time and it did not do this one any favors either. The movie needed another hour. Also, for those who expected something more "faithful" to the manga, this movie cuts out just as much, if not more, then the anime but keeps just enough to make sure the story can progress.
Art: To be honest the new style did not bother me visually as much as some other reviews I read have mentioned. I believe some said how.. "it made their eyes bleed" along with other colorful self mutilating descriptions of horror. I will say however, that it is hit or miss. Literally. There are some scenes that are beautiful and really well done but there are also a few parts that are awkwardly animated to say the least. For me it was not a deal breaker but something I did notice. The action segments were well done overall along with most of the still 2d scenes.
Sound: This will be quick. The original anime series soundtrack was better at carrying the mood and keeping a good theme. No contest, hands down, the end. I am glad Susumu Hirasawa was able to contribute "Aria" to the production(which is a fantastic track), but only to hear it once at the beginning intro and not as part of an overall theme was unfortunate.
Characters: I have to say, none of the voice acting wow'd me. Don't get me wrong, it was not awful but the original anime simply had a better voice cast with more versatility. Character design and shading was also funky at times with consistency. I have already mentioned the lack of character development so I won't rehash all of that again.
Overall: As a Berserk fan, its very much watchable. Sad to say though it was not what I hoped for when I was excited to see my series reborn. It could have been done so much better with all the story and material available to use from years of Miuras work. I'm also not sure their abridged version will attract the new fans they hoped which is a shame for a great series. I will admit one caveat, that as the entire movie series is not yet out my comments about character development may change depending how they handle key character and plot moments over the course of the next film. I do also realize how unfair it is to compare it to an anime which had way more content when this movie series is not yet complete. I am holding my judgement on the entire series until I can watch it fully.
My opinion with this movie: As Berserk fan its something you will want to see...but(and it hurts to say this) don't expect to much.
Just earlier this morning upon writing this review, I had the privilege of watching this movie in theaters in Japan. For the longest time, virtually everyone who has watched the original Berserk anime series have endlessly demanded more. And now that day has come upon us though not really in the most idealistic of terms. Many of us wanted a continuation of where the series leaves off, but for now, we have to settle a re-telling of the Golden Age arc which will eventually pave way for the rest of the manga to be adapted.
As for what it is covered, if you're already familiar
with the source material you of course know what to expect and it's once again faithfully adapted (spoiler: there is no blackswordsman arc at the beginning). But I feel that for those already familiar with story, you want to see it with whole new animation which the original series was harshly criticized, then new animation is what you get and it's pretty awesome. But I suppose starting from the Golden Age, it can attract new audiences as well.
The action is very fluid and I feel that the postures and the weight of the armor and swords are properly depicted in the battle scenes. There are no still shots or any corner cutting. It really felt like an animated 300 but without all the trendy slow-mos and bullet time. What I really liked in the opening battle sequence is that the soldiers on both sides show fear in their eyes and that their arms and hands do shake when in battle knowing they could die. I like how more danger is more implemented with the battle scenes. Of course the battle scenes are violent, but I feel there is more psychology behind the battles as well. I like how Guts in his earlier days is portrayed as someone who fights off his experiences and instincts. When he's on that field, to him, it's just a day at the office.
I felt that the shaky camera angles you see in the Borne films was utilized too much. The panning both zooming in and out and the circular shots try to give it a live action feel. At this point, the fighting isn't drastically defying the laws of physics so the action does feel realistic.
What I felt somewhat upset that they changed the voice cast from the original TV series who were also used in the DC and PS2 games. I felt that the new seiyuu for Guts didn't have the same intimidation and that don"t fuck with me attitude that Nobutoshi Canna had. Sakurai Takahiro did capture some of Griffith's qualities but strongly lacked his charisma. Casca's new voice actress is nothing compared to the great Miyamura Yuko. If they could get those voice actors for the games, why not for something as big as this? Was this Miura's choice like masami's when they did the new Saint Seiya oavs?
Thankfully the music is once against compared by Hirakawa Susumu. To me, not having him for the music is like not having Kanno Yoko not doing the music for a Cowboy Bebop sequel and it would also be like Initial D without the Eurobeat. The style is still the same but brought to a whole new intensity appropriate for the epicness this project will bring.
For now, this movie does a great job of being just the beginning of what is to come. I understand this is supposed to be released internationally. I hope when it hits theaters or is on DVD wherever you are, you support this movie.
This movie essentially did to the Berserk franchise what Femto did to Casca!
Berserk is one of the most beloved anime of all time and yet this movie is one of the sloppiest remakes I have ever seen! At least the title is appropriate, because when I first saw the quality of the CG art I indeed went Berserk! Actually, when I first saw the art I laughed because I thought it was a joke. To my sheer horror, I discovered that they were serious. The CG is below the quality of many early titles for the PS2 like Kingdom Hearts or Xenosaga, both
of which were released in 2002! This was released in 2013. The first Metro game on the PC looked better than this and it was made with smuggled computer parts, in Russia, with under 10,000$ budget. What the FUCK was the budget for this abomination?! Now we know why the Lochness Monster in South Park wanted that 3 dollars and fiddy cents, he was financing the Berserk movie. The saddest part of this whole thing is that someone actually looked at this art and actually said, "Yeah, I think this is good enough to release to Berserk fans in 2013". This alone proves that Berserk's dark vision of humanity and its depravity was correct! The producer was willing to sacrifice the Berserk fandom that loved the series, just so he could gain a bit more money and ergo more power. Fuck you Griffith, and fuck this movie!
(This is a review for all three Berserk movies, but
spoiling none of them, so feel free to read it)
Griffith believed that,
regardless of class and status, all men will sooner or later start yearning for their dreams.
The white haired man had concluded that
dreams support men, hurt them, revive them.. and in the end, dreams kill them.
Apropos of this, Guts had no choice but to accept that outlook of his and live by it.
In the world where the aeonian war between Midland and Tudor preserves perpetually for hundreds of years, two extraordinary beingnesses exist. The overpowered mercenary warrior, Guts, whose young years of life render him unaware of towards what direction he should focus his excessive strength to, and the Band of the Hawk. Incidentally, that unawareness of his, has him fighting in the war as an outsider and ensuingly with great skills and a great sword that man marches through death with the sole purpose of feeling alive. A series of coincidences leads Guts to join the infamous mercenary warriors...The Band of the Hawk.. and thus, with the meeting of these two extraordinary beingnesses the story is being set into motion. At the same time, expected aftermath of this union assisting in the war as a Midland force, is the tide of the war to turn in their favor.
The core of the story however lies further, in the individuals leading the band of the Hawk.
Griffith is the definition of nobility, dignity and later on of ambition and obsession.. A role model to his subordinates as well as capable to convince anyone in following him. The white demon with the baronial and angelic form and conduct is the source of inspiration, dreams and desires in the series.. Only, when Griffith comes across Guts, that flawless balance in his predisposition slightly wavers... For the reason that Guts has every potential in becoming Griffith's equal, to be what they dare not utter-a friend- And when Griffith senses that possibility, perhaps subconsciously, he keeps Guts close to him. Be it out of fear of losing the gem he found within the rocks. Be it out of fear of something equal to him existing, he does, and thus a bond of pure and omnipotent friendship is formed. However, Griffith's ambition shines too bright, so bright it engulfs Guts whom stands beside him contributing in that very ambition. And after three years of mutual sympathy and respect, three years with the sweetness of the word friend in the tip of his tongue, his belief is shaken. Because equality to Griffith means being made of the same material, and equality is what Guts' soul desires. Consequently, the only solution in finding a sun of his own is to further away from him, but Griffith's light is long used to Guts' shadow it would wither had he left his side..
Because, if Griffith was a river, he was the mountain.. he flowed through him while he owned the conditions to his survival.. If Guts crumbled, he would perish.. And if Griffith evolved, he would thrive.. none of them knew, none of them admitted, that if one was to change shape, both of them would decay...
And then Casca, whom found in Griffith's face everything she, as an individual, considers to be meritable or deems as wondrous. Because their meeting to Griffith might held the meaning of saving her, but for her it meant reviving her. Casca, who unlike Guts, Griffith's light enhances hers, not putting shade to it..
Her will is admirable..
The fact that she only wants to fight for the person she looks up to, inspiring..
And her feeling of dispirited melancholy for not being able to stand at the point she desires beside him, sorrowful...
On the whole, all characters in Berserk meet the necessary development.. At a point where you may not even notice, but ultimately you end up with a complete global view of everybody's personality and stand in the anime. Those three however, remembering their initial attributes
Griffith, intact purity and charisma
Guts, valiance and immeasurable kindness
Casca, a true Artemis and Athena
it becomes enthralling following the course of these attributes alterability.
(always adjusting logic and objectivity in the terms and concept of the
respective story, a human who kills insatiably is by no means immeasurably kind irl ;) )
Yet another strong asset in Berserk, is the quality of the battle scenes, which even though they do not contain magic, flashy spells, Rasengan and Santoryu in general, they are addicting to the eyes and fit to keep you at the edge of your seat. Furthermore, aside brute strength, those scenes could also be characterized by intelligence, the strategies Griffith is coming up with in particular, to many viewers the capture of the impenetrable fortress of Doldrey might seem similar to the battle for defending the Ring of Isengard in Lord of the Rings, or at least not less riveting. At the largest part, the desire of the characters to conquer the world becomes your instant desire. The strain in Guts' billion muscles as he faces powerful opponents or intimidating number of enemies becomes fleeting strain in your respective number of muscles. The length of the series do not allow much development in political affairs, however the general vibe of the civilization and culture in Berserk feels like the one in Game of Thrones, multi-dimensional and partly rotten.
When it comes to the direction, it has to be said that it is simply amazing, be it because it's a movie and they took greater and more careful care of it, be it for the reason that it is a rerun and they know what to improve, the point is that the scenes succeeding each other will never get you bored. One might easily watch all three movies in a row, for the plot is unpredictable the battles enthralling and the characters alluring.
And of course the strategies during the war, as well as the vibe of thousands of fists raised in the air swinging their swords might remind you of Lord of the Rings.
The massive palaces and castles, the mythical atmosphere, the rotten predisposition of the privileged and the overall medieval culture might remind you of Game of Thrones.
However, the red Behelit hanging around Griffith's neck, extends beyond Macbeth's tragedy, it's the monopolistic touch that only a mangaka can add, the mystery and the darkness that gathers all good concepts together to transform them into Berserk...
As far as the artistic part is concerned. For starters, the art in the manga is known for its high level, known for the detail each panel contains as well as the fluid, realistic and clear fighting scenes. Therefore, the movies that are its adaptation and an improved version of the tv anime, bring forth the dynamic attributes of Berserk in all of its glory.. Studio 4°C had Toshiyuki Kubooka take Miura Kentarou's masterpiece and elaborate it into an action, fantasy and seinen adventure as the perfect prologue to the source. The water feels alive, the color of the trees appealing and the stone and marble all castles and towers are made of, coarse or silky inside your very palm.
On top of that we have Susumu Hirasawa performing-he also composed it-Aria, the insert song in all three movies. Aria, a dynamic, epic opera insinuating everything that will follow in a most effective and dulcet way. And then, Shiro Sagisu composed and arranged the soundtracks for the series.. the piano and violin everytime leaves fly around a serious conversation.. the opera in between the dust caused by the horses galloping and the steel meeting steel... and the heavy organ heightening the tension at crucial moments.. All in all, music in Berserk has a feel of professionalism and it sure is a notable component of the show.
In conclusion, a characteristic that needs to be noted is the broody, hectic and dark part of the anime.. as far as the first half of the third movie, the show is so worthwhile that one who doesn't enjoy blood in particular might not mind it...The conclusion of the story however takes an incredibly different turn towards dark fantasy that made me rush over to the pc next day to confirm whether what I had watched last night was real.. At first glance, the conclusion of the movies seems unreasonably unjustified, like there is no explaining why the author would create such an appealing, sophisticated story only to give it that kind of ending.. but then I found out that in fact, the movies are a fascinating prologue to the manga.. so for those who can not handle violence, be aware that the third movie contains 18+ material.
Berserk is the story of the venerable Lord Hawk, the woman whose emotions shifted her structure into a warrior's metal one, and of Guts, the man owning every shred of the word valiance, devotion and integrity all wrapped into the concept of outrageous swordplay and ominous fate... a story bringing its title to life.
I first saw the original Berserk TV series about 2 years ago and thought it was pretty good. By 'pretty good' I mean I consider it to be the greatest story ever told, better than The Odyssey, Hamlet, Citizen Kane and Big Oiled Butts 3 combined. 15 years later they've brought out a Berserk movie. A trilogy no less, the first of which was just released in good old illegal format for all of us dirty foreign pirate scum to watch. Early impressions: They've changed a few things. Very few things.
The movie covered about 10 episodes of the original, from when Guts first meets Griffith
to the part where the assassination attempts start happening in the royal court. They cut out a fair amount of scenes, the most noticeable of which being there was no naked water fight. Seriously, no naked water fight means you might as well not call it Berserk anymore. Not that the homoerotic subtext isn't there anymore. Forget subtext, Guts outright states that he'll happily be Griffith's whore. Berserk has always ridden on their relationship and how closely interlinked their goals in life are and how they define each other, so at the very least they got that part right.
The movie did cut out a lot of content, as I mentioned before, but the fact that the only content I can recall them skipping was the naked water fight goes a long way to showing how what they cut out wasn't vital to the story. It did feel a bit mechanical the way they jumped from plot point to plot point, making the movie feel disjointed like you could feel the gaps where the episode would normally end or the manga chapter would cut out, but perhaps this is only noticeable to me as a fan of the original. They still got across the importance of the relationship between Guts and Griffith, along with Casca's jealousy, which is all that really matters.
The main big change they made, apart from streamlining the story, was the animate the movie entirely in CG. As much as I hate to chime along with everyone else who talks about this movie, but the majority in correct in this case. The CG simply does not look good. It might look good compared to many of the other CG anime I've seen over the years, but it still looked awkward and unnatural. From the trailers I thought the character animation for the CG looked fantastic, but now having watched the movie I have to confess that those scenes I thought were great CG were actually just standard 2D animation. When they cut to the free-flowing CG stuff it looked plasticky and artificial.
The use of CG ties into something else bigger going on with the tone of this Berserk movie. The movie is going for a more high epic fantasy adventure rather than the gloomy gritty affair that was the original TV series. This does come with its own set of problems though. The fight scenes in Berserk are as bloody as hell, with characters heads being cleaved in two and arms flying around and the camera being smeared with blood. The original Berserk had all this as well, but here it felt gratuitous and immature, like you had some suger-rushing 15 year old boy off camera going "fuck yeah now cut his head orf yeah!".
The original Berserk was harsh and brutal. The level of violence fit the tone because it was a tough world they lived in and people die and have brown smeared over everything. By no means do I have anything against high fantasy, what with the Lord of the Rings movies being my favourite movies of all time. But with this mechanical look and bright colour palette, the gore feels out-of-place. I maintain that the best fully CG anime is Fireball, precisely because the fake mechanical look to CG works when the characters are all robots. It doesn't suit something that's as gritty and dirty as Berserk is. God only knows how they're going to handle what happens later on in the story when shit really gets brutal.
That brings me on nicely to my final point about this movie. This Berserk remake trilogy plans to cover the 'Golden Age' arc, which is exactly the same material the original TV series covered. It's still the same old Berserk story. That story may be fantastic. The duel between Guts and Griffith where Guts bites down on the sword is still an awesome scene, as is the washed up Guts standing on the stairs after the assassination and looking up at Griffith as he gives his speech about dreams. These are still powerful scenes that show Berserk is as great a story as it always was, even in this streamlined version. But it brings so little new to the table to Berserk that I don't get why it exists. What little it does bring, shifting the tone to a more high fantasy one, makes the darker and more brutal elements of the story seem gratuitous and silly. I'll have to wait to watch the rest of the trilogy to make some sort of final statement on this, but I don't think this is really worth watching. If you're a newcomer, watch the original TV series or pick up the manga if you're more of a manga person. At least those versions have the naked water fight.
I'd give this a resounding, and low toned "meh." at best. I hear great things about Berserk. The few episodes I've seen of the anime are wonderful, and I plan to watch the rest and even started buying the manga. I had quite high hopes for this movie, since the rest has been great. That may contribute to why I was let down. This movie is frankly crap, and if you like Berserk, do yourself a favor and skip this in particular.
The character development is rushed, and poorly explained at best. Guts feels very shallow, and Griffith is even more shallow. The story line would
be okay if they dove into more parts. The intro, before we know much about Guts here, is awesome. And it's all downhill from there. The pacing is off. I felt *obligated* to like this and watch it the rest of the way, but I regret that decision now.
Judged on its own merits, it's good. As a remake of the 1998 anime or an adaptation of the manga, it's awful.
Part of the problem is trying to cram so many events into such a short movie. We barely get a glimpse into Guts' past, and nothing about Griffith or Caska, which is central to understanding them. We don't see all but one of the battles the Hawks win, many of which are vital to the story. And even that lone victory is abbreviated. No one in the Band of the Hawk except Griffith, Guts, and Caska gets any attention. Judeau gets a
few speaking lines and is a non-entity. Pippin and Rickert aren't even introduced by name and spend a few seconds in the background of scenes.
Perhaps worst of all, Caska comes across as a dumb bitch. Caska is a fine character and her unique relationship with Guts develops over the course of dozens of interactions and numerous battles over the course of many years. She is intelligent and the third-most skilled member of the Band of the Hawk with a sword. In the movie, she is just loud, annoying, petty, self-centered, and incompetent. A shame.
Aside from bowdlerizing the story and characters, even the presentation of the battles is lackluster. Battles are shortened, and don't convey their awe-inspiring size and scope in the manga or earlier anime. While I'm not as massively against the 3D animation as most are, it's definitely disappointing in several places. Most prominently in the Nosferatu Zodd fight, as the amazing Zodd looks clunky in both forms. Also, there was no "Forces", the iconic song that plays during the battle scenes, and is more perfectly suited for the Berserk universe and its battles than Griffith is for yaoi fan fiction. While it was released 14 years later, the movie is far more primitive and inferior to the anime series in presentation in every way.
I could go on and on. This movie was disappointing, feeling like a cheap cash-in on the franchise.
Berserk Golden Age: Egg of the high King is hard to see as a stand alone with the original series preceding it serving as a standard of comparison. Yet to properly appreciate the attempt made one has to look at it from a stand alone perspective.
The story is basically of a vagabond by the name of Guts, who is extremely skilled with the sword or rather has enough brute strength and skill to defeat ranked opponents. This is when he meets Griffith - a man of grace and charm (that may as well be mistaken for a woman) but skills that surpass Guts'. Guts is
forced in a way, to join the Mercenary group that Griffith leads of which Griffith's loyal and skilled swordswoman Casca is not happy about and the story continues with their involvement with a Kingdom and the politics that is at play there. Alongside, the relationship between the three major characters already mentioned surfaces and they see glimpses between the natural and supernatural.
Converging the anime into three movies is undeniably a huge task. This is something that has to be grasped before criticism. Scenes had to be omitted and there were characters that could not be introduced. But if we compare with the original anime, much flaws will be seen. Keeping in mind what the purpose of this movie was, we can analyze it more neutrally.
Now coming to critically analyzing the aspects:
The story, as described above is good - it holds the elements of maturity, an accurate presentation of the era shown and a glimpse that the show will have both mythical creatures and reality but entwined in a well defined way. While this holds, the feeling of incompleteness lingers. I saw the movie before I saw the anime and I had had this feeling beforehand. How time seems to be skipping, how only major storyline based events seem to be shown. It feels that the ending is reached a lot earlier than it should have. If we compare it with the original anime we see further issues with the storyline but I will not bring them up. Thus, while good, the story felt incomplete and a bit hasty.
CG animation has been coupled in places with the traditional animation like in Ghost in the Shell: Innocence. For me, it produced a good effect. The animation was realistic, well defined, with suitable color selection and shadow generation. Expressions, environment, small details, all seemed to have been done tremendously well. While the animation seemed flickery at places, it didn't bother enough to point that out as a great negative.
The main attribute of sound was to replicate the atmosphere that comes with warfare. That was done well. Scenes that displayed outdoor sitting were also well complimented and the music themes in the back also did justice to the movie.
With little natural procession there comes the problem of not enough time for characters to properly display their personalities. Keeping that in mind, Berserk handled that well - while only the major characters got much screen time, secondary characters like Members of Band of the Hawk and the Royalties were defined quite wel. There weren't too many situations for full development but nonetheless it was good. Especially with Guts, Griffith, Casca, Jedeau, Pippin, The king, Princess... rather there was a fixed number of secondary characters (different than the original anime) that were given reasonable development.
Despite the hastiness of the plot and the exclusion of a "normal life" touch from the movie, it delivered well it terms of bringing a realistic anime portrayed in the era of Kingdoms and warfare which also showed a tinge of supernatural but did not over do it. The story shows potential as well if the slight issues are coped up with in the mind. The game just starts and while the original series takes it more seriously, the first part of the movie leaves a fine ending.
Thanks for reading! Any constructive feedback is appreciated!
I do not care about so called “pretty colors” and sounds. They are serviceable here and honestly that is enough for the story, which is the most important aspect here.
I also do not care if my points are nit-picking for some, because they played important role to me.
I may use some buzzwords, as soon as they are self-explanatory, because I’m not motivated to elaborate everything.
I do not remember original anime or manga that well, to compare them with this, but I dislike them too.
English is not my native language and I have close to zero experience in writing essays, so prepare for errors.
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS
(Looking at ratings, of course it will harm readers enjoyment)
He is just a blockhead and only swings his sword, no intelligence whatsoever and zero tactics (only used dead body to defend himself from arrows). Despite being lone wolf and doing nothing besides fighting from the childhood, he is still alive. I am not saying that it is impossible, but come on, his battles are not regular one-vs-ones. Not only that, he is also strongest man alive and kills everyone with ease, somehow. He may even be teenager, but managed to wound (One of the strongest?) demon, who wasn’t wounded for like 200 years and dude was not even seriously damaged, after demon went //BERSERK//.
His backstory is extremely vague. He fled from someone and… that is it. It may excuse his stubbornness and that is all. Even his personality is not fleshed-out – we only know two things: 1) He hates being a knight and such, just because. It is not that you can use status for personal gain, like any other and have a fake layer of personality or something; 2) It is implied by Griffith, that he fights just because that is the only way for him to feel alive, but story does not care about that, nor it is developed. – So yeah, he is just a Plot Device and does not even want to not be one (I know that he rejected Griffith, but he achieved nothing and returned back, so what was the point? Oh yeah – to artificially proceed the story in a way the author wanted)
And this brings me to another point of mine – His character is constantly rewritten, like, three years was skipped and “First Thing We Know” completely disappeared and now he has friends (in the previous scenes, there were like no-names for Guts and they even captured him with force), aka important things happened and we do not know how. Also, he is selfish and listens to nobody for three years of lecture and still says that Caska’s wrong about that.
He is just an archetypal Charismatic Leader. Other than that, He has neither backstory, nor any personality traits, expect for few smiles, but they do not define his character, do they? And he does absolutely nothing by himself, so why is he even considered as charismatic? He is also considered to be a genius mastermind or something, but in reality, he did nothing in that department, too, because everything comes down to Guts butchering everyone. He even asked GUTS to ASSASSINATE someone in castle. Blockhead = Assassin, yeah, right… and where are the damned guards? That means, any other enemy can ask any other soldier to assassinate someone in enemy’s castle? Guts also kills some child, who arrived conveniently. Not for the sake of shock factor at all. Also, why did he wanted to kill that guy? From his point of view, guy was just passing by. Sure, dude was bitching in front of Griffith, but how can one conclude that he hired an assassin? I mean, who wouldn’t bitch and abuse his position to some mercenaries. You just can’t be sure and what kind of solution was to kill him? Indeed, teenager…
Well, he is pro-active towards his goal, so at least that means something? Nope. You see, he is the chosen one so that destiny acts like a plot armor and that nullifies any interest of his character, if it even existed. I mean, he literally can’t have a choice.
Some praise his dynamics with Guts, but I do not see appeal. There is just a little contrast there: Both are retarded, but Griffith acts like he is not. Both are the strongest warriors alive, but Guts is stronger. Both has that rage face, but Guts uses it more openly and so on. You can’t even compare them to Rakugo’s duo. I mean, in almost every not-bad story you can find better details.
Caska is whiny (and jealous?) bitch with no real reason. A plot device and also not fleshed-out, like any other character.
They all have no backstory, are unlikeable, forgettable and, of course, not interesting with 2-3 minutes of screen time. At least they are not some pedo maniacs…
Very first scene is just a random battle. We know no one, We know nothing about battle, thus we do not have a reason to care. The war against The Tudors is an afterthought.
World-building is just a background decoration and is as superficial as possible.
Story is rushed as hell. In one scene they are not friends, in next one they are and in next one they are fighting demon, who appeared out-of-nowhere and we didn’t even know that they existed.
Battles are horrible. Not only it is just Guts butchering others, it is also inconsistent. In his first battle he almost died versus one strong dude and then cuts demon, who was not damaged for 200 years. He cut that big ass sword and then Griffith easily reflected his attack and was even able to kill him in one hit. But in the next movie Guts will defeat him.
Humans first time in their lives see a demon and they just do not care?! Caska just saw Guts killing that huge guy and then is surprised, because Guts is strong?! Making a deal, while you barely can walk?! Griffith talks about friendship to princess, while can’t notice Guts and Caska, who appeared there conveniently (I mean, that was the only important sentence there), in front of him?! And they heard absolutely everything from there?! Guts wants to be a friend of Griffith, but he wants to be ordered, instead of asked?! Some teenagers are dominating the world in such little time?! Experienced guys doing nothing but whine?? Here Nosferatu said (Or implied) that Guts will be sacrificed because of destiny, but he and Caska survived?! WHATS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?!
Movie is unfinished and can’t stand on its own, because nothing was resolved here.
But hey, at least there are no boring boyscouts, there is some political intrigue, there is close to zero fan-service, there are stakes and that playboy pun was hilarious. It really deserves one or two points.
Ever since I came across the manga, Berserk has always been one of my top favorite series of all time. I finished the manga in a few hours because I couldn't stop reading, it was like I was possesed. The story is incredible, and the art kept getting better and better so of course after I finished the manga I wanted to check out the anime, and boy I wasn't disappointed albeit I was unhappy that it ended so short. It covered the most popular and best rated arc of the series, the "Band of the Hawks Arc". When I heard about the movies, I
was overjoyed that after 15 years have gone by since the anime ended, we're going to have new Beserk animation again!
This movie is about a young mercenary fighter called Guts who doesn't really have any purpose in life except fighting and making a living day by day just to survive. Another young charming and mysterious man called Griffith witnesses Guts in action and immediately recognizes his potential and wants to do anything to get him to join his Band of the Hawks. Of course Guts is reluctant at first, but eventually gives up and Griffith makes Guts "his" and joins the band.
Compared to the manga and the anime, I felt they toned down a little bit the gore and gave off a less darker feel than the anime. However you can't deny the superb quality of the animation and the amazing use of CGI. Many people complained about the increase in quality and CGI use which baffles me, because I couldn't help but notice the beautiful visuals there is in this movie and the fighting scenes are just done right. Many Berserk fans should appreciate this.
Another thing I always liked about Berserk is the theme about friendship and betrayal. It's not a secret how close Guts and Griffith become, even giving the most important and secretive tasks to Guts rather than anyone else in the band. This series reminds me of Gungrave and the relationship between the main character and his best friend, one who is doing the "dirty work" and with the exceptional fighting skills, and the other trying to rise to the top of the food chain in the business they are involved in. Also the character development of Guts, from someone who knows nothing but fighting and just doing anything necessary to live just another day, developing into someone who comes to care about his comrades and even finds a dream of his own is simply beautiful to watch. Of course, this is portayed a lot better in the anime and manga, which is why people shouldn't start Berserk by watching the movies first.
As I said before though, I think there is a lot of Berserk material from the manga to work with, not just the "Band of the Hawks Arc", and while I appreciate the improved quality and CGI use in the movies, I honestly believe it would have been better if we could have gotten a continuation of the anime which left off on a cliffhanger years ago. The manga is still not over, it's been at least 26 years albeit countless hiatus from the author and many people who don't read manga which are fans of the series would want to know what happened after the anime.
They also changed the voice cast of the series, but after 15 years that was to be expected imo. I like the new voice cast to be honest, I think they did a great job so far especially with Griffith. The music wasn't as good as the anime, a series like this needs to have a more darker tone especially when it comes to fighting, you have to feel the evil and danger the characters put themselves up against. The anime's soundtrack is mind-blowing, they should have gone for a similar feel. The OST of the anime is one of the best anime soundtracks I've ever heard, and I'm seriously not exaggerating!
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed watching this movie, it felt like 30 minutes have gone by instead of 1hr 16mins. I'd recommend this to any fan after completing the anime, and I recommend Berserk to anyone! This series is just fanastic, but it should cover more material from the manga because it feels so leftout and there are more amazing characters introduced which the anime failed to do so by ending on a cliffhanger. I hope these three movies which I have yet to finish aren't the only ones we're getting. Let's pray they will animate the rest of the manga.
The idea of a series of high-budget Berserk films is a fantastic one, but to truly be successful in storytelling through films around an hour in length, a studio would have to be quite risky in being willing to release a larger quantity of films to cover the first arc of Berserk than simply three films. Now, I haven't yet seen the next two movies, so I couldn't say that the transition there is quite as it is here, but what part of the manga this one movie covers is enough to tell there's a problem with pacing and with priorities.
Firstly, let's just get into
the clear upgrade from the original anime to this, being the visuals and sound. Take note I say this is a "clear upgrade" while I don't personally agree with it myself, but I just want to explain what could easily be considered upgraded from the higher budget (or 'output' if that makes those who don't see budget and performance eye to eye feel better). The first thing this film carries that the original anime doesn't quite match up to is the wide-scale battles that can be clearly seen all around. It also features more battles, and no repeated frames in the process. There is plenty of action in just this first film, but let me explain why that's the case. Many likely already heard this from somewhere, but this trilogy of Berserk Golden Age movies use computer-generated imagery (CGI). For some that's an immediate turn-off, and that will be all down to preference. Personally, I've seen some quite pleasurable CGI in Fate Zero that's convinced me that CGI in anime has potential if there is enough work put into it. The thing with this movie of the Golden Age trilogy is that there really is a good deal of CGI, considerably more than the actual drawn artwork. Now that could sound as if I'm considering that a negative, but I'm not. The reason I point that out is that more CGI would inherently mean that more work would need to be put in to make it all look up to snuff with the animation. Also, the mix of CGI and animation brings about the other obstacle of frame-rate and how it should be handled. For Fate Zero, it felt that generally the frame-rate of the CGI would met to the cinema standard of 24 frames per second. However, that decision didn't quite seem to carry out all the way to Berserk, while the film is technically in 24 frames. There are smooth moments with the CGI in this film, but there also seems to be more moments where the CGI is artificially dropped in frames to match that of the animation - or in an attempt to prepare the eyes for animation just around the corner. The problem with that choice is that there is usually more CGI on the screen than animation, meaning that all of this CGI will feel a bit unnatural and raise awareness of it's choppiness. The reason anime is done at a lower frame-rate than live-action is because animators usually don't have the time to animate something that goes through 24 images in one second. CGI is made by programs that could easily output the movements made at basically any frame-rate needed, but 24 is generally the lowest to make it look smooth in cinema. So, the problem with the CGI here is that it doesn't feel to be the focus of the frame-rate, while it clearly has more of a place in the movie. Watching it for over an hour like this can likely cause some visual discomfort for some, while some of the moments are certainly cool still.
Another thing I return to, with visuals in mind, is the overload of CGI and the work that would have to be put in to polish it all to perfected levels (using Fate Zero's work as the potential level of quality). Looking at all (reaffirming the "all") that is here, however, I wouldn't say it's quite what I would call polished all around. Main characters tend to be drawn at least half of the time they're on screen, while the vast majority of background character tend to be drawn at a rate of approximately twenty percent (a guestimation). There are plenty of copy-paste faces on background characters and very basic looking texture-work to many of them. I can see that Studio 4°C was trying to replicate hand-drawn animation in their CGI, but that simply doesn't work with most of what they've made here. The constant transitions of specific characters from hand-drawn in one angle to CGI at another is extremely blatant and quite unconvincing. There will even be some scenes where emotion is intended to be fed out from these CGI replacement characters, and it just doesn't always work. Now the scenes that don't work usually tend to be of them at a distance on screen, but this is a movie that was made for the theatres and for a big screen, so things like that wouldn't be hard at all to notice (as it isn't on my smaller screen). Also, with so much motion done by these clearly distinct CGI characters, when they stand motionless it doesn't convince the viewer that they're composed as (at least to me) I continue to expect them to move at any moment as it would be very easy for them to do so. Yet, some scenes do use CGI characters in un-moving situations and it, again, just doesn't work and kinda ruins some moments. But beyond CGI, the hand-drawn parts of this movie are great. The motion is all fluid, and the quality control to the art is very fine. The one nitpick I'd have to it though is that sometimes Guts' face will be proportioned in a different way, like there's two designs of his face they're working with. One design would have a longer jaw that we're more used to from the original anime, while the other seems to have these somewhat odd puffy cheeks - but it's nothing too note-worthy (and it isn't a difference of age as the changed proportions can happen at the change of an angle).
Music tends to be a quite subjective thing with no clear way of bring able to prove if something is better or not, but I could certainly see many say that they think the soundtrack of this movie is better than that of the original anime's. The main difference I see, however, is in the style they both take. The original anime tended to have a darker tone attached to it, throughout. To match that darker tone, the soundtrack had this edgy electric vibe that sounded quite distinct in being able to be bring to mind "Berserk" when one heard it. The music felt clearly defined as the "Berserk" soundtrack. What is here, however, is just good symphony and that isn't a bad thing. The negative I'd see being said is that it isn't quite unique as it isn't too distinct from other movies in the cinema, but the soundtrack is still clearly good if the person in question liked classical stuff. I also feel that the music does do well at times to making this interpretation of Berserk feel quite different than that of the original anime, feeling a bit more fantastical. However, beyond preference of one to the other, one issue I had with the music is that each track tended to carry on specific emotions longer than their welcome. The pace of the movie would tend to go just a bit faster than the relaxed soundtrack, having music that doesn't fit later actions still playing with them. Having music designed that way makes it feel as though the soundtrack isn't too considerate of what's happening on screen. To many people, this probably won't even be noticeable and many might even wonder why I care. Well, the reason why I care is that I simply see that as bad sound-directing by not making use of audio to intensify emotions felt from elements of a movie's plot. A manga, as Berserk originally was, has no soundtrack and can only work with limited visuals and writing. That is still a step ahead from books in being able to express things differently, but when moving up to film, you now have the ability to use sound. When sound isn't used to it's full potential by playing along to events rather than on it's own, I just can't help but note that as bad sound-directing.
Now, I mentioned earlier that there was an issue I had with the pacing of this movie. Let me first explain that this entire trilogy will likely take place within the manga's Golden Age Arc (as the title of the movie). The original anime also took place in the Golden Age Arc of the manga. The thing is that this one movie goes through events that head up to the tenth episode of the original anime. The original anime has twenty-five episodes in total, so how these three movies are weighed in that respect is already uneven. Now, there could be a few extra bits added in from the manga that weren't present in the original anime, but those are still insignificant in length to justify how this is being weighed. What sucks about this choice of rushing the first movie is that the events of this first movie is literally the development of the main character of the franchise, Guts. If the studio had to rush through to make the time-limit of three one-hour movies, this would be the last one I'd rush. With no proper development in Guts' character, the story isn't really there in being effective anymore. For me, the tugs at Guts' composure and how he acted after was what was most entertaining to the whole story. Sure it's cool to see Guts' swing his metal slab and have torsos spinning, but that will clearly get old fast. What keeps interest is the plot, and this movie puts in favor the studio's aesthetic talent over that. Also, there were some minor changes to scenarios that merged speech to make things proceed quicker. The issue with this is that some of these moved dialogue gives character development from the wrong person to basically make the entire scenario now different in how it feels. Some moved dialogue even strips out character development entirely, and one previously enjoyable character - Julius - basically loses all personality. Also, a number of these shifts related to an important character Griffith making him feel a bit more openly lighthearted and innocent than the original manga and anime made him feel. In those, Griffith always felt mysterious and somewhat unpredictable in how he feels at every moment. However, here Griffith almost feels like an open book. His original development is another loss to the transition process, while also muddying him up by them slightly mishandling him.
This movie really was just a disappointment to me. One thing I did fail to mention though was the quite fantastic visual directing. While the sound-directing and story layout didn't quite work out, the visual directing worked well. The one thing I didn't like about it though was, again, the artificial tampering of the CGI frame-rate. It really would've been more visually pleasing to just go all-out CGI and raise the frame-rate up to 24 all around the board. The other thing they could've done (which would've been the best choice in my opinion) would be to scrap out the CGI and only use it sparingly, also making all of the cast fully hand-drawn. This would mean less open battlefields, but I'd personally be fine with that as it'd allow for more time to fit in the development that is missing here. One last thing I will note on to frame-rate is that twice in this movie the director chooses to not only slow the CGI frame-rate down to the hand-drawn frame-rate, but to lower it even more to create a disoriented feeling that - ironically - was already there to begin with (for me at least) due to the sluggish look of much of the CGI prior. Lowering it even more just makes it feel kind-of ridiculous. And one of these slow-down moments is at a crucially important moment of Guts' character development, and we need to be seeing him at that time and not some slow-down disorientation. It just doesn't work in presenting how he felt before he's pit into more action that sucks out the possible self-questioning that he should've been shown feeling, which would also prepare for his changed look in a later scene that ends up feeling a bit blunt and unconnected.
Overall, this movie is not what someone should expose themselves to first when venturing into the Berserk franchise. Heck, the intro basically spoils all of the plot, even a tad for me when I've read over 200 chapters of the manga (well beyond the Golden Age arc). When exposing oneself to Berserk either watch the anime or read the manga. These movies are more of some extra entertainment to be had afterwards, if you can muster through the frame-rate and CGI. Many people want more movies to this, but the fact they already messed up one of my favorite parts of the story already makes me glad they stopped. I want them to wait it out a bit and for someone else to try this again some time in the future. I think even just retrying this release formula could work, but they'd definitely need to consider being more relaxed with the pacing. Since the movies come out and can fund themselves, I would think they would just keep making these theoretical remakes 'til people were finally uninterested - which likely won't happen soon with Berserk. Good try Studio 4°C, but ya' blew it.
First off, I'm not a kind reviewer, especially when it comes to my favorite story of all times, Berserk. Also, I recommend whoever is interested in this show to either read the manga or watch the anime first, because you will get the wrong impression from this alone. Finally, if you know the old anime you probably won't be spoiled anything, but everything between brackets or about the plot is best avoided if you haven't watched anything and are planning to watch the old anime.
On the opening sequence of the battle: I found the animation to thow me off and annoying as heck. New
tecnology was favoured over the original intensity and better humanization of the characters. The "epic battle" looked a lot like a ripoff from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and was completely unnecessary.
Also, the animation might look good in comparison to the stills in a 90 movie, but it's in no way realistic. Constant movement doesn't make a good animation, and when overused it kills the emotion because they are not making you enter the battle. Instead of moving around like mindless puppets, you have to consider weight, muscular strain, force of impact in a blow (which I saw done only once: Gatsu' battle with Caska). You can have great movement when you balance the 3D animation with real life movement. Take a Pixar movie for example: it's all 3D, caricaturesque, and you still can see a real human moving that way. This movie does not do that.
Though I have to give it to them on the gore of the first scene, the rest did nothing for me. The art, I must admit, also annoyed me, not only because I was used to another kind of character design, but because the faces are not as expressive. The overuse of the shadows and the brightness effects killed me.
And god was I annoyed to no end by the music. As a composer myself, I was completely unmoved. I found it was all so very unoriginal and abusive of obvious resources. I don't know how it's even comparable to Susumu Hirasawa OST, without which the series lacked its original feel.
About the director... it's not bad, but he didn't make any brilliant calls either. And good as it was that Susumu Hirasawa composed the intro "Aria", it did little to improve the major disaster that was the "opening" sequence. Anyone who knows anything about how to make a film knows you CANNOT be adding 2D patches -be it fire or whatever- in front of moving pictures (check the Berserk PS2 videogame opening if you want to see how to make that sequence correctly). It felt fake and bad taste and dizzing, which made it, again, annoying.
But I haven't even covered the most important part: the story. I knew they wouldn't be able to fit everything but, if there was a way to defile such a great story as that of Berserk it was by omiting a lot of important details. It's like they took only the most cliché parts of the epic story of Berserk and made it superficial and lacking. Neither does the movie find the time to develop the characters' relationship with one another, which is a pityful thing, with coherence-hurting consequences.
It also affected dramatism and the impact of happenings: as for the removal of characters, of course, some of those removals would be more questionable than others, like how they erased the bald politician and, together with him, his conspiration plot, and I'm guessing they will cut off the Queen assasination entirely.
And it hurt verisimilitude: whoever has a grasp about Japanese animation knows these people added cliché where originally there was none (Griffith saying he would chose the place Gatsu dies is a common resource with samurai and their lords, it feels odd in an occidental medieval setting. The same goes for the gossiping nobles.)
On the list of very bad calls, the worst might have been that they jumbled together significant dialogs that would help delve into the psyche of the characters, only to add redundancy instead (Griffith saying Gatsu is "his", a commoner getting a nobility title being scandalous - we get it, move on).
I was somewhat relieved they seemed to capture Griffith's childish behavior, but they left out the truly bright and calculating side of him. From this alone you won't understand why Gryffith was so captivating to those who followed him, you know nothing of his impressive strategies and never get his smooth talking winning him a nobility title and the heart of (almost) all he met. Most of all, you miss how intelligently he made his way to the royal court and the things he had to do to achieve it. (Gryffith selling his body to get gold for the Band of the Hawk, anyone?)
But also, things like why Caska is mad at Gatsu all the time, along with why Gatsu is a "mad dog" or why people joined Griffith without him ever asking, all are completely unclear. They also showed nothing of Gatsu's past, which in turn would explain why him holding the hand of Adonis was significant, or how other actions were similarly important, like Gatsu's traumatic childhood that will later translate into his other traumas and why he identifies best with children and women than the men who abuse them. (Just how honorable our hero Gatsu is, a guy who kills people for a living suddenly shocked because he killed a little boy... isn't there a big explanation missing here? Or are we just hypocritic?)
What about the Witches' Hanging Tree? What about some explanation as to why Caska, a woman, is a mercenary? Why does Gatsu even think Gryffith as a friend and not just a playful boss? Get my meaning? This things is totally lacking and fatally incomplete!
Finally... my last complain is that if these are only three movies, I'm going to get pissed they used up most of the screen time in the retelling of the old series instead of developping the part after the Eclipse. Now I feel like most of what was told about the new movies and how much it would cover was false advertisement.
When i had heard that they were planning to release movies under the Berserk name, i was very excited to say the least. i had never expected them to pick up berserk again since the anime ran quite a long time ago. i had originally thought that the movies would continue the brutal ending of the anime as the show really left you on a cliffhanger making you want a lot more, however thats not what this movie is.
this ova, as im sure the other two are going to be, are retellings of the series that had already had an anime adaptation, kinda like dragonball
did with the path to power movie (if you know what im talking about). i was a bit disappointed with this, but dont think in any way that this is going to effect my rating of this movie. i plan on rating this movie with a few things in mind. one way is by comparison to the original anime, and second, as someone would expect going into this movie without any previous knowledge of the berserk series.
right off the bat as i first started watching the movie, i had noticed something that would bother and distract me throughout the entire movie. the animation. the original berserk series had amazing hand drawn art to it with a gritty feel from the colors they used. within the first second of this movie i thought i was watching someone play a bad cross between diablo and the sims. i hate, hate, hate, this new idea of adding random 3d rendering to anime that would otherwise look great without it. i just dont understand the reasoning, except for laziness and cutting costs. it in no way adds to the artistic design or overall atmosphere of the movie, but instead distracts you and makes you realized how much or a drastic difference there is between the amazing hand drawn portions and the crummy 3d renders. maybe your someone who doesnt have a problem with this kind of animation, but to me its terrible, especially when comparing to the original. the only part that had 3d rendering to me that was decent was zodd, because they stylized him in a cool way at least.
for the story, what your getting is a watered down quick version of the series most important parts. the characters also have slightly different personalities, namely griffith who has been feminized to the extreme. yes, he was slightly feminine in the original, but not this much. not a terrible thing but just mentioning that he is different. alot of the scenes just dont flow well either, where in one scene you have something that is dark and should leave a lasting affect on the viewer, and then quickly cuts to something completely different leaving no time for a lasting impression. your also not going to get any deep character development in this short amount of time.
overall, i would have to say that this movie was a bit disappointing, and i know that if this is how i was introduced to berserk, i would not have liked it. the hand drawing is very nice, but the laziness of the animators using the rendering shows that they could have tried a lot harder. im hoping the next ones will be better
For a hundred years Midland and Chuder have fought one another. Guts is a wandering mercenary, taking advantage of the war to make his living. In his wanderings he catches the eye of Griffith, the young leader of an up-and-coming band of mercenaries. The meeting isn't a happy one. Guts kill some of Griffith's men and Griffith stabs Guts in the chest. But Griffith is taken with Guts' skills, and duels with him to force him into his mercenary corps, the fabled Band of the Hawk. Years pass. Despite his hot temper and frequent clashes with Griffith's lady lieutenant Casca, Guts
has made his place in the Band and grown fast friends with the brilliant and ambitious Griffith. Through siege and raid, against man and immortal demon, assassin and scheming noble, Griffith and his band rise ever victorious through Midland's ranks. And always at his right hand is fierce Guts, trusted with all the dirtiest and most dangerous of his tasks.
You know, I actually have something to tell you about me looking into the series and the movies….well, the first movie and the fact that I watch that first even before heading into the series. I know that the movies are more manga-centered as it covers as the film states The Golden Age Arc and I know for a fact that the movies is parallel to Berserk TV episodes 2-10, only with slightly advanced animation and speaking of that, the animation has switched from Oriental Light & Magic to Studio 4°C and like the TV series, there is some bad flaws to it, such as it can look a bit clunky and jarring at times and the CG often clashes with the background, making it look more fake than it already is, however, some characters do look more detailed than the TV series and the backgrounds are slightly more appealing to look at.
For the story and those who have already seen the show, this is more of a cliffs’ notes version of what happened in the series, only bringing the important details and nix the unnecessary and unnoticeable parts although I feel less interaction with some of Griffith’s crew and possibly even less for Casca. I know that in the later movies, they might be featured more into the limelight but it felt like they were just there for…..well, just there. Characters and their traits are the same in here as in the TV show so no going through that again.
Musically, the score was done by Shiro Sagisu this time around and it was a pretty good score, maybe not as much as Susumu Hirasawa but he did help with the theme song of the movie and the song is good and all, but it will never be a “FORCES” or “Guts’ Theme” in my eyes.
And for the English dub, Viz Media actually got the original cast and crew from NYAV Post to do the dub and while I think since the show’s dub was hit or miss, the movie’s dub is well-done, bringing back Marc Diraison, Kevin T. Collins & Carolyn Keranen in their roles of Guts, Griffith, and Casca respectively and even Collins as Griffith has made more of a better effort in this edition.
FINAL VERDICT: I guess that if you want to know about Berserk in general aside from the manga but you wanted to be in a shorter length, then the movie is designated towards you. However, if you already seen the series, then you probably would think differently about this. It’s still a good movie but for approximately 80 minutes, it feels slightly minuscule for something as epic as the name of Berserk.
Few stories can capture your mind and soul in a visceral way from the beginning, and never leave you. Berserk is one of them.
Written and illustrated by the legendary manga artist Kentaro Miura, Berserk (ベルセルク) is an epic fantasy saga that knows no time, no boundaries, and no has end. It tells the story of a Guts (ガッツ, Gattsu), a boy born from the corpse of a woman hung on a battlefield, who struggles to fight his unfortunate destiny. Set in a fictional version of medieval Europe, Gatsu is a young mercenary who travels with no direction nor purpose, swinging his huge sword in merciless
fights in order to survive. He buries his blade deep into the flesh of his opponents, fighting like a madmen in battle, reminiscent of the nordic berserks, coming closer and closer to death, maybe to finally feel alive. His life is meaningless, his actions have no honor nor reason, except survival. He strives to escape his nature, that of a man born from a dead body, already between this world and the other, with nothing to lose except his miserable life.
That is, until he meets Griffith, the impossibly beautiful and charismatic leader of the undefeated mercenary band called "the Band of the Hawk" (鷹の団 Taka no Dan). This encounter will forever change his life, and that of everyone else.
Miura began the prototype of Berserk in 1988, releasing the first volume in 1990. Twenty-two years have passed since then, and the saga has been religiously followed by millions of enthusiasts, selling more than 30 million copies worldwide, making it one of the most successful manga series ever written. It has been widely recognised for its excellence in Japan and throughout the world, winning the outstanding award at the sixth installment of Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize in 2002. It should come as no surprise that the manga has been constantly at the top of the best anime list globally.
Beware, Berserk is not an ordinary series. It is hard, violent, and not easy to follow. There are no flashbacks constantly reminding you of what happened before, no fill-in episodes, no sweetening of the pill. It is a solid punch of crude reality hitting you in the stomach, and you have no way of guarding yourself. Miura's genius permeates in each page, down to every minute detail. The themes treated are difficult, and never simplified for the sake of the reader. Reality has no shortcuts, no easy way, and that is reflected in the story. The characters in Berserk are genuine, real, endlessly complicated, troubled. They hold secrets, they cheat, murder, conspire, but they are also capable of great kindness. Friendship, ambition, causality, the supernatural, our ambivalent nature, the struggle for power, love and hate. Twenty-two years in, still going strong, in what is possibly one of the greatest stories ever told.
With that premise, you would think that the task of turning such a story into a series of animated feature films would be arduous. And you would be right. In 1997, OLM produced a series of 25 animated episodes, which covered the first thirteen volumes of the manga (currently at number 36). While the series was generally well done and positively received, it failed to capture the real essence of the story, the subtle messages, the details, the moments to savor again and again, the climatic drama that builds up until it becomes unbearable. Only an animation studio capable of immense greatness could be up to the task.
STUDIO4°C is one such group. They were responsible for creating masterpieces such as MEMORIES (1995), the award winning psychedelic avant-garde film MIND GAME (2003) and five segments of the cyberpunk dystopia "The Animatrix", in collaboration with the Wachowski brothers (now brother and sister).
From the opening scene we know what kind of film we are dealing with. A clear, peaceful blue sky is contrasted by the presence of ominous birds flying in circles, while balls of fire fly over them. Guts looks up at the sky with sad eyes, a scar in the middle of his nose and a helmet on his head immediately tell us what he is. A heartless mercenary. The deaden sound of the blasting gives us a hint of where we are. Everything moves slowly, as if underwater, or inside a womb. How appropriate for someone who was born in a battlefield, who is neither truly alive nor dead, until he begins to fight. Gatsu's heart starts pounding, as he watches a black hawk fall down, the sound increases, until the bird drops dead in the middle of the fight, crushed beneath the boots of armed mercenaries, assaulting a castle. That is the time when the sound rises up at full blast, and we are catapulted into the battle.
The fight is cruel and violent, unlike anything I have even seen. The Lord of the Rings, Braveheart, Game of Thrones, list what you want, nothing compares to the level of horrifying realism that Berserk has to offer. The animation is top notch, the colours vivid and stunning, you could take any frame from the film, hang it on the wall, and it would work as a painting on itself.
The soundtrack by Shiro Sagisu is perfectly calibrated to match the already spectacular animation sequence, the epic chorus elevates the scenes to a sense of greatness, without ever overdoing it. The first eight minutes are a masterpiece of action down to the last second, flawlessly directed by the talented Toshiyuki Kubooka.
In every moment we can see something in motion, be it the clouds in the background or the hair on someone's face, the level of maniacal details is lessened only by the overuse of 3D animation (which is a bit irritating at times). But action sequences of crude violence, great animation, and impecable sound effects are just a spec of dust in the whole opera. The real value lies in the moments of silence, when the characters quietly ponder about their lives, or study each other, looking into their souls. We can see through their fears, their dreams and aspirations, their hate, without them needing to utter many words. And the few words that are spoken weight a million tons.
Berserk Golden Age Arc I: The Egg of the King covers volumes 4,5 and half of 6, each of which requires a few hours to read, all delivered in 70 minutes. As you can imagine, they had to make some choices and not everything was included. When this happens, the story usually loses value, the characters are simplified, and everything becomes dull. Surprisingly, this is not the case here. The first part of the Berserk Saga Project, which should cover the Golden Age Arc of Berserk does not disappoint. In fact, it excels, in both execution and presentation. The climatic drama and the anticipated tragedy yet to come reach the peak at the end of the film, accompanied by an epic final score by Susumu Hirasawa.
The second film, Berserk Golden Age Arc II: The Battle for Doldrey, will open in a few days in Japan (June 2012), while the third one, Berserk Golden Age Arc III: Descent will open sometime later this year.
When I first heard about the Berserk Project two years ago on twitter I was burning with excitement, but at the same time I was afraid it might fail to live up to my expectations. Having read the manga and watched the animated series several times over, I imagined it would have been boring to see it all over again, only with slightly better graphics. Boy, was I wrong.
STUDIO4°C has delivered a compelling and engaging story, masterfully animated and directed, which breathed life to Miura's pencil, and gave it voice. I can only hope that they continue along this path with the other two films, and why not, the whole story.
Berserk: The Golden Age Arc I - The Egg of the King Review
Story (8/10) Very Good
So the first Berserk Movie adapts episode's 2-10 of the 90s anime of the Golden Age Arc of the series. I think from a story standpoint it did a good job now obviously things were removed to reach the 1 hour and 16 minutes they clocked in by the time the movie was done. Like the Gambino flash back was quickly rushed over for example if you haven't read the manga or watched the 90s anime then that scar on Gut's nose you might not know that it came from
Gambino because this first part in the trilogy set wouldn't let you know that. Other than that I think anything else that was left out of the 90s anime adaptation is debatable if it was actually important or not the Gambino scene was the only part I felt was important and was quickly mentioned and skipped over.
Art and Animation (8/10) Very Good
Now this is the most controversial aspect when it came to this remake movies of this Arc. The whole CG element Studio 4°C decided to use for about 25% of the movie. Now when I heard CG was going to be apart of this movie the people telling me said "it ruined the movie" they should have said "it ruined the movie for me" because I'm not going to say "it ruined the movie" but yea sure it could have done without it and it's definitely not "unwatchable" and some people claim it to me that can gtfoh with that. All of the hand drawn scenes (which is about 75% of the rest of the movie) was fucking gorgeous even by today's standards. And for that I'm not going to give it a 10 the scenes that were and drawn should get a 10 but the scenes with CG will drop this section to an 8 for me and that's about it. The animation on the CG was ok always and surprisingly this was more gruesome than the 90s (Yes it is I just saw the 90s anime like a week ago it's fresh in my head and I can see the differences for example the scene where Guts is fighting Bazuso was far more uncut than the 90s version and a few other scenes like Casca leaving Gut's side when she was naked, we get to the see the full naked body of her pubic hair and everything that wasn't in the 90s version so they get a little points for that too)
Sound (10/10) Masterpiece
Absolutely nothing wrong with the section, the BGM isn't using the classical BGM from back in the 90s but I'm sure all of that is own by OLM and this is Studio 4°C's adaptation of it and the BGM sounds just as good nothing super memorable like the 90s BGM but no BGM that sounded like it didn't fit. Also the voice acting (English Dub) sounds authentic as you can hear that they did get majority if not all of the same voice actors back at it again for this adaptation and they all this an outstanding job also.
Characters (9/10) Great
Now I gave this section a 10 when I did the 90s review and the only gripe I had when it came to this movie part was the fact that the iconic scar across Gut's nose is not explained. Like I said earlier if this is the only adaptation that you have watched then you will have no clue where this scar came from and sure it may sound like a nitpick and is debatable if it is or not but I personally feel for someone this little nitpick is worth getting urked about and it does urk me enough to not give this section the 10, so oh well. Everything else from a characterization standpoint and adaptation quality is spot on.
Enjoyment (9/10) Great
My enjoyment of rewatch and refreshing my memory on the first 1/rd3 of the trilogy is at a 9. I thought rewatching something I just saw recently would be boring but I was still enjoyed fairly even though I saw all of the a couple of days ago, to see the changes they made kept my interest and that will probably be the case for the next 2 movies.
Overall (8/10) Very Good
More Specifically (8.80/10) Very Good+
This movie was a very good movie and for someone who doesn't like watching the as they say "old animation" then this movie works for a very good alternated. Although I do feel the 90s anime is superior for a few reasons I don't knock anyone that decided to go with the movie path because it's not a bad adaptation as some people say it to be.
Oh boy, this is a very touchy subject, reviewing berserk especially these remakes, either you hate or love it. Me, I am more like it is okay but meh.
The movie summaries the many first episodes of the original series and being a movie with a shorter running time it makes it necessary to cut some scenes. Overall I must say that it kept the feel of berserk but being more superficial because the interacting between the supporting characters are almost gone which gives the movie of somewhat a feel of being a very lonely world, as if
only griffith, Guts, Casca and enemies were there.
I would say on the other hand if you are a new comer or one who doesn´t like more older animes then this might be a good gateway to the berserk franchise, but I myself loved the art of the original one and I didn´t feel like that it was too retro like, it has aged well as a good bottle of wine.
But this movie might be good for people who watched berserk a long time ago and need to start watching the 2016 version and therefore needs a good summary.
So yeah only recommended for people who already have seen the old anime I think especially because then you already know the characters especially the supporting ones ^^
All the rainbow faeces of the Unicorn - the good things
- It is berserk and still quite faithful to the source even though some of the cutted scenes and change of artstyle are different.
- It it just a recap of the first part of the original series but for me it served it purpose for slowly getting ready to berserk 2016 therefore it is a plus for me :)
- For the dub version they kept the same voice actors for the main characters which was LOVELY!! Kevin Collins and Marc Diraison are just gorgeous!
- well not really anything more to add :/
All the hurtful.... cringe! - The cons
- Then get me started about the animation, but I must say even though it is CGI it isn´t the worst and of course the old series had stillframes so yeah cons with both versions. But my main problem that it lacks some of the gorgeous details and some movements were quite awkward.
- The design of Griffith..... oh my god.. I know that he already looked very feminine but now he looked way more feminine especially with those red plumped lips O.o But I did somewhat like the eyes with the unnatural glow even though it could have been done better.
- Like mentioned earlier there is missing quite a handful scenes where the interacting of the supporting characters are nearly completely gone which makes it quite superficial.
- There is nothing new, only a few extra details and "scenes" in the big fights.
- Also even Susumu Hirasawa did the music for this and the old one, I felt like his music was missing or was it just me?
So yeah this series is really for those who don´t mind CGI and hate older art or for those who need to watch a "recap" for getting up in gear for the 2016 version.
Art: Where to begin with how much the art sucks? The fact that a movie released in 2012 somehow has worse 3D graphics than a computer game released a decade early? The fact that the same fucking "nameless soldier" model is used for hundreds of soldiers in every fucking scene regardless of whether if it's action or not? The fact that the models are ugly and plain as fuck even when used for close-ups and still shots? The fact that the faces are completely flat and not even shaded 90% of the time? Everything in the movie is undetailed, from the weapons, to the faces,
to the armor, to the clothing - it's like everything was made out of Lego. The main point is that 3DCG is shit. You don't get the motion blur that you get with 2D hand drawn, meaning the action looks choppy as fuck. Where we would normally see the sword swing being blurred, in the movie it's presented as 2 discrete frames of the sword being in 2 different positions in air. It does not provide any illusion of movement. In the original 1997 series there was motion blurring of the sword noticeably in the assassination escape scene. In the movie (I watched the scene frame by frame about 10 times so I know exactly what I am talking about) there was exactly one frame that had a tiny fraction of the tip of the sword blurred. You can't even notice it. In the 1997 anime this scene was so well animated it was easily OVA quality. You could easily see the exact path of the sword with clarity even though it was played out in real time. The camera angle of the 1997 anime portrayed it perfectly, showing us exactly what happened. It was one of the few well animated bits of the series. In the movie we got a view from behind the two guards in front of Guts, so we got to see as little as possible of the actual action. I'm not sure if this was intentional or not but it's little things like these that add up to make me think the director had really no fucking clue what he was doing. Corkus' helmet design seems specifically to avoid having to animate his mouth because he talks a lot. When he said "this bastard's the real deal", he's is supposed to look surprised - he didn't. The soulless CG models made it impossible to show any emotions. This is the same as when the two soldiers saw Guts killing Adonis - they were supposed to be outraged but the soulless 3DCG face just looked dumb. Adonis' death scene in the original 1997 series was 1 billion times more emotional than the death scene in the movie, and I am not exaggerating. Those of you who think I'm exaggerating - go watch the original series right now. Episode 10, 07:30. The detail on the artwork is, as mentioned before, far, far superior to the artwork on the new Berserk movie, the animation in that particular scene also happened to be one of the best in the series. The raw emotion in that particular scene (again, not saying the 1997 series was good, in fact it sucked, just that it had some good moments) is just incomparable to the soulless movie adaptation. You could actually feel the pain Adonis experienced, the guilt Guts felt, the guards' anger. It was all there. The movie adaptation was absolutely shite in this regard.
Animation: The animation was on the whole, somewhat fluid. However, the 3D movements looked wrong despite supposedly using motion-capture technology. I find it difficult to believe that people behave in such a jerky fashion during motion capture. Their limbs were constantly wobbling around and their heads constantly nodding about. Also during the fight scenes it looked like many of the soldiers were just waving their weapons around, not like they were actually fighting at all. If you can't be bothered to animate it properly because they weren't main characters, don't animate it at all because it looks fucking dumb. I can also go into how the depiction of the fights were not well done at all, not even compared to the 1997 series which was a low-budget barely animated piece of shit. The original anime showed the axe cracking when it hits the helmet from the top in slow motion, making it very clear that axe cracked upon hitting the helmet, whilst the same scene in the movie was shot from behind the helmet and few frames were used thereby making it very difficult to discern what exactly happened. The fact that the original anime, which was a low-budget barely-animated piece of shit, is still better than this movie, shows just how much this movie sucks ass. It's worse than shit.
Choreography: The choreography was a mixed bag. Let's start with the Bazuso scene. The movements of the guy who hired Guts for 7 silver coins' movements were completely bizarre and didn't look human at all. Bazuso's movements also looked completely ridiculous. There was too much unnecessary movement, Bazuso was bending his legs moving up and down, nodding his head back and forth for no reason apparently other than to show that this movie is, in fact, not very well choreographed. Guts' movement as he walked up to Bazuso was also fucked up, as in he looked like he was just shuffling and not really walking. His sword's movement also looked strange because the inertia was not portrayed well at all. A heavy sword like Guts' should have a ton of inertia and so cannot change direction like a plastic toy sword. When he swings the sword and abruptly stops it without slowing it down, that ruins the realism completely.
I don't think I explained why the Guts vs Bazuso fight was so badly choreographed. Okay, let's do it. Firstly there is the issue that Guts was only bashing his sword against Bazuso's axe handle for 95% of the fight. Why is this bad? Imagine someone is doing a downward vertical slash at you. That Bazuso, who is supposed to have slain 30 men, does not know how to parry but only how to block, I find incredibly unrealistic and insulting. I also find it highly idiotic that Guts would do the exact same attack 20 or 30 times in a row, attacking the same place with the same swing every time. His actions resemble a blacksmith hammering a sword rather than that of a skilled swordsman.
--------====Lengthy exposition on the physical and mechanical properties of Guts' sword and of plate armor begins====--------
Let's also leave aside the fact that Bazuso's axe must have been made of glass to shatter so easily, and that Guts bones must have been made of steel to withstand the enormous forces from accelerating what can only be called a slab of iron on a stick which must have weighed a ton.
Don't believe me? Let's do the calculations on the mass of Guts' "sword". Assumptions:
Density: 8 grams per cubic centimeter (steel).
Length: 120-150 centimeters (the blade goes up to Guts' chest level)
Thickness: 2 centimeters at thickest 1/3 of the blade, which means an average thickness of 1 centimeter for the other 2/3 of the blade, so the average thickness is 2*1/3 + 1*2/3 = 4/3 centimeters. (the blade is about 1/5 the thickness of Guts' arm at the elbow which we'll assume to be 10cm)
Width: 12-15 centimeters (the blade is as wide as the length of Guts' hand with fingers folded in)
Minimum mass = 8 * 120 * (4/3) * 12 = 15360 grams = 15.36 kg
Maximum mass = 8 * 150 * (4/3) * 15 = 24000 grams = 24 kg
Swinging a sword that weighs between 15 to 24 kilograms is no mean feat. For comparison a heavy duty sledgehammer only weighs 5-10 kg. The main reason the sword is so heavy is because of the thickness. Quote from wikipedia: "Frisian hero Pier Gerlofs Donia is reputed to have wielded a Zweihänder with such skill, strength and efficiency that he managed to behead multiple people with it in a single blow. The Zweihänder ascribed to him is, as of 2008, on display in the Frisian museum. It has a length of 213 cm (84 in) and a weight of about 6.6 kg". So in fact Guts sword is remarkable not for its length but for its thickness. Anyone who thinks 20kg is easy to handle should try swinging around a 20kg olympic bar. It's impossible to swing around an object like that with any degree of control. "B-b-but muh deadlifts!" you exclaim. Lrn2 leverage retard. It's easy to pick up a steel bar when you're holding two ends of it between your hands so that there is no turning moment and the center of mass is directly touching your line of gravity. You might find that medieval two-handed swords weighed a maximum of 6kg and on average weighed 3.5kg. There is a good reason for this - the center of gravity of a sword like Guts would have been 10 inches from the hilt and would have felt like wielding 2 sledgehammers on each hand.
Let's also not forget that medieval plate armor was designed to be impossible to cut with a sword and that people usually wore chainmail underneath plate armor which a sword also would not have been able to go through. In fact Miura showed that he understood this fact himself in Berserk chapter 330 by having Gambino mention that the armor worn by aristocrats was "impossible to penetrate" and the only way to defeat it is to force the enemy down. This is not technically true. A rigid sword can penetrate plate armor if used to stab rather than cut. Here's a relevant quote from wikipedia: "As armour improved, so did the methods of attacking the armour. It was quickly realized that cutting weapons were losing their effectiveness, so crushing weapons such as maces and axes were utilized. But thrusting weapons that could split the rings of mail, or find the joints and crevices of plate armour, were also employed. Long tapered swords could also be used as a lance once the lance was splintered. Thus was the estoc developed. The French word estoc translates to thrust." Simply put, a sword being used to cut does not have the sectional density as the same sword used to stab. Relevant quotes: "For illustration, a needle can penetrate a target medium with less force than a coin of the same mass. Similarly edge geometry comes into play- a steep angle at the cutting edge means that the sword has to displace material faster which 'bleeds off' energy more quickly as well- so a sword with 'bad' edge geometry will cut less well than a sword with 'good' edge geometry even if all other factors are equal." The problem with Guts' sword is that the edge angle is too steep to cut effectively. The point of having a sword is to cut, making a sword really thick and heavy defeats the point.
-----------====End of exposition====---------
But I digress. Let's move on to the next scene. Guts is fighting the man on horseback. The man on horseback attacks Guts. Guts deflects the sword and cuts the man by bring the sword over his head and then swinging from right to left. The action is hard to follow because it's too fast. The sword is depicted as bending severely under due to having to change direction from downwards to horizontal. Guts both stops the sword from swinging downwards and starts the sword swinging from right to left in what is essentially one frame of animation. That makes the action difficult to follow. But to say that it's badly choreographed would be stretching it. The idea of deflecting the horseman's sword is a good one, even if poorly executed. The main problem is that by the time Guts has deflected the horseman's sword, the horseman would have already passed Guts. The director apparently does not understand momentum. In the next scene the horseman with the spear throws it instead of stabs Guts with it for some reason. Guts moves to the side to block it and cuts the maceman's arm off. The arm should have continued to move forward due to momentum but it somehow stops in midair.
It's concerns like these that spoil the realism. These should not even be concerns in a realistic series like Golden Age Berserk which was based, on the whole, in the medieval era. Physics should be the same. A horseman's arm should continue moving forward after being cut off. This is a fact of physics. Again, not saying the choreography is all bad. It's much better than the choreography in the 1997 series, which was composed almost entirely of stills.
Probably the choreographic highlight of the movie was the fight after the assassination scene. Surrounded by soldiers, movie Guts always happened to be fighting them one at a time when the soldier behind Guts could have easily attacked Guts whilst Guts was fighting another soldier. You could actually see in the movie that one of the soldiers had raised his sword and was about to strike Guts when Guts was fighting another soldier, then somehow the soldier who raised his sword put it down to wait for Guts to kill another soldier before finally making up his mind to attack Guts. In the 1997 series, the anime avoided this problem by having Guts running from one side and the soldiers on the other side so that Guts avoided having to fight with enemies both in front and behind of him. Again, a small difference but it's the little things which add up. Also, when Guts jumped off the bridge, arrows were coming down from above his head at an angle which suggested that people from ANOTHER tower was firing at him from behind him, when the only crossbowmen shown thus far were on the same bridge as he was and therefore could not have possible fired from that angle. Again, extremely unrealistic and not present in the 1997 anime.
Conclusion: For a manga known by its great artwork, this anime adaptation was an extreme letdown. As I mentioned the 3DCG was undetailed as fuck and absolutely not movie quality, not even TV or video game quality. Because of the terrible art the was action unclear and difficult to follow. The soulless 3DCG created dumb flat-faced characters who looked retards and were incapable of expressing emotion. The choreography was probably better than the 1997 series but ruined by the inexpressive featureless art, by unnecessary movements, random wobbling, excessive nodding and spastic movements, and just plain bad directing in the form of poor choice of camera angles.
A solid remake of the berserk tv show from the 90s and the manga. Some excellent art work and classic berserker Gore for good measure. Berserk tv show was probably one of the best animes of all time so this is not an easy follow up by anymeans. Berserk ova throws in a little homoerroticism between griffith and it's lead character. the OVA is self aware of it's art style which is a nice touch. Too often we have these pretty boys who are all powerful in anime series. An addicting show to a fault. The first episode leaves you wanting more but does not
feel like a complete story arc for its characters. Nonetheless a very tasty appetizer on what promises to be on the same level of excellence as the tv series
When watching this film, especially considering the two sequels have already been out for a number of years, it's best to view it as one third of a whole, rather than separate to two movies.
While it may be true that individually, the first is the weakest of the three films, it does have the hardest task of setting up the premise, introducing us to the main characters and world-building. It's for this reason - the fact that this first film is basically an introduction into the world of Berserk's Golden Age - that it suffers the most. However, when seen as the
first section in three parts of one story, its flaws are more forgiveable, especially considering the fact that the second film is generally an improvement and the third is even better than that.
What I intend to do here is to review the three films, but also offer a comparison to the anime.
There are two issues here, 1. how well does it hold up against the other adaptations of Berserk (anime and manga) and 2. how well do the films do on their own.
The first film does struggle to find the right pace and construct a good plot at times, so if you are a first-timer to the world of Berserk, it can affect your enjoyment somewhat as you won't really get where this is all going. The introduction of Zodd is completely out of left-field and ends far too quickly, although they do try and address it afterwards.
Those who have some experience with Berserk, however, might find it easier to overlook its flaws and see the first film for what it is, an introduction.
The second film is much more focused - it centres around the storming of a fortress, and we are given some excellent character development. The main weakness in the storytelling here, however, is the fact that this is very much Casca's arc - the main female protagonist - and yet, it is easily noticeable that despite how much everyone seems to revere her (she is portrayed as the best soldier of the Hawks, except for Griffith and Guts), we are rarely shown her battle prowess. We see more boob than fight. But this is not necessarily a flaw unique to the films, although the anime does offer us more of a chance to see her at her fighting best than the films do. We are told how great Guts is, and we get to see why as well. We mostly have to take the word of the other characters and just assume that Casca is as good as everyone says.
The third film ends the story well. The pacing is just right and the transition from what happens in the first half of the film to the second half done very well, you get sucked into a very different atmosphere, but it feels natural. It also does an excellent job of showing the evolution of our three main characters.
It also introduces an important character from the manga, one which was ignored by the anime because it open up the world of Berserk, whereas the anime sought very much to contain itself to the Golden Arc and nothing beyond. And Puck had a cameo. It's tiny, but it's there. (Which desperately makes me hope that it's not just fanservice, but that they'll adapt one of the other manga arcs).
Overall, in terms of storytelling, all three films do hold certain advantages over the anime. Whereas the anime had 25 episodes in which to tell a story, the films needed to streamline what was being told, and while that did leave some very disappointing gaps (it cuts out the beautiful 'bonfire of dreams' discussion, Guts childhood backstory with Gambino is only hinted at, Griffith's emotive response to his dealings with the Baron and the reason why he did it in the first place are only implied and never clearly explained, the hundred-men battle should have been given a bit more time etc.) the films do make great use of flashbacks and dream sequences. In this context, it actually does better than the anime, as it removes a lot of the clunky exposition (see Casca's cave speech in episode 11 of the anime as an example), showing the audience rather than telling us and doing so in a way which keeps the story flowing naturally and maintains pace and interest. This applies not only to plot, but to character development. In the movies, we are told less by Casca how she feels about Griffith, instead it's more evident through her actions, and the same applies (even more so) to her evolving relationship with Guts. The only pity for the loss of all the anime's character narration, as I stated before, is that a lot of excellent (and sometimes useful material) is also cut out.
As a result of the time limit, there are also cuts to some of the humour which is found, sparingly, in the anime (and much more often in the manga), however, this doesn't mean that there aren't parts which are mildly amusing and light - though they are few and far between.
The films also, I think, do a much better job than the anime ever was able to (considering its limitations) in terms of sexual interactions. ALL of them (for those who have read the manga/seen the anime, you'll know what I mean). The tenderness, brutality and motivations behind each of the three pivotal sexual acts in the Golden Arc are clearly dealt with in appropriate fashion, each incredibly moving and allowing the right amount of exposure to the audience for us to understand the deeper consequences of each.
Overall, in terms of the plot, while it misses out parts which the anime included (and certainly misses out a lot from the manga), the spirit of what Berserk is about is still very present. Almost all of the major plot points are there, and it adheres well to the Chekov's gun principle, so for someone coming into to Berserk for the first time through the films, they'll have a relatively easy time of understanding what is going on.
There is no doubt that the second and third films are better than the first. The first does suffer a tad too much for the CGI it uses. At one point Griffith looks like a boxy character from the gameplay of some PS2 RPG, but it only lasts for a few seconds.
Other than this, the art is actually really good. It's a whole different ball game compared to the *very* 90s anime, but I actually enjoy the difference. I would never say that one style is superior to the other, as there was plenty that was beautiful and horrific in the anime, but the films do do an excellent job with the battles, which are suitably sweeping.
The characters also have *really* good facial expressions in the films, with Guts' reactions in particular being just completely on point. It was also something that the anime did very well, and the films are no exception. Almost all of the main characters have such visceral expressions that there are points where the films don't even bother to use dialogue and the message is plainly clear.
Also, the films don't have the same limitations that the anime did, so, no doll-parts in the swimsuit area. There is an excessive amount of Casca's boobs, but overall, where there there is a need to show the naked human form, it's there. Sometimes to aesthetically please (it is a seinen, of course), but also to maintain realism. [One small point that I really appreciated in the films was in the cave scene, there was actual blood, and not the weird purple blob (I won't go into more detail because spoilers).] Please don't get me wrong, I am not trying to imply that there's peen and vag everywhere, but rather, I mean that the films maintain the right level of modesty when required, even in the sex scenes, but they don't hide the body away, which makes for a much more natural fluidity to the story and the art.
The blood gushing is also pretty entertaining too. Lots of blood, everywhere, just like the manga and the anime. No complaints to be had on that front!
Overall, I'd say that in certain aspects, especially in the first movie, there are points which suffer from CGI, but it does have its advantages, and the films make up for those flaws in other ways.
In all honesty there's not much to say about the music. The introductory credits and the end credits have better soundtracks than the anime, but there is really nothing which can rival Guts' theme and Forces from the original anime. The background music in the films are suitable, but nothing particularly special. I almost wish they had recycled the anime music for the films.
Much of the characters have been discussed in the 'story' section, so I will keep it brief here. Because of the time limit for the films, it made sense that they would focus on fewer characters. As a result, I feel that while Griffith, Guts and Casca got an excellent amount of time to develop and change as characters (a job well done in the films), there was little room for anyone else. The rest of the characters are somewhat two dimensional, never really changing from their first appearance. The one little exception is Juteau - something which I am eternally grateful for because I absolutely adore him. He is seen much less in the films than in the anime (which wasn't a lot to begin with), but when we do get the odd scene from him, he has clearly been given some thought by the writers. We don't learn much about him, but we do learn. He's given SOME depth at least - unlike Corkus, Rickert, Pippin, the king of Midland, the princess etc.
This is an entirely biased mark, because, frankly I just love anything to do with Berserk. Sure it has its flaws, but to be honest, the films make up for its weaknesses in other ways. The storytelling is fluid, the characters express themselves better, both verbally and physically, the art is good (when it's not too obviously CGI) and the plot maintains the excellent standard that can be found in the anime.
I think I also enjoyed these films so much because rather than seeking to compare them to the anime and manga, I watched them already knowing about Berserk, so I felt my enjoyment was enhanced because anything the films missed, I didn't feel I lacked, because I could imply it into the films, if that makes sense? For example, I wish they had explained Griffith's history with the Baron, but I didn't miss it too much because I already knew anyway.
I would recommend that you at least watch the anime first before the movies, but if this is your first introduction to Berserk, then it's not a terrible one. They're still good enough to get you interested enough to delve further into the Berserk world.