Well, I’m going to have to talk about something else for the third-year anniversary.
This has been a film series I’ve been trying to get to for a year now, but it kept getting put off longer and longer. This week though a buddy of mine wanted a movie to watch and I figured it would be a perfect time to get to it. Let’s not waste any more time than I have. After the cut let’s get into the first movie of Berserk: The Golden Age Arc: The Egg of the King.
Talking about Berserk is a strange thing, because to many anime fans, it is a tale as old as time. For The Golden Age Arc, which is what most people know about Berserk, everyone knows what happens, and most of all, they know the ending. In fact, most people just watch, or read the story to get to that ending, which is one of the most infamous moments in anime history. However, there is plenty of story leading up to that, and this movie trilogy does its best to provide an alternative to what was shown on television screens almost 30 years ago. A lot of it works, but some of it doesn’t.
Which is why I’m not going to go into details about the plot and characters. Most people reading this will have a passing familiarity with Berserk, and its characters. Additionally, being a complication movie, it is already condensing what is a very meaty and detailed story into three, hour and half movies. That means a lot of the details and relationships, especially with among the Band of the Hawks (or Falcons in the manga?) is omitted or very quickly passed over. Those relationships which makes the final movie sting so much more seemed to have been replaced with a focus on action and spectacle, and the pivotal three-way relationship between series leads Guts, Griffith and Casca.
That relationship is done well. Three figures of different backgrounds and pasts, we see how Guts is pulled into Griffth’s sphere of influence and strives to help make his dream come true. We see Casca work through her emotions of being replaced as Griffth’s favorite, and the rage and temper she has about been born a woman. And we see how Guts relationship with Griffth is challenged when he reveals that the only person, he considers a friend, would be someone who has their own dream. A person who seizes their own destiny, not just a blind follower like the rest of his men. It is a good story, and while it does lack the details that the manga has (which, up front, I have not read). It does the job well enough to get the point across.
What is a mixed bag however is the animation, which has been a sore point for many Berserk fans, both here and in the 2016 anime. I’ll be honest, I really enjoyed the 2016 anime, and didn’t mind the use on 3D animation, however I do 100% understand the hatred that some people have towards it. Aside from the Eclipse, the art by series author Kentaro Muira is stunning. A breathtaking display of mastery and craftsmanship that is far beyond the very best of what manga has shown. Seeing that art is part of the experience, and to see it done this way, with lanky and uneven CGI effects can be considered criminal by some. It is only when the story steps away from the action and goes back to classic 2D, that we get the beautiful art and animation we expected, but even then, it is just a taste of the greatness done by Muira’s own hand. I get the anger, and in many ways, I agree with it, but I also won’t lie in that I forgot about it after a while, mostly because the story is just that good.
The Egg of the King, the first movie in Berserk: The Golden Age Arc is a CliffsNotes beginning to what is really a CliffsNotes version of Berserk’s unforgettable first half. I liked it, but those who have bathed in this series for years find it middling at best and passing at worst. As someone who isn’t as involved in the series, it’s a damn good hack and slash, with all the feelings of an epic, and good character work that will absolutely pay off in the future. We are just getting started though, so I hope you’ll join me for a look at the next two films coming real soon.