Berserk – Anime Abandon

The year closes with one of Sage’s personal favorite anime of all time, Berserk.

About Bennett the Sage

Bennett "The Sage" White has opinions, and you have ears. Let him put those opinions in your ears.


  1. Oh hell yes, I LOVE Berserk!

  2. Ah Berserk. This is first anime series that I complited on DVD. It’s shame that it’s based on still on going manga and thus is basically feels like just advertisement for manga.

  3. I love this show so much, but it broke my goddamn heart. Of course, the fact that I binge-watched it the same week I saw Grave of the Fireflies at the same time probably didn’t help matters. What do you think of the recent(er) remake?

  4. I just discovered this anime last year and was instantly hooked. That ending is such a punch to the gut though, I recall being depressed for several days after seeing it. I was further dismayed to learn there’s still no resolution to the story and the author has said he may die before he ever completes it.

  5. I wouldn’t call The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya “moe crap”. Granted that describes a lot of the series inspired by its popularity pretty well, but Haruhi itself had a lot more going for it than that.

  6. I never understood the appeal of this series. I went into it with really no particular expectations, I knew it had good buzz behind it but hadn’t been exposed to much critique of the show (positive or negative). After watching I was left underwhelmed. I could see the themes at work but it really just came off as mostly mindless and largely unnecessary violence with shoddy production quality and a completely unfulfilling ending. I’m certainly not averse to excess gore or violence, I enjoyed Hellsing Ultimate (as mindless as it was), Claymore (well up until the last three episodes) and Sam Raimi is one of my favorite film directors. Berzerk just left me feeling flat. Guts is cringe worthy, most of the other characters are forgettable and it doesn’t even have good action scenes to fall back on. I could see there was a story worth telling buried in there, but it’s such a faint glimmer it doesn’t seem worthy of the praise it gets.. to me anyway.

  7. Are you looking forward to the new Berserk Bennett? Have you looked into anything about it or will you wait till it comes to the states?

  8. This review is a perfect encapsulation of why I think Sage is a good reviewer, but falls short of being a GREAT one.

    There are two aspects of Berserk that are ignored in this review that really leave it feeling incomplete, and both are somewhat related. The first is that Berserk is not an original anime, it’s an adaptation of a manga (still going) by Kentaro Miura, and while there is a school of thought that says an adaptation should be judged on its own merits, the fact remains that it IS an adaptation, and thus that should be at least touched upon as well at least in areas where the failure in the adaptation is precisely where the weakness in the final work lies.

    The second is the element of what kind of story Berserk (or at least the arc the anime adapts) is. It is classical tragedy, and like most tragedies we know going in that things are going to go horribly wrong. We sometimes even know HOW they will go wrong, and somehow we still allow ourselves to become attached to and engrossed by these characters, so when the hammer does fall it hits us so much harder in the end. Berserk’s sense of tragedy is absolutely Shakespearean in its scope and execution, which leads us back to the manga.

    In the manga the author spends two-and-a-half volumes introducing us to Guts and makes no bones about portraying him as a straight-up borderline villain-protagonist. He is unlikable to the point of being borderline cruel, but by having villains so horrifyingly evil and depraved, the audience still cheers when Guts comes for them much in the way you’d cheer the Cenobites coming for Hitler’s soul if it escaped Hell with an army of the damned to ravage the Earth. It is only at this point, much further in, do we actually understand happened between Guts and Griffith. That’s right, the book straight up reveals all of this, BUT we are never actually told. It is revealed only by the evidence and the reality and shear magnitude of just how horribly Guts was betrayed suddenly is made self-evident, and now the audience can not HELP but suddenly have sympathy for the cruel and murderous Guts.

    It is only at this point the story begins the flashback arc that would continue for many, many volumes and in one way I agree with you, Sage. Without showing what immediately followed in the manga, adapting the first chapter leaves the effect incomplete. You see where Guts ends up, but not WHY. The sense of tragedy is there, but not the absolute magnitude of what’s coming.

    The movies (yes, they have now begun adapting the manga in a series of very well-animated movies) wisely skip the prelude in its entirety. This obviously removes a lot of the Shakespearean tragedy aspect, instead going for a more conventional narrative, but it’s to the adaptation’s betterment, as some things are tools of storytelling are far better for more regularly serialized media than movies or TV seasons with a beginning, middle, and end.


    One thing also of note, and here be massive SPOILERS so beware, Guts is a VERY rare example of a male rape survivor in anime and manga. The sexual violence in the series still depressingly hits women by the vast majority, but how unheard of is it in any medium where the hyper-masculine male protagonist revealed to have horrible PTSD from being victimized as a child. This is only barely alluded to the the anime, but leaves no room for interpretation in the manga, which is why the moment when he and Casca finally share that moment is so significant. She’s the first person since childhood he’s allowed to touch him. It’s a tender moment you, again, so very rarely see with a male protagonist, and again, makes the tragedy to follow that much more heartbreaking.


    I think when you can finally scratch deeper into the things you review, present an examination that feels weighted and more complete, then you’ll have hit that very rare level of excellence.

  9. Hey Sage, dunno if you’ve heard of this yet, but there’s a heavy metal band called Battle Beast who’ve written several songs about (if not just referencing) Berserk. Their other songs are great, too, but the ones about Berserk seem relevant, and they include…

    “The Band of the Hawk” –
    “Iron Hand” –
    “Victory” – (studio version seems to be blocked)
    “Golden Age”/”Kingdom” –
    “I Want the World…and Everything in It” – (seems to be only referential)
    “Touch in the Night” –

  10. You forgot that the biggest downfall of Anime in the mid 2000’s was that because of the Glut of American audiences flooding to series that looked good, but didn’t deliver, led the industry to want to capitalize on the large source of money from those seeking good quality entertainment that could not be done any other way, at least not as well any other way, and so they placed quantity over quality which led to the rise of the Shonen Shit and many of the stigmas that plague the industry even to this day. There are anime bingers, the equivalent of Alcoholics who could care less if it’s a 50 cent can of beer or a $200 bottle of Aged Rum they consumed it with the same fervor, which is why Naruto got so popular is the ones who pushed for it were just getting a steady stream to feed their addiction and they loved it for that. However these bingers while very numberous are also very poor because they will buy anything and everything they can to feed their addiction but those that originally started the influx began to fall out of love with the shows because of their lack of quality, when you have stores and sites as well as literally mountains of the 50 cent beer cans it’s hard to find that $200 bottle of Rum or even a $100 bottle of wine. Many anime fans have for the most part fallen out of love with Anime as the franchise started to cater and pander to the Bingers by combining all they could without care for what they are making. It’s why despite being very hyped fro Macross Delta, one of the few franchises that seemed to keep it’s quality high, I am now cringing at the thought that Delta may actually be worse than the black sheep of the franchise, Macross 7. From what I saw in the first episode, I am very VERY disappointed. I literally went from a powder keg of excitement and Joy; ready to dump hundreds on importing what I could Like I did with Plus, Zero, The Original, and Frontier; to being ready to gnaw my own leg off just to avoid seeing another episode in roughly 10 minutes.
    However as far as Berserk goes, I’ve never seen it mostly because I bypassed it thinking it’s pretty much like allot of the other formulaic and low quality crap of the time, but I may just give it a chance after your review.

  11. I wouldint call the ending satisfying. More like a middle finger since well it doesint really end and leaves HUGE doors open. Im also surprised you didint touch on the other releases of the berserk series. Like the anime movie.

  12. thatchickwithlonghair

    Oh f*ck you and your moe hate, Sage. Mark my words, you WILL find one that you’ll like. I mean, if you like Kodocha, moe’s not a huge step away from it.

    • Moe is a fad that needs to die immediately. I can count the number of decent moe shows on one hand, and they are: Clannad (+After Story), Angel Beats (if it even counts as moe), The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (season one and the movie only), and…uhh…I guess K-On could have been worse? Maybe?

      And that’s it, son. Maybe we’ll have a #5 when I get around to Sound! Euphonium, but until then, the moe fad is pure hot garbage, and its few good titles are exceptions to the rule.

  13. Well, the manga actually makes it clear why and how Guts can use such a big sword, he was raised by mercenaries and his ‘father’ had him training to fight using adult sized swords when he was only a child, and so he developed incredible upper body strength and stamina, and the sword really is just a hunk of iron, which is necessary because the weight of the sword is needed to be able to cut through the demons.

    Ah, those loose ends….yeesh. That is why I have no interest in ever watching this anime. I love the manga. It i so worth the read. It is one of my favorites. And the anime basically covers the prologue, and that is all. Granted it’s a long prologue, in the manga there is almost 3 volumes to set up Guts as he is in the present, and then about 10 volumes of flash-back, but that is only 13 volumes of a series that is now 37 volumes and still going. That… sort of a waste. The entire series is a tragedy, and Guts is fighting his past, and ready to abandon his humanity to fight the demons, demons led by his once friend Griffith, but still something of a hero whom has a group of true companions that include two children who adore him and a pair of elves (which are like fairies) whom all serve to aid him in battle and keep him humane. And, the anime just….doesn’t have any purpose since it is only the prologue?

    Huh, well, Guts was not….that obsessed with fighting….in the manga he overheard Griffith say to someone that a person with no dreams of their own, who only blindly followed his, were not his true friends. So Guts was going to find his own and come back to Griffith as an equal. Griffith was just a crazy yandere.

    I mean, in all, it is a very good adaptation from what I have seen of it, but it just…..ends way too soon to be worth watching for me. I’ll just read the manga. If they ever continued the anime, I’d happily watch.

    • It was an interesting review though, just thought I should say that. Even though I don’t agree with you every time, you’re still one of my favorite reviewers.

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