Tag Archives: graphic novel

Review: BERSERK Volume 19

BERSERK 19

by Kentaro Miura

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Guts has arrived at Albion Monastery to find Caska, accompanied by the young Isidora. Though he finds Lucia and has a lead on Caska, he is too late. The cult who think Casca is their witch has already snagged her. Now he has to race against time to secure Casca before Farnesse and her Holy Iron Chain Knights raid the heretics lair.

Worse, night is about to fall and the evil spirits that swarm around Casca will be searching for hosts. Franesse, her knights, and Guts are in for a fight as demonic spirits surge. And through it all, the eyes continue to watch and the tortures led by Mozgus continue to brutalize their captives.

Evil builds at Albion as night falls. The trap has been laid and snaps shut.

19 is a wild ride. You are right there with Guts, so hopeful that he’s finally found Casca only for the cowardly Nina to ruin everything. Miura does a great job in this volume from the action, to Guts’s duel with Serpico on the ledge. The action is building as the various characters are all thrust into the crucible. Isidora shows his mettle, too.

Then the real action begins. Miura has our characters in peril. He has you wanting to read more. Volume 19 propels the story forward and leaves you wanting more. I want to dive right into volume 20! If you’re a fan of fantasy, you should check out the BERSERK graphic novel series!

You can buy BERSERK Vol 19 from Amazon.

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Review: Higurashi Cotton Drifting Arc 1

Higurashi Cotton Drifting Arc 1

Story by Ryukishio7

Art by Yutori Houjyou

Reviewed by JMD Reid

“I cannot quench your thirst,

because you who want the truth will not acknowledge it.

I cannot quench your thirst,

because the truth you hope for doesn’t exist.

Even so, I want to quench your thirst,

because I am the one who left you in the desert.”

—Frederica Bernkastel

Once again, the poem starting off this series hints that this Frederica is behind what is going on in the story, but that she feels bad for the people. What is going on?

Good question. Last volume, Keiichi Maebara, a newly transferred teenager to the sleepy mountain village of Hinamizawa, beat his two friends, Rena and Mion, to death when they become demons trying to inject him with a syringe. Shortly after, he died by clawing out his own throat trying to get the truth out.

How does this volume start? Back at the beginning.

Keiichi Maebara just moved to Hinamizawa three weeks ago. He’s made friends with some of the local girls: Rena, Satako, Rika, and Mion. They play games. Have fun. They are close-knit so fast. It plays out so similar to how the story began.

Except this time, while playing a game at store in the nearby town, Keiichi makes a fateful choice. He gives a doll to Rena, thinking the tomboy Mion doesn’t like girly things. That off-handed comment set in a chain of events that leads to a different story than last time.

Soon Keiichi meets “Shion,” a girl claiming to be Mion’s twin sister but is a girlier version of her. Suspecting Mion is pretending to be someone else to act more like a girl, he plays along with it, enchanted by her beauty.

Other than that, things are playing out the same. The Cotton Drifting Festival approaches and Keiichi learns about the annual murder/disappearance, known as Oyashiro’s Curse. One person is killed, and the other is demoned away. As a glowing dread builds, Keiichi and his friends look forward to the festival with “Shion” eager to join the fun.

After the end of the last arc, I had so many questions. Where would it go? Would it follow new characters, or would it track one of the survivors as they struggled to uncover what happened to Keiichi, Mion, and Rena. What I didn’t expect was for everything to reset.

The summer of 1983 in Hinamizawa is playing groundhogs day. Keiichi and his friends have no idea that it’s going on. But there are differences playing out. How will that effect it? What is causing it to happen? Is it part of Oyashiro’s Curse? Or is something else at play.

The questions are dancing in your mind. A mystery is begging for answers, driving you to keep following the story to find out what is going on. That is the beauty of Higurashi. Even better, as the story unfolds, it’s clear that the creator thought of these questions. He had answers for them when he created it. This isn’t an empty mystery box, but a story with substance.

So just keep with it and know that answers will come, eventually. And until then, speculate away and try to figure out what is going on.

You can buy Higurashi Cotton Drifting Arc 1 from Amazon.

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Review: Higurashi Abducted by the Demon Arc 2

Higurashi Abducted by the Demon Arc 2

Story by Ryukishio7

Story by Karin Suzuragi

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Keiichi Maebra, a teenage boy who recently moved to the sleepy village of Hinamizawa in the mountains of Japan, fears he might be murdered. The village has a dark reputation. Beneath it’s picturesque exterior, rumors of a man-eating demon lurk. A demon the villagers aid in its mission of protecting their villagers.

Outsiders have to be sacrificed to it, and Keiichi’s new friends, the girls Mion and Rena, might not be humans like he thought. They might be demons wanting to murder him. He’ll have to find the evidence to prove what is going on and defend his life before he’s the next person demoned away.

The paranoia and fear escalate. Rena especially seems to transition from her normal, cute girl persona to a demonic, cat-eyed demon. She goes from taunting Keiichi to wanting him dead, demanding to know his secrets. The art gets crazy, capturing Keiichi’s terror along with transforming the young Rena into something monstrous and terrifying.

And when you know the secret of the series, these scenes only become more tragic. The clues are there, little speckles at the true story, but that first time you read it, you’re left stunned. How did this happen? It all started so fun, so light-hearted. Keiichi, Mion, and Rena were such good friends. They were playful and innocent.

And then syringe and the baseball bat.

At the end, you’re wondering how this series can continue? Where could it possibly go after this ending. Where it goes only makes this series more intriguing. The story may seem over, but it is far, far from complete.

You can buy Higurashi Abducted by the Demon Arc 2 from Amazon.

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Review: Higurashi Abducted by the Demon Arc 1

Higurashi Abducted by the Demon Arc 1

Story by Ryukishio7

Story by Karin Suzuragi

Reviewed by JMD Reid

“Please don’t be sad,

Even if the world doesn’t forgive you, I will forgive you.

Please don’t be sad,

Even if you don’t forgive the world, I will forgive you.

So please tell me,

What shall I do so that you’ll forgive me.”

—Frederica Bernkastel

If you know the story the above poem that opens the series is stunning. Who is Frederica Bernkastel? What is going on in his series? You’ll have to read to find out.

Keiichi Maebara is newly transferred to the sleepy mountain village of Hinamizawa in the summer of 1983. He’s quickly made friends with some of the local girls, Rena, Satako, Rika, and their leader, Mion. He feels like he has a new life. A new start from living in the city of Tokyo.

But there is something dark lurking beneath the surface of Hinamizawa, a dangerous past that his new friends are hiding from him. Why don’t they want him to know the truth of the village? What are the concealing from him?

As Keiichi discovers more of the village, can he truly trust his new friends? Are Rena and Mion wanting to protect him, or are they setting him up to be the next victim?

Higurashi is a rather interesting story. IT starts out light and fun, the characters introduced well. They have a fun atmosphere, hyper-competitive but in a good-hearted way. You can see that they know each other and are welcoming the newcomer Keiichi.

And then he hears rumors about the village’s past. Suddenly his friends are acting weird. A sense of unease slowly pervades the story. Paranoia steps in as things grow more and more dire. The story has a mystery that keeps you reading while the characters keep you engaged. What is going on? What will happen? Are Rena and Mion truly his friends, or are they something else?

These questions will be begging to be answered over the course of this manga.

The art is great, bouncing between the playful to the tense with skill. The artist captures both with ease. If you’ve played the doujin visual novel this is based off of, you’ll see the story is being faithfully adapted.

Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni is one of the best mystery series in Japanese pop culture. Whether it’s the anime, the original doujin novels, or this manga series, it’s worth checking out!

You can buy Higurashi Abducted by the Demon Arc 1 from Amazon.

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Review: BERSERK 11

BERSERK 11

by Kentaro Miura

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The Band of the Hawk, thanks to Guts’s help, have rescued Griffith from the Midland dungeons. But their ones handsome and charismatic leader has been reduced to a scarred, shriveled shell. Every tendon in his body severed, his tongue removed, the flesh almost wasted from his body. He’ll never command an army or ride into war. The dream of their mercenary band rising again looks futile.

And they’re not even out of danger. The King of Midland has unleashed Wyld and his Black Dog Knights, a band of savages who spread brutal suffering wherever they go. They are on the hunt for Griffith. Nothing will stop them from their rampage.

But Wyld is not like other men. When Guts turns to face him, he feels that terror fill him as if he stands before Zodd or the Knight of Skeleton. Wyld is no man. Once again, Guts has to fight another demon. Will he have the strength to win this time?

Well, yes, we know that. The one thing we don’t know from reading this series is the fate of everyone else. What happens to Caska, Pippin, Rickert, Juduea, and the rest of the Band of the Hawk. What led to the tragedy of the now-broken Griffith becoming the demonic Godhand we met earlier in the story. Is it Wyld that unleashes these changes, or is it something else to come?

BERSERK is building towards that promised moment that turned Guts into the Black Swordsman and Griffith into the demonic god Femto. The stakes are rising, the tension is building, and the characters we’ve grown to care for over the last eight or nine volumes are about to be put into the crucible.

The eclipse awaits.

Miura is a master at storytelling. Wyld is a disgusting and loathsome creature, just like the other apostles we met in the beginning of this story (and who had cameo appearances in the last volume). We start to learn just what they are. Do as you will. These are men that appear unbound from the currents of fate, free to act as they will at the behest of dark gods.

But do their actions only further a greater plan? Does Guts’s struggle actually only benefit the very entities he seeks to destroy? BERSERK is a great series that asks such deep and hard questions. It’s a manga unlike few others. It has true depths to the characters, true heart in its pages. Fans of fantasy, especially grimdark fantasy, will find a tale that will captivate them.

You can buy BERSERK Vol 11 from Amazon.

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Review: BERSERK 9

BERSERK 9

by Kentaro Miura

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Guts has left the Band of the Hawk to find his own dream. He wants to stand as Griffith equal as his friend. But Griffith needs Guts. He’s the one person Griffith truly trusts, perhaps even loves. Losing Guts has sent Griffith reeling. Needing to take control of his dream, he sneaks into Princess Charlotte’s bedroom.

The naive princess, in love with Griffith, surrenders her virginity to him. Lost in the throes of passion, Griffith can only think about Guts. It is the beginning of the end for Griffith’s dream. He is caught sneaking out of her room and thrown in the dungeon. The king, jealous that his daughter would rather have a commoner than himself, orders Griffith tortured to death.

The Band of the Hawk, oblivious to Griifith arrest, assemble for their morning muster. Unarmed, they are attacked by the king’s army.

Guts has no idea any of this has happened. He’s on his own quest and has a sinister encoutner with the Knight of Skeleton. In one year, Guts’s is told, everyone he knows shall perish. Sacrificed.

Miura really upsets the apple cart with this one. Up until the end of the last volume, Griffith has never had a loss. He’s never made a mistake. He has defeated everyone except Guts. What should be a little hiccup in his plan instead chokes it away. It is over. He’s imprisoned and tortured. His army is decimated.

And a moan whose lost everything is a desperate men.

The prophecy given only makes us, the reader, aware that what we saw in those early volumes will soon come to passed. We’ve wondered what could make Griffith sacrifice his loyal army. Sacrifice Guts, who had become his friend. Now we see. The pieces are falling into place. The story marches on with a tragic pace even as it has moments of joy.

The stuff between Guts and Caska at the end of the volume are some of the best scenes in BERSERK. The pair have slowly been opening up their wounded souls to each other. One moment of happiness before we head into the horrors of the eclipse.

Miura masterpiece continues to unfold! If you’ve watched the original Anima from the 90s, then you’re already starting to see the divergence with the character of Silat, who plays a big role in about twenty volumes, being introduced here. The art continues to be great. The characters are complex and full of pain and hopes, dreams and joys.

If you love fantasy, especially grimdark fantasy, then you need to read this graphic novel series! Don’t be put off by the violence. There is a truly powerful story being told.

You can buy BERSERK Vol 9 from Amazon.

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Review: BERSERK 7

BERSERK 7

by Kentaro Miura

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Guts and Caska have been separated from the rest of the Band of the Hawk, swept down river after Caska’s collapse. Being a soldier is hard enough without the added burdens of PMS, and Caska isn’t at one hundred percent. That doesn’t matter as the bellicose lord Guts injured has put out a bounty on the pair.

An company of mercenaries, over a hundred strong, are sweeping through the woods. Caska and Guts will have to fight back to back to survive. Right now, Caska can’t afford to be a woman. She needs to be a soldier. A sword for Griffith. Will they survive?

This manga continues Caska’s story of young girl sold into sexual slavery to warrior who seized her own destiny in hand and defended her virtue from her would-be rapist. Now once again she has to fight to protect not only herself, but the one person in the Band of the Hawks she cannot stand.

The one person in the Band of the Hawks that Griffith cares for.

The character building in this volume is amazing, from showing us the humanity of Griffith as he faces the cost of his dream, to the realization that though he’ll sacrifice even his own body to see it through, he won’t stop. Even if means causing more death and suffering. The parallels drawn by Miura are amazing.

The art as always continues to be great and detailed. The characters all have personality. The violence is gritty but particularly satisfying in this volume. Miura has given us some great characters to loath in Corbowitz and his men while leaving us on a cliffhanger.

BERSKER continues to shine! It is one of the best Fantasy (and definitely among the greats of Grimdark Fantasy) on the market. Even if you’re not a fan of manga (graphic novels), you have to check out this amazing work.

You can buy BERSERK Vol 7 from Amazon.

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Book Review: BERSERK 3

BERSERK 3

by Kentaro Miura

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Guts, the Black Swordsman, lies battered and near death at the hands of the transformed, demonic count. Guts’s quest of vengeance might have finally found an enemy he can’t defeated. Battered, many bones broken, he struggles to stand to fight. Only the arrival of the counts young daughter, the one person the monster doesn’t want to see his inhuman form, has saved Guts.

But for how much long will that last?

He’ll have only one chance to defeat the count. He might be broken. He might only be human, but Guts has a will that will carry him through to his desire. He will crush all that stands before him no matter the cost to himself or others.

Miura continues to peel back Guts’s backstory in this one. We finally learn who he wants to destroy and catch a glimpse of his past life with the enigmatic Griffith know turned into one of the demonic Godhand who oversee monsters like the count.

Emotion swirls through this one. Miura explores how love can feed a hate so black it can destroy the person you most love and then show how that same emotion can overcome a fear so profound that it gives even a loathsome monster a chance to do something right. To make one positive choice after seven years of perversion.

This volume is all about revealing the past of Guts, showing us the steps on the road of how he became the near-inhuman monster he is, cloaked in so much rage and hatred that his humanity can only come out in a single moment. As Vargas in the last volume was a mirror of Guts’s physical body, Theresia, the count’s daughter, is a mirror of his soul. That innocence that has been perverted by rage and anger, twisted and destroyed, leaving something else behind.

I would really like for Theresia to make a reappearance in the story.

The manga ends with flashing back to the beginning of Guts. Miura shows us right there in his origin why Guts is still alive. How in a world where “transcendental fate” rules all, that he survived the sacrifice, that he continues to kill the demons. Because Guts side-stepped his fate from the moment of birth.

The manga leaves us eager to read more of how this abused boy grew up into the Black Swordsman.

You can buy BERSERK Vol 3 from Amazon.

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