I’m the biggest Berserk fan you will ever meet. I watched the Anime in 2008 and since then I’ve been hooked. After seeing the anime I read the whole manga, and every once in a while I re-read the manga for fun.
The anime from 1997-98 has its own charm. Many people don’t like the animation, but I feel that it has its own characteristics that make it unique and a worth while watch. No one would’ve thought that there would be any more Berserk animations after the anime only had one season, so when the movie was announced, berserk fans went crazy; especially me.
Just watching the trailer made me cringe. The animation was jaw dropping! This is exactly how I wished Berserk would look. Since I saw the trailer last year, I’ve been checking the internet every day waiting for a rip with subtitles to appear. Well it finally came out and I watched it yesterday. Does it live up to the hype? Does it live up to the legend that is Berserk?
******WARNING******* This review will have spoilers. Read only after you’ve seen the movie or have read the manga. ******WARNING*******
Ever since the trailer I knew this was going to have incredible animation and it completely does. The animation is so fluid and flows so well. The whole thing is eye candy and I couldn’t stop starring at the screen. The colors pop so much when they need to and during the darker scenes they’re more muted which is how they should be. The sky looks so real, the leaves blowing around in the air look so real, and the wind blowing the characters’ clothes and hair looks so real.
Another thing I really liked in regards to visuals is the cinematography. The camera is always moving and the angles that they go for is really great. As a huge film buff and a camera nerd, this aspect really impressed me. I don’t think I’ve seen such good camera work in an anime before. It uses great cuts, great zooms, pans, and everything else. The editing and cinematography is fantastic.
The CGI. Okay I have to admit when I watched the first 10 minutes preview I didn’t really like the CGI at all. It looked like a Dreamcast game like Whacky Races. But after seeing the movie it really isn’t that bad. They only really use CGI during big battle scenes. All close up scenes of people talking are hand drawn, so overall I don’t really have any complaints about the CGI. This is the trend in modern anime and in this movie it wasn’t obtrusive.
I felt that the original anime had some great music that intertwined with the emotion of Berserk. I couldn’t think of any other music that would go with Berserk, but hey, I was wrong. The music in the movie was SUPERB! They used a full orchestra which made the battle scenes all that more epic. When Zodd appears, the music is more scary, and in more personal scenes, there was actually a lot less music, which I really liked. Sometimes its better to have silence during some scenes and it worked. I really enjoyed the music.
Story Adaptation - Manga vs. Anime vs. Movie
So this is probably the biggest thing that most people will be criticizing about the movie. Berserk is a huge manga to tackle and turn into a movie. As we saw with the anime there were changes that were made that people were not happy with. The movie does have changes but how it differs from the anime is that not only did it take away some things from the manga, it also added some new stuff which I think really made the movie work.
One major complaint I have is that the movie was only 1 hour and 10 minutes. I feel that if they extended it to maybe even just 1:30, adding 20 more minutes, the story would have flowed a little better. Things go by pretty quickly in the first 30 minutes of the film and I felt that it was throwing a lot of information at us in such a short amount of time. Thankfully after that they have a little more discussions and character development which gave me a breather.
Speaking of character development, there was a lot more of that with Griffith, Judeau, and Caska compared to Guts. The only flash backs Guts has are those blurry visions he has where he sees Gambino and the man that raped Guts in the manga, which I really like that they put that into the movie especially since it was absent in the anime. Thing is, a person who’s never seen Berserk will have no idea who those people are. There are no explanations in this movie about the visions Guts has, which is why I think there is going to be a lot more character development of Guts in the next movie, and hopefully a flashback of Guts’s childhood.
One thing they added into the movie which wasn’t in the anime or manga is when Guts and Griffith are talking right after their fight with Zodd. Guts gets scared by the Behelit and slips and starts falling off the railing when Griffith catches him. When Guts gets back up, he grabs his sword and the camera stays there for just a second when Guts lets out of a sigh of relief. That had such strong symbolism showing how much Guts is attached to his sword and to battle. I really like that addition to the movie it helped us understand Guts as a character.
The assassination of Yurius, and consequently Adonis was a scene I thought was going to be such a major fail. One of the biggest aspects of that whole scene in the manga and anime is that Guts watches Yurius and his son Adonis practicing sword fighting skills. We know from Guts’s upbringing that Gambino was really rough on him, just like how Yurius is really rough on Adonis. We see a strong resemblance and it makes it emotional because Guts has a flashback of practicing with Gambino. Guts sees himself in young Adonis. The thing is the movie didn’t give us any flashbacks of Guts’s child hood, so in terms of emotion and symbolism I really thought that scene was going to be horrible, and let me tell you, all the way to when Guts assassinates Yurius, I still thought it sucked. But then…
Guts accidentally kills Adonis. The imagery and symbolism in both the manga and anime were amazing when this happens, but the movie just completely overpowers the both of them in this scene. Seriously when I saw and heard Adonis lose his breath, and then trying to gasp for air.. oh my goodness I started crying. They captured that little kid’s dying moments so perfectly and it felt so real that I started tearing up and couldn’t breath until that whole scene was done. Then Guts grabs Adonis’s hand which made it so much more emotional. That wasn’t in the anime or manga, but the addition of Guts grabbing his hand made that scene just so perfect. They nailed the whole assassination scene in the movie so perfectly.
Another great part of that scene is when Gut kills Yurius and he watches his final moments of life calling him out as one of Griffith’s soldiers. You can see the astonishment and anxiety in Guts’s eyes. This guy has killed thousands on the battlefield, but after just killing one person in such a personal way, you could feel his fear. He wipes his face with his hand and then proceeds to wipe his sword clean of blood, which wasn’t in the manga or anime. That was really powerful and helped us understand the kind of person Guts is. He’s not this maniac killer… he has a heart.
Aside from that there were some scenes removed from the movie, such as Guts’s first battle with the Band of the Hawk, Guts’s and Griffith’s “nude scene” together, and some other small things. About the “nude scene,” they actually didn’t altogether remove that. They took some of the stuff that Guts and Griffith talk about in that scene and put it into the scene after the two fight Zodd. That’s also where we get introduced to the Behelit, which happens after we see it on Griffith’s neck and Zodd runs away, which gave the movie some suspense about what it actually was.
There are scenes that I feel were a bit rushed, like Guts and Griffiths fight on the hill, and their fight with Zodd, but they still flowed well and made sense. So honestly I think they still stuck to the major plot points in the movie and anything they removed they made up for with additions or changes in other scenes.
The movie had incredible visuals, animation, and music. While there are differences between it and the manga, I feel that the additions really helped make the movie work. A major complaint is length, and I feel it would’ve helped a lot to slow things down and let things sink in better which they could’ve done that if the movie was just a bit longer, but still I think its a great stand alone adaptation of Berserk. I would recommend this movie to anyone and I can’t wait until the next movie comes out.