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Berserk 4: Devil's Advocate

(return to disc)

Content rating: 7
Posted 2003-08-07 by StupendousMan
Endorsed by kurt on 2003-09-06 19:48:00

Berserk falls from the heights of the previous disc, but still displays moments of brilliance in episodes 14-17. One of them occurs when Caska and Guts finally manage to return to the White Hawks after their ordeal in enemy territory. Griffith says but a single word to Caska, yet speaks volumes. You can see why she and the others devote themselves to making his dream come true.

In earlier episodes, we heard Griffith expound his philosophy of life to the Princess (and a few eavesdroppers), and Caska recount the story of her life. This time, it's the laconic Guts who provides a little introspection. I said it before, and I'll say it again: although he appears to be a simple fellow, the big guy has a head on his shoulders, and a brain which can work through things in time. No doubt Griffith recognized this fact long ago when he made Guts one of the troop commanders.

Intelligence comes to the fore as the series moves from the battlefield back to the Court of Midland. It's nice to see some minor characters have a chance to show their worth. Two of Midland's youngest nobles are sensing the winds of change, and act with admirable subtlety. Sure, they serve as agents of exposition, but such thoughtful people surely would have been found in any group of nobles, together with the more obvious blowhards and frustrated conservatives. Judeau, one of the secondary lieutenants of the White Hawks, also reveals his perceptive eye. Good!

Other nice touches are a cameo by Zodd the Immortal and some nice references to trivial events in earlier episodes.

Unfortunately, there are enough shortcomings to drag the overall rating down a bit. Commander Adon of the Chuder forces becomes very annoying. His two-faced act is milked several times too many, even though one must admit that characters like him really do exist and, alas, tend to survive. Casca occasionally behaves in ways that ring false to me. The plan Griffith concocts to seize the Fortress of Doldery might actually make sense, but we aren't shown enough of the big picture to be sure; and the action we are shown is just too poorly animated to be very convincing. Soldiers in the midst of hand-to-hand combat spend a lot more time moving around and a lot less time standing still and talking to each other than we are led to believe.

The final episode on the disc ends in yet another cliffhanger. It was probably more effective when the TV show was first broadcast. Given that there are two more DVDs to go, it's pretty obvious the Griffith is going to survive somehow ....

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

Content: 7 Video: 6 Sound: 8 Packaging: 9 Menu: 7

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