For our final profile on the films in the REEL ANIME festival, we turn our attention to the intense action epic, BERSERK and its creator, Kentaro Miura. For many, this will be the token violent anime of the set, but fans know there is a deeper story that make it an enduring favourite.
Being a dark fantasy tale in a medieval setting, you could be forgiven for thinking that you’ll be in for a mindless romp full of nothing but hacking and slashing. While there is certainly plenty of that, the story of Guts, lone mercenary, is set to take us into much more complex territory.
Unsurpassed as a swordsman, when we meet Guts he is solitary and while incredibly skilled, seems reckless, almost wild and without restraint, like he does not care about his own life.
The thrills of the action are matched with compelling character motivations as Guts, recruited by the strangely inspirational Griffith, learns to be responsible for others and sees a purpose to his life beyond swinging his sword alone and just surviving.
His friendships with the band of Hawk, particularly the fiery Casca, will test him and through both epic moments and quieter, more terrible choices, Guts’ growth as a character leads us through a journey that will explore some incredibly dark and complicated themes.
Its fearless use of sex, violence, love, friendship, betrayal, abuse and survival along with traditional notions of horror are just some of the reasons many fans consider it one of the greatest told in manga and anime. As the first in an opening trilogy retelling the story, REEL ANIME is just the thrilling and foreboding beginning!
The full scope of the drama has been unfolding for many years, and continues as an ongoing manga today, by Kentaro Miura.
Born in Chiby City, Chiba, in 1966, Miura began publishing manga at the tender age of 10, with his first manga Miuranger – made for his classmates – which ended up spanning 40 volumes.
After applying for art college with his manga Futanabi as his examination, he was granted admission and the project garnered him a nomination for Best New Author in Weekly Shonen Magazine. His followup, Noa,didn’t work out and his career hit a slump, but he bounced back with what would become his masterpiece, with Berserk Prototype in 1989.
This introduction to the Berserk world won Miura a prize from the Comi Manga School, and opportunity to work on other projects with First of the North Star mangaka, Buronson. But by 1990, Berserk had become serialised and Miura’s fame grew.
Inspired by films such as Conan the Barbarian, Excalibur novels Guin Saga and manga artist Go Nagai, the manga is still running after 22 years and sold over 30 million copies worldwide, and won the outstanding award at the sixth installment of Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize in 2002.
It has seen great changes and challenges for Guts and both his fellow travellers and dire enemies. Along the way, Miura has over seen the production of the 25 episode anime in 1997, and two video games. The anime, itself considered a nuanced, dark fantasy classic, has left fans on tenterhooks for years. It covered the first arc of the story and brings the viewer to a major turning point in Gut’s life. While a complete story, fans were left wanting much more, and now the ongoing arcs of the manga will be brought to life.
Incredibly, there are no “filler” arcs in the story and there is much to look forward to in this new film series which realises Miura’s vision in the most vivid fashion. Let’s hope it will be timed perfectly with an incredible conclusion for the story.
Daring to be different by treating its characters and dark, adult themes seriously, Berserk’s legend is sure to grow. Welcome to the new beginning of an anime classic.