Tag Archives: griffith

Review: BERSERK 13

BERSERK 13

by Kentaro Miura

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The demonic horde has been unleashed upon the Band of the Hawk. Griffith has sacrificed his former followers to achieve his dream. While he incubates to become a dark god, Guts, Caska, and the rest battle for their survival.

But the odds are against them. Nightmarish monsters abound. They are all hungry for the feast. The hundreds of soldiers, the best trained army in Midland, are no match for their foes. One by one they fall. Familiar faces we’ve come to love perish one by one until it’s only Guts and Caska left.

Guts’s fury carries him far, but even he has finally found his limits here. In the nightmare, forced to watch as Griffith is reborn and comes to ravish Caska. Pinned by demon, his arm ripped off, his eye blind, we finally see the moment that births the Black Swordsman.

A man impotent to save the woman he loves from being destroyed by the man he once thought of as his friend. Thirteen volumes have built up to this moment. We have finally arrived at what shaped Guts into that cold, murderous beast at the start hunting demons, searching for Griffith to enact his vengeance.

Everything good in Guts’s life was snuffed out in a moment. By the selfish choice of one man. And now Guts only has his rage to fuel him. Though he’ll survive the eclipse, he’ll be forever trapped in the boundary between life and death. Can he ever get vengeance?

Can he ever move on with his life?

Will his rage destroy him?

BERSERK continues to astound and amazed. The depth of the characters and writing shines here. It’s powerful to witness it all come undone. How it flows towards this one moment. It feels almost inevitable. Fate has made its decree and though Guts has defied it for now, can he defy it forever. As Slan says, “A fish jumping out to the fiver does little more than ripple the surface.”

If you’re not reading BERSERK, you should be. This story is breathtaking in its scope and themes.

You can buy BERSERK Vol 13 from Amazon.

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Review: BERSERK 12

BERSERK 12

by Kentaro Miura

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The eclipse has arrived. The moment the series has been building towards: what happened to turn Guts into the Black Swordsman and Griffith into the demonic Femto. After losing everything, his body tortured and mutilated, his tongue removed, denied the ability to command his Band of the Hawk, Griffith faces a hopeless future as an invalid being cared for by Caska.

What future is that for a poor orphan who dreamed of being a king? Of attaining that castle on the hill? He came so close. If it wasn’t for one man. If it wasn’t for Guts, the only person to ever make Griffith waver from his dream.

The only person to ever make Griffith weak.

No, before the Godhand, the demonic entities that create the apostles, he’s given a choice. Sacrifce Guts and the surviving Band of the Hawk, or let all those deaths, all those boys who perished, in service of attaining his dream be for nothing. He has one last chance to attain it. It just requires a few more sacrifices.

Then he’ll never be weak again.

We know how this ends. Mirua already showed us that Guts survives and that Griffith makes the choice. Now we just have to learn what happens next. Are their others? Will Caska, the woman Guts loves, survive, too?

The feast of the eclipse has began.

This is one of the most powerful pieces of fantasy out there. The images convey the emotions, while the character and story drives it forward. Miura has crafted these characters, built them so that when we got to this point, we understand what we read before. Why Guts is fueled by rage and anger, why he’s so desperate not to just kill Griffith, but to be noticed by him. We understand who Griffith is and what leads him to make that terrible choice.

In a world of cause and effect, where free will is an illusion, Griffith had no choice to make. His dream was at hand. Circumstances had reduced him to a pitiful state but hadn’t robbed him of his drive to keep fighting. His will remains intact. His rationale is in place to commit such a horrific act.

Volume 12 and 13 are why BERSERK is a masterpiece of not only graphic novels, but modern fantasy in general.

You can buy BERSERK Vol 12 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 10

BERSERK 10

by Kentaro Miura

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The Band of the Hawk, rejoined by Guts, are ready to break Griffith out of jail. With the aid of Princess Charlotte, still in love with Griffith even after a year of his imprisonment, is willing to defy her father to save him. With Guts at the lead, Caska and the others venture into the dungeons.

But what will they find in the darkest cell? It has been a year of torture for Griffith. Will they even find the same man they once followed? Or will they merely find a broken shell, so brutalized he’ll be an invalid for the rest of his life.

As the Band ventures deeper, dark things move through the world. Something is gathering. A year ago, Guts was given a prophesy. The eclipse is coming, and the evil in the world coalesces to celebrate.

Not only does Volume 10 have some powerful imagery in it, it does more to further the back story and set up so many theories about just what is going on with the Godhand, the enigmatic Knight of Skeleton, and more in this one chapter. Are we witnessing a cycle that happened a thousand years ago played out again? Maybe?

What does that mean for the future of the series? So many great theories out there.

The story continues to be incredible. The artwork captures the emotions, from the helpless suffering of Griffith, the determination of the sheltered princess, and the rage of Guts as he does the only thing he’s good at: swings his sword. The characters and art continues to excel. The passion bleeds off the page. This is writing and art mixed together to make something amazing, something only found in the medium of the comic.

If you’re a fan of fantasy, especially the grimdark subgenre, you have to check out this novel. Fans of Bakker, Abercrombie, and Erikson will find so much in this series!

You can buy BERSERK Vol 10 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 8

BERSERK 8

by Kentaro Miura

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Griffith has gambled everything on his Band of the Hawk taking the impregnable Doldrey Castle. If his mercenaries can’t prevail against the indomitable Holy Purple Rhino Knights and their skilled commander, they are doomed. Guts is at a disadvantage. His sword, damaged from fighting the hundred mercenaries a few weeks ago, has shattered. He faces off against the enemy general armed only with a knife.

His death seems inevitable. But Guts isn’t the type of man to give up.

Inside the castle, Caska has lead in her soldiers in a surprise attack to seize the fortress while most of the defenders are trying to capture Griffith. However, she has come across the very man who offered the bounty on her life. She’ll have to defeat the treacherous Count Corbowitz to win the day for her and her men.

If Griffith plan succeeds, he and his men will be hailed as heroes, delivering the final blow that will end the hundred year war, if they fail…

Miura plunges us into the action in this part as well as the characters. The past few volumes have built up for the climax of this action. Guts has grown from that haunted youth fighting to hide the vulnerable pain in his heart to a man wanting to stand on his own two feet. Not to follow Griffith, but to be his friend and equal. Miura shows the changes in his character in those final moments, mirroring a scene from earlier.

It’s an incredible journey to be had and when you finish this manga, you have to be wandering if this was the moment that changed everything. Is this what lead to that future where Guts is the maimed and scarred Black Swordsman hunting down the inhuman Griffith. The calm, mature man we see in his volume lost to the rage and hatred of a many utterly betrayed. Of a man who only has vengeance.

Miura was smart to show us that future. To let us know where these characters end up and have us wonder how that could possibly happen. Griffith is a driven man, but he’s not heartless. He cares about his soldiers even as he’s willing to spend their lives for his ambition.

The art continues to be great. The action and the characters continue to shine. From fear, to passion, to determination all is captured in Miura’s detailed art. BERSERK continues to impress and amaze me!

You can buy BERSERK Vol 8 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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Review: BERSERK 6

BERSERK 6

by Kentaro Miura

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Thanks to Griffith’s leadership, and Zodd retreating from the battlefield after delivering his prophecy to Guts, the Band of the Hawk find themselves heroes. Griffith has the recognition of the king himself while attracting the notice of the king’s young daughter, Princess Charlotte. But such rise in station makes enemies.

While Guts just wants to swing his sword and fight, the Band of the Hawk find themselves in lesser guard duty, protecting Griffith from the machinations swirling around them. Griffith has only one person he trusts to carry out his darker deeds.

Guts will have to become more than a swordsman. But so long as his friend Griffith needs him, he’s happy. Content where he is. Can he stay that way forever? Is he truly Griffith’s friend, or does Griffith expect?

Volume 6 brims with political intrigue and poignant moments. Guts clutching the dying boy’s hand is moving and harrowing at the same time, but the most pivotal moment in the entire series, the catalyst for the train of events that leads to the Black Swordsman happens in this book, in a conversation between Griffith and Princess Charlotte. His words to her will spark something in Guts.

Miura continues to develop his characters in this volume, with Caska getting her backstory fleshed out. We get to see another layer to Griffith. He’s a complex character, still possessing his a boyish playfulness that seems at odds with his cold, ruthless tactics. His charisma shines through even when he’s giving orders that lead to more violence and death.

He has a dream, and he won’t let anything stop him from reaching it. Not even the Band of the Hawk, his loyal followers.

If you’re not reading one of the masters of Grimdark Fantasy, you should be! Berserk is no simple tale. It’s not playful and light like many Japanese Manga. It’s rooted deep in Western storytelling and setting, with mature themes that resonate with the truths they tell.

You can buy BERSERK Vol 6 from Amazon.

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Review: BERSERK 4

BERSERK 4

by Kentaro Miura

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Before Guts became the Black Swordsman, he was just a boy raised by an abusive mercenary. Like a beaten dog, Guts doesn’t know any better. However, his life is changed when he learns just how terrible a father Gambino really is. Guts is sent on a path that leads him right into the path of Griffith.

The man Guts is on a mission to kill in the present. The man who became an inhuman demon of such power that Guts, despite all his vaulted strength and prowess as a demon killer, is nothing more than an insect to. Here, in the fateful encounter during the fall of a castle, Guts discovers what he has been searching for all his life.

And what will send him into such anger and hatred when he loses it.

The Golden Age Arc is underway. It is one of the best parts of Berserk. You know that it is going to end badly. You know that the young, charismatic Griffith who has inspired his loyal Band of the Hawk, is going to do something that changes him and brands Guts as a sacrifice. As we learned in the last volume, to become a demon, you have to sacrifice someone you love. What do you have to sacrifice to become the GOD of the demons?

Miura introduces us to the characters that we’re going to love and hate over the next volumes. The brash and surly Corkus, Casca who gave up being a woman to be a soldier, the quiet by gentle Pippin, the joking and intelligent Judeau, little Rickert eager to help support everyone else. And Griffith himself. BERSERK isn’t just about the violence (which there’s plenty of) or the gore (lot of that), it’s about characters. And Miura is a master at not only giving his characters depths through their dialogue and actions, but through his art itself. He brings these characters to life as he lulls you into a world that you don’t ever want to leave.

But in the back of your mind, you remember what is coming and you ask yourself, how did that happen? Miura is about to show us.

You can buy BERSERK Vol 4 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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