After a long work day, few things are as rewarding as winding down to some video games and movies (at least if you ask *this* geek). I’m enjoying a more “recent” Anime classic that some of you may know but most probably never even heard of.. It’s called “Berserk” and it is A-MAZING!!
The history here is quite extensive… According to Wikipedia, Berserk dates back to as early as 1988 but I first really fell in love with the series when I enjoyed a good ‘ol hack-and-slash called Sword of the Berserk: Guts’ Rage on the Sega Dreamcast circa 2001 (the Dreamcast is one of my favorite gaming systems of all time, BTW). At the time, Berserk wasn’t really known in the United States, in spite the long track record of the series as a Manga and Anime alike. In fact, most people I know that have heard of the Anime watched it in more recent years (say, back in 2007 or 2008), which is why I say it is a more recent Anime classic. Berserk is one of those hidden gems that is a shame to miss out on!
Now, some of the content snobs out there may say that the Anime, Manga, and video game alike are shallow but I beg to differ. Berserk is the story of Guts, a man who has missed out on a lot of his life because all he has ever known is the way of the sword and survival. He’s a bit of a drifter and a loner but, as he meets people in his journies, he learns more about himself and life. I like his character quite a bit and, well, he simply kicks some major A-double-dollar-sign!!
Sure, at face value, Guts can be seen as any other Japanese hero. Swords tend to be over-glorified and over-done these days.. But Guts has something special to him. He is a character whose greatest conflict lies within himself. He seeks a sense of purpose and I think that’s something people can relate to at any time. Some of the Japanese cliches still apply (i.e. huge swords, exagerrated actions, and one-dimensional names) but there is depth here, I promise. As such, Berserk earns a place up there with Anime classics like Fist of the North Star and Vampire Hunter D.
In any case, that’s my quick update for now… I’m thinking I’ll be revisiting this post to share some photos and links. Berserk FTW! Anime FTW!! (Excuse my excessive excitement here but, well, all this action-packed goodness has me hyped up just a smidge.)
UPDATE: Just minutes after posting this quick blurb on Berserk, I had felt compelled to check out some of the deals for the complete Anime collection. I found a great deal on Amazon for Berserk Complete under $50. w00t! I can’t wait to re-experience the series. Supposedly, this collection claims to be re-mastered but does not deliver on such promises. You have to remember that the Anime spanned decades with several breaks in between so, as the characters evolved, so did the artistic presentation.
…And now for something a little different…
In that video, we see Berserk slaughtering his foes. You could take this at face value and say, “Wow, he really knows how to wield a sword!” There is more to it, though…
While there are lots of back stories and themes throughout the series, it’s really all about Guts trying to figure life out. Why does he fight? What is the point? This is something few stories really tackle because some writers feel that they may steel their protagonist’s thunder, I suppose. Guts doesn’t have super powers nor is he infallible. I think Kentaro Miura did an excellent job of creating a character that fans could relate to and still admire and perhaps even idolize.
With so much crap out there in the entertainment industry, it’d be nice to see this franchise continued. A new video game would certainly rock, for starters. Really, the Dreamcast game, Sword of the Berserk: Guts’ Rage, developed by Eidos Interactive / ASCII was ahead of it’s time. They fell short on a few things but it’s still a great game, even today. Not to mention it fills the gap between the actual Anime without providing excessive filler content (like, say, DBZ).
While Berserk has received many awards and recognition as a Manga, I’m still amazed that the collective works rarely come up in geek conversations. A recent discussion on Shonen Jump (via Twitter) had fans mentioning the usual staples (Fist of the North Star, Dragon Ball Z, One Piece, Bleach, Naruto, etc.) and even I forgot for a second about Berserk. Unacceptable. Let’s show some love, people!
Interestingly enough, my Facebook broadcast caught a bit of attention. My buddy KiNgDeeM got his hands on the full collection as well. My buddy, Shizlanski, revealed that Berserk is one of his favorite geek indulgences of all time. I guess it’s one of those things where there is an underground following but not enough open discussions. If you like Berserk or are interested, leave a comment – let’s bring Guts back into the forefront!