After a Summer 2016 run that was both amazing and controversial for various reasons, the series return for the Millennium Empire Arc. A direct continuation of the first season, this double episode of Berserk(Episodes 13-14) brought back the hybrid animation technique, but this time it focused more on the 2D than the 3D.
Japanese: ほころぶ世界 / 冬の旅路
Episode 13 – The Rent World
Best Narrator of the Season (I am giving a lot of awards lately) goes to the amazing introductive speech of Unshou Ishizuka. Did you need a reminder that Berserk takes place in a cruel world where Puck and his kind is the exception and not the rule? Here you are. Children are always the first to sniff out a bad situation (thankfully, they are not always the first to die) and our little bunch of boys is just a small example of the people who are going to be affected by that ‘something that indeed dwelt in the silence.’
The episode brought back Griffith, a demon in a familiar face, whose aspirations are beyond friendship and loyalty. Griffith is only loyal to his dream. Guts should have known that, but the whole Band of the Hawk was blinded by their sense of loyalty. His dream had legs. The world could have been a peaceful and just place if only Griffith had succeeded. What they had failed to realize was that Griffith’s journey was far from over and the Band was just one tool he used to further his plan. The consequences were dire, and if there is one thing I understand, it’s Gut’s hatred against his former leader and friend.
Griffith is back as a man (or maybe a demon) who will sacrifice everything to pursue his dream and claim his kingdom. On the other hand, Guts is on a journey of revenge. Not a man anymore, but another demon whose purpose was set in stone on that fateful night.
Episode 14 – Winter’s Journey
Set aside the new character and her magical abilities (I am sure we will see more of her in the future) and the second episode took us for a flashback trip to a past that we knew little about. Farnesse and Serpico always shared a strange relationship, one that bordered on loyalty and obsession. Now we are aware exactly why.
She lived as she pleased, locked in a gigantic cave.
The little tyrant, awkward young lady, spoiled child, or whatever you want to call her was deeply disturbed. As it happened with all children, it is rarely their fault. A combination of the environment and the people whom she called parents only in name proved to be the cornerstone of her subsequent behavior and the development of her perversions. Serpico, the bastard child and half-brother for whom no one knows about, seemed normal enough. His loyalty was at first a sign of his gratitude, but later we understood that he was just as twisted as his ‘partner in crime.’
Take me away. Only you can because you are as twisted as I
The episode ends with all the events brings some of our protagonists to the same place: Isidro wants to continue his apprenticeship, and Farness wants to follow Guts in his quest… But why?
OP and ED themes: 9mm Parabellum Bullet and Nagi Yanagi are back to ‘reprise their roles.’ ‘Sacrifice’ is a fast-paced rock song that blends well with the stills and action scenes of the opening sequence. On the other hand, ‘Issai wa Monogatari,’ performed by Yoshino Nanjou and Nagi Yanagi plays against a backdrop of character illustrations. It is a rhythmical song with a pleasant refrain melody. The combination of the melody and the sketches would have made me stay for the preview if I wasn’t a stickler for ALWAYS staying for the preview.
CG: The CG is back, but it feels smoother than ever. The clunky character expressions of the first season seem to be gone, and the battles were exciting and impressive. I am very satisfied with the blend of the technique that was used.
Themes & Trivia
Sexual Violence: Berserk makes even these scenes part of the story. We must not forget that everything in this story has something to do with the trio between Guts, Casca, and Griffith and that no matter how raw the scene of her almost double rape seemed, every second was tied to a plot element.
Fans have a bad habit of being overly protective of their favorite titles. The backlash that Berserk received when it first aired two cours ago was phenomenal. Professional critics kept a milder stance by pointing to why the new style doesn’t work. At the same time, Twitter and FB comments, and self-proclaimed guardians of anime purity chastised the production company for ruining Berserk. As much as I would have wanted to take any opinion that is not based on arguments with a grain of salt, the sad truth is that these people are going to give their money to the merchandise that supports the medium. Imagine a world where fan service reigned supreme… Oh, wait…
Jokes aside, criticism is great, but we must never forget that the critic’s first and foremost responsibility is to judge objectively. And that is why I don’t consider myself a critic, but just an anime fan who is just expressing his, most of the times utterly ridiculous, opinion. And here it is: I like Berserk. I liked the 1997 series, the Golden Age Arc, and this new attempt to continue the anime part of the franchise. I came into the series without expectations, and that is what kept me hooked. That and that feeling of love that I got from the production. Not liking something doesn’t make it bad or good; it just makes it not compatible to your individual tastes.
We must also not forget that Kentaro Miura, the original author, is serving as executive supervisor for the anime. When it comes to Berserk, his word is law. We can talk for days about the responsibility of the creator to the fan, but the other side of the coin, the one that reads ‘the respect of the fan to the creator’ is much easier to ignore. Also, Shirou Sagise returned to provide the music for the series, and the cast is the same as the one from the Golden Age Arc film trilogy. Couple that with Unshou Ishizuka as the narrator, and there you have it: this is Berserk, and this double episode more than proved it.
‘I shan’t betray my dreams’
I am very excited about this season. Coupling the two episodes together was a good call because they managed to introduce most of the characters that will play an important role in this season in one go. I haven’t read the manga, and I am going into this without knowing what will happen. There is only one thing certain: I am on Gut’s side.
Don’t forget to check the rest of our episodic anime reviews for Spring 2017! We are also trying to see all the first episodes of nearly all the new titles of this season, so you don’t have to. Time to make that anime list!