Why should you read Berserk? That’s a question that newcomers might have if they aren’t familiar with the dark fantasy story. However, Berserk is well-regarded as one of the most influential manga because of its memorable writing, gorgeous art, and complex characters. The series has influenced video games and other manga franchises. Tragically, the creator has died and left an impact on the community and the industry.
Hopefully, this piece will explain why new readers should read the series and why it’s crucial to Berserk fans. What’s more, I will also briefly analyze the adaptations and other franchises that Berserk inspired.
Guts is the main protagonist of Berserk who has a deep and complex character. Moreover, when readers first read Berserk, they initially think that Guts is a heartless and evil person. However, as the series progresses, readers see why Guts acts the way he does. The Golden Age arc shows his tragic backstory. Additionally, as readers explore Guts’ character, he becomes more thoughtful and reflective while being kinder over time.
What’s interesting about Berserk is that Guts’ design and blood knight tendencies make him seem like a villain, but his true nature prevents him from being one. Guts’ anger against demons and other humans results from trauma that he felt in his past. Additionally, Guts pushes his friends away but only because he doesn’t want to hurt them, and eventually, he starts to connect and care again.
The beautiful aspect of the series is how it handles worldbuilding, adding messed-up elements of demons and humankind alike in a dark fantasy setting. Kentaro Miura wrote the strong worldbuilding foundations thanks to the first two-story arcs. The first story arc focused on the terrible aspects of both humans and demons while developing Guts as a fleshed-out character. Meanwhile, the Golden Age story shows how Guts became the black swordsman and lets audiences understand his pain.
What’s more, due to the changing settings because of demons, the scene starts to go from knights of war to complex fantasy with elves and witches. Additionally, the designs of the monsters are unique, and the hurt emotions of the characters are expressed through these detailed drawings that are easy to read.
Although Berserk has dark content that could make new readers feel uncomfortable, please know that there is a purpose to these dark themes. One of the major themes behind Berserk is the act of human perseverance through Guts’ willpower. What’s more, Guts never had an easy life, but he doesn’t let that change him as a character. As a result, some people are still willing to follow Guts’ journey and have even become stronger individuals.
However, another resounding theme in the manga is destiny and how it affects the characters. The manga tackles this theme by asking if our future is our own or set by fate. Asking this question helps elevate the human perseverance element as it allows both themes to work together and improve Berserk’s core narrative.
Berserk not only has a strong protagonist through Guts, but the series also has a powerful villain through Griffith. Unlike Guts, Griffith’s design is similar to a hero from classical fairy tales, charismatic and handsome. Griffith’s charisma allows him to gather individuals to join his cause and his strength rivals Guts’ own. However, their close relationship starts to deteriorate, and Griffith becomes the most dangerous and complex character in the story.
Griffith’s design and mannerisms are only a façade to his true personality of a controlling and evil villain. Griffith is willing to sacrifice his followers to achieve his dream, making his relationship with Guts both engaging and unique because it’s full of betrayal.
Despite Berserk’s long legacy as a manga, it suffers from poor to average anime adaptations for differing reasons. Unfortunately, the 1997 show removes elements from the manga, such as specific characters or fight scenes. On top of that, the original show is only 25 episodes, although critics and audiences still enjoy it.
Similarly, Berserk also had three anime OVAs that focus on the Golden Age like the prior adaptation. However, the films also had differences compared to the manga because of changing certain scenes to fit the adaptation.
Finally, the 2016 anime adaptation of Berserk is highly controversial due to combining CGI with 2D animation, creating an awkward art style. Berserk’s rough animation style caused fans to view the show with disappointment and takes them out of the story.
Finally, we can talk about the shows, games, and manga that Berserk influenced during its run. For example, Hidetaka Miyazaki, creator of the Dark Souls and Bloodborne franchise, has been influenced by Berserk. Additionally, shows such as the Castlevania adaptation have paid homage to the Berserk manga through tone and imagery.
What’s more, popular manga such as Black Clover and Attack On Titan has also been stated to have deep inspiration from Berserk. Hopefully, I managed to answer the question, “Why you should read Berserk?”
Berserk: The Golden Age Arc (2012-2013) Produced by Studio 4°C
Berserk (2016-2017) Produced by Liden Films, GEMBA, and Millepensee
© 三浦建太郎（スタジオ我画）／ 白泉社, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.