The Spring 2017 Anime Preview Guide
Berserk Season 2

How would you rate episode 13 of
Berserk (TV 2017) ?

What is this?

Griffith has returned! Feeling ashamed of his hesitation to take vengeance on his former commander, Guts recommits himself to stopping this demon before he can take control of Midland and perhaps even the entire world. Of course, it won't be easy with so much of his energy devoted to protecting Casca, but Puck decides to prove himself helpful for once by leading them to his elven forest home for sanctuary. But this is Berserk we're talking about, so even this safe haven may be teeming with unexpected dangers, not to mention a sudden reunion with Isidoro, Farnese, and Serpico along the way. Things are dark enough in the present that it's hard to believe they used to be much worse for the two former Holy Knights, in the darkest days of their childhood... Berserk is based on a manga and can be found streaming on Crunchyroll, Fridays at 10:30 AM EST.

How was the first episode?

Jacob Chapman

Rating: (if you can stand to look at it)

Mere seconds into its new season, Berserk is quick to remind viewers that this is not an anime for the faint of heart—or the sensitive of eyeballs. It seems we've been given just enough time after the end of season one to forget how unbelievably terrible the CGI is in this show. I distinctly remember it getting "better" over time last summer, but only when the models were gradually refined and reused over weeks of tweaks in animation and lighting. When last season's final episode introduced new Kushan soldiers and a purple-people-eating Minotaur-Zodd, it was like going back to square one all over again. So since this season is packed to the gills with new elements and characters and settings...

Yup, this show just looks like butt. I can see the looks on manga lovers' faces already. Kentarou Miura's art deserves so much better than this.

Fortunately, it seems like his story is still getting its fair due, at least as much as Shin Itagaki can manage. His purposely disorienting style of direction isn't for everyone, but I found it to be excellent for conveying the original manga's unique sense of nightmarish madness once the series found the right balance of static and spin about halfway through its run. While the fight between Zodd and Gutts does get a little too helicopter-y for its own good, the show's storyboarding and pacing is still a real saving grace for its hideous animation, maintaining the powerful nuances of Miura's story even for those who haven't read ahead (like me). Farnese and Serpico's backstory is beautifully told, not only because there's slightly more traditional animation than usual, but because its stark monochromatic palette and montage conceit fits perfectly with Itagaki's directing style. It's one of the most engrossing scenes of the new season so far, even if it's surrounded by some of the most embarrassing. Poor Rickert standing around with his mouth open for five minutes is so awful in CG.

Save for its standard slight gratuity of sexual violence (against poor Casca in particular), Berserk's plot continues to be a well-oiled machine of gripping gothic horror, propelled by just the right mix of epic struggles and existential dread to make its cast feel both larger-than-life and intimately human. I'll be handing daily streaming review duties over to Anne Lauenroth for this season's weekly coverage, but ugly visuals or not, I'm excited to dive back into this woeful world with the rest of the Berserk faithful.

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