BERSERK VOL 1: WAR CRY (ADVANCE REVIEW)

Posted On August - 18 - 2007
  ? RELEASED BY:   MVM
  ? ASPECT RATIO:   4:3 FULL SCREEN
  ? AUDIO:   ENGLISH AND JAPANESE DD 2.0
  ? RUNNING TIME:   125
  ? RATING:   15
  ? RELEASE DATE:   09/03/2007
  ? REVIEW DATE:   08/18/2007
  ? REVIEWED BY:   SANDRA SCHOLES

“In this world, is the destiny of mankind controlled by some transcendental entity or law? Is it like the hand of god hovers above?”

In Naohito Takahashi’s Berserk a lone, dark cloaked figure walks across the land, and through a village a huge sword on his back, partially concealed among his robes.
While in a local town one of the villagers in a run down inn points out over an ale that the place wasn’t the same after Griffith became king. The In keep reminds him politely to keep his voice down as the king may have his supporters in the place listening for those not in the king’s approval.

A gang of warriors burst into the place, causing mayhem and picking on a young serving girl who they seem to take a fancy to teasing. When her grandfather tries to help her, they knock him to the floor, as she thinks all hope is lost until the dark figure of a male enters the inn, firing at them all with his crossbow, their might nothing in comparison to his own. Then when he takes hold of one of them, he tells him to take a message to his master that the Black Swordsman is back.

The defeated warrior takes back his message and the minister order him to search everywhere with his own band of men at his side and capture the mystery swordsman.

Pre empting their moves, The Black Swordsman hide outside the castle on a hillside, in the thick of the woods. Thinking he is alone, he begins to hear the sound of a voice sinister and cruel taunting him that his body is theirs, not his own as a rune on his neck starts to glow with a dark red hue. In minutes, the apparitions of skeletons who mention the rune as a brand surround him and as long as he bears it, the pain, fear and rage are all theirs. These skeletons envelop and torment him that night and when day breaks, he hears the screams of a female.

The master of the castle is displeased on hearing that the Black Swordsman is back, and wants him found and brought to justice. As they have not fetched this renegade to the castle, the orders that the people will suffer as he sends his man to burn their homes and ravage their lands as punishment. As the castle burns with a rage, The Black Swordsman sees the the Snake Baron from the castle and he mocks him for being mortal. He is met with the Snake Baron’s wrath and fights him, using his mighty sword to slice his head clean away. In the rubble of destruction, he finds a small stone face with a pair of beady eyes. Picking it up he walks away.

In the second episode, a warrior clad in armour called the 30 Man Slayer and those who challenge him and succeed claim a bounty, though none has yet won it.
When he shows up wielding his huge sword, challenging him, he mercilessly hacks into the armour-clad male, taking him down fiercely. When The Black Swordsman claims his bounty, he refuses the male who handles it to being his mercenary; instead, he tells him he prefers to be alone.

While he travels those he thinks are bandits out for his coin purse meet him with a challenge. When he wounds one of the bandits, One of Griffith’s warriors, Caska tries her hand at defeating him on horseback. When Griffith notices she is no match for the warrior’s strength, he intercedes and wounds him. Taking the young male away, he is bound with bandages and left to rest, and when he wakes the next day, Griffith comes to him handing him his sword and wanting to know his name.

Who is the lone warrior, and what is his purpose?

The story tells of two warring factions of Midland and Chuder, and of the lone warrior who finds himself a part of all this bloodshed. There is more to Griffith than is first thought and his ambition far outstretches the wants of his other bandits. With the character of the Black Swordsman, it is easy to see how his loneliness affects him. The animation shows his true emotions

There is a fluid look to this animation; the characters are grittily drawn apart from Griffith who has a regal beauty about him. It is rough and matches the age in which the anime is set giving it a realistic edge. The colours are deep, making use of the inked hatching to great effect, creating an earthy heaviness to the characters. The action sequences are fast paced, though there are some scenes that are extreme in their execution, though it is all part of the anime, so it works with the graphically violent story.

EXTRAS:
Production sketches of which there are 36 are extremely detailed and show the mannerisms of the characters as well as their armour. The Art Gallery contains 8 pieces of painted works showing the harshness of the characters, and how well the emotions are drawn on their faces. The outtakes are a humorous break from the fighting and carnage of the episodes and will be memorable for the viewers. Complete with this, are also text less opening and the Berserk trailer.

IN SUMMARY:
Sword and sorcery meets hack and slash – this is not to be missed!

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