Berserk (manga)

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Berserk
Berserk vol01.jpg
The cover of Berserk as published by Hakusensha on December 1, 1990 in Japan
ベルセルク
(Beruseruku)
Genre Dark fantasy, Action
Manga
Written by Kentaro Miura
Published by Hakusensha
English publisher
Demographic Seinen
Imprint Jets Comics
Magazine Young Animal
Original run December 1990 – ongoing
Volumes 37 (List of volumes)
Anime television series
Berserk: Kenpū Denki
Directed by Naohito Takahashi
Written by Yasuhiro Imagawa
Music by Susumu Hirasawa
Studio OLM
Licensed by
AnimeWorks (expired)
Network Nippon Television, Animax
Original run October 7, 1997March 31, 1998
Episodes 25 (List of episodes)
Berserk Golden Age Arc films
Video games
Collectible card game
  • Berserk Trading Card Game
Portal icon Anime and Manga portal

Berserk (ベルセルク 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 (鷹の団 Taka no Dan?). 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 was serialized 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, as part of an effort to adapt the entire manga series.

Plot[edit]

Guts (ガッツ Gattsu?), accompanied by his elf companion, hunts demon like creatures called Apostles. Apostles are humans who have made a deal with demons known as The God Hand and in exchange for their wish they must sacrifice someone or something close to them.

The story shifts to a backstory. After his troubled childhood under his adopted father, Guts joins a mercenary group under the charismatic leader Griffith. Griffith, Guts and their mercenary group play a pivotal role in ending the long war that has ravaged the country. Griffith however, is captured and horribly tortured for having sex with the King's daughter. With his body horribly mutilated, Griffith's dreams of becoming a king seem to be ended, but Griffith sacrifices his friends and mercenary group to the God Hand to continue his dream.

After fighting more Apostles, Guts then tries to find his love Casca who has wandered off. She had been taken to a Tower where she would be burned as a witch. Rescuing her coincides with Griffith being revived. During this time, their country is invaded by a foreign power. Escaping the invasion, Guts and Casca journey towards Elfhelm, to reach safe haven and a cure for Casca. Griffith and his forces fight and free Midland.

Historical references[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. Miura stated in an interview that he created Guts independently and did not learn about von Berlichingen until after several volumes of the manga had been published.[citation needed]

Manga[edit]

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 episodes are still being released in the biweekly magazine (every second and fourth Friday of the month). Volumes consisting of between 8–11 episodes are still published biannually in Japan by Hakusensha (Jets Comics collection). As of September 2011, 36 tankōbon of the manga have been published in Japan.

In America, Canada, and the United Kingdom, the manga is translated and co-published between Dark Horse Comics and Digital Manga Publishing, which has released 36 volumes so far, the first on October 22, 2003. As with other Dark Horse manga releases like Hellsing or Trigun Maximum, the Japanese reading format, from right to left, is preserved in the English release (sound effects are untranslated in earlier releases, though this started with volume 12) at the author's request.

The series has been published in Mexico by Grupo Editorial Vid.

In Europe, the manga was introduced back in 1996, first in France (by Samourai Editions) and then in Italy a few months later (by Panini Comics, first under the imprints Marvel Manga and then Planet Manga). After Samourai Editions' bankruptcy, the comic series has been published in France by both Dynamic Visions (since 2002) and Glénat (since 2004), the latter edition being a larger format. Since 2001, the manga has also been translated and released in Germany (Panini Comics/Planet Manga) and Spain (MangaLine Ediciones). In the Netherlands, Glénat has been translating and publishing the manga since 2008. Among the other markets that Berserk has been published in are South Korea, where it has been published by Dai Won since 1999, and Brazil, where Panini Comics has published the series in a demi-sized (120 pages) edition since 2005.

As of November 2010, the manga has sold 24 million volumes in Japan and 7 million overseas. The manga has published on an irregular schedule since late 2006.

Adaptations[edit]

Anime[edit]

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: Legendary Wind Sword") first aired in a post-midnight slot from October 7, 1997 to March 31, 1998. The series begins with the 'Black Swordsman' arc, continuing through the 'Golden Age' arc (Golden Age). 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.

Music[edit]

Legendary Wind Sword
BERSERK
Original Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Susumu Hirasawa, PENPALS and Silver Fins
Released November 6, 1997 (1997-11-06)
Genre Film score
Electronic, Progressive rock, Symphonic rock, Ambient, World music, Experimental
Label VAP
Susumu Hirasawa soundtrack chronology
Kamui Mintara
(1993)
Legendary Wind Sword
BERSERK Original
Soundtrack

(1997)
Original Sound Track
LOST LEGEND
Legend of the Lost Continent

(1999)
Singles from Legendary Wind Sword BERSERK Original Soundtrack
  1. "BERSERK -Forces-"
    Released: November 1, 1997 (1997-11-01)
  2. "TELL ME WHY"
    Released: November 6, 1997 (1997-11-06)
  3. "Waiting so long"
    Released: November 6, 1997 (1997-11-06)
"BERSERK
-Forces-"
Single by Susumu Hirasawa
from the album Legendary Wind Sword BERSERK Original Soundtrack
Released November 1, 1997 (1997-11-01)
Format Mini CD single
Genre Film score
Electronic, Progressive rock, Symphonic rock
Length 4:00 (Standard and Original Karaoke)
4:05 (GOD HAND MIX)
1:51 (TV version)
4:04 (BERSERK - Forces 1.5)
Label Nippon Columbia, TESLAKITE
Writer(s) Susumu Hirasawa
Susumu Hirasawa singles chronology
"Sairen *Siren*"
(1996)
"BERSERK -Forces-"
(1997)
"RIDE THE BLUE LIMBO"
(2002)

Susumu Hirasawa composed the soundtracks for both the anime and video games, using an eclectic selection of instruments (such as piano, bagpipes, violin, harp, flute, classic guitar, electric guitar, drums, harpsichord, synthesizer, and Amiga as well as voices). 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 doesn't 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.

"BERSERK -Forces-" bears some resemblance to the Susumu Hirasawa track "TAKE THE WHEEL" from the AURORA album from 1994. "Ghosts" bears some resemblance to the Susumu Hirasawa + InhVmaN track "Tetragrammaton" from the Tetragrammaton album from 2008. "Monster" and "Fear" are variations on a composition, which was re-utilised to make "ZODDO II" from the "Sword of the Berserk: Guts' Rage" soundtrack from 1999 and the Susumu Hirasawa + InhVmaN track "No Mourn... " from the Tetragrammaton album from 2008 (based on the "Monster" arrangement). "Gats" bears some resemblance to the Susumu Hirasawa track "Echoes" from the Sim City album from 1995. "Murder" bears some resemblance to the Syun (90s revival of the 80s experimental project Shun, both lead by Susumu Hirasawa) track "Kun Mae #3" from the Kun Mae on a Calculation album from 1996 (which was re-utilised again for the Millennium Actress soundtrack). "BERSERK -Forces-" was remixed by Susumu Hirasawa in the P-MODEL kernel as "BERSERK - Forces 1.5" for the album SOLAR RAY Hirasawa best recycling album Recycled by P-MODEL kernel. The single's four tracks were re-released on 2009 as bonus tracks for the HQCD version of the Susumu Hirasawa album Technique of Relief. The single and the soundtrack (except "BERSERK -Forces- (Original Karaoke)", "TELL ME WHY" and "Waiting so long") were re-released as part of the Susumu Hirasawa box set HALDYN DOME, they were put on CD 10, with the soundtrack to Sword of the Berserk: Guts' Rage and the "Sign" ("Berserk Theme Song Collection"/"Theme tunes for Berserk video game (PS2)") single.

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

All songs written and composed by Susumu Hirasawa. 

BERSERK -Forces-
No. Title Length
1. "BERSERK -Forces-"   4:00
2. "BERSERK -Forces- (GOD HAND MIX)"   4:05
3. "BERSERK -Forces- (Original Karaoke (オリジナル・カラオケ?))"   4:00
4. "BERSERK -Forces- (TV version)"   1:51

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 intended to adapt the entire manga series.[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 released: Sword of the Berserk: Guts' Rage and Berserk Millennium Falcon Arc: Chapter of the Record of the Holy Demon War. The former takes place during the Hawk of the Millennium Empire arc (despite being released during the publication of the preceding arc) and was released in America before the manga or anime (hence the changed title), while the latter is set between volumes 22 and 27 (though it was not released in America).

Merchandise[edit]

Behelit egg by «Art of War»

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.[8] A figure of Guts was released by Max Factory in its Figma line in January 2012.

Reception[edit]

The manga has been widely recognized for its excellence in Japan and throughout the world, winning the outstanding award at the sixth installment of Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize in 2002.[9]

References[edit]

External links[edit]