Berserk (manga)

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Berserk vol01.jpg
Cover of the first Japanese manga volume
Genre Action, Dark fantasy, Horror Tragedy
Written by Kentaro Miura
Published by Hakusensha
English publisher
Demographic Seinen
Imprint Jets Comics
Magazine Young Animal
Original run 1989 – ongoing
Volumes 37 (List of volumes)
Anime television series
Directed by Naohito Takahashi
Produced by Toshio Nakatani
Toshiaki Okuno
Music by Susumu Hirasawa
Studio OLM, Inc.
Licensed by
Network Nippon TV
Original run October 7, 1997March 31, 1998
Episodes 25 (List of episodes)
Anime film series
Anime and Manga portal

Berserk (Japanese: ベルセルク Hepburn: Beruseruku?) is a manga series written and illustrated by Kentaro Miura. Set in a medieval Europe-inspired fantasy world, the story centers on the characters of Guts, an orphaned mercenary, and Griffith, the leader of a mercenary band called the Band of the Hawk. Themes of isolation, camaraderie, and the question of whether humanity is fundamentally good or evil pervade the story, as it explores both the best and worst of human nature. Both the manga and anime are noted for their heavy violence.

Miura premiered a prototype of Berserk in 1988. The first volume of the manga was published on November 26, 1990 by Hakusensha in its Jets Comics collection. In 1992, after the publication of three more volumes, Berserk began serialization in Young Animal. The series was adapted into a twenty-five episode anime series covering the series' first story arc by Oriental Light and Magic from October 7, 1997 to March 31, 1998. A series of films were released, beginning with Berserk Golden Age Arc I: The Egg of the King on February 4, 2012.


Further information: List of Berserk characters

Guts (ガッツ Gattsu?), is a wandering warrior, and former Raid Leader of the renowned mercenary unit known as the "Band of the Hawk" (鷹の団 Taka no Dan?), who hunts demon like creatures called Apostles, humans who have made a deal with a group of archdemons known as "The God Hand" that in exchange for their wish they must sacrifice someone or something close to them.

After his troubled childhood under his adoptive father, Guts is recruited to the Hawks by their charismatic leader Griffith. Griffith, Guts and their mercenary group play a pivotal role in ending the long war that has ravaged the country of Midland. Griffith however, in his ambition to become a ruler, seduces the King's daughter, leading to him being imprisoned and horribly tortured until being rescued by his comrades. With his body horribly mutilated, Griffith sacrifices his friends and mercenary group to the God Hand to continue his dream in a demonic ritual, as the newest member of the God Hand himself, from which only Guts and his lover Casca, survived.

After being separated from Casca, who lost her memories due to the trauma of the ritual, Guts starts hunting down the Apostles in search for revenge against Griffith, reuniting with Casca just in time to rescue her from being burned as a witch. While Guts and Casca travel to the Elf country of Elfhelm in search for a safe haven, accompanied a group of companions they befriended during their travels, a revived Griffith reforms the Band of Hawk and leads the fight against invading forces from the east, eventually establishing his rule over Midland and founding a new, massive capital, Falconia, where the humans take refuge from the ever increasing attacks of demons, unaware that their leader is actually one of them.

Historical similarities[edit]

Guts' iron arm, in his original character concept, is very similar to Götz von Berlichingen's iron arm, which is kept in the Nürnberg Museum. Berlichigen was a German knight and leader of a band of mercenary soldiers, with a reputation as a Robin Hood figure. In 1504, his right arm was struck off by enemy cannon fire and a prosthetic iron arm was developed to replace it. It should be noted that Miura has yet to confirm any sort of connection between the two.


Further information: List of Berserk chapters

Miura first premiered Berserk in 1988 with a 48-page prototype, which won a prize at the Comi Manga School he was enrolled in at the time. On November 26, 1990, the first volume of the manga was published by Hakusensha in its Jets Comics collection. Three more volumes appeared until Berserk was serialized by Young Animal (Hakusensha) in 1992 and new chapters are still being released in the biweekly magazine. Bound volumes are still published biannually in Japan by Hakusensha (Jets Comics collection); as of March 2013, 37 tankōbon of the manga have been published in Japan. The manga has published on an irregular schedule since late 2006.

In North America and the United Kingdom, the manga is translated and co-published between Dark Horse Comics and Digital Manga Publishing, which has released 37 volumes so far, the first on October 22, 2003. The series has also been published in France by Samourai Editions, Dynamic Visions and Glénat, in Spain by MangaLine Ediciones, in the Netherlands by Glénat, in South Korea by Dai Won, in Italy, Germany, Brazil, and Mexico by Panini Comics, and in Poland by J.P.Fantastica.



Produced by OLM, the 25-episode TV anime series adaptation Berserk: Kenpū Denki (剣風伝奇ベルセルク Kenpū Denki Beruseruku?, lit., "Berserk: Sword-Wind Tales") first aired from October 7, 1997 to March 31, 1998. The series begins with the Black Swordsman arc, continuing through the Golden Age arc. Though the manga storyline remains largely intact, many changes were made, with the modification or elimination of characters (one notable example being Puck), some of the series' most violent and brutal scenes, and material that would have extended the storyline beyond the planned run of the anime series. Themes of friendship and ambition are more developed and emphasized than those of causality and the supernatural, all of which were made with the approval of series creator Kentarō Miura.

In Asia, Vap Video has released thirteen VHS and twelve VCD including two episodes each (a single one in the last VHS and three in the last VCD) from 1998 to 1999 in Japan. The seven discs "DVD-BOX", using Audio-CD cases, was released in Japan in 2001, with the seven volumes being re-released later in individual DVD regular cases in 2003.


Legendary Wind Sword
Original Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Susumu Hirasawa, PENPALS and Silver Fins
Released November 6, 1997 (1997-11-06)
Label VAP
Susumu Hirasawa soundtrack chronology
Legendary Wind Sword
BERSERK Original

Legend of the Lost Continent
Original Sound Track


Susumu Hirasawa composed the soundtracks for both the anime and video games, using an eclectic selection of instruments. He received the offer to compose music for the series due to Miura being a fan of his works and listening to them while he works on Berserk, that also led to Miura almost never requesting a specific composition to Hirasawa. Hirasawa has said that Berserk does not feel like a self-restrained story, and that composing for the series is similar to the sensation of unlocking one of his inner restraints, leading to compositions on a "Berserk" style.[1] The opening theme is "TELL ME WHY" by PENPALS, the ending theme is "Waiting so long" by Silver Fins, and the "next episode theme" is "BERSERK -Forces-" by Susumu Hirasawa.

Legendary Wind Sword BERSERK Original Soundtrack
No. Title Artist Length
1. "BEHELIT"   Susumu Hirasawa 1:55
2. "Ghosts"   Susumu Hirasawa 1:41
3. "Ball"   Susumu Hirasawa 1:08
4. "Gats"   Susumu Hirasawa 3:35
5. "Murder"   Susumu Hirasawa 9:29
6. "Fear"   Susumu Hirasawa 3:26
7. "Monster"   Susumu Hirasawa 4:03
8. "EARTH"   Susumu Hirasawa 4:23
9. "BERSERK ~Forces~ (TV Version)"   Susumu Hirasawa 1:56
10. "TELL ME WHY (TV Version)"   PENPALS 1:15
11. "Waiting so long (TV Version)"   Silver Fins 1:22

Film series[edit]

In September 2010, a wraparound jacket band on volume 35 of the Berserk manga announced a new anime project,[2] which was later revealed to be a series of films.[3] The first two films, Berserk Golden Age Arc I: The Egg of the King and Berserk Golden Age Arc II: The Battle for Doldrey, were released in Japan in February and June 2012. Berserk: Golden Age Arc III: The Advent was released on February 1, 2013 in Japan.[4][5]

The voice cast features Hiroaki Iwanaga as Guts (replacing Nobutoshi Canna from the original anime), Takahiro Sakurai as Griffith (replacing Toshiyuki Morikawa), and Toa Yukinari as Casca (replacing Yuko Miyamura).[6][7] The English voice cast features Marc Diraison as Guts, Kevin T. Collins as Griffith, and Carrie Keranen as Casca, all reprising their roles from the original anime.

Video games[edit]

Two video games based on Berserk have been developed by Yuke's. The first game, Sword of the Berserk: Guts' Rage (ベルセルク 千年帝国の鷹篇 喪失花の章 Beruseruku Mireniamu Farukon Hen Wasurebana no Shō?, Berserk Millennium Falcon Arc: Chapter of the Lost Flowers), was released for the Dreamcast in Japan by ASCII Corporation in late 1999.[8] It was localized in western regions early the following year by Eidos Interactive.[9] The second game, Berserk: Millennium Falcon Hen Seima Senki no Shō (ベルセルク 千年帝国の鷹篇 聖魔戦記の章 Beruseruku Mireniamu Farukon Hen Seima Senki no Shō?, Berserk Millennium Falcon Arc: Chapter of the Record of the Holy Demon War), was published by Sammy Corporation exclusively in Japan on the PlayStation 2 in 2004.[10]

Other merchandise[edit]

In addition to video games and game guidebooks, Berserk has spurred on a range of different merchandise, from lighters to keyrings to Kubrick. Statues and action figures are produced by Art of War. A Berserk trading card game was released by Konami in Japan.[11] A figure of Guts was released by Max Factory in its Figma line in January 2012.


As of June 2013, the manga has sold 24 million volumes in Japan and 7 million overseas.[12] The manga has won the Award for Excellence at the sixth installment of Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize in 2002.[13]


  1. ^ 【映画パンフレット】 『ベルセルク 黄金時代篇I 覇王の卵』 (in Japanese). 2012. ASIN B0075LJ616. 
  2. ^ "New Berserk Anime Project Launching (Updated)". Anime News Network. 27 September 2010. Retrieved 18 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "Berserk's Golden Age Arc to Be Made Into 3 Anime Films". Anime News Network. 12 July 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2012. 
  4. ^ "1st Berserk Anime Film's Title Revealed". Anime News Network. 7 July 2012. Retrieved 18 July 2012. 
  5. ^ "Berserk Anime's 2nd, 3rd Films to Open in 2012". Anime News Network. 21 November 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2012. 
  6. ^ "Berserk Film Slated for Next January". Anime News Network. 5 July 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2012. 
  7. ^ "2012 Berserk Film Trilogy's Main Cast, Staff Listed". Anime News Network. 24 August 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2012. 
  8. ^ Williamson, Colin (December 21, 1999). "Berserk (Import)". IGN. Retrieved October 12, 2014. 
  9. ^ White, Matt (January 18, 2000). "Berserk Gets A US Release Date". IGN. Retrieved October 12, 2014. 
  10. ^ IGN staff (October 11, 2004). "Now Playing In Japan". IGN. Retrieved October 12, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Berserk Trading Card Game". BoardGameGeek. Retrieved 18 July 2012. 
  12. ^ "ベルセルクがGREEに登場!『ベルセルク~快進撃!怒涛の傭兵団~』事前登録でヨーロッパのお城に泊まろう" (in Japanese). Inside Games. 2013-06-03. Retrieved 2013-11-28. 
  13. ^ 第6回 マンガ優秀賞 三浦建太郎 『ベルセルク』 (in Japanese). Asahi Shimbun. Retrieved July 18, 2010. 

External links[edit]