Everything about Berserk is bloody. Bloody awesome!

Berserk is a Japanese graphic novel written and illustrated by Kentarou Miura, starting in the late 1980s or early 1990s. More people might be familiar with the adapted Japanese animation, which covered the first twelve volumes of the manga (it’s up to volume 31 and still going) and was one of the last completely hand-drawn anime series. The story follows Gatsu, the Black Swordsman, a tragic figure whose background is explained in the anime, and his adventures are further chronicled in the later book volumes. Berserk is a fantastic piece of modern art and storytelling; a tragedy about fate and human hopes and weaknesses, exploring atavistic philosophy and mysticism. Everything about it is good: the music, artwork and storytelling. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

The opening theme song is an amazingly catchy, minimalist punk song called, “Tell Me Why” by the Japanese band, Penpals. The music used for the series is always anachronistic and of a different flavor than the themes of the story, but it blends exceptionally well.

You can hear the whole song and read the lyrics here.

The music in the show itself is done by the well-known Susumu Hirasawa, whom Miura has said is the only composer/musician he can listen to while drawing the books. The artwork to the actual soundtrack CD is just gorgeous, but my friend bought it and apparently it does not have the opening/ending themes included on the track listing; plus it’s ridiculously short and there are a number of throwaway tracks. So that kind of sucks.

BEAUTY OVERWHELMINKTrack listing

Although there are no plans for an expanded animation of Berserk (a number of important characters, plot devices and adult themes from the books had to be edited out so it could get released on Japanese television) there have been two videogames since the anime was made, which follow the later stories of the manga. The first one was on the Sega Dreamcast in 1999 or so and a more recent one came out a year or two ago for the Sony Playstation 2. I haven’t actually played either of these, and the PS2 game is only available in Japan. But that PS2 one looks pretty damn slick. Here’s a video preview– and while I think CG and videogame cinemas are lame in general, I get so pumped about Berserk stuff that I actually like this.

Have a look:

Susumu Hirasawa composed completely new scores for these games and they are magnificent. I still have yet to hear the whole PS2 soundtrack, and I’m pretty excited about it.

Buy the DVD series @ Amazon

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I guess I should mention that Berserk is not for kids and contains very dark themes. It is quite graphic and serious about depicting its ideas to the fullest. It is not for the squeamish but it is also not so without a purpose. Some things in the manga, and even the anime, are quite hard to look at – both visually and conceptually. This is because Berserk exposes the disturbing source of dark imagery, violence and manipulation and how these things haunt humanity.

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~ by chaosrexmachinae on September 23, 2007.

2 Responses to “Everything about Berserk is bloody. Bloody awesome!”

  1. Could not agree more, Berserk is a fantastic manga in many ways. Nice post and thanks for the youtube videos.

  2. I know right! It’s just awesome

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