Reviewby Richard Eisenbeis,
Berserk of Gluttony
Fate Graphite is a poor city guard, living off the scraps of the elite holy knights. While others have special skills that all but guarantee their success in life, Fate's solitary skill is Gluttony—which only seems to make him constantly hungry. However, one day, he is forced to kill a fleeing thief in the line of duty and discovers that he has absorbed that man's stats. But all too soon, he learns the downside of this powerful skill: now that it's had a taste of human souls, he must feed it constantly or risk going berserk and killing all those around him in a ravenous madness.
This first volume of Berserk of Gluttony is all about building the world and establishing the characters. Society in this Western fantasy world is organized around the special skills people are born with. If your skills are useful, you become someone great. If you have no skills or crappy ones, you'll end up poor and abused, barely able to make enough to live. In such a society, it's no surprise that most of the elites are terrible people—doubly so when they come from the nobility. However, this isn't universal; Fate has managed to befriend Roxy, a noble and a holy knight who cares nothing for a person's skills, only the amount of hard work they're willing to put in.
It's easy to see why Fate falls for Roxy. She's the ideal noble, one who acts for the best interests of the common people. At the same time, it's also easy to see why Fate tries to avoid getting entangled with her: becoming involved in the prejudice he faces daily will only make her a target among her fellow nobles.
But while Fate and Roxy are both appealing characters that are easy to sympathize with, neither of them is the standout character of the first volume: That honor falls to Greed, a sentient sword. While appearing on the surface to be nothing more than a blade that can change his sharpness at will, it quickly becomes apparent that he knows far more about Fate's gluttony skill than Fate himself. This means that Greed is both Fate's mentor and partner, though not one who's willing to give up his secrets so easily.
This complexity in his characterization is made all the more clear in the 10-page (text only) short story included at the end of the volume, which retells all the events of the manga so far from Greed's point of view. It's a handy little extra that explains Greed's reasoning in a way we don't get in the manga proper.
The big hook for Berserk of Gluttony is the dilemma Fate is facing. Thanks to Gluttony, he has the power to do things he could have never dreamed of before, such as making more money in a day than he did in the previous two years as a guard. However, at the same time, it deprives him of the simple life of serving Roxy that he truly wants.
Gluttony itself presents an unsustainable cycle: The more souls Fate eats, the stronger he gets; yet the stronger he gets, the more souls he needs to satisfy his hunger. A first, one thief's soul is enough. Soon, he moves on to a few goblins. Then dozens of them. Before long, no number of goblins is enough and he has to move on to stronger monsters.
If he can't keep up his pace of killing stronger and stronger enemies in greater and greater numbers, he will starve, causing him to go berserk and kill everyone indiscriminately—which, of course, includes Roxy. His very nature puts her in danger, even as being with her gives him a sense of peace. It's a dilemma rife with personal drama and narrative potential, which is exactly what you want at the beginning of a story.
As for the overall art of the manga, it's perfectly serviceable. The character designs work well and the action scenes are decently dynamic. The only real weak point in the art is the lack of background detail. In the early chapters, there is either nothing but white emptiness or a crosshatch shading pattern in the background of most panels. Luckily, this becomes less common as the story continues on.
All in all, Berserk of Gluttony's first volume is a solid start to the story. We get the basics of the world, its characters, and the problem facing our hero. Better yet, all of these are interesting enough to leave you wanting more. There's not much more you could ask for in the opening chapters of any story.
Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B-
+ An interesting world with a solid dilemma to drive our hero forward. Also, a talking sword.
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