The cover of Berserk as published by Hakusensha on December 1, 1990 in Japan
|Genre||Dark fantasy, Action|
|Written by||Kentaro Miura|
|Original run||December 1990 – ongoing|
|Anime television series|
|Berserk: Kenpū Denki|
|Directed by||Naohito Takahashi|
|Written by||Yasuhiro Imagawa|
|Music by||Susumu Hirasawa|
|Network||Nippon Television, Animax|
|Original run||October 7, 1997 – March 31, 1998|
|Berserk Golden Age Arc films|
|Collectible card game|
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 around 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.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (October 2012)|
Black Swordsman (vol. 1–3)
Guts (ガッツ Gattsu ), known throughout the land as the mysterious Black Swordsman, arrives in the city of Koka, where he inadvertently rescues an elf. Introduced as Puck, he curiously follows Guts, much to the latter's annoyance. Guts fights and kills the man controlling the town who could transform into a snake-like monster. During this time, it is revealed that Guts is looking for a group called The God Hand. Guts eventually moves on to another city controlled by a man called The Count. He eventually defeats The Count, who retained the ability to transform into a slug-like monster. Mortally wounded, the Count's blood, along with his fear of death, activates the egg-shaped stone known as Behelit. It transports Guts and the Count into another dimension and summons the five members of the God Hand, one of whom appears to have a long history with Guts. The members of God Hand offer to restore the Count's life, but he must sacrifice his daughter Theresia to do so. Unwilling to sacrifice her, the Count is condemned to an endless swirling void of souls. The fight with The Count had wounded Guts to the point that he was unable to do anything to the God Hand, and he could only watch as his chance passed. Guts, Puck, and the Count's daughter are returned to the normal world. Guts then moves on to continue his quest, while Puck follows.
Golden Age (vol. 4–13)
This arc is a flashback showing Guts' youth and what led him to become the "Black Swordsman". Guts grows up as a young mercenary until his (forced) enrollment in the Band of the Hawk. He develops complex relationships with Casca (キャスカ Kyasuka ) and Griffith (グリフィス Gurifisu ), the Band's charismatic leader and holder of the Crimson Behelit, who leads the Band to its rise to prominence within the Midland army. Griffith is elevated from his commoner status to the nobility, causing some resentment, and after sleeping with the King's daughter, Griffith is imprisoned, and the Hawks are declared outlaws. The Hawks manage to rescue Griffith, only to find him broken mentally and physically. From a conventional medieval European background, the story shifts to fantasy and horror, with the apparition of the Eclipse ceremony that ends with the destruction of the Band, as per Griffith's sacrifice in order to become Femto, the fifth member of the God Hand, and reclaim his path towards his dream. Only with help from the enigmatic Skull Knight, were Guts and Casca able to survive. Unbelievably distraught over what transpired, Guts vows vengeance against Griffith and commits to his own personal war against the entities known as Apostles that slaughtered the rest of the Band of the Hawk.
Conviction Arc (Vol. 14–21)
The story returns to the present with Guts continuing his wandering journey. The Vatican becomes very uneasy about him and begins a manhunt for the "Black Swordsman", dispatching numerous agents to find him, namely Farnese and Serpico. Guts enters a town that is being attacked by elves. It turns out to be an Apostle named Rosine. Guts defeats the Apostle with the help of a local girl named Jill. He eventually returns to the aid of Casca, whose mind was broken during the Eclipse. In a half-awake dream, Guts receives a grim premonition of Casca through the demon child of their own conception. Guts returns to the place where he left her, only to find out from Rickert, who had been her caretaker while Guts was away, that she had inexplicably wandered off. Through the clues in the premonition his search leads him to the Tower of Worship in Albion. When he finds out the Vatican have Casca and plan on burning her at the stake, Guts breaks into the Tower to save her. During the rescue, things around them reach a fever pitch. Their very presence had triggered an anomaly culminating in a "rebirth ceremony", creating a mock Eclipse and the surprising return of Griffith to the corporeal world. With Midland suffering under a depression and a subsequent outbreak of disease, the Kushan Empire seizes the opportunity to invade following the death of the King.
Hawk of the Millennium Empire Arc (vol. 22–35)
Escaping the invasion, Guts and Casca journey towards Elfhelm, to reach safe haven from the Curse of the Eclipse. Along their way, newfound companions join them in their struggle. Meeting the sorceress Flora, Guts learns the Elfhelm king could cure Casca's derelict mind and is bequeathed the Berserker Armor, which gives him greater power and stamina in battle, but its usage poses a potential threat to Guts' sanity. In parallel, the newly born Griffith is engaged in freeing Midland from the Kushan invasion and he leads a new Band of the Hawk, consisting of soldiers from Midland, Apostles, and even Kushan defectors, to victory against Ganiskha, leader of the Kushan Empire and also a powerful Apostle. In a last-ditch effort to defeat Griffith, Ganishka sacrifices himself and undergoes an untested metamorphosis into a monster that no living man or Apostle could contend with. Towering over the skies, Griffith makes for the summit of Ganishka when the Skull Knight appears slashing Griffith with the sword made up of countless collected behelits able to cut fissures in space and travel through the spirit world, but Griffith redirects the attack to destroy Ganishka by manipulating the fissure created by the strike to expand it exponentially using Ganishka as the catalyst to send the corporeal world shockingly into the Spirit world.
Fantasia Arc (vol. 35–)
Guts finds himself torn by his battle for vengeance, but quickly admits to himself that he will not abandon Casca to fight Griffith. Sailing their way through the seas towards Elfhelm, Guts and his companions face new unknown dangers, along with the constant threat that the cursed Berserker Armor poses to Guts' mind. They stop at one island and meet the young girl Isma. Gut's group having actually felt the swath of the spirit world transitioning over while traveling by sea, they now face first hand what the spirit world has to offer. The island has been taken over by an ancient monster called "The Sea God". After locating the beast, Guts travels inside the monster and slashes its heart, killing it. Trapped inside, Guts is rescued surprisingly by mermaids revealing that Isma is one of them.
Guts' iron arm, in his original character concept, is very similar to Götz von Berlichingen's iron arm 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.
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.
Produced by OLM, the 25-episode TV anime series adaptation Kenpū Denki Berserk (剣風伝奇ベルセルク) 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.
|Legendary Wind Sword
|Soundtrack album by Susumu Hirasawa, PENPALS and Silver Fins|
|Released||November 6, 1997|
Electronic, Progressive rock, Symphonic rock, Ambient, World music, Experimental
|Susumu Hirasawa soundtrack chronology|
|Singles from Legendary Wind Sword BERSERK Original Soundtrack|
|Single by Susumu Hirasawa|
|from the album Legendary Wind Sword BERSERK Original Soundtrack|
|Released||November 1, 1997|
|Format||Mini CD single|
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|
|Susumu Hirasawa singles chronology|
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.
"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|
|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.
|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|
In September 2010, a wraparound jacket band on volume 35 of the Berserk manga announced a new anime project, which was later revealed to be a series of films intended to adapt the entire manga series. 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.
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). 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.
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).
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. A figure of Guts was released by Max Factory in its Figma line in January 2012.
- 【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.
- "New Berserk Anime Project Launching (Updated)". Anime News Network. 27 September 2010. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
- "Berserk's Golden Age Arc to Be Made Into 3 Anime Films". Anime News Network. 12 July 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
- "1st Berserk Anime Film's Title Revealed". Anime News Network. 7 July 2012. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
- "Berserk Anime's 2nd, 3rd Films to Open in 2012". Anime News Network. 21 November 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
- "Berserk Film Slated for Next January". Anime News Network. 5 July 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
- "2012 Berserk Film Trilogy's Main Cast, Staff Listed". Anime News Network. 24 August 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
- "Berserk Trading Card Game". BoardGameGeek. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
- "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.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Berserk (anime)|
- (Japanese) Berserk official page
- (Japanese) Berserk Films official site
- Digital Manga Publishing page for Berserk
- Art of War - Official Berserk merchandise
- Berserk (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Berserk (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Berserk at the Internet Movie Database