The Film (2/5)
In an ancient land torn by war and infested with monstrous spirits, one man must fight his way through it all to meet his destiny. This man’s name is Guts! I didn’t make that up but I wish I had! Cursed with a supernatural brand, he’s besieged by demons wherever he goes. Guts barely escaped from hell with his life and now he’s trying to rescue Casca, the woman he was forced to leave behind. On his journey, Guts is joined by Puck, a sprite with the magical powers of unsuccessful comic relief and Farnese, a religious hypocrite who’s also a dick, and Luca, a female pimp, and some other assholes. There’s an annoying kid character who eventually gets a boner for some reason. My apologies, I’m getting lost in this crap. Guts fights creatures called Apostles which are bosses at the end of each level of the game. Then he’ll be able to move onto his other quest which is to destroy Griffith, his former BFFL who betrayed him.
I’ve never really gotten into Berserk be it in anime or manga form. The preview for this new version of the series looked bonkers so I thought I’d give it a go. Twelve episodes later, I wish I hadn’t bothered. The imaginative monsters, brutal violence, and the gallons of blood don’t make up for the wildly unlikeable characters (with a few exceptions) and the obnoxious CGI animation. I’m not a fan of the original 1997 Berserk anime but at least it was a respectable looking show. The character designs on this 2016 version suffer horribly with their stony faces and clunky movements. While some action scenes are so over the top that 3D animation can’t hurt them, other smaller scenes look completely dreadful in this style. Expensive CGI like this can look utterly amazing but anime studios who can’t afford to do it right, shouldn’t.
The only people who come out of this looking good are the talented voice actors in the Japanese version and composer Shiro Sagisu. Sagisu does a hero’s job here with music that is actually dynamic and interesting, especially during the chaotic moments. I hope that Kentaro Miura, the manga artist who created Berserk, is getting some huge royalty checks for this but they might be the reason why this show looks so bad. I almost just launched into another CGI rant. Sorry, it’s a sore point for me. But why won’t this series die? The 2012 trilogy of films remaking the Berserk story weren’t that good to begin with and now whoever owns the rights wants keep to the story going with this ugly dud. Sheesh.
Even though I don’t like the look of this show, its presentation from Funimation is virtually flawless. There’s nothing in the video quality to complain about. The English dub, even though I can’t stand it, sounds good. Go with the original Japanese on this one.
The extras on this set are virtually nonexistent. There are some promo videos for this series, textless opening and closing sequences, and trailers for other Funimation releases. There’s a reversible cover as well but that’s the last of the extras.
While I really enjoyed the epic, batshit craziness of the finale of this season, I was disheartened the moment that the realization kicked in that this was only the first part and another 12 episodes (or more) are to follow. Every episode of this wrongheaded show was an ordeal to sit through until things really started picking up at the end. But I just can’t take any more of Berserk. Worst of all, the misogyny and caveman antics of the story just put me off. For example, there are some positive female characters but Farnese spends an entire episode naked, powerless, quivering, and pining for kinky sex with Guts. While I appreciated her piousness crumbling before her very eyes, the whole macho male fantasy bullshit just killed the moment. This set should have come with a barf bag.