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There’s Really Only One ‘Berserk’ Adaptation Worth Watching

Guts, Griffith, and the cast of Berserk

One of the most common questions about Berserk is “how do I get into it?” This is a bit of a loaded question. Why? ‘Cause while some manga adaptations make for really good horror anime, others are absolute trash.

But it’s not Berserk‘s fault!!! Kentaro Miura (rest his soul) is perhaps arguably the greatest manga storyteller of all time. He made the most brutal, beautiful, and groundbreaking piece of dark fantasy in anime history, which he painstakingly developed over the course of his entire life. Sadly, he died before he could finish the manga, and now his apprentices have taken up the torch. But it’s okay! He’s no doubt up in Manga Heaven, horrifying God with his absolutely diabolical depictions of demons.

I feel like I should say this: the BEST way to experience the story of Berserk is to read the manga. The series is gargantuan, and no anime adaptation to date has ever truly done it justice. It’s just TOO BIG. However, if you’re stubborn and don’t like reading, there are a few anime that have given it the old college try and done pretty well.

So, what’s the best watch order for Berserk?

First, watch the original Berserk anime from 1997. “But that’s olddddd” I can hear you thinking. SHUT YOUR FILTHY MOUTH. Of all the anime adaptations of Berserk, this one is the best. The animation is equal parts beautiful and nightmarish, just like the manga, and does the first chronological arc of the story justice. Note: I said chronological. The thing about the Berserk manga is that it’s told a bit out of order.

The story begins with The Black Swordsman arc, which features the protagonist, Guts, slaying a few hideous demons before running afoul of the series’ main antagonist: Griffith. After a showdown between the two, the story jumps back in time to the Golden Age arc. This arc tells the story of how a teenage Guts first became friends with Griffith, and the events that led to their falling out. (Though the term “falling out” is the understatement of the year.)

However, if you don’t wanna sit through a whole season of ’90s anime (what’s wrong with you?), you can watch the three Golden Age movies from the early ’10s. These are Berserk: Golden Age Arc I – The Egg of the King, Berserk: Golden Age Arc II – The Battle for Doldrey, and Berserk: Golden Age Arc III – The Advent. The story is basically the same as the ’90s anime, but with a bit more blood and guts (no pun intended). The only issue is that the cel-shaded animation style might not be to everyone’s taste. However, some of the fight scenes are extraordinary.

And then comes a demon far uglier than any Guts has ever faced …

Are you talking about the Berserk reboot?

I’m talking of course about the Berserk reboot from 2016 to 2017. It’s just bad. BAD. The animation is so bad that it’s infamous. It looks like a bottom tier JRPG for the Playstation 2. It’s offensive. I truly don’t know why this series can’t get a quality studio to animate it. After all, just look at the glorious source material. Reddit agrees, this belongs in a MUSEUM. This is some of the finest comic work in HISTORY, rivaling any other tale that has been drawn on paper in the East or the West. Batman, eat your heart out.

If you want to add insult to injury, watch the Berserk Recap Episode Commemorative Special after episode 12 of the remake. Then watch Berserk: Recollections of the Witch after episode 21. Or don’t. They’re literally just recap OVAs. I’m telling you, it’s honestly an insult to Miura’s work.

So why doesn’t Berserk have a good anime adaptation after The Golden Age arc?

Here’s the thing, if you wanted to tell the entire story of Berserk, you’d be looking at an anime that’s about as long as One Piece. Maybe longer. The problem is, no one can justify spending that kind of money to make it. Anime like One Piece and Naruto can run forever because they’re for kids (and some adults), but Berserk is ADULTS ONLY. Rape, murder, child molestation—this series is absolutely relentless in terms of its brutality. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a phenomenal story, and the ugly parts contribute to that as well. But don’t think that a studio is gonna greenlight something like that for the next 20 years. I’m not sure if they have the stomach for it.

(featured Image: Studio 4°C)

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