Berserk is one of the best series I've ever seen, in a different league than most anime, which are too often filled with pointless, arrogant ideals shouted by quasi-female, one-dimensional characters in dire need of a haircut.
Berserk is different. I first downloaded it because I heard it had a lot of action and violence. It turned out to be a bit more than that.
Guts is a battle-hardened mercenary whose only knowledge and pursuit in life is massacring a never-ending stream of enemies with his sword. He's good at it.
The series begins when he comes across the Band of the Hawk, a feared group of mercenaries led by Griffith, a young man with endless ambition and correspondingly tremendous talent, bravery, and intelligence. He has a dream to rule a kingdom, and has no qualms about doing or sacrificing anything to attain it.
Throughout much of the series, he is portrayed as being golden and invincible; he is always met with success, triumphing at whatever he aspires to, and his meteoric rise to his vaunted kingdom seems inevitable.
Throughout this time, Guts is his ace, the fearless commander of the Hawk Raiders, who carries out his ordered assassinations, destroys entire troops of enemies, frequently saves his life, and is the only man the distant Griffith shows any empathy towards.
During this, Caska, a female Hawks commander whose love is spurned by Griffith, feels outrage and envy at Guts, whose help in Griffith attaining his dream far outstrips her own capabilities.
This period of the story, which occupies over half the series, is told with exquisite humor, original plot lines, and excellent action sequences supported by an epic musical score that conjures up images of battle and bravery.
Beyond this, the characters seem real, believable, and unique, whether it be the insidious court minister Foss, or the stoic, good-natured, Hawk mercenary Judeau.
The best way to judge the story and plots is whether it would translate to a good book. In Berserk's case, this is certainly the case.
If this were only the story of how a kingdom was won, it would still be a great anime, but Berserk goes far beyond that, with a twist that crystallizes its themes of loyalty, betrayal, ambition, personal goals, and destiny, as well as the interpersonal relationships between the main characters Griffith, Guts, and Casca.
In doing so, the series shifts into a far darker realm of fantasy horror, which is continued by the manga.
There are few anime series which are truly amazing and exceptional in any manner, regardless of what's written about them, but this is most definitely one of them.