Some of you may have heard that Berserk is a mindless action anime with a lot of violence. That is not true. It is incredibly violent, but it possesses a very rich and complex story.
The basic setup is that a young mercenary with an over-sized sword named Guts is coerced into joining a large mercenary band led by an ambitious young man named Griffith. The group gets hired to help a kingdom during a war. Griffith gains the trust of the king and uses the opportunity to further his ambitions. That’s about all I can give away without going into spoilers, but it’s a very complex story with themes of nobility, betrayal, war, hierarchy, ambition and camaraderie. All of which emerge naturally from the story. That being said the story does have a major issue. The first episode takes place after the last episode and that, combined with the heavy foreshadowing of episode 6, makes what’s going to happen far too predictable. There are also a few minor issues. The most prominent being that there are some really clunky exposition moments. The story is also incomplete since the anime only covers a small part of the manga.
The characters are mostly well written. There is a slight issue with the fact that there’s only one well written female character and the rest are either passive and bland or evil. I honestly attribute that to the time period Berserk is set in rather than to misogyny from Miura Kentaro, but I haven’t read his other works or seen anime based off of them so I could be giving him too much credit, but that was the impression I got from it.
The art is very nicely done overall. The backgrounds are detailed, the characters have distinct looks. There are a few art errors where characters randomly go cross-eyed or something, but they’re few and not really an issue. The only real art issue is that sometimes the art switches from animation to a still image for no apparent reason. I think it’s supposed to be for emphasis, but it rarely works. It usually just pulls the viewer out of the story.
The voice work is decent, but it doesn’t really stand out. The music really varies in quality some of it is good, some of it is not well done.
The yuri factor is a 1/10. All of the main and minor female characters are, or end up in, heterosexual relationships.
My final rating for Berserk is an 8/10. It has some issues but, overall, it’s a very good anime and well worth watching. If you like Le Chevalier D’Eon or Murder Princess you’ll probably enjoy Berserk as well.