Berserk Vol. #3 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: A-
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 29.95
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Berserk

Berserk Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     October 12, 2002
Release Date: September 24, 2002

Berserk Vol. #3
© Media Blasters

What They Say
The meaning in a hawk's eyes when it gazes at prey is unmistakable. Griffith's prey is in his sights as he steps up campaigns both against the invading Empire of Chuder, and against the conniving noblemen side by side with him in Midland's court.

His Hawks are involved in another skirmish on the front lines, where Caska and Guts are separated from the others. Wounded and trapped in enemy territory, they struggle to return to the Hawks before the marauding armies of Chuder track them down.

The Review!
Another completely top notch volume with some great material to it, though if you can?t stand cliffhangers, don?t watch this volume until the fourth one comes out. You?ll find yourself tearing your hair out.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Though only a few years old, the series has a pretty basic stereo mix that?s done fairly well. There?s some directionality across the forward soundstage throughout the episodes but nothing sent to the rear speakers. Dialogue is nice and clear and music makes good use of both stereo channels.

The transfer on this volume continues to look much like the Japanese release. There?s the usual grain that?s inherent in the film and it adds a lot to the quality and feel of things, giving it a much darker and almost film-like feel at times. Colors look great, blacks are nice and solid and there?s no visible bleeding. Cross coloration appears non-existent here and there?s hardly any noticeable aliasing as well.

Packaged in a red keepcase, this is a great looking release utilizing the gorgeous illustration work available from the Japanese box set. The cover insert is a mix of blacks and browns for a background with the illustration placed in the center below the English logo and the Japanese version of the logo. The illustration for this release is a great piece of Griffith, with all the grays and whites providing an interesting contrast to the reds of the full cover itself. The volume number even appears on the front cover, a general rarity these days. The back cover provides a collage of animation shots from the opening episodes and a brief summary of the show and the number of episodes. The discs features and production information is all clearly listed. The insert provided has the two logos and lists the chapter stops for each of the episodes.

The menu layout is really nice, using the hanging bodies from the tree as the background while music and animation plays. Selections are laid out across the tombstones. Access times between menus are nice and fast and the general look and feel of all of them is good. Definitely a menu we liked.

There?s a good selection of extras for this release. We get some really good visuals in both the production sketches section as well as the storyboards area. The dub outtakes had some hilarious moments to them, especially with the entire singing section making a new appearance. It really sets the stage for Berserk: The Musical to be made by someone. A textless version of the ending sequence makes an appearance here as well as the original TV opening sequence. There?s very few changes to that opening, most noticeably in how the logo is presented compared to the home video version.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Right from the start of this volume, these episodes just get stronger and stronger. This volume provides four solid pieces of storytelling that simply don?t hold back from what happens during battles and assassinations.

With Griffith now asking Guts to kill Count Yurius since he knows that?s the one behind the planned assassination attempt in the previous volume, there?s a definite change in how Guts? mood is. You can see less of his typical enthusiasm or even stone-faced manner that we get during open battles and other strategic moments. There?s an almost somber or resigned feel to his face, as this is just one of the dirtier things he has to do that comes with being loyal and bound to Griffith. So into the rooftops he goes, dressed as normal but juts with a cloak, off to kill a count.

It?s an eerie and almost unnatural visage, as he skulks about and comes across Yurius as he?s training his son in the art of swordsmanship. Through his eyes you can see the flashbacks to his own past with his ?father? teaching him much the same. He manages to push this to the side, and once Yurius is alone, carries out Griffith?s request, though this goes awry with some disastrous results for the short term at least. It?s the way this episode plays out in just this opening half of the show that brings what makes Berserk such a great title, and one of the reasons I continue to love anime. It really takes a situation where it could have gone in a hundred different happy ways, but takes the truly tragic one and then forces the emotion into it.

Griffith also takes some time to shine in this release, noticeably during a celebration sequence where he now has the full attention of young Lady Charlotte. After his rescue of her during the assassination attempt earlier, as well as the way Griffith seems to completely different from other warrior men she?s known all her life, she?s being drawn slowly but surely to him. And you know it?s all part of his plans as well, but there?s just a beauty in the way it?s all pulled off. Listening to Griffith as he talks about friends, loyalties and dreams is probably some of the deeper moments of any TV anime series in some time. These moments give real weight to his motivations and the why?s of what he does in his life, giving him much more depth and reality than many other paper thin villains and their plots.

Though a little forced in its way of starting, there?s also almost an entire episode that?s devoted to the origins of Caska and how she came to be by Griffith?s side. There?s a lot of interesting things to it, in how it lays out more of the worldview of many of the regular citizens and the general makeup of the mercenaries, as well as why Caska has turned out the way she has. The animosity she has for Guts during a lot of episodes is cleared up as well, and it?ll be interesting to see how this changes their relationship now that he?s got a better picture of things. Origin episodes are always hard to take in some ways since they?re just outright shoveling information at the viewer, but here we get so much of a larger view of the entire goings-on that it works better than a lot of other ones.

Throughout the four episodes, I was practically grinning due to how much I was enjoying the way it played out. From the small personal moments to the large massive scale battle with thousands of troops marching, Berserk plays out beautifully. This is a rare show that continues to simply really ?speak? to me and provide me with exactly what I want. A show that provides men going on about their lives in a dark fantasy setting and taking responsibilities for their actions. There?s no indecision at every move here, just firm action and people dealing with the results.

I cannot recommend this enough.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Storyboards,Production Sketches,Dub Outtakes,Original TV Opening,Textless Ending

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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