I hate bitching about anime episodes, especially when I think of the immense work that needs to be done to create each of them. Yes, quality as we know is always affected by a variety of factors: budget, studio problems, team dynamics, unforeseen circumstances, and there are blogs out there which are taking these things very seriously. Others, not as much.
From the moment that we ditched the ratings and the genre tags in MANGA.TOKYO, we tried to give our reviews a non-pedantic feel that closely relates to a friend who likes everything, or at least who tries not to hate things so easily.
In Episode 21 of Berserk, even though I’m still that ‘friend’ who might say, ‘it wasn’t thaaat bad,’ I can tell why some of the fans might feel a bit disappointed.
Japanese Title: 狂戦士の甲冑
Gut’s encounter with the infatuated with him God Hand has weakened him to the point that not even the terrible animation can keep him on his legs. Wounded in both body and soul, he is unable to withstand the noble and powerful Grunbeld, a twisted version of the Knights of the Round Table. Getting on Gut’s nerves by invoking the name of the Band of the Hawk, though, did help in fortifying his mental reserves. He has to tumble down to the Berserker Armor and use its destructive power. There is a catch though: Guts needs to forego his humanity and embrace his berserker instincts. There is also another catch to the armor. That superhuman strength and pain relief doesn’t come from the pain actually going away. Guts simply doesn’t care anymore. He has achieved a new level of independence from his mortal wounds, one that will allow him to fight with a ferocity we haven’t seen before. Guts is freed from pain and guilt, and that allows that damn dog, that Beast of Darkness to rise to the surface and, maybe not take control, but fight alongside Guts. Even the armor takes its shape. Maybe we can make a parallel with Griffith and Femto. Just like the Hawk was shaped on Griffith, the same way the Berserker Armor is taking the shape of the Beast of Darkness. Do you think Grunbeld has any chance of winning now? I don’t think so.
If you are wondering why Terrible Animation is part of the highlights, then you need to reevaluate your definition of what a highlight is. I really had an amazing time seeing these.
Terrible Animation 1: Isidoro rolling around was probably him practicing that move he used against the troll in Episode 20. Yet, it was so terribly animated that it felt like he was practicing his Metroid ball mode.
Terrible Animation 2: I know that I shouldn’t laugh, but the scene where Guts exits the forest was hilarious. It was so bad that I literally left a small giggle and tried to imitate his movement. This can easily become an internet meme, and I would have started it if I cared for internet memes.
Terrible Animation 3: A still Puck illustration was standing on Isidoro’s shoulder and moved at the same time that Isidoro’s mouth moved. Wow, a plastic Puck model.
Terrible Animation 4: Flora’s face as she burnt was so terrible that it actually scared me a little.
Charcoal Flora calls Schierke. Schierke do you copy? This is a burning matter.
Terrible Animation 5: The Apostle transformation was just one model fading and another replacing it. Even the terrible transformation of the American live action Guyver was better than this. Even the first Power Rangers morphing sequence was better than this!
Awesome End Card: The episode was worth it just for the end card. I know that in the age of the internet you could probably have found about the card without going through the terrible animation, but relax and enjoy the ride. It’s a good story and it friends who have read the manga say that it’s a good adaptation. Enjoy the end card. Chiiiill.
Band of the Hawk: No wonder Guts got triggered. You don’t take that name and use it so lightly. The Band of the Hawk was the first place that Guts considered a home. The members were his family. Its leader was like a brother to him. And then you have the ‘new guys’ sporting the name like it’s just a title. It’s not a title you big lump of dragon shit, it’s sacred and you’re going to pay for it. You don’t mess around with Gut’s trigger and live to tell the tale.
Spiral Fate: The scene appears in Vol.26 of the manga and it’s more or less the same. Flora and the Skull Knight might have been something similar to Guts and Casca in the past, central figures in a world before the creation of Midland. Flora argues that causality is not a circle but a spiral. Gut’s fate might not be the same as the Skull Knight’s and there is the possibility that the future will unfold in a unique way.
Those children are not bound to make the same mistakes we did.
The jarring animation of Episode 21 was clearly a lack of funds and time. I was looking forward to this episode because we already knew from the last scenes of Episode 20 and the preview that a big battle was coming. We also knew that Guts was going to wear the Berserker armor. To be honest, I wasn’t appalled by the terrible animation (and it was terrible – so much that the 2D stills were the best part animation-wise) but I understand that the fans were expecting this to be THE moment. But, there is the possibility that the production cut the budget so it could spend more on Episode 22. Just imagine if fans get an amazingly animated battle with the Berserker armor. Will that make them forget Episode 21? Probably. We tend to judge something from our most recent experience with it, and if Berserk manages to give us a few good episodes now, they will probably have the fans with their wallet money ready. The BD is always better.
A Spiral Fate
There are two possibilities: Either Guts will repeat the same mistakes that the Skull Knight had once committed or he will pave his own path, whether that results in success of failure. To be honest, I’m not really sure what will count as a success and what will count as a failure. Let’s start by keeping everyone alive.