I can remember the first time I ever watched Berserk. We were having a sleepover that night and had popcorn and ice cream during our anime marathon. We were still in high school, and at this point in our lives tended to shy away from anime that was to bloody and gory. So how we ever ending up watching this anime will forever be a mystery, but I am happy it happened.
Berserk is for a mature audience. It will get violent, graphic, and portray adult situations, so this is not something you should watch with the young or, like…your mother. The story revolves around a tank named Guts(or Gatts) with a rough childhood, a beautiful fairy tale prince named Griffith, and their mercenary band. Griffith and Guts are orphans who soon become friends, but they are as different as night and day.
Griffith is a man filled with ambition, charisma, and brilliance. People follow him because they believe in his dream, and his strength; they also want to see him succeed. Guts lacks charisma and is well-versed in the art of not giving a crap. If you follow him it is because you respect him, need his protection, or your smart enough to want to be his ally instead of his enemy. Guts has few friends, but those he lets in will have his loyalty and his trust.
These two first met on a battlefield. Griffith is able to defeat the unbeatable Guts and gains him as an ally and friend. Guts joins Griffith’s mercenary group and helps him towards his goal of being king. Years pass and they gain more allies, friends, and enemies. Griffith gets so close to his dreams that he could taste it, but things don’t go exactly as planned. A devastating tragedy occurs and the anime leaves Guts with a heavy burden to bear.
The manga gives you the back-story of Guts and Griffith and shows the early years of their lives before tragedy strikes. The manga also answers your questions about what happened after the anime. If the anime is the beginning, then the manga is the continuation. Guts is still bad to the bone and often misunderstood or targeted because of his appearance. He has a goal and a long journey that he must complete after the conclusion of the anime. He travels from place to place, slowly gathering his own band of followers along the way to fulfill his quest.
You also get to see how the world has changed since the events of manga. Magic is discovered. New creatures that were once myth became real and the people are in for a huge wake up call. Only Guts and Griffith seem to know what’s going on.
Every anime or manga got something going for it, and for a great series like Berserk you can find lots of stuff to love. For me the best thing about Berserk is its setting, characters, drama, artwork, and execution.
Medieval fantasy stories are my bread and butter. I love this setting, but life is no fairytale in Guts’ world. Crime, corruption, the oppression of the weak and poor, and everyday life is hard on the people. It is not for the meek. Throw in monsters/demons, Gods, and other magic users and Berserk gives me everything I love.
Every character is interesting in this story, even the minor ones. It is easy to overlook or gloss over good character development, but the writers took their time to develop strong characters. Guts and Griffin are some of the most interesting people to watch evolve and go through challenges, but they aren’t the only characters I love . A certain blond guy who shows up later and is blessed by fairies (yes, I said fairies) is someone I am dying to learn about. His mindset and motivations are still a mystery to me.
Another thing this series got going for it is that they are not afraid to put their character through the ringer. Everyone can go through something horrific and no one is safe. The only one you know will survive is Guts because he’s the main character, but that does not mean he will not suffer as much or sometimes more than anyone else. These characters got hardships. They have battles. They have scars. They also get back up…adapt, and somehow come out better than before.
The story is never lacking in drama and stunning artwork. The battles and fight scenes are amazing. They leave you with a sense of “Wow!” (That was cool) and “Wow!” (He/she really didn’t have to die like that did he/she?). For the writers to put a good storyline, strong characters, a nice setting, and stunning graphics into one series and execute it in a way that best displays all of its brilliance and positive traits at the right time and way is simply amazing.
I would suggest you watch the anime and read the manga. If you read one without watching the other for example, you will be missing out. Especially if you like fully fleshed characters that have real and extraordinary problems, a good plotline, great drama, and depth.