Berserk Vol. #11 (Mania.com)

By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Release Date: Wednesday, April 12, 2006



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

What They Say
The Band of the Hawk-what's left of them-are on the run, Guts and Casca having rescued the Hawks' leader, Griffith, from the horrors of the King of Midland's dungeons. Starved, tortured mercilessly, and imprisoned in an iron mask, Griffith hangs on to life and sanity by a thread . . . and he'll be no help against the King's latest charges sent to bring him back to pay for his dalliance with the King's daughter. Now the depleted Hawks will have to face the Knights of the Black Dog, led by the merciless, bestial Wyald . . . one bad dog who's even worse when he unleashes the beast within!

The Review
Packaging:
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 full battle gear. The image filled with blues and blacks has the main character surrounded by ominous "beings" as he holds his huge broadsword in one hand and a bow gun in the other. The image has been shrunk down a bit, but it is not reworked like other Berserk covers. 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 which 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. Contrast to what was done for other Dark Horse manga - Trigun and Crying Freeman - 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 Wyald and all the shading. Dark Horse does a solid job with the reproduction finally giving this series the quality print it deserves. And as usual this volume seems to be free of alignment issues rounding off a good presentation.

This volume is rated 18+ and comes shrink-wrapped.

Artwork:
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, with detailed its muscle tone, makes him look fit but not and larger than any of the other Hawks (outside of Pippin). Miura's eyes have improved dramatically. Casca used to look like a bug, but now her dark eyes are filled with great emotion. All of the designs have changed through the first ten volumes and Miura now seems comfortable with the roles his cast play. Having them mature relatively quickly also helps fix the elfin looks he gave them earlier in the series.

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/Text:
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 (typical Dark Horse). My issue with aside text appears to have been fixed; so, Dark Horse is no longer adding text bubbles to panels for asides. If there is anything that bugs me, it has to be the names. The spellings have been debated over and over again, but why can't someone just settle on something. Too bad they could not use Skull Knight, because Knight of Skeleton just does not roll off the tongue very well.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Griffith has been freed and now the Band of the Hawk is seriously on the run. The Hawks were already ruined. Over the last year, they have been branded treasonous. A good number of them died in ambushes and in manhunts that have not relented since Griffith's escape. The King has sent out assassins to return the head of Griffith. Then he has sent out an entire military unit after the handful of Hawks who pulled off the prison break.

The Hawks always understood that getting to Griffith would be easy; escaping and surviving would eventually be the all their hopes would ride on. As long as Griffith survived, even in his current state, the Hawks would be hunted. Moreover, the King would likely use all resources available no matter how dangerous. No options will be ignored; so when the King calls for the Black Dogs and their "madman" leader Wyald a Pandora's box has been opened that will create much more harm than the king could have imagined.

The Black Dogs are the most dangerous unit in the Midland Army. Usually focusing on the most battles on the bad lands, this band of former thieves and criminals have no allegiances and no pride. These warriors solely live for the fight and try to make killing, raping and plundering a regular fun part of their lives as soldiers.

Their chase of the Hawks was swift and focused. They were like wild dogs completely void of any other thought but murder. Killing everything in their path they appeared to be worthy foes against the Hawks. Tactics against chaos but in the end this was really a battle between two monsters willing to go berserk for their survival. With Wyald and Guts this was never about Griffith and that is becoming obvious now. Hopefully, the rest of the Hawk will see that if they survive.

Comments
The chase is on and this volume could literally be described as an old-fashioned car chase. The Band of the Hawk is running for their lives with some really bad dudes hot on their tail. This long chase sequence lasts about half of this book, with most of the story actually being told by the art. Miura's art really took a step up here, as he was able to mix in detailed landscaping designs and action very well. Moreover, by creating settings where the terrain could allow for traps Miura was easily able to create a sense of excitement and surprise.

After the chase ended the rest of the book continued to focus on action. The battle between Guts and Wyald was one of the more detailed see-saw fights so far in this series. It was a David versus Goliath scene with an unrelenting Guts completely outclassed in regards to strength, yet his demon-like determination was able to keep him alive as his technique kept the match close to even. I will say this fight was a little gratuitous. The gore was pretty intense and the funky tentacle scene was disturbing on many levels as well. Nevertheless, I was kept riveted to every page as Miura seriously laid some doubt at to whether the Hawks would survive Wyald and whatever other monsters which made a cameo here.

I won't say this is a must buy as this volume was really a pair of extended action scenes, but I did find myself enjoying this volume for its high intensity and raw passion. This was an adrenaline driven volume from the second chapter on. The action was nonstop and brutal; really a true description of the idea that is berserk. Furthermore, this is an ominous look at the potential horrors that await the main characters in the next volume.



Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Released By: Dark Horse
MSRP: 13.95
Pages: 238
ISBN: 1-59307-470-0
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left