Berserk Vol. #2 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Dani Moure
Review Date: Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Release Date: Monday, November 05, 2007



What They Say
Led by Griffith, the Band of the Hawk has become the most powerful military force in the Kingdom of Midland. Bu tit is the fate of those who succeed to attract the ire of those who do not. Griffith walks freely among the king's court, while the ministers and nobles hatch their betraying schemes.

On the battlefield the hawks and superior tactics. mobility and striking power. However, some soldiers are beyond the rules of war and the limits of human comprehension. A monster guards the path guts and Griffith must travel known as the Zodd theI Immortal. He has stalked the battlefields for nearly 300 years. His appetite for blood and murder is unquenchable.

Contains episodes 6-9


The Review!
Griffith continues his rise to the top as the Hawks find themselves up against enemies the likes of which they’ve never seen before.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
No packaging was included as this was a check disc.

Menu:
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.

Extras:
For this disc, the main attraction continues to be the dub outtakes, some of which are quite hilarious and leave you wanting more. There’s also the textless opening, the US trailer for the show and two galleries; one of line-art production sketches and another of full colour artwork from the series. Not exactly inspiring when it’s pretty much the same thing again and again.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With Guts firmly embedded within the Hawks, their rise to a position of power continues at an alarming rate. But in their latest raid, many of Guts’ men have not returned, and while Griffith and the others wait for his group’s signal, Guts busts inside to see what is happening to his men; rumours are rife that it’s one man killing everyone. Sure enough, along with his massacred men, inside Guts comes face to face with Nosferatu Zodd, also known as Zodd the Immortal, a man who is almost invincible and has demon like qualities.

Guts has never seen anything like it, and when Griffith arrives to help him, only the two of them make it out alive, and only then because Zodd ends up leaving having only been wounded. Zodd’s appearance is something of a turning point in the series, as it reminds us of the events of the first episode of the series, when demons were rife in the streets and the world was shrouded in darkness. Zodd is the most intense enemy the Hawks have yet had to face, and some of the things he says to Guts about not being able to trust Griffith when the time comes really don’t inspire confidence in the type of person Griffith is.

Indeed, Griffith’s personal goals have often been touted as the reason most of the Hawks are doing what they’re doing, and his own personal rise through the ranks is well chronicled. His stature is now such that when his wounds are being tended to, none of the other nobles want the Hawks around him, least of all Guts, and the tension shows when Caska stops Guts from barging in uninvited. Their relationship has been one of my favourite parts of Berserk over the first two volumes, and it continues to develop in a refreshing way here. Her loyalty to Griffith is just so unwavering and it conflicts with Guts’ gung-ho about everything attitude; when he feels he should be able to see Griffith any time he wants because they are friends and he just wants to know how he is, she simply doesn’t want anything to affect his chances of achieving his dreams.

The attitudes are a stark contrast but there’s still a great deal of respect for each other from both sides, and both understand that they hold Griffith in the same high regard. It’s the introduction of the King of Midland that really begins to change Griffith’s stature in the country, and proves that he is well on his way to fulfilling his lofty ambitions. While another encounter with Adon and the Chuder army proves mildly troublesome, the outcome is that Griffith is made a Count of the royal court. This means that his standing is higher than ever, and many, including the King’s own brother, aren’t happy about this in the slightest.

Griffith does have many of the people on his side, with women swooning over him at every turn, and his undeniable charm has the desired effect on many others, but the fact that he’s ousted the King’s usual guard for a hunting mission doesn’t go down well and leads to an assassination attempt. That same attempt also serves to show how much Princess Charlotte has come to respect and admire Griffith, and you get the impression that his desire for power may falter if he continues in his pursuit of everything forbidden, namely the princess herself.

There’s not really much else to say about these episodes other than they’re really good. The relationships in this show are so well planned, and the story is executed to perfection, with all the minor details from conversations you might not pay too much attention to eventually coming to pass that it is just a joy to watch. It’s very rare to see a world as rich as this one, populated with such a fine cast of characters and have a story to match.

In Summary:
Berserk may be ultra-violent, filled with brutal and bloody action scenes, but don’t let that put you off; it has an intricately told story and one of the most involving cast of characters you will see in any show. Watching Griffith’s rise to power, and how the likes of Guts and Caska fight to forge their own path as they follow him to the top, is spell-binding and with all the twists and turns this is simply one of the best shows currently being released. Buy it now.

Features
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.



Mania Grade: A-
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