I’m not sure what happened in Episode 23 of Berserk. Everything new to the plot was given in an indirect manner that made no impact at all. The big bad guy was boring and without having a clear image of the mastermind behind the attack, it was difficult to put a face to the menace. And then, the Berserker armor thing, we’ve seen that before. The bit we haven’t seen, though, was overshadowed by the credits and the awful music direction. There is something rotten in the production committee of Berserk.
Japanese Title: 告げられし兆し
Casca’s mind can be restored. That is the single most important part of this episode, and one that is sadistic at least. I know that the anime is following the storyline of the manga, but for someone who is not a reader, this is just a promise that won’t (probably) be fulfilled, unless next week we have another new season announcement. The rest will have to either buy the manga (one of the primary reasons anime adaptations are made) or leave it be. Of course, there is always a wiki where you can read a summary of what happened and what is going to happen.
Your hope may not always be her hope
Skull Knight makes another cameo appearance, just to remind Guts that the armor may well be the reason he loses his humanity. He is also the only one who can defeat Griffith, because he is ‘outside the story.’ The metaphor would have been better suited in a scene of Re:CREATORS than Berserk, but the meta qualities of the conversation were not in vain. Couple that with Schierke’s emotional moment, and the beach scene was probably ok in most of its part. The rest of the episode, sadly, was not.
Serpico and Isidoro’s action scenes were clunky and uninspiring. So much, that if they had chosen bunnies instead of crocodiles, I would have rooted for the enemy. Of course, that would have been difficult as well, because the only thing we knew about the enemy was that they were Kushans. And then, you have that thing that passed for a menacing monster. A combination of an elephant, a boar, and other things that have fins and are boring as hell. I’m sure that anyone could have guessed the rest: Guts needs to kill the monster. Guts is too weak. Guts uses the armor. Guts loses his humanity and wants to kill everything (after a very convenient info-dump by Serpico). Guts is saved by Schierke as the credits were rolling by.
I don’t know how you reacted to the rolling credits during what was probably the most impactful moment of the episode (Schierke saving Guts) but I felt that it destroyed the emotion. Couple that with the awful sound direction (did they have to put the ending theme when they did?) and it felt that the production just had to do what they did to put into the episode everything they had planned to.
Op Theme: The opening sequence is probably the best animated part of the series so far. ‘Sacrifice’ by 9mm Parabellum Bullet enhanced its epic disposition, but unfortunately that was the most epic this episode managed to be. Time to put the song on repeat. Maybe that will make me forget that awful arm animation when Guts is checking his artificial arm in the beginning of the episode.
Ending Card: Great ending card. The artwork during the 2D scenes makes me wonder of what the series would have been if they had decided to ditch this 3D hybrid style for a more traditional animation. CGI is not always bad, and one Spring 2017 series that proves that point is Kado: The Right Answer. I’m not a fan of 3D graphics, but they are, undeniably, the future.
Puns: I love puns. Puns are fun and when in the right context, they can go from sarcastic to downright entertaining. The episode had a few takes on puns, but I’m not sure if the translation was a word play of the subtitler or that there was an actual Japanese pun in there. Eating ‘the corpses of crabs’ turned into crabinalism
Themes & Trivia
Skellig: The name of the island was peculiar enough to have me research it. The only references to the name I found is a children’s novel by the British author David Almond and the Skellig islands in County Kerry, two small, steep, and rocky islands lying about 13 km west of Bolus Head on the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland.
Aurora: I’ve never seen the aurora. Have you? In case you don’t know what Berserk was talking about, an aurora, sometimes referred to as a polar lights or northern lights, is a natural light display in the sky, predominantly seen in the high latitude (Arctic and Antarctic) regions. It looks like a greenish, sometimes reddish, curtain-like lights. Those who have seen it are speaking of a magical phenomenon.
I don’t think that there is any doubt that Berserk is probably not going to deliver a proper animation in its run. Visually, for the most part the cour was a disaster and I don’t think that there is anyone who can make a case in favor of the animation. The quality is certainly going to affect sales, but instead of cutting the franchise sort, I think that this is the perfect opportunity for a serious studio to take Berserk and make a proper continuation that will live true to the heavy name the manga carries.
The Berserker Armor
I don’t know what kind of effect the Berserker armor has on Guts, but I know what effect the episode had on me: it messed with my otherwise tolerant approach to screen storytelling. Next week is the last episode of the cour, and the only thing I want from the series is to either provide a fitting conclusion or promise a new season.