Well, it’s time to accept that Berserk will probably never get the adaptation it deserves. Which is totally heartbreaking to a longtime fan like myself. But i’m just not convinced it’s possible. The Berserk manga has some incredibly intricate and expansive art. That in reality is just not practical for any studio to do on the surely limited animation budgets they are provided. The worst part is there are some strokes of brilliance in this show, but they are always nullified by the broader strokes of a toddler with a coloring book and some apparently Playstation 2 era cutscenes. Armed with this information I regret to inform you that Berserk will now be placed in my “fun to watch, but no real depth” category for anime this season. In a way losing hope is freeing and I can actually enjoy the show more, but critically, any attempt at meaningful thematic and gripping narratives are lost in the laughable animation, and occasional bad voice work.
This week we jump right in where episode 2 cut off. Guts has kidnapped Farnese, and escaped the camp with Serpico and a horde of demons on his tail. From here we are launched into probably the only piece of the show not entirely ruined by the CG, the action. Like i’ve said previously Berserk has a boatload of action which I thank god for because the CGI isn’t that noticeably terrible when a lot is happening on screen. Guts showdown with the hounds and the apostle were entertaining at the very least, but looking directly at either almost had me laughing because of their faces.
Then our heroes retreat into a nearby mansion, that if I remember correctly is totally not canon, and neither is the apostle we saw. But because I understand not everything makes sense to transfer from the page to the screen i’ll let it slide for now. Like i’ve said week and week the flip flop between the CGI and 2D animations are so hard to get past, and man was it tough this week. There are some really abrasive cuts between the two style, and I know the creators said this style would be “the best of both worlds” but good god man make it more fluid at the very least. The one thing that the 3D visuals do allow for is a decent sense of depth and scale, which is shown off in the fight between Guts and the apostle when the apostle leaps above into the rafters, it’s not an excuse by any means, but there are some cool moments that only happen because of the style
To step aside from the visual mess that this Berserk adaptation is. There are some saving graces in the form of its cast and just the overall tone of Berserk as a whole. This episode was all about challenging Farnese’s perfect worldview, and man was she wrong. Being a religious woman she found strength in her god. Well in short, now she doesn’t. She got a look into the world as it is now, which is a post-eclipse hellscape filled with death, decay and a general shitstorm of awfulness. To be fair I am a sucker for religious overtones so this may fall flat with your average viewer, but I am sure most Berserk fans feel the same way I do about the corruption of Farnese.
Seeing Farnese watch Guts torture the apostle for information was a breaking point for Farnese, she had thought the worst of Guts even before meeting him, but she had never seen it in action, or seen the monstrosities that inhabit the world now, just her running into the Hounds Keeper was a shock to her when he morphed into the apostle, but Guts told her not to wander! Then she decides to flee on horseback, nope, that horse is possessed by demons now, not only that but Farnese allows herself to become possessed momentarily leading the demolition of the safety she found in god. The demon preys on her deeply locked away feelings of bloodlust and sexual arousal by violence, which in Guts gives him flashbacks of the horrific events of the eclipse and the moment to moment shot of his rage growing at the sight of the horse were fantastic. While these events are incredibly dark and violent they are crucial to Farnese’s development as a long lasting character in the Berserk series. So it was nice to see they didn’t avoid this scene altogether due to its extremely graphic content.
Berserk(2016) as it is labeled across many facets is calmly resting in the “don’t expect much” category as of episode three, which as a fan may be a hard pill to swallow. It’s not the worst show I’ve ever seen -looking at you Big Order- but it’s definitely one I can’t recommend to anyone because it’s so hit or miss. Its got some decent moments but they are again and again destroyed by the sometimes hilarious bad animations/character models. I know Miura himself is helping with this show and I would love to hear his thoughts on some of the choices they’ve made. This episode in particular did a decent job of portraying a highly volatile subject and a pivotal scene for Farnese, but sadly like all the episodes of Berserk it may be hard to take seriously due to such rampant issues with its visual style.