ANIME & MANGA - Review
15:00 - 19th April 2013, by NEO Staff

Beserk 2-4

Berserk takes a long time to get going. The first volume is unapologetically moody with a huge helping of suitably gothic sex 'n' violence. This, unsurprisingly, paves the way for much criticism of its lack of plot line - and to be honest, initially the series doesn't look like it's even attempting to go anywhere with its stereotypically gruff antihero and his thirst for blood. However, the further you go with Berserk, the further you are driven, fuelled by a desire to know more about protagonist Guts' background. Haunted as he is by fittingly grotesque demons (Alien has nothing on these monstrosities), it's not surprising the reader should want to know how, when and why.

Following two and a half volumes' worth of story based around Guts and his exploration of a sinister Count's evil doings, the story suddenly flips into biography mode. The series then becomes less about the Guts of present times and turns into a multi-volume flashback of epic proportions, as we uncover the extent of Guts' relationship with the mysterious demon, Griffith, who confronts him in the Count's castle. Volume after volume (our collection in the office only goes up to volume nine, and the catch-up session is still going strong) is devoted to Guts' life history - which is a fascinating read, albeit one that is strangely placed. Why go to the trouble of developing a story at the beginning - complete with elven sidekick - if Berserk was going to be a kind of 'This is Your Life' for mercenaries? Will we ever go back to present day? We're hoping so, if only to round off the nice little side story that was developing with the Count's daughter. A continuous flashback just leaves too many niggling questions unanswered to be comfortable.

Visually, Berserk features a lot of heavy handed art work with dark blocks of shading and bold, chunky lines. This sure is one masculine looking read - no surprises there, considering its violent content.

It's easy to see why Berserk has spawned a legion of loyal followers - the plot is compulsive reading, and certainly hasn't developed into the run of the mill blood and guts fantasy we were expecting.

SCORE: 4/5
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