Berserk is one of the most beloved manga series of all time, with a successful anime in the nineties that covered the famed “golden age” arc. But the manga is so much more than that arc, so when a series of movies were announced, fans were rightfully disappointed that it was a retelling of the same arc. Well, come 2016 and we’re finally out of the golden age, with an anime promising to show us Guts as the “Black Swordsman,” but can it do justice to the legendary manga it spawned from? Let’s find out!
When adapting a long, dark fantasy manga with highly detailed art, what studio would you think to pick for the anime? Madhouse, famous for the stunning visuals of Claymore or Overlord? Bones, with their amazing talents for action like the 2003 Fullmetal Alchemist and Kurau: Phantom Memory? Perhaps a-1 pictures, known for Sword Art Online, or maybe Deen, creators of widely acclaimed anime series Fate/Stay Night?
No, none of these studios can handle such a complex, detailed narrative, nor can they even hope to live up to the chaotic scenes of battle from the manga. And of course, none could possibly live up to the incredible artwork present in the manga. No, there’s only one studio clearly cut out to do this job: Studio Millepensee.
With their work on teekyuu they’ve shown they can tell complex, long form stories in a short span of time, which means that they won’t need 100, 50, or even 25 episodes to tell the story of Guts. No, a mere 12 episode run time might as well be the same as the total length of Detective Conan to them! And the frantic nature of the animation shows they can do justice to berserk’s fight scenes.
Move over 2D, your time has come. Far too many anime feel the need to bow to the pressures of tradition, following the old methods that were pioneered back in the 20s for gods sake! It’s time to move forward, and Berserk 2016 is a perfect example of this. The 3DCG animation featured in Berserk is stunning, the best CG I’ve seen since Knights of Sidonia. It really feels like you’re living in the world of Sword of the Berserk: Gut’s Rage, the classic dreamcast game.
The way the camera cuts so as to obscure most of the action is a daring, bold choice. It shows just how larger than life both Guts and his sword really are, so large they can’t even fit into the screen.
To accompany this torrential storm of cgi animation, we have a kick-ass rock soundtrack, exactly the kind of music you’d expect out of a dark fantasy series. Each song would sound right at home on a nickleback or disturbed album, and never once do they fail to fit the tone of the scene.
The sound effects however, are a different beast entirely. No cheesy sword shwing noises here, no sir. Only gritty, realistic metal clangs. The static, low quality nature of the effects only further enhances how realistic they sound. If I had one complaint, it would be that sometimes guts’ dragonslayer doesn’t clang loud enough for such an impressive weapon.
Millepensee has made the brilliant decision to only adapt the good parts of the manga, much like Mappa’s recent Ushio and Tora. Skipping the black swordsman arc entirely, it jumps straight into the real action of the series. Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected them to reach Farnese by episode two, but they pulled it off somehow.
Each character has been distilled down to their base, root personality traits. This is a good thing, as often times the manga can be too subtle and detailed for its own good. This is much easier to follow, meaning this anime is actually BETTER then the manga it’s adapting, similar to FMA 2003
If you like shows like Claymore, Overlord, Knights of Sidonia, or Sword Art Online, watch this anime immediately. I was shocked every second of this show, I couldn’t believe my eyes, Berserk 2016 is an experience you have to have for yourself, I recommend checking it out on my favorite streaming site, Kissanime.
Rarely does a show come around that does everything as well as this, thanks for recommending this to me Kotaku, you’re the best source for anime news I can think of.