Author Topic: Berserk - Kentaro Miura  (Read 2436 times)

Berserk - Kentaro Miura
« on: December 21, 2017, 04:45:48 PM »
Really, I just want to discuss Berserk with someone, anyone who's read it, and to encourage more people to read it. It's the best manga I've ever read and the best thing I've read or seen in years. It's got a wonderful cast of characters, an unbelievable sense of action and movement, deep humanistic and philosophical themes, utterly spectacular artwork, some staggering action sequences, enough humour for it not to become oppressive and beautiful meditations on life, friendship, religion, trust, love, motivation, repression and individual will. It's also got, in The Golden Age arc, the most jaw-dropping passage of any book or film or story I've seen, and it was completely earned. It's the most highly rated manga ever for good reason.

Guts and Griffith are two of the greatest characters ever created, who go to places you couldn't possibly predict, deeply flawed forces of nature, extraordinary, destructive, charismatic, beacons of hope and despair depending on your perspective. Their relationship, or rather, their symbiosis is one of the most engaging and endlessly fascinating I've seen. Layers and layers of grey, uncertainty, complex morality. They are human, quite frankly, and I can't think of many characters who compare outside of the greatest works of literature; they're on a Julien Sorel or Colonel Aureliano Buendia level.

N.B. I have no interest in manga, I've barely ever read any comics, I don't watch anime, but Berserk is an absolute colossus.

If you're tempted to read any of this, it's all available online for free on various manga reading sites, or you can download the Dark Horse translated scans, like I did. I would recommend starting at the start, reading the short Black Swordsman arc and then reading Golden Age. Once you finish that, you won't be putting it down.

I'd love to plaster this thread with images but there's too much to spoil and the most glorious panels deserve narrative context. The page below probably covers some of the tone of the work, in any case. A deep longing for something which may never have existed, and a burning, unstoppable desire to nevertheless find it and make amends. Fair warning, it's also medievally violent, on occasion.

« Last Edit: December 21, 2017, 04:58:58 PM by Shay Chaise »

Re: Berserk - Kentaro Miura
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2017, 10:43:20 PM »
Genuinely, it's sad - I'm sad - that there are no replies. Leave all preconceptions at the door and prepare to see most narrative media become redundant as one panel leads to another. This is the most challenging and rewarding work of art I've experienced in years. It is brutal, honest, heartbreaking, powerful, violent, visceral, sexual and steeped in an almost Lovecraftian sense of dread, and at the same time it is heartwarming, cheerful, optimistic, spiritual, naturalist, humanist, Romantic and hilarious. It features certain panels I almost wish I could unsee and many which should be framed and exhibited.

Miura has been working on it since 1989 and it's just recently returned after a long hiatus. He's worked in fits and starts over the past decade but he's finally approaching the resolution of a long-awaited major plot point. Don't let the unfinished nature of it put you off, though. Each major arc has its own satisfying narrative and thematic resolutions. There are five arcs in total, including the current unfinished one. Each has a different tone, as both Miura and the characters develop and the lore of the world gets richer. It may never top the Golden Age for sheer jaw-dropping impact, but I would struggle to think of anything which does in its genre, across any medium. While it's indebted to the likes of Tolkien, that's a children's fairy tale in its simplicity, alongside Berserk. For me, you have to go to the likes of Stendhal or Shakespeare or Garcia Marquez or Cervantes to find much comparable depth of character in all literature. It's so powerful. From a literary point of view, I can't begin to compare it to Shakespeare, of course, but purely in terms of monstrous and loveable/hateful creations, Guts and Griffith are up there with the greats.

I should also perhaps talk a little more about the violence, because it's probably the most violent thing I'm ever likely to see or be able to tolerate. Violence is used as both a frustrated means of expression, an evil destructive force, a comfort blanket, a substitute for sexual gratification, as a bond of friendship and love, the consequence of boredom, and as philosophical absurdism. There is such a kinetic force to many of the panels that I have almost acted out the swings of the sword while I've been reading, like when you feel your foot twitch when watching sport. I'm not a violent man, never have been, but this presents the liberating cathartic comforting release of violence in a way which is almost humbling. For some people, it's the only way they've learned to interact with the world, it's their only mode of communication and the only thing which has allowed them to survive. And despite this sympathetic perspective, violence is shown as irreversibly damaging, physically, psychologically, spiritually, to both the victim and to the agent. It is also crushingly reductive, with jaws and skulls and noses and eyes being removed on angles which truly dehumanise the form. Genuine terror and very rarely portrayed as 'cool'. Put it this way, it sensitised me to violence again, and I think that's a good thing.

But for me, through all this, Berserk sings of the camaraderie, the adventure, the soul-searching, the laughs, the beauty, the mystery and the romance. That's why we're here, that's what we have, in amongst all this horror.

Re: Berserk - Kentaro Miura
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2017, 03:02:18 PM »
Really, all I knew about this until I read your posts was that it's the manga that features a rape-horse that everyone says Ludwig's initial form in Bloodborne is based on.  To be honest, reading 'rape-horse' and manga in the same sentence written by a gamer online was enough to make me think it would be utter, utter shit.  'Coz I have biases like that. 

You're selling it very well I must say and that is some impressive artwork.  I've got no interest in Manga either really outside of Ito, and Akira - perhaps I will check this out in the New Year.  I'm curious - what made you give this a chance if you also have no interest in Manga?

Re: Berserk - Kentaro Miura
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2017, 04:06:45 PM »
I also have enormous biases against manga, gamers, violence, haha rape and all of that. I had heard that Dark Souls and Bloodborne were both strongly influenced from an aesthetic perspective, and then I heard that Artorias is basically Guts, and then something else, and something else and I eventually looked it up and read a lot of comments saying, if you ever read one manga make it Berserk. I decided I would never do that but I started watching the 1997 anime which I also thoroughly recommend.

I was very quickly drawn into that. It's quite low budget and not especially animated, lots of stills, but that kind of keeps the spirit of the manga, in a way. It has a gorgeous soundtrack, beautifully detailed images, a sense of peace and space and it actually does a great job of capturing the camaraderie and excitement of the Band of the Hawk. Once I'd finished it, roughly 24x20 minute episodes, I think, I couldn't stop thinking about it for days. It's basically the Golden Age arc, and it's a pretty faithful alternative. The amazing bits of the manga are still absolutely amazing in the anime.

I had kind of thought I'd seen as much as I needed to see but I kept thinking about it and read up a little and the advice was always 'just read the manga'. If you find the stories of Solaire and Artorias and Sif and so on to be some of the most engaging aspects of the Souls games, I can't see how you would be disappointed.

As for the rape horse, well, it's not what it sounds, it's actually much worse and heavier than that, in context! There is quite a bit of sexual perversion in the manga but none of it feels gratuitous or titillating, it's almost always used to turn us against a particular character, or show their flaws. I would say it's not for the faint of heart, though. The horse bit is obviously iconic but quite moderate in the grand scheme of things.


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Re: Berserk - Kentaro Miura
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2018, 02:35:51 PM »
Peak Berserk has been achieved:


Everything has been leading up this point.

Re: Berserk - Kentaro Miura
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2018, 08:08:28 PM »
It would have been great to just end at that point. Retire now, Miura.

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Re: Berserk - Kentaro Miura
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2018, 09:57:29 PM »
And another hiatus.

Re: Berserk - Kentaro Miura
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2018, 10:07:28 PM »
Where did you read that?

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Re: Berserk - Kentaro Miura
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2018, 12:28:44 AM »
A new Idolmaster game has come out, innit?

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Re: Berserk - Kentaro Miura
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2018, 02:01:50 AM »

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Re: Berserk - Kentaro Miura
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2018, 03:12:27 AM »
Berserk is great. Probably ruined by a lot of proto edge lords.

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Re: Berserk - Kentaro Miura
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2018, 03:31:20 AM »
more like ruined by filthy secondaries who would baulk at the idea of reading any other manga ;)

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Re: Berserk - Kentaro Miura
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2019, 06:22:25 PM »
The Berserk manga is resuming on April 26th. Who knows how long for this time?


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Re: Berserk - Kentaro Miura
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2019, 10:35:44 AM »
I stopped reading at about volume 28-ish. I hate all the comic relief stuff with Puck and Isidro and I feel it became a different book after their antics were given prominence.

There's too much gratuitous hack n' slash now too. It's okay when Guts is fighting enemies who have a personality (Apostles, the Inquisitor) because there is some drama to invest in, but it becomes mind-numbing when he is fighting trolls and generic beasts who do not speak.


I also found the 'naked Schierke' scene pretty fucking questionable.

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Re: Berserk - Kentaro Miura
« Reply #15 on: May 03, 2019, 08:23:57 AM »
Griffith is back! Talking about government policy! Yay!

I am really glad though. There is a part of me that wishes Berserk will get the GoT treatment so we'll get a conclusion.

I stopped reading at about volume 28-ish. I hate all the comic relief stuff with Puck and Isidro and I feel it became a different book after their antics were given prominence.

There's too much gratuitous hack n' slash now too. It's okay when Guts is fighting enemies who have a personality (Apostles, the Inquisitor) because there is some drama to invest in, but it becomes mind-numbing when he is fighting trolls and generic beasts who do not speak.

I also found the 'naked Schierke' scene pretty fucking questionable.

1. I take it as some sort of cultural thing where there must be stupid humour to offset the darkness.
Puck is also like Jimminy cricket. Isidiro is like if Guts had a better childhood. I think the humour is there to offset the preachiness of those aspects.
2. I feel this is part of Gut's growth. To be passe he used to live to fight now he fights to live. He can't be fucked relishing the fight and just chops things in half now because he just wants to get Casca right.
3. Questionable. But I don't think it sexualised more as 'nudity is embarrassing and hence funny'. Anyway the whole Rosine apostle thing just is a lot more fucking questionable but done for a purpose. Especially children as 'elves' killing and raping each other playing 'adult battles'. I'm not sure Miura needed to show a stinger dripping with whatever but he did it.

I wanted to share this piece of fanart since Berserk is a really love story.