Title: Berserk aka Kenfu Denki Berserk
Format: 25 episodes
Dates: 7 Oct 1997 – 31 Mar 1998
Synopsis: Guts is a wandering mercenary with a huge sword and a dark past. Wandering from battle to battle, Guts has no purpose until one fateful day when he is forced to join a young mercenary band known as the Band of the Hawk. Quickly making a name for themselves on the battlefield, the Band of the Hawk gets drawn into a web of political treachery and intrigue. All this while a terrifying event that will change the world lurks just over the horizon.
Characters: Fantastic characters and character relationships.
Plot: Intricate; full of twists, turns, and cliffhangers.
Ending: The biggest cliffhanger of all.
Few anime out there have as infamous a reputation as Berserk. With material so graphic it could barely be shown on late night Japanese TV, a cult following that has made it one of the most popular anime this side of the Pacific ocean, and some of the best storytelling anime has to offer, Berserk is what most other anime can only dream of being. Who would have thought that a dark fantasy title could shine so brightly as to appeal to an audience far bigger than most dark fantasy titles attract.
The characters are where Berserk truly shines. From ambitious and manipulative Griffith, to straight-forward and tormented Guts, to complicated and emotional Caska, most other anime don’t have a single character as human as these, let alone an entire cast. Not only are the characters memorable, the intricate web of relationships between them is even more fascinating. I could not believe how real the character’s actions and attitudes towards each other seemed. For a while, I even forgot I was watching a work of fiction.
If any part of Berserk is more amazing than its characters, its the epic plot full of twists and turns. Starting with the chronologically last episode, Berserk puts a different spin on standard storytelling. Knowing part of what happens in the end from the very beginning helps drive home Berserk‘s “man has no control over his own will” theme. Since you never know for sure what will happen, and almost every episode ends on a cliffhanger, it can be near impossible to stop watching at times. Predictable and yet unpredictable, this is one of the greatest stories ever to grace the 2D world.
Unfortunately, Berserk is probably most well known for its infamous “ending.” No other anime has ever had so many people screaming for a sequel. The first episode gives us a glimpse of what happens beyond the ending, but we are never told how the story got from the last episode to the first. With all the epic storytelling and characters, Berserk really deserved better. The music could have been a lot greater too; it sounds like what you’d get if you paid a garage band fifty bucks to write you a handful of songs.
With such phenomenal credentials, Berserk should be watched by all fans of serious anime who are mature enough to handle the massive gore and nudity. Berserk will suck you into its world and make you forget that you are watching animation. Just don’t let any soccer moms find out about Berserk; it would probably become public enemy number one–as if it needed any more of a reputation to attract viewers.
The Rating: 9
Reviewed by: Kuma