Berserk Vol. #3 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A

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  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: MVM Entertainment
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Berserk

Berserk Vol. #3

By Dani Moure     January 15, 2008
Release Date: January 07, 2008

Berserk Vol. #3
© MVM Entertainment

What They Say
The meaning in a hawk's eyes when it gazes at prey is unmistakable.

In Berserk: Volume 3 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 Widland'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 Hawkes before the marauding armies of Chuder track them down.

This DVD contains episodes 10 to 13.

The Review!
Griffith reaches the point of no return as he asks Guts to do the unthinkable to help him reach his goals, and then Guts and Caska get a bit of alone time. It’s got to be another blood-soaked volume of Berserk.

I listened to the English language track primarily for my main review, and noticed no dropouts, distortions or other technical problems; this is a pretty standard stereo mix with most dialogue coming through the centre channel. The same can be said of the Japanese track from the areas I spot-checked.

One area where Berserk is beginning to show its age is in terms of video. Presented in its original full frame ratio, the picture is quite grainy and often you can see some little nicks around the screen. It also occasionally takes on a bit of a blocky look, especially during the darker and higher movement scenes.

Subtitles are in a yellow font which is easily readable, and I only noticed a couple of instances of spelling errors in them.

No packaging was included as this was a check disc.

The main menu starts with a brief introduction as all the selections animate on screen, and then in the background images in the style of the cover art for all of the characters revolves and rotates around. The show’s logo and volume number are in the top right, with all the selections on a parchment of sorts at the bottom of the screen. One of the show’s signature themes plays over this menu. The two sub-menus are static, with no music, and in the same style, with just a piece of artwork running down the right side.

This disc has a nice new extra, as we get some storyboards playing along to the audio of their scene in the show. We also get more dub outtakes, some of which are quite hilarious and leave you wanting more. There’s also the textless closing, the original TV opening and a gallery of line-art production sketches.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
At the end of the last volume, Griffith had asked Guts to kill Count Yurius for him having found out that it was the Count who attempted to assassinate him. Being the loyal soldier he is, Guts does end up going through with it, but the Count’s son walks in on the killing and so Guts is forced to take him out to. As he escapes, the whole guard come after him but he manages to find sanctuary in the sewers, where his past returns to haunt him and he shows signs of regret that he was forced to kill the boy.

On returning to the Hawks, Caska chews him out for being late for drills but he’s clearly preoccupied with finding Griffith. Of course, in the state he’s in it wouldn’t be best for this to happen, especially given that Griffith is getting closer and closer to Princess Charlotte. Before they embark on a crucial battle, she gives him half of a stone to ensure that he comes back safely, despite her mother’s protests.

With some of the Hawks seemingly preoccupied, the battle doesn’t entirely go their way. Lord Adon’s Chuder army provides plenty of challenges, but it’s not until Adon squares up one on one with Caska that things start to go awry. She insists that the fight will remain between the two of them, but as Adon berates her and attacks, she stands pretty much still and does little to fend him off. Realising she’s not herself, Guts interrupts but in the chaos, he and Caska are forced off a cliff and fall into the river below.

Guts looks after her as best he can, and realises that the reason she’s in the frame of mind she is, is because she’s on her period. When she wakes up, she tells Guts exactly why she is so loyal to Griffith and wants to be by his side as he fulfils his ambitions, and why she initially was so jealous of Guts. Eventually the two start to escape, but Adon and the gang soon catch up to them.

The big strength of the series continues to shine through in this volume of Berserk, and that’s the characters. As usual the focus is squarely on the Guts, Griffith and Caska triangle, and it’s amazing how much they’ve actually been able to do with it in just 13 episodes, especially when you think that many 100-plus episode series never reach this kind of depth in the relationships.

First we have Guts and Griffith, and their ever-evolving friendship/camaraderie, as Griffith finally reaches the point of no return in having Guts carry out an assassination for his own personal gains, no matter what it costs in the process. Griffith is an ever changing man, as we see how things have shifted from him appearing somewhat more orientated towards the Hawks, almost as a form of family, in the first few episodes to him now clearly focussing on his own position within the Midland hierarchy. His willingness to leave the other Hawks behind at times, to go to his functions and things, only serves to highlight the ever increasing chasm between him and his men.

And yet the Hawks would all gladly follow him blindly wherever he goes, simply because they’re so in awe of, and enamoured by, him. The third episode spends almost all its time going into great detail about why Caska feels this way about him, and why she is determined to be by his side every step of the way. Seeing her history and how she came to be in the Hawks at this point in the story is a masterstroke, as it only serves to reinforce Griffith’s true character that we are now seeing seep through.

There’s definitely an air of maturity about Guts as well. It’s easy to forget that he’s still very young (in fact all three leads are) at this point in the story, but it’s remarkable how far he’s come in the few years since being with the Hawks. From the bratty, spoilt boy who just wanted to fight to someone with people to protect, the change is stark but totally natural. His loyalty for Griffith is still unwavering for the moment, although some thoughts after the assassination seem to make him question what he’s done. His feelings for Caska are as obvious as can be, because there’s so much sexual tension between the pair of them, despite everything that goes one. Both know how to push each other’s buttons and they prove to be very good for each other in the end. It’s rare to see such a mature portrayal of relationships in anime as this.

In Summary:
This volume just cements all the strengths that Berserk has going for it. Look beyond the violence and gore and you’ll find an excellent story that’s exceptionally well executed, and a sublime cast of characters who are portrayed in a more mature way than almost any other anime out there. As Griffith continues on his ascent, and Guts and Caska get closer, you have to wonder who will be left standing. Berserk is brilliant, and you owe it to yourself to buy it.

Japanese Language (2.0),English Language (2.0),English Subtitles,Outtakes,Trailer,Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Philips DVP 5100 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, Pioneer HTP-GS1 5.1 Surround Sound System.


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