Berserk’s anime run has been a rough one. The 90s anime was good, but it didn’t last. The Golden Age movies were decent, but dragged down by an overabundance of inconsistent CGI. Then, for years, the Berserk anime just… vanished.
Until this disaster came out.
I’ve talked about a lot of anime that I dislike. But none of them have ever caused me as much physical and emotional pain as this reboot has. It manages to fail in practically every single respect. It butchers the story. The animation is god awful. The sound design hurts my ears. It’s the single most incompetent, disastrous anime production I’ve seen in my entire life.
Now, let’s not be bullies. Before I tear this adaptation a new asshole, let’s discuss the things I liked. Because make no mistake: there are some quality aspects of this adaptation to latch onto.
First: the music is kickass. ‘Blood and Guts’, ‘My Brother’, the music in this show is metal as fuck. There are a few tracks carried over from the Golden Age movies, sure. But they work really well! No joke, this OST is one of my most frequently listened to while I’m working. It’s freaking badass!
There are also some pretty cool looking 2D end shots. Each episode ends off on a beautifully drawn image. It’s basically a colored manga panel. Normally, I’d complain about that. But considering how gorgeous the Berserk manga is? I can let it slide this time.
I have no complaints about the voice acting, either. Granted, it’s all in Japanese, a language I can’t speak, so I’m not exactly an authority. But none of the characters make me want to rip my ears off, so I guess I’m okay with it.
And… yeah, that’s it. Time to bully this show into the ground now.
There are some baffling, glaring omissions to the story here. It picks an incredibly strange place to begin the story, skipping a significant chunk of the story and skipping straight to the introduction of Farnese. Skipping the Golden Age content makes sense, as both the original anime and the film trilogy exist. But why would you skip all the stuff with the first Behelit and Guts’ first reunion with the God Hand?
It only gets worse from there. These two seasons skip over some of the most interesting and important scenes in the entire manga! It skips the Moon Child entirely! Why would you omit something so clearly important to the story?!
Not to mention how it jumps all around the timeline! In one episode, you’ll be given content from one chapter, then it’ll leap ahead ten chapters in the timeline, then go right back! It’s incredibly jarring and it absolutely murders the pacing! Was the editor going at the timeline with a pair of scissors?! What the hell happened?
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Because this is, without a shadow of a doubt, with no hyperbole or exaggeration, the single ugliest anime that I’ve seen in my entire life.
CGI anime is not an inherently bad thing. At least not anymore. Studio Orange proved that with their adaptation of Beastars. With well crafted models and environments built to accommodate them, an entirely 3D anime can look amazing!
Unfortunately, the choice to make this show 3D wasn’t exactly an early one. In fact, the team behind this adaptation didn’t know whether the show would be in 2D or 3D until just a few months before the debut. Meaning that they had to rush to figure out the software, create all the models, animate them, render them, all that complicated animator stuff. They just didn’t have the time to properly put it all together.
And it shows.
This show is, for lack of a better word, ugly. The models look worse than the average PS1 game, the environments look like they were put together by a middle school student, and the animation is so stiff and lifeless that it looks like one of those shitposts where the characters are just being moved up and down by a mouse. Literally everything, every little thing, falls flat on its face.
For fuck’s sake, they can’t even animate blood on a sword. How did Griffith stab a dude without his sword coming out bloody? HOW HARD IS IT TO APPLY A RED LIQUID EFFECT TO THE TIP OF A SWORD?!?!
Then there’s the cinematography. Good camera work is essential for any visual medium. If your visuals are confusing, you risk disorienting your audience. Nothing takes someone out of a story faster than feeling sick.
The camerawork in this anime is baffling! It breaks the 180 Degree Rule all the fucking time! If you can get through a single scene without losing track of who is where and when, congratulations! You’re a liar! It gets especially bad during the action scenes; it constantly feels like the floor is spinning beneath the characters.
Worse yet, it’ll constantly cut away from the actually interesting shots straight to less interesting ones. Right in the first episode, there’s a decent low shot of Guts, his cape billowing in the wind. It makes Guts feel large, dark, and terrible, like he’s this force of nature that’s going to knock down everything in his way. Sure, the models are bad and the animation is stiff. But the shot itself is decent!
Shame it lasts all of three seconds before cutting to a bird’s-eye view shot of him in the same position.
Then there’s the sound design. Jesus fucking Christ, the sound effects in this show are terrible! Every time metal collides with metal, be it a sword on a sword or a hammer on armor, my ears start to bleed! It sounds like someone took all the pots and pans in their house, tied them all up in a ball, and dropped them off the balcony onto concrete!
And it’s the only metal sound effect in the whole show! It plays every time the Dragonslayer hits anything, be it flesh or bone or steel! HOW DID YOU MAKE ME DREAD GUTS SWINGING THE DRAGONSLAYER?!?! IT’S THE COOLEST SWORD IN ANIME AND YOU FUCKING RUINED IT!!!!!
Berserk didn’t deserve this. It’s such an incredible story, featuring wonderful writing and some of the most incredible artwork I’ve ever seen in a manga! It’s a true masterpiece, even though the thing will never be finished.
The 2016/17 anime could have been something incredible. It could’ve introduced a whole new audience to a section of the story they never got to be exposed to. If given the proper time, if under the proper direction, it could’ve been a fantastic resurrection of the anime. It could have brought Berserk back into the spotlight.
And it did! In the worst way possible, sure, but it did!
Watching this adaptation is a painful mistake I can never unmake. It’s a terrible disaster that desecrates one of my favorite stories of all time. It’s not worth watching as a fan and it’s not worth watching as a newcomer. This series deserves to stay dead.
Oh yeah, they also made Casca white in the first OP. You know. The character whose race and gender is integral to her struggles and desires. It’s the easiest thing in the world to get right and they still fucked it up.
And don’t even get me started on the Berserker Armor, I swear to god I’ll keep going all day!