Berserk Vol. #03 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: C
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 17 & Up
  • Released By: Dark Horse
  • MSRP: 13.95
  • Pages: 234
  • ISBN: 1-59307-022-5
  • Size: Wide B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Berserk Vol. #03

By Eduardo M. Chavez     August 19, 2004
Release Date: April 01, 2004

Berserk Vol.#03
© Dark Horse

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Miura Kentaro
Translated by:Jason DeAngelis
Adapted by:

What They Say
Guts the feared Black Swordsman, finishes his desperate battle with the monstrous Count, cutting and blasting the hideous abomination to gory scraps. But Guts won't even have the time to clean his gigantic sword when the Count's agonized pleas activate the mystical talisman Behilit, summoning the Godhand, five demon lords of immeasurable power. Guts' journey so far has been a long road of pain and death, but that's a walk in the park compared to fighting his way out of Hell itself! And for their help, the Godhand have a price to exact from the Count, a price too dear for even such a heartless monster to consider!

Created by Kentaro Miura, Berserk is exactly what its title advertises, a savage, gruesome, and often darkly funny roller-coaster ride, inspiring the internationally popular anime series. If you're looking for graphic fiction to take home to Grandma, this ain't it - unless Grandma smokes cigars and rides a Harley!

The Review
Hack 'em up battle scenes, alternate dimensions, god like beings, orgies and adult men crying... Berserk has it all in this volume. Why wasn't part animated again... oh, I forgot about Puck, the fairy. That might have been it.

The front cover has the original art but it has been blown up a bit (and the resolution really shows). The rest of the cover has a bound hardcover design. They place the original logo here above the huge blurb but they completely leave out the trademark elf that is on the back of every Hakusensha Berserk tankoubon.

Logo Check! The logo is pretty ugly if you ask me. Unlike what was done for Trigun the spine does not have kana/kanji.

Inside the original volume header art and chapter header art is all there with kanji (wow!!). The printing appears to have gone down a notch but the alignment issues from volume one seem to have been resolved. This volume has ads for: Berserk, Trigun, the Ring and Hellsing.

The art to Berserk is pretty rough to start off, but midway through this volume things start to look a lot sharper and more similar to his current designs. Puck is looking over weight and just comical; Guts is looking pretty young here even though this is a bit after the events that happened throughout most of the anime. His designs are very rough with his muscle tone looking fit but not exceptional. Designs for the demons are very good, but the printing really hurts the art as a whole.

Presented in a wide B6 Berserk is right to left like the original (the original size is a B6). SFX are not translated. GRRRR!! The rest of the translation is very good which is typical Dark Horse. The only problem I had was with the retouch done on some of the aside text. For some reason most of it was put into tacky looking text bubbles. Come on, your covering up art so you can at least make them look nice.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Man versus beast, more often than not beast will win. Man is tied down to its humanity and ideals. It wishes to be better than the beasts and therefore holds back even if it has the strength.

Guts is not man or beast. Guts lives as prey to both living and dead, and in this fight with the Count he is being hunted and doing the hunting. The battle has left him broken - in body, mind and spirit. If it were any other being they possibly would have given up and moved on to the next life. Yet, Guts would rather show his enemy the limits of being a man before meeting his grave.

That attitude would immediately come back to haunt Guts. He fought so hard to show the Count the power of his will, that he forgot the power that any will could possess when "the moment" arrives. When life is quickly fading away, the will to live can be extremely strong and in this case it brought Guts back to the position of being the hunted. Back to where his curse truly began. Back in front of someone whose will to live was so powerful it partially lead to Guts' current state of mind. Back in front of his old enemy and even older friend Griffith.

In a place and time between the living and the dead, Guts experiences the power of the behelit. The mystical talisman has given its owner, the Count, a chance for its dying wish and by doing so called forth the powers of darkness, the Godhand. Five demon lords who judge the past, present and future know Guts well from his past and have considered Guts, the black swordsman, nothing but a sacrificial lamb to the demonkind they look over. Among them is a being once known as Griffith; who once fought side by side with Guts. In a way these two appeared to be friends at some point, but fate, ambition and possibly their true feelings for each other brought them to where they are now. Guts at this point is meaningless to Griffith. Griffith's power is beyond Guts' strength and comprehension, but how did he get to be what he is now? What is their relationship? Who are these two, really?

With Guts and Puck escaping the hell brought on by the behelit, Miura goes to the true start of this story. Back to the time of Guts' youth and to a time that will lead him to the man he is today. Guts' part of the "Golden Age" is one of tragedy and solitude. It will forge an inner strength that few have seen but it also will bring on a fear that will haunt him for the rest of his life.

If readers want to get to know about Guts and his history this is where to start. Within this volume, the black swordsman arc ends and the golden age arc begins, but during that transition there are images to his present state showing why he is struggling so much - the truth about the brand and who is searching for - and some of his emotional sides. Up to this point, Guts has been empathetic on rare occasion but here we get to see him completely struggle with his reality. Basically the guy is alone in this world, and there are reasons why he is like this but from his manners and reactions it is not where he wants to be. Unfortunately he has to be somewhat nihilistic to protect himself from what is out there while on his quest. He is a man: he is fragile, weak, and dependent. He is human: full of emotions like hate, fear and loneliness. He is a warrior: with strength, courage and determination to survive. But he is also something else that most of humanity has never experienced and as Miura has shown it is something beyond the concepts of humanity... it may even be beyond the concepts of life and death or good and evil.

When Miura moves on to Guts' childhood the entire story changes. Luckily with glimpses of humanity coming from Guts before, the transition was not too difficult to get accustomed to, but as Miura showed in the very first pages of this series he does not wait long to get into the issues that are weighing on his characters. Guts' youth is tragic, however it is very telling of what he will become in the future.

Despite a few packaging issues, this volume is by far the best so far. Excellent action, excellent drama, plot-twists, character developments, and new characters all tend to present Guts in different perspectives giving readers the opportunity to understand him better on different levels. Up to this point, one could admire his strength and skill and with the amount of action that there has been Miura has been very good at making Guts look like a dark-hero type. Up to this point he has not been a great personality but as an action hero his angst and rage is second to none. He is the reason why this series is Berserk and I would not have him any other way. So as this series moves into what was animated by OLM (licensed by Media Blasters) fans of the series can finish off the early arch that was not animated and experience the part of Berserk that those who have only seen the anime may not have known existed.



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