Berserk Vol. #08 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Released By: Dark Horse
  • MSRP: 13.95
  • Pages: 230
  • ISBN: 1-59307-329-1
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Berserk Vol. #08

By Eduardo M. Chavez     May 04, 2006
Release Date: July 01, 2005

Berserk Vol.#08
© Dark Horse

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

What They Say
The century-spanning war between Midland and Chuder continues unabated. The two warring kingdoms, vying for supremacy, launch headfirst into what will become the final battle. Leading the Midland forces are the Band of the Hawk, lead by the charismatic Griffith, with the fearless Guts as his trusted champion. But should the Hawks triumph again on the battlefield, the war with Chuder may end, but the secret war within Midland may begin as those who seek to rise within the court see the ambitious Griffith as an obstacle to obtaining power. And nothing is more formidable than an enemy unseen!

The Review
Presented in a wide B6 Berserk is right to left like the original (the original size is a B6). This time the cover features an image with Griffith in full battle gear and the memory of Guts looming over his left shoulder! Very telling of the last scene in this volume. The image has been blown up from its original so the image is not very clean and the colors are not at all sharp. Moreover, it does not have the same impact as the original image where we can clearly see Guts' image on Griffith's flowing cape. The opposite 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. Funky "metallic" letters laid down by Dark Horse are big shadowed and overdone; complete contrasting 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, similar to 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 are practically gone. This volume really would have been a good indicator with all the line work on Zodd and all the shading. Dark Horse does a solid job with the reproduction finally giving this series the quality print it deserves. The print itself is great. The lines are clear and crisp; which is critical considering the line-work in this volume. At the same time, this volume does suffer from some minor alignment problems. When comparing it to my original, the print was always cropped at least a few millimeters low (that's better than too far left or right any day of the week).

This volume is rated 18+ for nudity and violence and comes shrink-wrapped with a parental advisory sticker on the front cover.

After eight volumes Miura has really grown comfortable with his character designs. All the characters are about where most people know them. Guts is huge, ripped and covered in scars. His eyes have more feeling to them and his ears no longer make him look elfish. Same thing can be said about Casca. She finally starts to look feminine and you can really see that Miura is becoming comfortable detailing facial features to make an impact with his minor characters and supporting cast. Miura is also starting to introduce detailing in the armor and weaponry. All of this creates a rich reading experience that compliments his amazing scenery and layout.

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. They look very good and seem to be relatively functional and well engineered. Having scenery like this to work with makes the layout seem more impressive. You can see the entire scene as Miura envisioned it and it feels more like a film than a comic as there is a higher sense of realism. Excellent art, basically a complete package.

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. This volume has some interesting dialogue from some new characters, and the translation does a good job distinguishing their voices.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
What many thought would be the final battle between the Kingdoms of Midland and Chuder is now waging. The Band of the Hawk has met its match, which did not come from an equal military tactical mind to Griffith's but an enemy of such large a population it possibly rivaled the entire forces of Midland. To overcome the odds would demand a collective effort. Speed, power, force and strategy must be stepped up to another level where they can assert their will.

The outcome of this battle would mean prestige, honor and celebrity for the victors. More importantly it would mean and end to the war and a brief moment of freedom from the three generations of murder and terrorism. Imagine the status and power the winning general would receive. And Griffith with his Hawks has earned the honor through excellent strategy, amazing bravery and a good amount of luck on the battlefield.

With a future of peace upon them, the Hawks are looking at great deal of new attention. This was already a group who already attained heights amongst the military and within the empirical politic, however that was during the warring period. With a future of peace, the need for a war hero who only fought is minimal. A mind on a star rising as fast as Griffith's would not be well served sitting around for another war. The Hawk has earned the love of the people. He also has the respect of members of the King's Cabinet. Knighthood, at least for him, is not out of the question; just how high this hawk will fly is.

And if there is another question to ask it has to be how the rest of the Hawks will spread their wings. Hawks are not a social breed. Some breed might have mate for a lifetime, but each family lives on their own. Guts wants to see if he could someday reach Griffith's heights. He may not come out of this as a count but on his own accords he might be someone of equal importance. He is a mercenary and just can't be swallowed up by someone else dream forever. The time might finally be right.

In most people's lives there is usually a moment where people are at a crossroads about their future. It might be about college, marriage or changing professions, nevertheless the decision itself will bring changes that will often involve much more than the individual making the decision. Family, friends and maybe property or credibility might be compromised when these people decide to take a chance.

I have read this particular volume over a dozen times and honestly I can get more and more of the story with each read. There are so many cues of a change coming. Some of it is presented through the dialogue shared by the cast. But where Miura really shines is with the visual cues. The little smirks and looks. To finally be able to read the emotions on the faces of these characters is thrilling. That just completes what is already a very rich style of story-telling. The symbolism and the imagery are shocking at times, but for a brutal story like this that is perfect.

This volume has it all. It has war, betrayal, assassination, bribery, romance and philos. The honesty is at times brutal but so important at this moment where these characters are about to make life impacting decisions. The last two chapters in particular, where 80% of the dialogue consists of the casts thoughts, are fascinating. You get to see the value of the relationships the characters shared. Out comes the frustration, the fear and the selfishness, basically everything that was pent up inside is out in the open where only the reader can see. I don't think I picked up more about these characters than I did in those last two characters. Just being able to see what Guts means to Griffith and the fear in Casca was well worth the wait. You just cannot get anything more personal and open than that.

Berserk is a title with so much depth and so many stories all moving in unison. This volume personifies that perfectly. All of the characters' lives come to the forefront, eight whole volumes of history, and in one moment it is all changed. Only the best stories can make such and impact, and continue at the same high level.


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