Beserk, which aired in 1997, is a Japanese anime series adaptation of the popular manga of the same name. Despite making changes to the original source material by removing plot threads and essential characters, the anime received critical acclaim. However, it just wasn’t an anime for me.
The anime follows Guts, a mercenary who moves from battlefield to battlefield, fighting his way through as his only means of survival. After a run in with the Band of the Hawk, a troop of mercenaries, he is recruited by the troop’s leader, Griffith, and begins to work his way up the ranks. However, as the Band continue their quest for recognition, Guts begins to realise that the world isn’t as he clear cut as he had once assumed.
Beserk is set in medieval times and is a rather dark and bloody tale about one man’s quest to forge his own path while others lust for power. The theme isn’t anything new for the genre, having been released in the mid 1990s. This kind of story fit in well with the fairy tale adaptations that were being released at the time and so I can see where the critical acclaim stems from.
However, watching the remastered version in today’s modern age dampened the anime for me. The pacing and build up was far too slow for my liking, as were the dialogue. The anime felt aged and sluggish initially, which put me off watching. The story just wasn’t gripping, considering how many shows we now have with similar themes and narratives.
The characters were fairly intriguing, which is probably the only aspect of the anime that kept me watching. Both Guts and Griffith were fascinating in their own way, however, the slow pacing at character development did make it a struggle to sit through and patiently watch as the characters matured.
Visually, the anime was stunning for it’s time with bright colours and an animation style that I haven’t seen in a long time. However, considering the CGI effects we have today and the amount of movement that’s possible in animation, the graphics of Beserk felt lacking. Even the soundtrack felt a little dated, which didn’t help. On top of that, the anime is filled with violence, and though not as gory as what other shows may have, still managed to put me off.
Overall, Beserk felt like an anime that would have been better appreciated had I grown up watching it when it aired in the 1990s. Unfortunately, we’ve been so spoilt with incredible stories, characters and graphics over the past decade that watching old shows just doesn’t provide the same impact. Fans of the medieval period and of the original anime and manga will thoroughly appreciate this complete series collection, however, for someone like me who’s only now experiencing Beserk, be warned that it may be tough to push through and watch each episode. I’ll admit, I couldn’t push through and gave up a few episodes in.