The story continues where the last movie leaves off. The main focus is Guts reflecting on what Griffith defines an equal and true friend and the decision that Guts comes to and the effects it has on the team. Of course by revealing this, if you have any familiarity with the manga and/or the 1997 series, you have an idea of where it starts and where it ends. However, there will be 3 cameos from manga exclusive characters in this movie which is quite a treat.
The animation feels more uneven in this than it does in the last movie. This is more prevelant in slow
motion. It feels really choppy like a disc in your game system skipping at times. But it runs much more smoothly at faster speeds. The violence and the gore is very well graphically depicted and makes up for some of the flaws this series has. The violence is just manically massive which is of course the nature of the franchise. I really enjoyed the scene where Guts becomes the 100 man slayer. But to me, the series broody effects would be more immersing if it was more grainy like in the 1980s and 1990s animation styles.
The difference in soundtrack compositions is also more notable. It is more orchestrated and has more acoustic sounds as opposed to the grand chorus style of Hirakawa Susumu. I feel for some fans who have had exposure to the previous series and the games, it will feel unnatural. But to newcomers, I suppose it does work. Other than that, the soundtrack reflects the atmosphere pretty good but of course I'd rather have Hirakawa do everything again.
In this movie, I felt that the performance of Guts' new seiyuu isnt really that great. These are part of the story arcs was where the original seiyuu really captured Guts. Caska's new seiyuu I just don't feel. Sakurai is ok as Griffith, but doesnt have the coldness that Morikawa Toshiyuki has. I really don't feel the voice acting in this one. I thought the last movie was ok, but this movie really made me miss the original voice cast. I suppose newcomers without any exposure to the original series or the games will be fine with the voice acting. Nobutoshi Canna really defined Guts in the original series and in the DC and PS2 games. I feel that this new voice actor just doesn't capture Guts as intimidating or as a bad ass. To me, he comes across way too much as a sarcastic cynic and tries to bring too much humor to the character.
In the end, I feel the only way we can see the true potential of these new Berserk installments is when this trilogy is over. What the fans want to see is the post golden age arc animated. Quite frankly, I am glad we have these new installments, but I want to see the berserker armor animated and all the other bad ass shit. And get the old seiyuus and Hirakawa to do the series again.
The 2nd Berserk movie picks up exactly where the first one left off: watering down the Berserk story and character development, and assaulting our eyes with CGI that would be decent for a late PS2 or early PS3 title, but completely unacceptable for a modern movie that got released in theaters!
We get to see the epic battle between the Band of the Hawk and the hilariously named Purple Rhino Heavy Cavalry. As you no doubt already surmised...the battle looks like total crap! Then we get tons of scenes with the Hawks celebrating because there is a very limited amount of time and this movie wants
to get the important stuff in. Remember the sub-plot revealing how Midland's politics work? The one with the royal hunt, the attempt to assassinate Griffith, and Guts' counter assassination that results in him killing a child? They cut that out. The fact that Guts felt great guilt over that act and it played a huge role in the story for both his character development and his decision to ultimately leave the Hawks...who cares about that? Instead of even alluding to that sub-plot, just have Guts leave for no reason. We need to spend 10 minutes of screen time on a wonderfully Narm, shit CGI sex scene with Griffith, featuring questionable quality violin accompaniment. This movie is meant to introduce Berserk to a new generation and of course THAT was the part of the story they really needed to see. Fuck Guts' character development. Griffith's throbbing CGI, 240p resolution cock is FAR more important. Important characters like the devious minister Foss, and the Queen were axed, because that screen time obviously needed to go to Corbowitz and the goblin dungeon keeper. Corbowitz and the goblin were such critical parts of the story and atmosphere of Berserk. This technique of shitty adaptation has been passed down through the Corbowitz family for 3,000 years!
The film badly waters down the story and characters of Berserk, constantly making horrendous decisions to cut out important parts and leave in pointless parts. The CGI is very slightly improved over the first film, but still looks like absolute SHIT. If you are looking to get into the Berserk franchise, read the manga or watch the original anime. Don't waste your time on the first 2 movies. The 3rd movie actually isn't bad, but that is another review!
The story continues in this second installment of the Berserk movie trilogy. Does it continue the stream of mediocrity from the first film? Or did they improve on their missteps?
The second film, titled The Battle for Doldrey, is about just that, mainly focusing on the massive fight for Doldrey, one of the biggest fights of the series. As such, along with a much better runtime of 95 minutes, the film feels much more streamlined, and finally has a focus.
Trimming down where it needs to and making the film into more of a 3 act structure, this Berserk film feels more like the film we
wanted in the first place: a redaptation, not a retread. It flows much more naturally, and has a sense of progression unlike the first film.
Despite this, much is still lost in translation, and the introduction of some villains feels forced and unnecessary. The first third of this film especially falls victim to this, and quickly rushes over Guts' defeat of over 100 men.
Once again, the CG is ugly. I think we've all figured that out by now, right? Right. It's poorly rendered, looks like a PS2 game and lacks any sort of weight. And yet... it's not as bad as it should be.
Don't get me wrong, it still doesn't look very good. But seeing that the big battle that is the centerpiece of the film actually benefits from the CG, it makes it all worth while. The CG actually gives the final battle a bigger sense of scale the original could have never shown.
There's also more hand drawn animation in this film, and it's just as gorgeous as ever. Why did they make this series in CG anyways?
Shiro Saigsu returns to do the music for the film, and once again he does a fantastic job in bringing the world of Berserk to life through music. The score for this film makes more use of Sagisu's signature English choirs, and they are fantastically with his exceptional high quality.
The entire Japanese and English casts return in their roles, and once again the English cast proves once again why they are the definitive cast of Berserk. Special props to Carrie Keranen as Casca, giving an incredibly emotional and subtle performance.
With it's streamlined approach to storytelling, the film also sets it's focus square on 3 characters: Guts, Griffith and Casca. In fact, one could argue that the 3 acts of this film each focus on a specific character: Casca in the first, Guts in the second, and then Griffith in the last.
While it's disappointing to see some of the supporting players lost because of this, they still get ample enough screentime compared to the last film to at least make an impact, even if it is a small one.
The enjoyment of this film once again lies in your overall enjoyment of seeing repeat events. While they may transpire differently compared to the original, for the most part the events are exactly the same, just with modern day storytelling techniques.
If the first film was the first thing you ever saw of Berserk, then check this one out immediately. If you've already seen most of Berserk, then watch this only if you're really interested.
Lazy and poor animation aside, Berserk: Golden Age Arc II - The Battle for Doldrey improves over it's predecessor with better character development and a more focused story. Worth a watch for newcomers to Berserk.
The Band of the Hawk have risen through the ranks of Midland's military and have earned great respect along with plenty of jealous scorn. Guts continues to serve Griffith loyally fulfilling his dream yet at the same time experiences a certain uneasiness. He soldiers on for his comrades, and the stakes begin to rise when the enemy make one final stand at their impenetrable fortress. -summary
This new Berserk remake remains somewhat of a chore to get through and it's not completely due to its very own merit. In fact, Berserk has moments of being quite good as it's jam-packed with some explosive action, above average
animation, and traces of character development focusing on main characters. These three traits alone are usually enough to propel a title to at least "very good" status, especially if it has a story to tell. So what's my beef with this anime then? Well, like a majority of fans whom loved the original series, as a remake this is a very bitter pill to swallow. The various changes and removal of content can make this a rather painful experience for some older fans.
Now in regards to the CG-blended visuals found in the first movie some people love to hate. I have to say that this movie doesn't look as bad as I've been told, it has moments of looking quite good actually. The snow laden backdrops are quite amazing bringing forth a form of innocence to follow up the bloodshed, as well as foreshadow the coming storm. There is at least one moment where this works towards some pretty good build up leading to a story-changing conclusion. This is a plus for me when looking at how poorly at times the previous volume worked on build up. The disturbing visuals on decided conflicts further delivers the horrors of war telling another part to this story, reminding viewers on the ugly face of human conflict. The action scenes themselves have plenty of moments delivering its hack and slash, resulting in the raining of body parts on the battlefield; Berserk can have some good choreography when it wants to. At the same time, the meshing of CG and various camera techniques can give off an awkward feel during some animations.
The plot further follows the battle between the kingdoms, with the Hawks being given permission by the king to take the final confrontation to their enemy. From here things begin to fall into place leading to another arc.
I can imagine plenty of newbies falling for Berserk because it does have the makings of a decent anime. Despite what some may say, there is a good amount of development for Guts to have an understanding on how he feels, and why he takes such drastic action to close things out. I understand the character enough on wanting to follow his own path, and it does have potential to create drama. Griffith's ambition is given some light cover as well, and also viewers will learn what Guts means to him. Unfortunately, some characters whom were badly handled previously just show up with various dialog as if they all of sudden mean so much, and certain encounters feel rushed and lack full believability. I can imagine some folks still walking away satisfied, but as a lover of the original series the omission of key moments and thrown out character development does bother me.
The removal of content and addition of other things really bugs me when looking at what could have made it to the final cut. Griffith's sex scene really didn't need the screen time it got; but I'm sure it was added to please some folks out there. It's a shame that other moments between Guts and Caska didn't see the light of day, as well as what drove and drives other motivations. I haven't seen the next volume yet, but I'm willing to bet right now some things will feel like they're just happening.
In closing, my overall feelings haven't changed in the slightest. I still think this remake shouldn't have been done at all; if anime companies really want to introduce Berserk to a newer audience then they simply should just re-release the original, out of print series again, and begin picking it up from the manga right there. I can see this anime getting over with newer anime fans but it won't be anything memorable, yet in the case of older fans this is something that will continue to be met with anger and will be memorable for all the wrong reasons. Personally, I'm just in the middle of this choosing to give it a fair shake, and even with that I'm sure this is a series I'll be forgetting about.
Pros: Improved visuals, main characters seem some growth
Cons: Many characters are just faces, older fans will likely be mad
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