One of the most popular series of all time, Berserk. A story that has inspired many writers, artists and video games, most notably Dark souls. Best known for its violence and compelling storytelling Berserk has captivated its audience since the beginning. It was first published by Kentaro Miura in August 25, 1989 and has continued to keep its audience hooked. One thing for sure is this story is not for children or those faint of heart. The story is set in medieval Midland and there are rumors of a legendary warrior called the Black Swordsman. Tales speak of his legendary prowess, his huge sword and his terrifying power.
His name is Guts and he carries a giant sword called Dragon slayer along with a crossbow on his iron arm. At first he does not appear to be very likeable for a protagonist. Showing only coldness to those he comes in contact with and his crude way of doing things. He almost looks like the monster that he hunts but how can you blame him. For starters Guts has lived in a world where just a few hours of sleep are a treasure as his brand lures demons and the dead to hunt and kill him. His partner Puck, a little fairy who has the power to heal and feel emotions. Whenever we see Guts make a harsh comment we can tell from Pucks reactions that his words carry a torment of emotions. Puck is a kind fairy and he cares deeply about guts mental well being.
His enemy, Griffith. Guts has a long history with Griffith, who was once the leader of the Band of Hawk. Griffith recruited Guts, no more like forced Guts to join them after he defeated him twice in battle. They used to have nothing but trust with each other until the day came when Griffith denounced his humanity and threw away his friendships. Sacrificing his friends along the way he branded every single one of them. Another important character at the beginning is Casca. In her glory days she was part of the band of hawk. Griffith saved Casca at a young age and took her in. While there she devoted her time to improve her skills and she became the unit commander.
As mentioned before this manga is filled with violence and its for not children but that’s what makes the art and depictions in this manga amazing. Berserk does not pull punches. When it depicts a terrifying scene it shows it in the best detail it can. There are scenes where Guts cuts his enemies and their horses in half and you can see their guts coming out. It’s amazing. There are many epic battles that play out throughout Berserks story as many of Guts enemies appear unkillable or nearly impossible to beat. The art does get progressively better but that’s common in manga that has been on going for 10+ years and in Berserks cases it’s pushing 27+ years. So you can see a clear difference in the art style when comparing the first 10 chapters and the latest 10 chapters.
All throughout the manga there are many themes but I will only list a few here. First theme is evil comes from within humans as we see from the apostles. Fate, destiny and will are what dictate the world of Berserk. Like the brand on Guts and Casca. A permanent reminder that they can never escape their fate. Last one I will mention is meaning of life. We encounter many scenarios where the characters question their existence. They fight with the idea of life not worth living if there’s so much horror in it. There are more themes later in the story but I want to leave it to the reader to decide.
I had many friends recommend this but I never started reading this until the recent anime released in 2016 came. They had very good reason to suggest such a series and I personally really enjoyed reading Berserk. Gore is not my cup of tea but I am a fan of huge swords, demons and epic medieval battles. I was hooked like many and I highly recommend giving Berserk a try.