Berserk Vol. #09 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Released By: Dark Horse
  • MSRP: 13.95
  • Pages: 236
  • ISBN: 1-59307-350-5
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Berserk Vol. #09

By Eduardo M. Chavez     April 19, 2006
Release Date: October 12, 2005

Berserk Vol.#09
© Dark Horse

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

What They Say
Griffith, charismatic leader of the elite mercenary Band of the Hawk, has seen better days. His fearless champion, Guts, has left the Band, defeating Griffith in personal combat as his ticket out. With his judgment clouded by this unthinkable humiliation, Griffith eases his pain in the arms of the daughter of Midland's king. But the King doesn't take kindly to an employee picking the royal flowers, and the next stop for Griffith is the dungeon and the torture rack! Without Griffith and Guts, the Hawks become easy prey for Midland's army, and the AWOL Guts may be the only answer to the Hawks'-and Griffith's-lethal problems

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 Guts in the middle of a swordfight with the mysterious Silat. The image has been blown up from its original so the image is not very clean and the colors are not at all sharp. Still, unlike most covers this one is full of color - greens, reds and blues that help Guts really stand out. 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. 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, 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, sex and violence and comes shrink-wrapped with a parental advisory sticker on the front cover.

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 Casca 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. 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)
It as been a long time since Guts has been on his own. Three years with the Band of the Hawk has appeared to have changed him a bit, for he had almost forgotten the deep loneliness and profound silence that comes with living on your own in the wilderness. He might have thought all he needed was warmth, his sword and water but he recognizes he might have just runaway from something irreplaceable. There is no turning back as he left under his own will and by his own rules. However, even if he did this because of what he heard from Griffith, he cannot help but long for what Griffith indirectly gave to him.

While Guts felt he had nothing left but the sparks borne from his sword, there was someone who was being carried on the backs of hundreds to greatness who was truly alone in this world. In that duel fought in the snow, Guts won his freedom, but he also ended up pulling out one of the supports in the foundation Griffith had built himself. Griffith's stability was now in jeopardy and instead of continuing with the charismatic leadership that attained his current position he risked his own freedom by taking something else that was irreplaceable. Whether to advance his status or for personal reasons, Griffith's reaction was not only out of character for him as it casts doubt on his motivations and ambitions. Or maybe this was the real Griffith! Either way he is mentally and physically out of reach. Not because he soars high as a hawk, but because his actions have clipped his wings and have landed him in a cage.

So were their dreams worth losing so much? Will taking initiative be their downfall or will it be their boon?

In a year one man will have fallen from a great position that was truly reaching the stars, to a point far beneath the earth. This man has not been forgotten and his memory still burns fierce in the mind and hearts of many, however his future looks bleak. In the same year, another man took to the wilderness to find himself and his own reasons for struggling. While on his journeys, he found was his passion and his inner-strength each as valuable as any kingdom and more meaningful than any dream. Unfortunately, during that same year hundreds of hawk were slaughtered. Large numbers of them were swallowed up by the result of two men's dreams. Their hopes riding on those who lead them, all gone.

Griffith had a point about his equal would not rely on others. He did not realize he was so dependent and he possibly did not care that so many were relying on him.

There is so much character development in so little time. Seriously, these characters grew more in this volume than they did through the first eight volumes. However, what sets this apart is that it all happens from their personal interactions. Not since the time when Guts was with Gambino has Miura really took the time to give his characters time to really work out their problems one on one. There have been moments here and there, but this volume was filled with moments like that. Whether it was Griffith and Charlotte and how clear readers can see that he has changed. Alternatively, what he does with Guts and Casca, where they spend half a volume discussing their fears and their dreams, you can see that the experiences that Miura has created for them along the way have come back with some meaning. Those moments have created what has transpired here.

These characters are also at a turning point. Everything has changed in the course of one volume. Their lives are not what they used to be. As this series moves along this point in the story this is where the roles are set for this cast. We see what Guts' leaving does to Griffith and one can already imagine his feelings for him. We are told how Casca feels about Griffith, Guts and the Hawks. We see the will to survive of the Band of the Hawk and how they were a force as long as they were together. And all of that will come back into play repeatedly throughout this series. Do not forget the images of Griffith at his most desperate and when he is caught. Those moments will define him, just as Casca's moments leading the Hawk will define her as this title moves to the end of this arc.

Once again through its characters and not the battles they fight Berserk shows why it is one of the best titles out there. This volume shows just why this series is a modern day epic. New characters are brought in foreshadowing dramatic changes that will not come down for a few volumes. Miura takes readers back to feeling and memories long forgotten, and this will be something he will continue to do throughout this title. Everything is relevant no matter how insignificant it may have looked like and that fact makes every scene and every interaction so riveting. The sense of panic and loneliness expressed by his characters, in contrast to the kindness and sensitivity they can share really revealed how well Miura can transition in his writing giving more impact to each character as their personalities round themselves off. There is so much from Berserk and it does not let up with the art either.

There is very little that compares to the detail and scope of Berserk, from its art to its story telling this is a magnificent fantasy title that deserves all the attention it gets (positive or negative, because it seriously is berserk).


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