This week, a show about murder, gore, and the "other"; a show about ... more murder and gore, and one about luck.
Reviewby Zac Bertschy, Apr 6th 2003
DVD 5: Requited Desires
As the Hawks near the absolute pinnacle of their success, Guts continues to fight alongside Griffith during a decisive battle. After the battle concludes, Gats decides that he's done all he can here and departs of lands unknown. Griffith wouldn't have it that way, however, and once more the two fated warriors draw steel against eachother as Caska looks on. Griffith's fate is sealed, but what will become of Gats and Caska?
Volume five of Media Blasters' DVD release of the dark fantasy masterpiece Berserk maintains the high level of quality fans have come to expect from this series. Berserk stands as one of the most beloved fantasy anime series of all time, and this volume is no exception. If you've been watching the volumes as they come out, then you're in for a few new surprises with this volume as the series plummets ever closer to its horrifying and sobering conclusion.
The episodes contained on this disc are just as important, if not more important, than any other episodes in the series. Unlike most other anime, Berserk is a chain with no weak links; every episode is absolutely integral to the storyline and must be viewed in sequential order to fully grasp the depth of the plot. Here, you will see Griffith begin his long descent in to chaos. You'll see Caska and Guts draw closer to eachother, drawn together by an unspoken affection. You'll see the rest of the White Hawks play out their final days together, struggling to maintain solidarity against impossible odds. The beautiful and terrifying drama of Berserk is in full force on this disc, and fans of the series will be pleased to no end.
The most significant occurrence on this disc is Griffith's capture and subsequent torture. Before this volume, it was difficult to pinpoint exactly what went wrong with Griffith. Is he a good guy, or a bad guy? Was the Egg of the King a tool of corruption, or just a trinket? Those questions and more are finally answered here, and the result is a wondrously macabre bit of storytelling that will leave you breathless in anticipation for the conclusion. Until this point, Griffith was by far the most interesting character, but still a supporting player. He takes center stage in this release, and rightfully so; he is perhaps the most complicated and convincing anime villain ever to grace the small screen. Berserk's screenwriting should be celebrated for being the sheer creative genius that it is. It's almost impossible to find an action series that is this deep, with characters this textured and fleshed out. The series features truly three-dimensional characters, each with hopes, dreams and fears; as the series gets closer to the end, we see how frantic things have become, and the toll the stress is taking on each cast member. It's brilliant writing, and while much is owed to Kentaro Miura's original manga, the screenwriters must receive some credit.
The animation isn't anything particular to write home about. The series does show its age, although the video presentation on this DVD seems sharper and crisper than previous volumes in this release. The music, however, is certainly worth praising. Scored by Susumu Hirasawa, the score leaps effortlessly from haunting and melodic to dark and sinister in the blink of an eye, maintaining credibility and flow throughout. Simply put, if you're watching Berserk for eye candy, you're watching for the wrong reasons. The show isn't ugly or poorly animated by any means, but it is exceedingly dark and sometimes sparsely animated, so don't expect the next Metropolis.
The dub is flawed, at best. Some of the voices are just not serious enough or sound a little too jokey and foppish to really be considered adequate. Gats sounds a little young and not harsh enough; Caska is a bit too bitchy. Griffith, one of the few well-cast voices, still flubs some of his lines with poor acting choices and bad inflection. The outtakes, included on the DVD, are absolutely hilarious and worth listening to even if you don't watch the dub. Furthermore, there's an interesting video interview with the producer of the series, who has a few interesting things to say. He also states that he'd like to work on a sequel, something that would be welcomed with open arms by the fan community.
All in all, if you have a single bone in your body that's interested in dark fantasy, do not pass Berserk up. It is the finest example of its genre available on the market today and is based on a manga that nearly surpasses all others in terms of quality and popularity. The TV series was a resounding success and remains enchanting, entertaining and truly terrifying to this day. Watch this show.
Overall (dub) : A
Overall (sub) : A+
Story : A+
Animation : B+
Art : A
Music : A+
+ One of the best anime series of all time.
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