Reviews

Jun 28, 2010
5camp (All reviews)
It's amusing to look back at my first impressions after episode 1 of Berserk. I laughed at how corny the level of viol­ence was, gig­gled at the demons’ con­stant ref­er­ences to the tear­ing of flesh and crunch­ing of bones. The rest of the series was noth­ing like that first epis­ode. Totally dif­fer­ent in terms of tone, dir­ec­tion and pur­pose. And yet, in the grand story of Ber­serk, was every bit as import­ant as any other epis­ode in the rest of the series.

One thing stands out from that first impres­sion though: how per­fect the pacing felt. Well, that con­tin­ued through­out the series. Not just the pacing though. Never once was there a mis­step in dir­ect­ing. Not once would a scene leave me think­ing that they could have done that bet­ter. Not once did the story become dif­fi­cult to under­stand, nor was a dir­ec­tion the story took not suf­fi­ciently fore­shad­owed while never being overly so.

Everything was delib­er­ate. Every scene had pur­pose. Ber­serk is perfect.

Ber­serk has the repu­ta­tion of being a hack and slash gory fantasy, yet the high­lights of the series never came in the battles. Guts swings his sword and enemies are cut down with splashes of red paint every­where; per­haps from a per­verse love of viol­ence you could garner enter­tain­ment from these scenes alone, but the high­lights of Ber­serk came from the scenes after the battles. The dis­cus­sions amongst the char­ac­ters as they reflec­ted on their life pur­pose, their rela­tion­ships with each other, and the dream of Griffith.

Grif­fith.

A man whose dream weaves in those around him. Every­one around him can­not stop them­selves from being attrac­ted or repulsed by his sheer exist­ence. Their dreams do not get warped by his, they get sucked in entirely and become part of his dream. To con­trol the world and everything in it. To reach the castle in that hor­rid dream of his. Except for the one man he didn’t win. The one thing he couldn’t con­trol. Ber­serk works like a clas­sic tragedy. Through one fatal flaw, the great work of the hero is undone. Everything built up to that fatal flaw, and yet when it occurred it was not imme­di­ately appar­ent that this was the case. What happened broke the man, chal­lenged to shat­ter his dream, and yet it was what kept him sane.

While I may have just marveled at the moments of calm epi­phany that littered the series, that was not the true high­light. Ber­serk is a mas­ter­piece in storytelling. I have been incap­able of doing any­thing that requires men­tal strain today because my mind has been so full of Ber­serk. Not because I was try­ing to dis­sect the imagery of Ber­serk or any­thing like that. Ber­serk was not a con­fus­ing anime. The end­ing, while bizarre and creepy, made per­fect sense in the grand scheme of the story. But that’s exactly it. This grand scheme of the story was what I had in my mind the whole day. Look­ing back and con­nect­ing the dots. Under­stand­ing the char­ac­ters motiv­a­tion and thought pro­cess behind every action they performed.

Every action was cal­cu­lated. Every scene had pur­pose. Ber­serk is perfect.

Strangest of all was that this was achieved even by stop­ping part of the way through the manga storyline, which is still ongo­ing with the mangaka con­stantly delay­ing the latest chapters to play Idolm@ster. Yet it still worked. It all tied back in per­fectly with the first epis­ode again. The pro­cess of events lead­ing up to the final epis­ode felt natural.

Ber­serk has chal­lenged the way I rate anime because my enjoy­ment of the series was far removed from those I typ­ic­ally enjoy. Gone were my usual cat­nip of fab­ulous char­ac­ters, dra­matic plot twists and Xan­tos Gam­bits. Ber­serk never had The Rush. The Rush is that feel­ing of sheer exhil­ar­a­tion while watch­ing anime that you reach near euphoria. Ber­serk was the chilling effect that per­fec­tion coats you with. I’ve had sim­ilar exper­i­ences some­times while watch­ing Cow­boy Bebop or Kaiba, but neither of these reached the level Ber­serk did. After fin­ish­ing epis­ode 14 I was left sit­ting in my chair for about half an hour, just let­ting that epis­ode sink in and con­tem­plate how insig­ni­fic­ant everything else in my life felt in com­par­ison to this Japan­ese Car­toon I had just watched.

I had to write this review. I had to write some­thing about my exper­i­ence with this anime, simply to get it off my chest. As I said, I’m cur­rently incap­able of watch­ing any­thing else at the moment. Hope­fully with this brain vomit I can move on. Watch some more of these Japan­ese Car­toons I am so infatu­ated with.

Ber­serk is not my favour­ite anime because the yard­stick I use to meas­ure my favour­ite is dif­fer­ent to that which I enjoyed Ber­serk by. It doesn’t hold a candle to those amongst my favour­ites like Death Note and Bac­cano. Ber­serk, how­ever, is the best anime I have ever watched. Every nuance was inten­tional. Every scene had a purpose.

Ber­serk is perfect.