Berserk Vol. #04 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B-

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  • Art Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Dark Horse
  • MSRP: 13.95
  • Pages: 238
  • ISBN: 1-59307-203-1
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Berserk Vol. #04

By Eduardo M. Chavez     July 27, 2005
Release Date: July 01, 2004

Berserk Vol.#04
© Dark Horse

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Miura Kentaro
Translated by:Duane Johnson
Adapted by:

What They Say
Now that the evil Count has been killed and dragged to Hell by the demon lords of the Godhand, Guts, the Black Swordsman, recalls his horrific upbringing and his brutal "benefactor," the mercenary Gambino, whose parenting skills leave much to be desired. His bleak childhood spent wandering from battlefield to battlefield, Guts' growing skills as a slayer catch the eye of many, including the legendary Griffith, warrior leader of the Band of the Hawk, who is eager to test the fighting prowess of the young swordsman. As usual, any time that Guts is involved, there'll be Hell to pay!

The Review
Beating the odds - Guts has done that for his entire life. But what kind of life has he lived?

Miura takes us back to Guts' youth to solve some of the mysteries behind the Dark Swordsmen.

Presented in a wide B6 Berserk is right to left like the original (the original size is a B6), this volume features an image of a young Guts holding a trademark long broadsword. The image has been blown up a bit (and the resolution really shows), but it is not reworked like other Berserk covers. 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. Big funky letters shadowed and overdone; a complete contrast to the simple but period-looking font used by Hakusensha. I found this even more frustrating especially when I consider that there are existing English logos out there. In addition, unlike what was done for other Dark Horse manga - Trigun and the Ring - the spine does not have kana/kanji.

Inside the original volume header art and chapter header art is all there with kanji (wow!!). Printing problems appear to have returned in my copy. There are some double prints in the final chapter. And in there is quite a bit of detail lost in the fighting scene between Guts and Griffith (especially in regards to Griffith's hair). Fortunately, this volume seems to be free of alignment issues.

The art to Berserk is pretty rough to start off, but through this volume things start to look a lot sharper and more similar to his current designs. 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. Eyes are a little funky. Take Caska as an example. Her dark eyes often filled with emotion are almost comical (she looks like a bug) but that changes through time as Miura's character designs eventually catches up with his background art.

Backgrounds are outstanding. Miura must of have done some research as he has taken some of the better castle building traits and added it to his fortifications. I love the castle with the active river as a moot. Miura built up a thick tall wall with drawbridge standing on a river bend; cross the river and climb a hill to reach the castle. Looking closer he has built in a few towers, a church and a farm plot to cover many of the basic needs for those residing in the immediate vicinity. Very fancy.

SFX are not translated. GRRRR!! Don't ask me why they don't do this, but it is very frustrating.

The rest of the translation is very good which is typical Dark Horse. My issues with aside text appears to have been fixed; so, Dark Horse is no longer adding text bubbles to panels for asides.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
It may only take a single bad experience to turn the life around for a single person. The fear, the trauma and the anger can be enough to change one's entire look at life.

Guts had always lived a rough life. He was forced to depend on his strengths since he was born. Everyday has been a struggle. Learning his new trade, building his physical strength and hardening his heart was all done to repay his comrades and his adopted father. By becoming a valuable member of the unit he would be able to prove his worth and he will deserve all of the years he spent being raised by the warriors.

Through adversity Guts will gain his freedom, but with that he has to rely solely on his skills. There will not be a band to support him and cover his back. He will have to work to earn his keep. And even then there will be those who will want to take some of his earnings. Life alone will not be easy, but it is much better than relying on others that might abandon you or betray you.

But maintaining that freedom will not be easy. There will always be those who wish to use people of skill like Guts. There will be some who will wish to control and contain his strength. In the end Guts has to realize that running alone doesn't mean having freedom, for he is running away from his fears, but is he capable of understanding that now before he loses it by force.

We move through the start of the animated series, as Guts begins his trails as a young man raised amongst warriors. His world is cold, cruel and covered in blood. People are only worth how well they can kill and unless Guts could do the same he would only become a nuisance. Unfortunately, fate betrayed him early in his years. Despite his efforts those closest to him abused him.

What had Guts done to deserve that? Why did he have to pay for surviving?

Ultimately, fear and a lack of trust Guts developed drove him away from others. The only truth he could see was only the truth he knew himself. The work he did, the people he killed and the pain he felt were truths he knew could not lie to him. Yet, he was also beginning to doubt his mind. With freedom Guts found some peace of mind, but as we see in this volume his lack of trust will cost him freedom as well.

Miura does a great job creating a paradigm where this strong young man must build a wall around himself to protect his weaknesses " his fears and his memories. That which he cannot run away from, hurts him the most. Unfortunately, the only solution to that problem is currently running away from others. This appears to be a side not often seen in Guts in the previous three volumes, where we saw a man determined to ride alone willing to take on his fears head on. But that is what Miura is trying to set up right now. He wants to get into the history of this young man - experiencing the trails of his youth, his motivations and the source of his fears. Readers need to appreciate this if they want to know Berserk, fortunately Dark Horse and Digital Manga have done a solid job presenting this.


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