Berserk Vol. #5 (Mania.com)

By:Matthew Crisp
Review Date: Sunday, April 13, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, March 25, 2003



The Review!
Before I start my review I would like to say one thing. The authors of Berserk, and or, the crew at Media Blasters have mastered the art of cliffhangers. I will explain this opinion more thoroughly in the content section of the review.

Audio:
The audio remains the same for Berserk volume five as it did for the previous four discs. 2.0 stereo for both Japanese and English. I watched both the Japanese and English versions and had minimal complaints. The audio is crisp and clean with no signs of distortion. The only complaint that I have is that certain parts of the show are louder than others. For instance, at the beginning of every episode when the narrator speaks the audio is very bold and pronounced. But, as soon as the opening song and credits started I found myself fooling with the volume. Like I stated earliar this is just a small and trivial complaint.

Video:
The video is in my opinion flawless. After watching the disc twice I was not able to identify a single discrepancy. When I really think about the video aspect of Berserk I don't think I could identify any type of flaw in any of the five discs. I must also interject that since I purchased my new television I have not noticed the more common visual defects such as rainbows the way I could on my previous set.

Menus:
The menu for volume five remains the same as the previous ones. The background is red and black, and has the tree with the multiple bodies hanging from it. The menu options are positioned from left to right and the brand on Guts' neck is the icon that allows the user to choice which option they want.

Extras:
I have never been a huge fan of extras on DVDs. I realize that this is very nice feature, but I have always been more concerned with the content. This remains the same when it comes to the extras with Berserk. On volume five there is an interview with the producer Toshio Nakatani which I cannot comment on because I did not view it. There are also outtakes from the dub cast. Although this may sound silly I find this extra rather amusing. Some of the comments that the actors come up with are quite funny. There is also a preview of the Toycom action figures.

Packaging:
The keepcase for Berserk volume five is red. Just as it is for the previous volumes. The front cover displays a picture of Caska, and it has the volume number and title at the bottom. Berserk's packaging has got to be one of the best for a region one release. The covers of the DVDs are not simple screen shots from the show, but actual works of art.

Content:
Now before I explain the comment about cliffhangers I made earliar, I must give a brief summary of my opinion on Berserk as a whole.

I have never had a series grab ahold of me the way this series has. When I first purchased volume one almost a year ago I concluded that it was a mediocore series. By the time I was on volume three I couldn't get enough. Now when I watch the previous volumes over again (I'm watching all five volumes over so that when number six is released everything will be fresh in my mind.) I'm smacking myself and wondering how I could have ever thought this show was mediocore. Berserk is one of those titles that puts the viewer right in the middle of the story. I find myself getting nervous, excited, sad, happy etc. when watching the episodes.
Now, when you couple these feelings towards this series with the diabolical method in which the volumes end, you have one impatient camper.
For example, at the end of volume three Guts is about to take on 100 mercenaries, and Caska has been caught by the enemy. The suspense is building, and then, BAM, the disc is over. That was rough. Now volume four, the Hawks are triumphant in their battle. They have virtually ended the 100 year war. There is a party in honor of the brave heros. Everyone is happy until Griffith takes a sip of his wine. After drinking the wine he begins to fall over. Once he hits the ground and Caska yells his name the disc is over. Let me tell you, it has been a hard couple of months.

Anyways, volume five is here and it's time to answer some of those questions that have been burning a hole in my mind.

Volume five covers episodes 18-21, and a lot takes place in these four episodes. It starts off where number four left off. Griffith is given some poisoned wine, and upon drinking it he falls over and is presumed dead. The assailant rides off into the night only to be encounterd by Griffith's right hand man, Guts, who promptly slices him up a bit for trying to hurt his good buddy. After this there is a meeting between the royalty and nobles who plotted to kill Griffith. The little guy who kind of looks like "Humpty Dumpty" (I can't remember his name) is very nervous and asks to be excused from the meeting. After he leaves smokes begins to seep up through the floor boards. The members in the room try to escape, but realize that the door is locked. The members then look out the window and see Griffith standing before them. The room bursts into flames and kills everyone in it.

As it was hinted in previous episodes Guts believes that his time with the Hawks is over, and he plans on leaving to find his own path. He packs up his things and begins to leave in the middle of a snowy night. As Guts is walking away Caska catches a glimpse of him and runs after him. She pleads with him to stay with the Hawks, but Guts has made up his mind. She then realizes that Griffith can get him to stay. Guts accompanies Judea and Corkus to a local tavern where he precedes to explain his motives for leaving. He states that he has his own dreams, and he will not draw his sword at the orders of another. After returning Guts is now confronted with Griffith. Who is visually angry at Guts' desicion to leave. He tells Guts that he must draw his sword in order to be free. Just as it happend three years earliar, Guts must do battle with Griffith in order to be his own man. Both men square off (although Guts is reluctant). A branch with snow on it begins to move which causes th!
e snow to fall off. Right at this mAnyways, Griffith leeps forward. Guts draws his sword. The two clash, which in turn causes Griffith's sword to break in two. All Griffith can do is fall to his knees and accept defeat. Guts then walks off.

There are many other key aspects of the series presented in this volume. Griffith secretly meets with the princess, and has relations with her. Which in turn has him put in the castles dungeon. Guts meets Godo and his grandaughter Erika. Godo is the man from episode one who is crafting Guts' emormous sword. Guts is also reunited with the members of The Band of the Hawk after a year. And finally, Guts and Caska give in to their feelings and express their love for one another.

Now personally this was a moment that I was waiting for. I'm really not into the whole love story that is thrown into movies and different series, but this was different. Like I said earliar this show grabs of ahold of you, and this was a moment that made me very happy. I knew that it was going to happen, but it just couldn't happen soon enough.

After the brief moment of love that Guts and Caska share they prepare the Hawks to raid Midland and rescue Griffith.

This volume was intense. Although it did not leave the viewer hanging like the previous volumes, it still has me pulling my hair out waiting for the next volume. The next volume will surely be a pleasure because we finally get to see the fate of the characters in the series. I'm sure it will be rather depressing, but just as Cowboy Bebop taught me, "It may not be the way you want something to end, but it is the only way it can end."

Top notch show. Just as stated by other reviewers of Berserk I cannot recommend it enough.




Review Equipment
42" Samsung 16x9 HDTV, Pioneer DV-333 DVD Player, Sony SR-485 DD DTS Amp, Sony Speakers, Monster Componet Video and Coaxial Audio Cables



Mania Grade: A+
Audio Rating: A
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