Tag Archives: the band of the hawk

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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