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Berserk 1: War Cry

(return to disc)

Content rating: 7
Posted 2003-08-02 by StupendousMan
Endorsed by kurt on 2003-08-27 17:02:00

Focus. It's all about focus.

Berserk is set in a medieval past which recalls Thomas Hobbes:

... continual fear and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

We meet two exceptional men who wander through this violent land. Each has a will of iron and great strength of arms, but they could not be more different in their goals. Guts (yes, that's his name) is simple: he lives to fight, perhaps because it is only in battle that he can stop thinking about his nasty, brutish past. Griffith, on the other hand, is anything but simple. A charismatic, complex character, he aims at nothing less than rising from obscurity and unknown birth to rule the world. No, really. This isn't a joke. He really does want to rise to the ultimate seat of power. What's more, he has a plan: nothing supernatural or unbelievable, just a steadily increasing set of responsibilities and social connections.

Griffith uses his abilities to work towards his goal. Guts uses his abilities, well, when he finds himself in combat. However, each man recognizes a piece of himself in the other: the never-bending will to win. Griffith realizes that Guts is a valuable tool, and persuades him to join his small band. Guts, who thinks more than he says, realizes that Griffith is a genius. He allows himself to be used because he knows, deep down, that Griffith can take him places that he would never reach on his own. It's a very interesting little dance which they perform around each other, an entertaining psychological two-step. The tension between these two characters is what drives the series.

Well, in addition to:

  • the open homoerotic subtext between them ...
  • and the jealously it arouses in Casca, Griffith's second-in-command and the only woman amoung the mercenaries
  • the gradual loss of innocence among nearly all the characters, if one can grant mercenaries any innocence at all
  • the mystery of Guts' past, which literally haunts him

    and, oh, yes,

  • the fact -- revealed in the very first episode, which takes place at the chronological end of the story -- that Guts kills a psychotic, homocidal, no-longer-human Griffiths

I give a low rating to the video for the many, many occasions when the camera pans over a still image during action scenes. Doing it once or twice for an effect is one thing; doing it several times an episode is simply a matter of saving money. I do like the stills, some of which have a nice watercolor appearance; I just dislike substituting static images for animation. The menu is simple -- good -- and offers "Japanese language with English subtitles" as a single option, rather than requiring the viewer to choose language and subtitles separately.

Equipment used when writing this review:
Sony DVD player, JVC 27-inch TV, stereo speakers

Content: 7 Video: 5 Sound: 6 Packaging: 7 Menu: 8

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Other reviews of this disc:
Berserk 1: War Cry by RadicalBender (Rating: 7.60)

I've been watching too much shoujo lately. It's time for some violence, and Berserk certainly fits the bill. Berserk is a fantasy title but doesn't fit in with standard fantasy fare like Record of Lodoss War. This is gritty,...(continues)

Content: 8 Video: 7 Sound: 8 Packaging: 8 Menu: 7

Berserk 1: War Cry by vulgar (Rating: 8.00)

First off this is a very detailed review of the series and the dvd isn't out yet so I obviously have seen it by other means. I own the fansubbed vhs to the beginning of this series and have most of the rest on my hard drive, therfore I...(continues)

Content: 8 Video: 8 Sound: 8 Packaging: N/A Menu: N/A

Berserk 1: War Cry by Tanuki Balls (Rating: 10.00)

Berserk is a brilliant metaphor for anyone who struggles coming to terms with his own innate abilities. The story contrasts two heros, Gats and Griffith who both possess enormous ammounts of military skill. Gats is an...(continues)

Content: 10 Video: N/A Sound: N/A Packaging: N/A Menu: N/A

Berserk 1: War Cry by drkavngr (Rating: 9.00)
Berserk was written and illustrated by Kentaro Miura. The magazine which serializes and publishes the manga bi-monthly is Young Animal magazine under Hakusensha publishing house..

Currently Berserk has 22 full volumes by Jets...(continues)

Content: 10 Video: 10 Sound: 8 Packaging: 9 Menu: 8

Berserk 1: War Cry by Streak (Rating: 8.60)

Berserk is an anime like most other anime titles that has sprung out of the manga pages and onto the screen. A very worth(and long) story, the author of the manga has been working on this story since 1989! A small slice of the story was...(continues)

Content: 9 Video: 10 Sound: 7 Packaging: 9 Menu: 8

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