Posted on 29 September 2016 with categories: Berserk(2016), Currently Watching:

I am truly sorry for the delay. I know I know … these excuses are becoming exceedingly homologous of a young student who has been procrastinating on his homework, but I give you my word, for at least what it’s worth, that this is certainly not the case. I have been preoccupied with my pet’s medical condition, and that has taken a toll on my time, wallet, and the ability to focus and attempt to give somewhat of a fair analysis. I thank all of you for your patience and support, and finally will attempt to dive right into the first cour finale, titled ‘Those Who Cling, Those Who Struggle’.

The episode picks up right where the last one left off, with our heroes torch in hand ready to brave the encroaching horror that is engulfing Albion. Down by the courtyard we get one of the last scenes of Luca comforting Nina and once again endangering herself to shelter her. Nina has the bulk of her growth in this very episode, which basically adds up to her accepting her weaknesses and choosing to follow her destiny; wherever that may lead her.

Now we head back over to Guts and company on the ramparts, attempting to ward off the encroaching phantasm. I took extra note of Isidro’s remark regarding the fact that if the miasma is powered by human suffering, then how come the whole world is not already engulfed by such a conglomerate? However, the fact of the matter is that Isidro is still unaware of the significance of the event unfolding at the tower at this particular night; which has rendered the boundary between the physical realm and the astral world especially uncapacious.

Farnese’s whimpering has also become rather grating by this point, but thankfully this will be the turning point for her. What is refreshing though is her newfound admiration for Guts. This follows a trend that has been steadily developing, but as I will explore in my season review this still doesn’t necessarily lead to her becoming a more compelling character in the future. I liked Guts’ remark about not wasting time on prayer, as she will need both of her hands for fighting. This is on the surface referring to the physical gesture of holding hands together during prayer, and also insinuating that any preoccupation with faith and prayer will only detract in a real battle.

At the top of the newly-formed Godhand tower the Egg of the New World is about to hatch. Puck remarks that the mass of souls are all screaming in unison. It is implied that the spirits are all pleading for some form of salvation to come and free them from their hellish existence. Griffith reborn as the Hawk of Light pierces the darkness, and seemingly offers respite to the damned souls; albeit the truth is far more sinister than what meets the eye. Upon the completion of the reincarnation ceremony the tower crumbles and all the ghastly tide retreats back towards the depths of the Vortex.

We get a brief introduction to Schierke, her master Flora, and the female elf Ivalera, as the percussions of the ceremony are felt throughout the land. This is a very significant event in the world of Berserk, and it can be argued that everything since the Eclipse has been leading up to this moment. The new series has also been emphasizing this, by creating a momentum through its pacing that has steadily marched towards this encounter. For such a long build-up and implied preeminence, this moment was handled rather poorly. Any gravity that is present here is mostly achieved through the viewer’s familiarity with the world and the characters, while the contributions of the actual show add up to bot all that much.

The gang’s reunion is interrupted by the appearance of Silat and his Bairaka clansmen. He uses the term “Krishna Sena” to refer to Gut’s party, which upon some research seems to roughly translate to ‘God’s Legion’. This might be a reference to the perceived supernatural circumstances that Silat has come to associate with each of his prior encounters with Guts. We get another action scene, which while short-lasting is still done more competently than some of the previous ones. We get Guts cutting through a whole squad with a single slash, as usual, while Serpico utilizes an interesting triple Remise to neutralize three opponents (this is a fencing move that is achieved by rapid thrusts without withdrawing the sword after each attack). Jerome, Isidro, and even Azan join in the fray, and for a moment we get a glimmer of the harmony that the original Band of the Hawk displayed during the Golden Age.

This continues until Zodd makes his re-entrance. They translated one of the soldier’s remarks regarding Zodd as “Bada”, which I can only assume is a stand-in for the word ‘beast’. Seeing Zodd can only mean one thing: that Griffith is not too far behind, and right on queue- here comes the bride! Guts is about to go full berserker, but seeing the distress in Casca reminds him once again of his priorities, signaling a growth in character that has taken him far past his Black Swordsman days. The Skull Knight also drops in to make this a proper family reunion.

The final section is dedicated to tying up some loose ends, and establishing Guts’ new fellowship. Luca is found to have survived by falling/hiding in a well. This serves as a clear parallel to the old lady who survived the atomic blast in Nagasaki by accidentally tripping into a well, as illustrated by Fred Weiner’s famous 1978 World War II documentary The Unknown War.

We proceed to set up each character’s objective, and this serves as a segue into the inevitable second cour. All in all, this finale was not as bad as I thought it’d be, but to be fair my expectations were very stunted by this point. The whole thing was true to the source material and quite serviceable, but also devoid of much real joy and excitement. Not all of this is the fault of this series however, and I will soon delve into all of that with much more detail in the upcoming season one review. I am already working on that, and aim to make it the most critical and literary analysis of the show as a whole. Thank you for your time and continuous patronage, and stay tuned for a comprehensive look at Berserk 2016.

~Bam~

Posted on 10 September 2016 with categories: Berserk(2016), Currently Watching:

The cold opening retreads the ending of the previous episode, with Casca being set on the pyre. In the spirit of the last few ones, this episode is also quite a fast-paced and action heavy. We have a very brief reintroduction of Zod, which serves more as a cameo than anything of substance. After the opening the series has officially moved unto volume 21 of the manga, covering the final stretch of the Incarnation Ceremony.

We see the Egg Apostle climbing the Tower of Conviction in preparation for becoming the Egg of the Perfect World. It stumbles upon the Demon Child, and resumes to take it in itself out of pity. This chapter delves a lot into the topic of social outcasts, and the alienation that sets in them due to the ostracization. We see this with Mozgus’ elite torturers, Luca’s gang of mistresses, The Egg Apostle, and to some extent the Demon Child itself.  Suffering is a recurring motif in the Berserk saga, and the aforementioned subject is one that comes up quite often. It was a central theme in the Lost Children chapter, which much to fans’ dismay was omitted from this adaptation, as well as the steward of the mansion featured in episode 3 of the tv series.

Isidro proves himself as one of the less useless characters of his stature, actually managing to save Casca from the lynch mob. Diving down that height with a non-elastic rope will realistically result in his spine being snapped in half, but given some of Guts antics this comes off as a really minor gripe. There are a lot of characters featured here that do nothing but stand around and gawk, and with the exception of Jerome and Puck to some extent, Isidro at least manages to be active in the proceedings.

Guts cuts through the soul phantasm and makes his way to the tower, and the effects here are again of especially low quality. The bigger the soulmass gets, the uglier the CG looks. We also see Mozgus transform to his true apostle spawn form, which similar to his regular model is quite unremarkable. The Dragonslayer CLANG! does make sense here, but they really should’ve recorded some more sword sound effects. The entirety of the sound mixing of the series is very sub-par, and only the voice acting is of adequate quality. We hear the Skull Knight’s voice-over during the first part of Guts and Mozgus’ battle, and this also comes off as unnecessary since it’s just a reiteration of the same thing he was telling Guts in their earlier encounter.

We see the masses praising Mozgus as an angel who will deliver their salvation, and throughout this whole episode their sheepish nature is highlighted over and over again. I was never a big fan of this trope, and it just happens to be a quite reoccurring theme in anime. Speaking of tropes, Mozgus is saved by his bible, but the somewhat interesting point here is that he is not evil for evil’s sake, but a very misguided true believer. What is absurd however, is that Mozgus is not only adept at using his brand new apostle form and its abilities, but has also somehow managed to name his moves in the little time that he’s had. Guts finishes Mozgus off in a resourceful way, and it was good to see that they included the little detail of him guarding against the explosion the very last second.

Nina continues to be annoying, and I was glad that she was quickly written out of the episode. Guts and Luca are the only characters who remain reasonable throughout this chapter, and their dialogue is pretty much the only interesting ones. This is a problem with the manga as well, and another sad reminder of the superiority of characters and writing during the Golden Age Arc. On that front, there is a sad tender embrace between Guts and a reluctant Casca, which manages to be a brief but poignant moment, although admittedly not by virtue of execution, but rather relying on the backstory of the characters.

Down by the bottom of the tower Azan is engaged in a brave but foolish struggle, and after Mozgus’ demise the ceremony is now well underway. We see that the gang equip themselves with torches, and Farnese finally moves to reassure us that she hasn’t turned into a complete CGI statue. This part is just developing her disillusionment with her faith, and the payoff doesn’t arrive until after the ceremony. There is a quick mention of Serpico not being too fond of fire, which is a nice little nod to later in the story.

This was a fast but utterly unremarkable episode, since the action sequences in the series are not at all handled proficiently. The next episode is “Those Who Cling, Those Who Struggle” and appears to be the final episode of this cour. It is not clear if they are going for a continuous 24 episode season or two separate cours, but I am guessing that there will be a break after the next episode. Well at least things will be a bit clearer by next week, so we’ll have to wait and see where we are headed.

~Bam~

Posted on 8 September 2016 with categories: Berserk(2016), Currently Watching:

Greeting my fellow Berserkers. I know it’s been quite a while since the last post, and it is understandable if you thought that the series has been once again dropped from the blog. But I gave my word that I will see this to the end, and well intend to keep that promise. I originally planned to cover every single episode with its own separate entry, but after completing episode 9’s review came to the realization that due to the action-oriented nature and fast pacing of the episode it became a much shorter post than the previous ones. Hence I planned to do a multi-review that covered both episodes 9 and 10. But between the premier on Friday and tonight I had a series of setbacks that caused another unforeseen delay, and pushed the whole thing back over a few days. But better late than never I guess, so here’s the review to at least catch us up before the release of the semi-final episode.

The Ninth episode starts off with the high priest informing Farnese of her orders to withdraw. We get the Vandimion namedrop yet again, and aside from backstory, this also serves to illustrate the great influence of her family in both the affairs of Midland, as well as the Holy see. The Vandimion family is a noble house of Vritannis, which happens to be the seat of the Holy See.  Their standing with the church allows her father to demand her return from the perceivable dangerous situation in Albion. She is hesitant of leaving, and snaps on Serpico, who she rightfully believes to have spied on her on behalf of her father. She hates losing control, and relieves her stress by going off on the only person who would unconditionally follow her.  Yet as events unfold she won’t get the chance to comply to her father’s will, even if she was convinced of doing so.

As mozgus tries to “cleanse” Casca in the iron maiden, all hell breaks loose within the basement of the tower, prompting everyone to flee towards the higher levels. The CG used here for the animation of the ectoplasm is actually effective, as it gives the entity an unnatural ghastly quality. It also features a violet hue, which admittedly lightens up the scene quite a bit. Guts, having just entered the tower, kidnaps the only person of authority which he happens to recognize right away, and Farnese is forced to come face-to-face with the source of her misery. It’s strange how Serpico would miss this, given his established sagacity up to this point. Guts doesn’t give Farnese much time to ramble, and again showcasing his ability to make any scene more enjoyable by vicariously carrying out the sentiments of the viewer.

Next we get the displeasure of another scene with Nina wallowing in her misery. These are taken directly from the manga, and although the series has been keeping them brief, they always come off as slightly irritating, to say the least. And then again on mark, Luca comes to her rescue, surely making everyone wish they had someone like her to care for them. At least Nina is aware of her undeserving kindness, making her a bit more sympathetic. She might seem like a hopeless failure, but to be fair, who wouldn’t despair faced with such dire circumstances. Jerome is featured here as well, serving as a reminder that not all knights of the Iron Chain serve the same unreasonable sadistic ideals. Berserk is a mixed bag of characters who inherit different levels of depth and likeability, but at least they are not all made of the same simple mold.

Down in the basement we see that Mozgus is not being so rational, and challenging the creeping phantasm with a ‘come at me bro!’ level of bravado. There’s a quickflash of the Egg Apostle, as he stings Mozgus and his elite torturers with the protruding stingers. I’ve noticed that some viewers had various degrees of confusion regarding this, so I try to clarify the point: Mozgus and the torturers were not apostles. They were just ruthless tools of the Holy See, and it is this quick instance of injection that sires them to the level of Apostle Spawns; similar to the Great Goat of the cave cult. The next scene features a pillar of flame that blasts thru the gate of the cell, which much to my surprise, was animated traditionally.

Luca’s sacrifice of letting go in order to spare Nina, is just one more attempt at resurrecting the proverbial horse so it can be beaten to death once again. Her rescue by the Skull Knight might be a nice surprise to tv viewers, and hence a nice little development. The term she actually uses to describe Skull Knight is ‘Shinigami’, which they translated to “death” in the subs, but most anime fans will recognize to actually mean the Japanese entities known to be gods of death, comparable to the western grim reaper. Given his visage and abilities, I don’t really blame her.

Episode 10 starts off with Guts facing off against the newly-transformed Mozgus party. We’re now starting volume 20 of the manga, again reminding us of how fast the new series has been adapting the manga. I always enjoyed the designs of the Mozgus Apsotle Spawns, but the CG depletes a lot of that charm by obscuring details and making all models simple and symmetric. The undertone of evil beings with angelic features is one that has a longstanding tradition within the Berserkverse, and quite frankly one of the more interesting and subversive aspects of the original manga. This has somewhat been diminished by time and latter imitation, yet it is a testament to the potency of Miura’s iconic style.

After a quick scuffle between the Egg Apostle and the Skull Knight, we see it retreat while managing to snatch Luca at the last moment. I feel that Skull Knight’s hesitation to follow is due to the desire of tracking its lair, and reassuring of its purpose. The Apostle brings Luca to a creepily romantic candlelit vigil by the foot of a Hawk idol made from disposed bodies. It then proceeds to confide in her his backstory as a rejected feral child, that upon coming into the possession of a Behelit, offered the world as a sacrifice in exchange of becoming the Egg of the New World. I personally envisioned him as a twisted child, so it was a bit jarring at first to hear Hiroyuki Yoshino’s voice coming out of him. If he sounds familiar it’s because you have most certainly heard him as a VA in one series or another; given that you’ve watched more than a few anime series. He has done everything from Meow in Space Dandy, to Favaro in Rage of the Bahamut. It doesn’t take long to get used to this however, and instead intrigued by the peculiar order of events that has led to this moment. There is more than just coincidence at work here, and I will hopefully get much deeper into that in the following reviews. Last thing of note in this sequence is the Skull Knight swallowing the Behelit, which comes into play at a crucial moment much further down the line

Next we are taken back to the Tower of Conviction, as a heated battle is taking place between a lonesome Black Swordsman and the entirety of the Mozgus party. This is old news to Souls fans, but I’ll take the moment to note that the original inspirations for the Titanite Catch Pole, Saw Cleaver, and the Logarius’ Wheel are all featured here within the same shot. The choreography is actually nice, but again the editing does its best to make the fight as incomprehensible and disjointed as possible. I will give credit however, that in this one instance the infamous Dragonlayer CLANG! Is used in the right situation for once, as the blade violently clashes against the breaking wheel. The beating that Guts endures after that is frankly quite ridiculous, as that places his durability even beyond some of the Apsotles that we’ve seen in the series, let alone an already beaten up human being. Guts has been brutalized so many times that an X-ray of his chest will resemble that of a suitcase full of dog-treats under the airport’s luggage scanner. Unfortunately this will only get worse as the story continues. The use of the handcannon although predictable, is always satisfying. I however was incredibly disappointed at their portrayal of Guts’ signature canon-spinning-slash, which was damn near impossible to discern through the horrible editing.

Finally, we get to see the camp dissolve into chaos, as the encroaching evil makes it a hellscape that holds back no punches. This escalating horror and familiar imagery is a clear indication of what is about to take place here. We see Mozguz boasting about his powers that he deems as ‘divine’ and calls out for Casca’s burning at the stake to uproot the evil. Unfortunately the CGI phantasm looks much less pleasing here, as the bigger size stretches the textures to a bare minimum. Mozgus says he will be granted a “miracle to defeat the Hawk’s power”. I saw people confused about this line, since the Holy See idolizes the Hawk as a sign of the divinity. They have done a poor job at explaining, but the religion believes in the duality of good and evil, and envision a Hawk of Darkness that stands in opposition to the will of the Hawk of Light. That is what Mozgus is referring to in this instance.

The episode comes to an end as Guts realizes the nature of what is about to happen, and slashes past the augurs of the Godhand to rush and save Casca. I was lucky, as these two episodes were of very equal pacing, content and overall quality. The tone has slightly improved, but continues to be hit-and–miss, with great disparity in quality from scene to scene. I still believe that the use of traditional animation has been on a steady rise, but this only makes the switch to basic CGI models that much more jarring. The next episode is titled “The Shadows of Ideas”, and appears to be the first half of this cour’s finale. This would be a good chance at another dual review, but due to the tardiness of my last few posts I will cover the next episode separately as soon as possible. Expect things to heat up even more, as we move towards the climax of this entire arc. Let’s all hope that it manages to surprise us, and shine a redeeming glimmer of light on the show, instead of further derailing its quality.

 

Posted on 20 August 2016 with categories: Berserk(2016), Currently Watching:

Episode 8 starts with a cold opening that retreads the fateful rendezvous of Guts and Casca. I actually thought that this was a good move, as this is a very big moment in the overall story of the last few arcs. After the Golden Age section we get very few deep character moments, and a lot of the pathos of the story has been replaced by mere action. I’ll take the time to reiterate my opinion that the Golden Age Arc is quite honestly the very best part of the story. The focus on the characters and their relations, combined with the world building which masterfully portrays a dark fantasy realm that borders close to our own, yet at the same time concealing an inundation of supernatural evil slithering under the surface, are what have made Berserk the masterpiece that it is. After the events of the Eclipse a lot of that imperative was washed away, and replaced by a revenge story which is heavy on plot, yet slim on thought-provoking ideas with deep emotional impact. This little scene of reunion hearkens back to those glory days, even if ever slightly so.

All that said, after the opening we are thrown right back into the action. The fight choreography is taken directly from the manga, but turned up a few notches. As intricate and detailed as Miura’s drawings are, it’s still sometimes hard to follow his action panels. Compared to Tezuka, or the more contemporary mangaka such as Naoki Urasawa and Takehiko Inoue, Miura’s panels seem to be displaying the key frames, and leaving out the dynamics of the action to the readers’ imagination. So at least here we get a more direct interpretation of the fight scene, which while completely sufficient, fails to really enhance on its source, as say a studio like Ufotable would’ve managed to do. We even get the near miss of Guts almost losing his only functioning eye, but he manages to use a little bit of strategy to neutralize the Goat before resorting back to brute force and finishing the job.

We next get to see Farnese using the situation to try and kill two birds with one stone, and coercing the troops of taking care of Guts along with the rest of the ghouls.  Azan tries to be the voice of reason, but is soon shut down, and being well aware of his rank, simply continues to follow the orders. Azan reminds me of a certain knight in Final Fantasy IX named Steiner, who while taking himself seriously, is still relegated to comic relief; although both characters aren’t exactly push-overs.

It’s brought to Farnese’s attention that Serpico is missing. This leads in to our next action set-piece, which proves to be a bit more personal. This duel has been long in the making, since although Serpico has no qualms with Guts, his devotion to Farnese compels him to remove the threat that has been plaguing her mind. There also seems to be a bit of a clash of egos at work here. Serpico is a pragmatist, using the best tactic to set up the match to his advantage, with no apparent regard for honor. He has always somewhat reminded me of Griffith, and I think the parallels are too striking to be completely coincidental. The fast fighting style, the cunning calculation, the pride, all point to a resemblance in their world-view and personality.

The narrow landing prevents Guts from drawing his sizeable weapon, but he isn’t particularly new to being in the corner either, and starts the face-off with a flurry of arrows and explosives. Serpico manages to regain his footing and then precedes to send a wave of rapid thrusts. Guts catching the rapier’s blade with his hand is again reminiscent to the surprising way he caught Griffith off-guard by biting the edge of his sword. Looking at the hilt of Serpico’s rapier, it resembles a German Pappenheimer, which means contrary to common belief the blade is not only pointed for thrust attacks, but also edged for slashing. It’s also somewhat historically accurate that such fine rapiers were often quite brittle; making the shattering of it not much beyond the realm of possibility.

Down in the valley we have Farnsese going off on her men. The prospect of Guts surviving is taking a toll on her, and we see her scabbard-smashing her men in front of a concerned crowd of knights. On the other side we see that Guts nearly pushed to the same limits over Isidro losing Casca, but he manages to subside his rage. I feel that this is in part due to what took place at Godo’s house, and how this situation was quite similar to his unwarranted outburst against poor Rickert.

At the end, the gang heads towards the Tower of Conviction, as the Skull Knight vague ramblings foretell an ominous encounter. Inside we get a glimpse of Nina and Casca, and a small window into Uncle Mozguz’ House of Terror.  The stage is set, and the pieces are assembled. The next Episode is titled Blood Flow of the Dead, so I’m guessing that it will be the first part to a double, or perhaps triple, episode, that will be covering the main part of the chapter we’ve been waiting for. These recent episodes have been following the manga extremely closely, and all the while moving at quite a rapid pace. My only issue is still the execution, and how the show has yet to go beyond what they are directly drawing from. One could only hope that there is some budget being set aside for a more memorable finale, and at least now we can anticipate the trajectory of the rest of this cour. Until next Friday and more Berserk, stay tuned my friends.

~Bam~

Posted on with categories: Berserk(2016), Currently Watching:

I apologize for this very late review, but due to circumstances I didn’t have the means of watching the episode, and hence the week-long delay. I’ll try to at least leave a notification in case of such issues in the future, but otherwise will try to keep the posts steady. So let’s get right to it, shall we?

We get a recap of the ending scene of last episode, with the Demon Child warding off the spirits, and in turn making Casca the hailed princess of the cult. It appears that in these times of desperation, the cult members cling to anything that they can praise as a deity. The noteworthy thing here is that Casca shows a maternal instinct for the Child, as she tries to reach for it before it disappears. This stands as a stark contrast to Guts, who sees the child as a curse and an ugly reminder of his past.

Next we have a scene at the camp, with Luca being brave and assertive as ever. I always disliked Nina’s characterization, but she appears to be even more annoying in this series. Her selfish ways are highlighted here in an attempt to create some sort of a character arc for her in the future. The duo’s discussions are interrupted, as they are notified of an impending trial of another one of their compatriots.

Looks like we have ourselves a classic witch hunt here. Not unlike such similar occurrences in reality, these hunts are more about silencing unrest and class warfare than anything else. There are few tools more effective in oppression of a population, than an appeal to divine authority. Thankfully the masquerade is cut short by the sudden appearance of a certain Black Swordsman.  Guts has well established himself as the king of entrances, and this instance is not any different. I really do enjoy his no-nonsense approach to information gathering, and when pushed he proceeds to lay down the authority very swiftly. Fans often forget that Guts is truly an antihero, with his mercenary background defining his sense of morality. He is single-minded in his approach, and not afraid of taking any necessary measures to achieve his goals. I like to note that the digital blood splatters were bearable in this scene, and did little to distract from the action.

Next we have a rush back to the campsite in order to fetch Casca. There is a quick overview of the state of constant fear that has enveloped the camp, as people are quick to sell each other out in order to avoid punishment. The knights’ preoccupation with the situation in Albion can only mean that the news of the full-scale Kushan invasion has not reached their ranks yet. This is exacerbated by the show jumping the gun, and expediting the assault on Windham as early as four episodes ago.

Nina proceeds to panic when Luca doesn’t make it back to the campsite, and makes another stupid decision to seek refuge in the cave of the cultists. I guess this can be excused, since from her perspective the chance of Luca being caught by the knights is actually very high, and this decision is made out of pure desperation. I never liked the “princess is in another castle” shtick, but here it serves to move the plot towards the eventual encounter.

I never fully understood the mechanics of Puck’s visibility to mortals. It was implied that those of closemind and narrow worldview would find it harder to see him, but here we are told that larger crowds further hide his presence. I guess things are more easily concealed when there is more commotion. There is also a shallow attempt at explaining Isidro’s backstory, but given the rapid pacing of the episode this can be excused, as it would’ve bogged down the flow if it was given too much focus. He might be a silly kid, but at least he’s honest and to the point. From his view it definitely seems as if he’s found himself quite a master in Guts, and there’s safety in being under his wing. Little does he know how much of a magnet Guts truly is to danger, and considering that he learned his skills firsthand in a mercenary camp, Gut’s utility as a sword instructor is at the very least highly questionable. Nevertheless, he pursues Nina and Casca towards the cave.

Next there is the reappearance of Joachim, as he spills the bean about the location and activities of the cultists. A soldier also breaks the news of Guts to a visibly shocked Farnese, as the main thing she was trying to avoid has finally come to find her. Her reluctance in facing Guts definitely plays a part in their decision to give priority to hunting the cultists. There is some irony in the fact that the gravitation of the common people to these cults is directly related to their struggles under the Holy See’s oppression. The tighter the grip, the heavier the backlash against it.

We’re welcomed back to the cave, and it seems that this episode has given it a livelier look, as a bright magenta color palette prevails the tone of the scene. There also appears to be some improvements to the textures, with the ground and the cave walls having a more detailed look to them. I personally always enjoyed the symbolism of the crown of thorns that they place on Casca, although I admit that it is more for show than pertaining to anything deep. Nina is being prepared to be sacrificed for the union of the Great Goat and Casca, who as we remember is being worshiped as an idol of the cult. The world of Berserk heavily revolves around the concept of sacrifice. The cave seems to be located within a certain interstice, as a place where the barrier between the physical world and the astral realm is particularly weak. This is further intensified by the presence of Casca, which yet again summons the ghosts of those who were sacrificed to possess the cultists.

Next we get a full-on zombie brawl, as the Iron Chain Knights converge on the location of the cave. Well, in reality it’s more of a slaughter than an actual battle. I like to take the time to say that I really enjoy the design of the visor on Farnese’s helmet, here portrayed with an even more exaggerated length than the manga. Isidro proves his worth, as he buys some time until Puck can fly and get Guts. It is revealed that the Great Goat is not really of any supernatural essence, but just a man donning a ceremonial goat head. This quickly changes as the Egg Apostle sires the Great Goat, and makes him a true apostle-spawn. I’ll be getting into the Egg Apostle’s story in later reviews.

I seriously thought that what ensues will be toned down, but lo and behold, we are greeted to yet another demonic rape attempt. I guess after the infamous Rape Horse I should be expecting the series to stick close to these specific elements of the source material. Here we have some familiar workaround female nudity, as well as a peculiar censorship of some violence. I think this is a good place to delve a little bit into the strange censorship laws placed on the Japanese media. The regulations regarding anime censorship are strangely specific, with varying levels of rationalizations. There is much leeway in the graphic portrayal of violence when the subject is considered “otherworldly”. This means that a zombie, monster, or any evil creature can be shown to be straight ripped apart, while human victims need to be toned down to either simple stabbing or details being subject to black bars and omissions. There are similar laws regarding nudity, and more specifically the male reproductive organ. As Toshio Maeda of Urotsukidōji fame came to realize back in the 80’s, a regular human penis can under no circumstance be portrayed in media, while any phallic or “penis-like appendage” is completely acceptable under article 175 of the Criminal Code of Japan. And hence, the inclusion of the snake penis.

As things seem to be reaching a critical level, we are greeted to another badass Guts entrance, this time in the form of what can only be called a ‘Batman moment’. He emerges from the shadows, swiftly maneuvering down to the pit, and making mince-meat out of the possessed cultists. The Dragonslayer dances with little resistance, as the cavelight gives a Sword of Moonlight blue hue to its blade. As we get passed the nasty goat circumcision, we are thrilled by a much-awaited reunion of our two estranged lovers, as their meeting gaze speaks much more than anything that could be uttered here.

Overall this one was a faster, denser, and dare I say better episode than the last few that we’ve had in Albion. There are many confrontations in store, and the stage is nearly set for one of the most iconic moments in the history of Berserk. I have my work cut out for me, as I’m jumping right into the next review as soon as this one is posted. Stay tuned for more, as I rush to make up for lost time.

~Bam~

Posted on 6 August 2016 with categories: Berserk(2016), Currently Watching:

The episode picks up where the last one left off, with the lakeside haunting of Casca and Nina. We see the brand attracting ghouls followed by the Demon Child warding them off. For those who might be unfamiliar with the franchise, the Demon Child is Casca’s infant, and it’s been corrupted by the Godhand form of Griffith, Femto. The child’s powers were never clearly explained, but it’s safe to assume that he takes a bit after his stepfather. This will be further explored in the coming chapters.

The next scene marks the return of the Skull Knight. I’m definitely disappointed that we didn’t get to see the fight between Guts and the Wheel Skeletons. It’s not really a crucial scene, but given the iconic design of the monsters it is still a letdown. Skull Knight warns Guts of the significance of the ‘hawk dream’ which apparently was shared with him as well. Guts calls him “old man” which is a bit of an understatement, given that he’s at least a thousand years old.

Speaking of millennia, the Skull Knight explains that an Eclipse-like event is about to unfold, which takes place every thousand years. It’s unclear if he’s referring to the general descend of the Godhand, or specifically to the rebirth ceremony. It is widely believed that the he is the psedo-apostle form of another character in the Berserk universe called Emperor Gaiseric. He supposedly united the nations of Midland over a thousand years ago. Later in the episode we learn that the emperor imprisoned a man that refused to deny his sins. The prisoner must’ve been in the possession of a Behelit, as his trial ends with an Eclispe. This occurrence causes the empire to crumble, and earlier in the story we see the remains of branded bodies in the tower where Griffith was being held prisoner. It’s unknown if Gaiseric ever became a Godhand and then later reborn, or gained his powers from a separate source.

The scene comes to a close with Guts asserting his intention of saving Casca, no matter what gets in his way. I have to say that it’s refreshing to see this defiant side of Guts again. His resolute attitude and disregard for warnings and danger is a core part of his personality, and one of the main reasons why he’s such a beloved character. He fights on against all odds, and his neverending struggle is symbolic to the spirit of survival that keeps pushing all humanity forward. This charming arrogance is sorely missing from some of the new chapters of the manga. Readers who are staying up-to-date probably know what I’m talking about. He has been portrayed uncharacteristically timid in the newer installments. This might be due to character growth, but I’m hoping that it’s temporary, and that we’ll soon get to see the true berserker in action.

We switch back to the Tower of Conviction, as a doubtful Farnese is reflecting on the state of affairs. There is a subtle juxtaposition of the relative prosperity of the Holy Iron Chain Knights, set against the hunger and famine that continue to ravage the land outside. If you’ve been paying attention, there are frequent close-up shots of Farnese throughout the series. I realized that the reason for these is most likely because the close angles hide the uncanniness of the CGI, and create a more drawn look to her face. Moving on, we get to see the prostration of Mozguz, and him reassuring Farnsese of her faith, by an appeal to blindly following the divine authority. Even in reality, blind faith is often used to give purpose to those who are distressed by uncertainty. It’s also explained how Mozguz targets the social outcasts and uses their ostracization as a tool for recruitment.

We then head back to the campsite, and are introduced to Nina’s thirsty lover, Joachim. He’s mostly used as a plot-device for the viewers to get to see the other side of Nina, as she invites him to their secret gathering. As I expected, the episode includes the infamous cave scene. Similar to the manga, the gathering is a plethora of psychedelics, sex and cannibalism. I guess now we know where Nina caught that nasty little STD. Among the storm of hedonism it seems that some curious nipple-theft is taking place, and nobody’s the wiser.  It’s surprising that so much nudity is included, especially given the fact that they were well aware of their limitations due to censorship. It’s not really a big deal, but it’s seriously distracting. The orgy scene itself is drawn minimally and awkwardly, giving it a clean and sterile look that detracts from the sense of grotesque that they were going for. No matter how much they distort the images, and draw characters off-model, this still doesn’t look all that hellish. The cannibalistic imagery might be the only aspect of it that is slightly unnerving. We also get a glimpse of the Goat Head, who serves as the leader of sorts to the cult. I’ll be discussing him in more detail in the upcoming episodes.

The party is interrupted when Joachim is chased out of the cave, leading to his fall into the ravine. He’s later found by the Egg-Shaped Apostle, which will be playing a crucial part in what’s to come. It’s always good to see Luca, as she takes no nonsense from Nina, and promptly starts scolding her for her stupidity. Their reconciliation doesn’t last long, as Casca’s discovery leads to an attempted rape by a group of impressively aerodynamic men, which itself is interrupted by the manifestations of some more ghosts. This scene is very awkward, since the few models they had were reused so many times, in some instances standing almost next to eachother. The saving grace is that the scene is brief, as the Demon Child yet again dispels the apparitions.

Similar to episode three, this one also has an extended post credit scene. We get to explore the backstory of both Farnese and Serpico. Farnese is engaged in almost Lady Melisandre levels of pyromania, and it is shown that this is deeply rooted in her childhood. Serpico again demostrates that he’s a sympathetic fellow, and it’s his tragic past that has brought him into the Vandimion fold; that among other things. This episode in whole was rather plain looking, and primarily used as set-up for the next one. I understand that there was no way to exclude this whole section, but I hoped that they portrayed it with some more energy. The grey muddy colors are really tiring, and at this point I can’t wait for the Eclipse to bring some change in the scenery. The next episode is called “The Black Witch” so at least we know it’ll be racist. I jest, in reality we’re going to get a big reunion, but not a particularly sweet one. Things always seem to pick up when Guts enters the picture, and so the next one is going to be a more dynamic episode

~Bam~

Posted on 31 July 2016 with categories: Berserk(2016), Currently Watching:

Episode 5 Starts off with Isidro, and some half-assed attempt at levity. This is really harmless, but it highlights an issue that has become apparent from the first episode. It’s widely understood that the inclusion of Puck was done to bring some light-heartedness to an otherwise grim story. But yet again this proves the point that manga and anime are widely different mediums, and what works in one doesn’t necessarily work in the other. A manga is a very fluid format. The style and design elements can be altered to communicate different concepts. It is not at all uncommon to have characters portrayed in chibi or exaggerated forms to correspond to the situation. They can also include footnotes and other remarks to clarify and explain certain things. These techniques can’t really be done the same way in an anime adaptation, or when attempted could seriously backfire. The medium of motion pictures revolves quite extensively around immersion, and things that can hinder that immersion are best to not be included in the first place. This is not to say that the combination of serious subject matter and comedy can’t be achieved,  for example,  Cowboy Bebop, Black Lagoon, Welcome to NHK and Kemonozume have all done this to varying degrees, but doing so requires a mindful approach and a delicate touch.

Thankfully the farce is soon interrupted by the Kushan hunters. Here we get another action scene, which similar to the ones up to now was just alright. There are some interesting angles and framing, but the quick cuts in editing and the unnecessary rotation take away from the action. This is exacerbated by the drops in the frame-rate. I researched the reason for this back during the first season of Knights of Sidonia, and apparently this is due to the cel shading that is done on top of the CGI. In these types of animations when the camera pans the animators need to draw in the details in almost every frame, causing the process to become seriously long and costly. The solution they came up with was to limit the number of frames, so the required number of overlay shading could be reduced. My question is that knowing their limitations, why do they include so many panning shots that aren’t even really necessary? Well the upside of the action scene is that we get to yet again hear Hirasawa’s excellent track Hai yo (Oh Ashes).  I instantly light up every time the track kicks in and the pipes swell up. He truly understands Berserk, and given his close friendship with Miura, it is not at all surprising. I only wish that he had composed the entirety of the OST.

Next we get the reintroduction of Silat and his Bakiraka clansmen. If I’m not mistaken this is the first time since the movies that he has made an appearance. Silat is an interesting case, since he’s one of the handful of characters to endure in the story past the Golden Age Arc, and although he continues to play a part he is still usually delegated to the sidelines. He was understandably removed from the 97’ adaptation, as there was no reason to include him so briefly at the end of the series. He also made an appearance in the movie trilogy in a slick action scene, but the third film failed to correctly portray the complexity of his character.  We will see how much they will develop him in the new show.

I want to point out how newcomer unfriendly this adaptation truly is. To those who have only gotten into Berserk with this new series Silat won’t be making any sense. A lot of other factors are exactly the same, with them only resonating with fans of the manga or the previous iterations. Liden Films have failed to properly communicate that this is a continuation of the movies, and yes, this is linked to the movies and not the old show, as there are flashback scenes that include segments and music directly taken from the trilogy. This might be due to some licensing issues with Studio 4°C who made the films. I am personally fine with this, as I am very familiar with the material, and the last thing I wanted was for yet another developer to go over the Golden Age Arc. I still can see a lot of new viewers passing on this show due to their confusion, and it would be a shame for people to avoid the Berserk franchise only due to this series’ lack of quality; which is the most damaging aspect of this adaptation.

The next section switches back to Albion, as we get to see Mozguz engaging in an uncharacteristic act of kindness. It doesn’t take long for the audience to be reassured of his depravity, as he moves on to torturing the mother of the child he just saved. I’m not really a fan of these sudden outbursts which are accompanied by severe character deformation. I understand that they suppose to be somewhat shocking, and aim at creating tension in the scene, but they are often just distracting. This brings to my mind a certain scene at the end of the first episode of Akame ga Kill, which has a little girl suddenly exposing her messed up nature. In fairness this isn’t as abrupt as in AgK, since Mozguz is already shown to be vile and ruthless. What I admire here is the daringness of the series, which doesn’t shy away from sex and violence. They have included things that I was certain will be dropped, so the producers are at least adamant on keeping the dark edgy side of Berserk. However I do realize that this might be done more for the sake of publicity, and not purely out of artistic integrity. I wish that the same approach was applied to the more subtle tone and subtext of the Berserk story.

Speaking of daringness, we get the return of the nippleless women, this time in the form of Luca. They should either go all the way with it or not include nudity at all, but I guess there are restrictions that are out of their control. Some suggest that these would be fixed in the Bluray release, but considering that they have to go over and draw it in every frame causes me to doubt that. We get to see a scene with Luca entertaining Jermore, a minor member of the Holy Iron Chain Knights. Luca is an interesting character, and despite being a prostitute she is still portrayed as a strong woman, who not only knows how to take care of herself but also the rest of her camp. It’s good to see a working lady portrayed in a sympathetic light, and she manages the group with almost a socialist methodology. There is also a brief exploration of wartime economics and upheavals. The kingdom of Midland doesn’t seem to catch a break, with the Kushan invasion happening on the heels of the recent conclusion of the hundred year war with the Chuder Empire. The passing of the king has only added to the social instability, and this can be seen by the ubiquity of famine and poverty. For most people hope seems to have faded, and they all do whatever it takes just to survive. The stoning scene shows how ruthless people have become. Being from the Middle East myself, I know how average people can act in horrific ways. When individuals are themselves under pressure they find catharsis in having any sense of control. It is probably not by chance that such crisis has consumed the land, setting up the stage for a certain someone to make his return. There is also a brief introduction of the rest of Luca’s group, but Nina is really the only one of any importance. We get to see her plight, and it’s implied that syphilis is now commonplace.

The episode ends with a scene between Guts and Isidro. Despite being a goofy little brat, it’s clear that Guts sees a bit of himself in the kid, persuading him to let Isidro stick around. After the so-called “epihpany” at Godo’s house it appears that Guts has calmed down a little bit, causing him to warm up and let go of his constant rage. It’s interesting to see how close they’ve been following the manga in the recent episodes. Looks like the sporadic script of the first few ones might’ve been growing pains, and they have now found their groove, and are now simply attempting to tell the story. The next episode is “A Nighttime Feast: Burning at the Stake” implying that it might be multi-episode chapter. I’m getting the sense that we might be getting the ‘cave scene’ after all. The majestic Skull Knight is also making his reappearance. Berserk 2016 has serious issues, no doubt, but I would be lying if I’d said that I’m not enjoying myself to some extent. It is a treat to get a new Berserk at the end of the week, and unfortunately when anticipation rises the wait for the next episode only grows longer.

~Bam~

Posted on 30 July 2016 with categories: Berserk(2016), Currently Watching:

I wanted to start off by apologizing for the late review, as well as giving some general information and my overall impression of the new series. I’ve been a Berserk fan for quite a while, and both the 97’ series and the Berserk manga are among my top 5 anime/manga of all time. I was quite excited when news of the new adaptation broke back in December, and same as everyone else got heartbroken upon watching the initial preview. Still I reserved hope, and was eager for the premier. As I was watching the first episode my disappointment grew with every passing minute. Unlike most fans my discontent wasn’t merely based on the animation quality or the plot deviations and omissions, since for me those were expected, but rather the overall tone of the series which I felt was off by a large margin. Nothing expresses the disconnection as much as the intro. Everything from the music, to choice of content, to the execution felt very misguided. The original anime overcame its shortcomings by creating a dense atmosphere, and a lot of that was achieved through Susumu Hirasawa’s moody and unconventional soundtrack. The opening song itself is alright, but the problem lies with its relation to the grim content of the story. I completely understand the other authors of this blog’s disenchantment with the show, and don’t support the idea of having the reviews forced on someone who doesn’t enjoy covering the series; as the result is often a steep decline in the quality of the posts. I personally have come to terms with the animation, and will only comment on it when something is out of the ordinary. I’ll try to keep the comparisons to the manga at a minimum, and will aim to judge the new series on its own merit. With that being said, let’s move on to the review of episode 4 ‘Epiphany’.

We are now well into the Conviction Arc, and approaching the end of the Binding Chain chapter. I’m surprised by how fast the show is progressing, yet the pacing of this episode was relatively well done, with ample time being set aside for character development. The episode starts off with guts’ vision of Casca on a pyre. We also get a glimpse of the Demon Child, as he urges Guts to seek Casca at the ‘Holy Ground’. This prompts him to head back to Godo’s house to check on her. It’s in this section where we get most of the character development, as Guts realizes his mistake of leaving Casca behind to pursue his vendetta against the Godhand. This is actually quite a crucial moment, as it’s the turning point for Guts’ plans and ambitions. It might not appear so in the show, but Guts has spent a long time away chasing ghosts (apparently two years) as Casca was left to suffer alone in the mine. I always felt that Miura didn’t really layout the story ahead of time, and probably initially planned to have Guts as a lone swordsman seeking justice. This is somewhat apparent from the Berserk Prototype, which has Guts on a revenge spree against the “Apostles of Vana” for slaughtering his mom. We also see this in the Black Swordsman Arc, which has little to no mention of surviving allies, and only the Demon Child left as a stark reminder of what has befallen him.

Moving on, we’re reintroduced to a slightly older, but much more mature Rickert, and later Erica brings Guts to the Hill of Swords. This is to further hammer in the point, both as a tribute to the Band of the Hawk, as well as reminding Guts that he has to focus on the few loved ones that remain. This is actually borrowed from a real practice of erecting symbolic graves, usually plain white crosses, for victims of war or natural disasters whose bodies couldn’t be reclaimed. This location will again come into play a bit later in the story. From the original Hawks only Guts, Rickert and Casca have survived, and now the more important one has gone missing, which motivates Guts to drop the pointless headhunting and go look for her. Although I don’t particularly care for the emotional pleas of Erica, it serves the purpose of knocking some sense into Guts, so I didn’t really mind it that much. We are also introduced to the Beast of Darkness, which is as a manifestation of Guts’ darker side and hidden desires. There’s also the coup de grâce from the ever-so-shirtless Godo, as he gives his last to repair the Dragonslayer. Their farewell is short, yet appropriate, since as Godo himself puts it “It’s better than getting all weepy” and it’s good to see a character staying true to the end.

The last sequence of the episode switches back to the Holy Iron Chain Knights, now tasked with escorting Mozgus the grand inquisitor of the Holy See to the tower of conviction; although it’s unclear why he would need any protection in the first place. We also get to see an original action scene, which in itself is not that spectacular, but serves to show the ruthlessness of Mozguz and his twisted ideology. The bible headsmash is taken directly from the manga, albeit toned down a few notches, but the torture scene with the Logarius’ Wheel is sufficient enough in getting the point across. Farnese is adamant at first, but is soon distressed from witnessing the horrible torture of the villagers, further weakening her faith and trust of the church. There’s also a brief glimpse of the elite tortures, as well as the prostitute Luca, which sets up the board for the rest of the chapter.

Overall I would say that this episode showed quite a few improvements over the previous ones. The CGI and the 2D animation were integrated more seamlessly, and the show took a much-needed break from the lightning-fast pacing to focus on the characters. The coloring and shading on some of the models during the carriage scene, particularly the armors, were enjoyable. Mozguz seems to be primarily rendered in 3D, and given his round physique it creates a Katamari look to him that diminishes his threatening presence. The next episode is titled ‘The Tower of Conviction’, so it looks like we’re going straight into the birth ceremony. Isidro and the Kushan scouts will also make an appearance. I’m hoping that they don’t skip some of the in-between material, particularly an infamous cave scene. The upside of this late review is that the wait for the next episode will be especially brief.

~Bam~

Posted on 20 July 2016 with categories: Berserk(2016), Currently Watching:

Forgive me for the delay on this particular post but I must admit that in light of Berserks quality my interest in covering it has somewhat declined. I know that for every episode to come I will have to dance around the elephant in the room but this series isn’t making that easy for me. As when coming close to enjoying the show I am constantly pulled out of it. My experience of watching Berserk is essentially a game of denial as I try to pretend the ugly visuals don’t exist. Perhaps I should find it cathartic as Berserk is a series which by its very nature is ugly. The things that make Berserk stand out as a series is it’s pure unapologetic brutality. Rape, gore, death of children and every uncomfortable theme you can think of is par for the course for Berserk. It is very much a pulp fantasy work and likely one of the finest in manga history. Plenty have tried to imitate but few have matched it’s glory. A true Berserk anime should be quite nightmarish considering the creatures that could have walked out of a Clive Barker novel, however the anime looks to be nightmarish for entirely different reasons.

Todays episode bring in some anime original content and if hearsay is to be believed, this was written by the mangaka of Berserk himself, Kentaro Miura. However when examining the content itself I must question what was the need for it. My original thoughts were that Miura was supplanting the less TV friendly aspects of the series by adding in different content. However the dark aspects are still here so I wonder why the change was needed. In the manga Gut fought a bunch of demon dogs till dawn and Farnese was nearly raped by a possessed horse. In this anime the exact same thing happened but instead we have the addition of a mansion and a encounter with a demon apostle. The encounter doesn’t add much of anything besides confirm that Guts is after revenge. It reminds me of a point in the manga where out of nowhere Miura decided to dedicate two chapters to a flashback with Gut’s meeting a fairy. The story itself was good but it’s reasoning and overall presence in the plot is utterly insignificant. It came at a time when Miura needed to get a move on and push the story to a climax but instead he decided to put in a filler story. This feels much the same, the fight against this dog demon is rather entertaining but when you plan to cover over sixty 30 page chapters in a single cour I think you don’t have time to waste on events that put the main plot on standstill.

However what really bugs me is that they adapted events of the manga and made them lesser. In particular there is a line Guts says about the demons reminding him of how he felt when he started all this. In the anime Gut’s just throws out this line upon meeting the apostle and it doesn’t have the same impact. In the manga Gut’s sees the horse about to rape Farnese and is suddenly reminded of Griffins rape of Caska. Which cause him to be filled with rage and say that line. It was a pretty powerful line and it just confuses me as to why they would keep the horse attempted rape and yet move the line to a different scene. What’s also puzzling is the sound design where they essentially decided that everything Guts hits with his sword will make a clang sound. I understand the idea of emphasising that his sword is more a huge hunk of metal instead of a blade but it really doesn’t make sense to have a sword clang when he’s cutting transparent beings or dogs made of flesh and bone.

It becomes quite distracting once you notice it. There is also the matter of Farnese’s non existence nipples. It’s likely something to be fixed in the blu-ray releases but I find it funny the priorities censorship has. Apparently the depiction of female’s nipples is out of the question yet showing a scene of forced Bestiality is apparently fine? I mean sure you darkened the scene but you still show her getting clearly molested by that horse. What is the point of censorship when it doesn’t censor the most damning aspect? This is the kind of thing that leads to weird fetishes forming. Where the story goes from now is a good question, Farnese has gone through an ordeal which has shaken her faith and put her in a rather compromised position. In particularly her rather kinky possession which lead her to nearly kill Guts while asking him to split her in two with his sword is certainly a story she wouldn’t want circled around the Knights. Her pride could very well lead her to hunt Guts down till her dying breath. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned after all.

~AidanAK47~

Posted on 12 July 2016 with categories: Berserk(2016), Currently Watching:

Well this isn’t going to be an easy watch for me. Back in the days I was just getting into anime and manga I happened upon a series called Berserk. I watched it, really liked it and then went to read the manga. Eventually I read it up to date but over time I lost interest in it due to the ever slow release of chapters and just the story being stuck in a dull arc with no end in sight. I truly pity the fans of the series as their suffering must be immense. To such a degree that just the act of Gut’s making it off a boat after seven years is a cause of massive celebration. To make matters worst it has not fared well in regards to animated adaptions. The first adaption is the best and manages to be a good watch. However the animation is bare bones and it left off on the cliffhanger of the century. Several years without a sequel until a new series of movies came out which covered the events of the anime series. The movies had better looking 2d animation but suffered from poor CGI during battle scenes. Regardless this gave fans hope that this could lead to the possibility of the rest of the manga getting adapted but sadly this wasn’t the case as the series was left to the side again. Now here we are with a brand new adaption covering material never adapted before and we shall finally see the rest of berserk in its true glory….right? We it’s times like this that I wonder if Miura named his manga series rather appropriately, for the fans are most certainly berserk and for good reason.

The episode reviews are likely going to beat this point to the ground but when it’s as glaring an issue as it is I must bring it up. The CGI animation is truly awful, there’s no getting around that. It’s ugly, jarring and unnatural. However the main issue with this animation choice is the lack of consistency for that is what is causing the vast majority of problems. I have watched fully CGI shows before and I can tolerant even bad CGI or awkward CGI. Bubuki Buranki I think did an excellent job with it’s CGI animation and Knights of Sidonia still had a compelling narrative that allowed you to look past stiff motions or off putting shots. But those two series had a consistently in it’s style whereas Berserk does not. Berserk switches between 3D animation, 3D animation with sketch overlays and 2D animation and in doing so it never allows the viewer to become accustomed to a style. It’s especially jarring because of the difference in quality between each style. When you finally start to accept the uncanny CGI models, the story switches to 2D animation and gives you a glimpse to the quality this series could have had. Even if this meant we would get more still frames and less animation, this is the Berserk the fans would be happy with. But then it jerks you back to the CGI which when it switches to a sketch style becomes somewhat passable but keeps jerking between passable and bad, never letting the viewer settle into a style. Berserks high quality art style is one of it’s highest points of praise for the manga and I like it the most for just how expressive it makes the characters. There may be some who say that we should give them a break and that the CGI is the best the studio can do but I say nay. For there is a Berserk Musou game coming out and the animation in that games trailer tops everything this series has displayed.

What makes this especially sad is that there are moments, moments when the quality of the story shines through. I look at this anime as a diamond covered in mud and at some times the mud slides off and the shine of the diamond flows through but a minute later they throw muck over it again. The scene with Guts getting integrated by the knight commander, him in the cage getting worried over the demons beginning to come after him, Guts running to attack the female commander, the moments of the manga adapted true then manage to help you forget about the quality of the shows visuals. However it isn’t only the visuals at fault for there are other problems. In particular the conversation between Guts and the vice commander had far too fast pacing, to a degree that it felt on fast forward. Puck tends to break immersion when her turns into his chibi form and overall his character isn’t very likable in his current form. Small details are getting lost such as the Female Knight commander actually enjoying whipping Guts which is a pretty big part of her character and this arcs theme overall. Which mainly has to do with religious fanaticism and how people use it to justify their own base desires. I am also not fond of the hint of tidings of more anime original content which regardless of whether it’s written by Miura or not isn’t what this series needs. For now I see Berserk as a tough watch in that it takes a lot of tolerance to look past it’s numerous flaws and see the good in it. The studio needs to step up and keep a consistent style, otherwise this will be as disappointing as when Miura inevitably once again puts the Manga on hiatus.

~AidanAK47~

CHANGE USERNAME
Kaiser-Eoghan
*poorly forcing
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: And that is one of the biggest advantages the show has for me, after being annoyed by so many shows ending up with tonal shifts and forcing cute designs into something more serious it is nice to see that girls last tour avoids that problem.
Amagi
My texts are always too long..
Amagi
It isn't enough to just say "look there is a dark subplot somewhere or a backdrop dystopia and we will get to it whenever it seems convenient". Last Tour is the opposite, it is moe, but the girls are part and product of the world they live in, + the cute and serious parts don't feel like two different series being glued together.
Amagi
Girl's Last Tour is the good type of moe show for me. There are many that have or pretend to have some serious undertone, be it some dystopian setting or politics or whatever. But the difference between the good and the bad shows is that the former are actually connected with their serious part in everything they think or do while the bad shows only use the other topic as cheap way to alure fans.
SuperMario
@Bokusen: I'm not sugarcoating it, but Houseki tends to be the title that split the audience. Give it a try at least. If you can tolerant the first three episodes, chances that you will enjoy the rest
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Travlos: Now if only someone will translate the side story manga aswell.
KTravlos
Happiness! New chapters of Gunka no Baltazar!
Bokusen
@SuperMario Thanks! I'll give Houseki no Kuni a try then. A lot of the series I thought would be good are disappointing me, so I might be following a low number of series this season & it'd be cool if Houseki turns out to be something I like enough to watch this season.^-^
SuperMario
@Kaiser: right. The sole reason I described it as "cinematic" was just to lure you into watching it, so mission accomplished! Mind you, Girls' Last Tour is still a moe show at heart (look at their round faces and those big eyes. They're killing me)
Kaiser-Eoghan
But in all seriousness, I had had it initially written off as a crap moe show.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: You're ministry of anime propaganda tactics mentioning how cinematic it is got me to pick it up =P And you know how much of an aesthetics guy I am =P
SuperMario
I'm glad that many of you enjoying Girls' Last Tour. It's a nice little gem that I think works best when you going to it without any expectation
SuperMario
I swear this season has a lot of good anime to offer. I'm jaded
Amagi
I always considered backgrounds as pretty important. Most anime only use them as backdrops because they have to be there somehow and it's really a different thing than Girls' Last Journey for example. Also I will like everything that has exploration and world building.
Kaiser-Eoghan
And achieves taking the viewer into its world, thankfully without relying on tons of expositional dialogue.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Girls last tour, somewhat succeeds in pulling me in by using its landscape that dwarfs the characters, to create its atmosphere, I wouldn't call it all that unfunny either. Though premise could risk going stale.
AidanAK47
@Amagi, HA! Yeah I would like to believe but I am thinking that's not the case. Besides next season is looking pretty barren so far.
Amagi
Eden would be great. But speaking of it, a lot of good manga get adapted recently. Maybe they finally understood that generic isekai, harem and school stuff isn't as popular as they thought it would be.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Maybe one day I can hope for a Freesia or Eden Endless world adaptation.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Jesus christ....I never thought it would happen, Banana fish is being adapted, I didn't think they could adapt a shoujo like that in todays market.
KTravlos
I also watched Inuyashiki and Girl's Last Tour. Inuyashiki looks great. Man do I hate that young guy. Reading what he did and seeing it was a totally different experience. Cannot wait for the next episode.

Girls Last Tour is really something special. In a good way.
KTravlos
Altair's episode showed all the issues and all the good things of the show. The pace is too quick, and yet they managed to build Urado and its denizens up quick fast in it. But again, this is a show that needs the LGOH treatment.
Amagi
The manga also always uses "he/him" but I am not sure if the original had this too (like "kare" or similar words) since you can talk for a long time in Japanese without ever using pronouns.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Ah, yes I noticed Phos uses Boku in this episode which is the male way of saying I.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Man, Zvyagintsev really, really knows how to deliver truly emotional gut punching moments and endings that are like cutting at open wounds.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Houseki has fallen into place for me with those scenes with Dia and the snail thing and I've fully embraced the show, happy to see it just continue to do its thing.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: While Marios are girls best friend DIAmonds ahhhhre for evvvvvvahhh *Shirley Basey voice*
Masky
*bride
Masky
I can say though that if people fear the "Bastard Boyfiend" angle, its not that really. Its more of really weird apprenticeship relationship. Ainsworth is inhuman character in many ways
Masky
Oh hey, Mahoutsukai no Yome is on covered list. Nice, it is weird manga to read through since I'm kind of creeped out by the bribe thing, but its barely mentioned at all.
Anonymous1497942
After finishing Made in Abyss it stuck out, some animation shortcuts in this week's Mahoutsukai. Holding on frames a bit too long, mainly having the music giving the emotion. To be fair, it was also a slow part in the manga.
Kaiser-Eoghan
If I recall correctly, the words "wandering Jew" were used at one point in the manga in relation to the villain.
Lenlo
Mahoutsukai was very pretty this week, but there were some troubling things popping up in there.
SuperMario
@Aidan: They are trying to bring Phos back from a snail. Man, Houseki sure is... quirky
AidanAK47
@Mario, I would take a guess and say they are fighting evil by moonlight.
SuperMario
Okay, heading to Houseki now... let's see our gems doing this week
SuperMario
@Bokusen: (not because I'm blogging it but) watch it. it's a polarized one but it at least offers something original. I still haven't watched the third one though.
Anonymous1497873
The new Mahoutsukai no Yome episode was so beautiful. TwT
Bokusen
BTW, is Houseki no Kuni worth watching? I was turned off by the animation, but I've read some good reviews on it.
Bokusen
Darn, last message didn't show up for me but now it does. Sorry about that.
Bokusen
Tanya the Evil and Uchouten Kazoku 2 were the gems this year for me so far, but Abyss was definitely the best thing I watched last season.
Bokusen
Tanya the Evil & Uchouten Kazoku 2 were the gems this year for me so far, though Abyss was definitely the best thing I watched last season.
Amagi
Doesn't mean that there weren't other good series but I distinguish between good and somethin special I will instantly remember even months or years later.
Amagi
How can you not like at least one of the current series, this season is pretty good. MiA was probably my only real great thing in the last season though.
AidanAK47
@Anon, Aren't you forgetting Acca, Rakugo, Little Witch Academia and Tanya the Evil?
Anonymous1497006
Made in Abyss seems like it's the only gem this year for me tbh
AidanAK47
Whoa, I never even knew we had a PM feature.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: I've received it. Thanks Kaiser. I've never noticed the PM feature either
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I sent you a private message.
SuperMario
oh boy. Just received Mind Game Bluray Region free today. I ordered/funded it through Kickstarter a year ago and eventually forgot about it. Was a nice surprise to see it in the mail today
silver
I enjoyed this week's Kino. Leave only footprints indeed.
Kaiser-Eoghan
On the other hand I noticed some slight censoring in juuni taisen episode 3 I think.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I was also surprised with the lack of censorship during Inuyashiki's second episode.
Kaiser-Eoghan
First episode of inuyashiki covered the whole of volume 1.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*but almost never
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: In general, Death of Stalin is an amusing film throughout, but never laugh out loud hilarious, Simon Beale is hilarious in it as Beria.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: Gonzo did that mecha 7 samurai thing we must never speak of. However schmaltzly/sentimental Ikiru is, however it slumps slightly in the middle and final arc , it was still a genuinely moving film.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*than it is
Kaiser-Eoghan
To elaborate, I expected to dislike inuyashiki based on not enjoying Gantz, my reaction to the second episode was the same as Amagi's . The first episode was heavy handed a bit as Aidan mentioned, but its harder to watch that scene with the older guy get bullied/tormented that it is to watch highschool kids getting picked on by cliche anime thugs.
AidanAK47
Also why Hillary Clinton? I mean i know Trump is supposed to have a cameo in the manga but why her?
AidanAK47
@Vyse, Lets not jinx it. Plenty of series have shown great potential in their second episodes only to flop later. We can sing praises if it keeps this quality to the conclusion.
VyseLegendaire
Inuyashiki main villain should be Hillary Clinton
VyseLegendaire
Inuyashiki is suddenly like the best thing of the decade.
Amagi
I wish there were more old MC series out there. Liked that about Real Drive too. Maybe someone will have mercy and adapt Kurosawa one day. Not exactly old but at least a series about a guy with midlife crisis.
Amagi
I thought the happenings of the second Inuyashiki episode would have been too egdy but they actually gave the last few scenes a very good impact and the episode showed pretty well how sociopathes think (that whole gap between emotions for real people VS manga/fiction characters and events)
KTravlos
yup, I have no problem with Lenlo's review. Execution is what matters with me.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: You managed to sell me on a show that I didn't think I'd have bothered with.
silver
You did fine. It's a risk associated with reading post-viewing episodic discussions. Pretty much everyone knows that if you don't want to be spoiled don't even get online.
Lenlo
I tried to leave explicit spoilers about what happened outside the (more...) tag, but its a risk of readin a review I suppose.
silver
Hah, sorry about spoiling it. That's the problem with major shocks like that; they're most effective if you're not expecting them. Still, the show has deft execution of its executions, and that makes the experience worse than I could imagine.
Lenlo
Well im glad it convinced you. Tried something different with writing this week
KTravlos
man I should not had read the review. Now I will go and watch Inuyashiki. I had missed it.
silver
@Lenlo: It caught me off guard, too. Definitely working to earn that 'psychological' genre tag.
Lenlo
Well... Inuyashiki surprised me today. It went far darker than I was expecting. Thanks Gants author
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Such an odd art style, have you ever seen these? These are the film covers the Polish get:
Kaiser-Eoghan
*that was the most interesting character
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Z's ending was very very well played and it was Jean Tringnents was interesting, largely for that he was a right winger working with the left wingers.
Kaiser-Eoghan
And of course the British version of house of cards.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I wonder if he's seen Yes Minister and The New Statesman, also political comedies and for those of us who lived in the 80s seeing Thatcherites getting slagged off was great.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I do think thick of it works better though as the humour serves a thirty minute episode more comfortably. Stalin's fairly short though so I don't think the joke will run out.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: the Death of stalin is the title I'm looking for as well. Will screen here in few weeks. I almost reccomend In the Loop and the Thick of It (haven't watched the latter though) for Travlos since they're a political satire, which I think he'll enjoy
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: Hope you already booked that heavens feel screening, cause its sold out.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I've heard that the anime's character development in Juuni taisen expands on the books, which only give them short lines for their backgrounds.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Ah, so perhaps in Juuni taisen they'll spin that so the Rat guy uses the ox guy to his advantage in some different way.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: There is a special atmosphere watching anime on a big screen.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I might be seeing death of Stalin tomorrow or Saturday. The thick of it was hilarious and this has the same director as that.
SuperMario
Both Z and All the President's Men are coassic movie. Hold my attention from start to finish. Z, in particular, wowed me that I literally had my mouth wide open
SuperMario
Off tangent, watching Fireworks in the cinema the other day made me realize how I miss watching movies on the big screen. I might try to go to the cinema once a week again. Been missed out all the good movies lately.
SuperMario
In the Great Race story, Rat used a very underhanded tactic to win the race (it jumps into the Ox to pass the great river and then jump off to the finish line. This Rat guy's speciality is Killing All so there is a high chance that he survives till the end
SuperMario
@Kaiser: I have no doubt that we will have more amazing character arcs for Juuni Taisen.
Kaiser-Eoghan
But that could prove to be too predictable.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I wonder if the Rat guy is going to be the wild card in all this, after all in the old story, wasn't it the Rat who won that zodiac race thing?
Kaiser-Eoghan
Juuni Taisen is killing off its most interesting characters.... =< I wanted the bird girl to stay around a bit longer.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'd love to see more Lem or Stugastky style/brand of scifi, I need to rewatch stalker again.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: Going back to the cyberpunk thing, I don't want just any ol' thing getting made, I want to see something scifi related thats ACTUALLY clever and has long and DIFFICULT dialogue .
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Travlos: While not a political series Chaos;head is a good example of being annoyed at the conspiracy thing, what drives me up the wall about that show and its sequel is how every every time I think about going back to it I realize that its only interesting on a surface level and is utter hokkum.
KTravlos
@Kaiser. Yup, perhaps because I work in political science, they tend to anger me. So I avoid them. Borgen is a good political series.

In general. It still startles how much of a better character anime Tsutomu was comapred to manga Tsutomu in Bridy the Mighty. But I forgive the manga as I get more Gomez!
AidanAK47
@Amagi/Kaiser, thought as much. Strike it off the list then. And God Tsubasa was a cluster fuck by the end.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Eh simul-dub of Juuni taisen is out, I might aswell keep up with that instead.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Y'know I had this weird relationship with dragonball in general. When I was younger I never actively seeked out the show, but on a rare occasion I would watch random episodes whenever I was channel hopping and nothing else was on.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: Clamp shared universe was a mistake.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I really really wish that that tone breaking style of comedy stops being a thing.
Kaiser-Eoghan
It doesn't happen often, but there ARE shows we all have that snap trigger us when they get mentioned.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I feel my disdain of re:zero is because I hate Akame ga kill and Higurashi so much and it prevents me because of bias from enjoying it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: In addition to what i posted about Pandora, you will hate the comedy.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I will rewatch it, the first one is one of those things that improved on repeat viewings.
@Travlos: Conspiracy theories are one of those things I find myself taking interest in, then almost immediately consider immensely stupid and a waste of time.
Amagi
Aidan: If you didn't like the first parts of Pandora you won't like the rest either. Most people that loved it did this because of the characters and setting, the story isn't really getting better and I kinda disliked what they did near the end. It was overcomplicated and everyone had like three different personalities, plot twists and so on. Not nearly as bad as Tsubasa Chronicle though
AidanAK47
@Bokusenou, believe me when I say you are not few. There are plenty who Dislike Re:Zero. I can understand it and I sort of get where your coming from regarding the characters. (Though Saber sucks) There is just something about the series that I just adore.
KTravlos
@Kaiser. I have not watched most of them. But I have watched Z and All the President's Men. Both are great films. The issue with me is that while I like political thrillers I despite conspiracy theories. Far too many pol. thrillers dive into con.theory stuff. So I must be discriminating.
SuperMario
Okay, I'm off to watch Blade Runner 2049 now. Hopefully it can be as good as the original
Vonter
In contrast World's End Harem, surprisingly looks to be trying. It has one story trying to play straight, the scenario of being the last man in a world mainly habited by woman. And has had this framing of self worth, temptation and doubt I like. No work of art, but surprising for this type of manga.
Vonter
In regards to manga, I'll need to look for something good, being losing time with ecchi stuff. Which I can tell Okamoto should just make hentai, seeing as his latest work, doesn't even try to be anymore than pandering trash (at least older work, had a notion of a story).
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Travlos: Did all the presidents men and Parallax view by Pakula appeal to you?
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Travlos: Actually as your are a Greek....have you watched Z, missing, State of siege or the confession? None of them are actually in Greek but they were political thrillers directed by Costa Gravas.
Anonymous1490677
KT here: Well I am a sucker for political thrillers and "grand" politics, so the direction it took is quite fun for me. Even if it does indicate a Tomino ending.
Kaiser-Eoghan
For me Titan peaked at volume 8 and I never bothered continuing on much further.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: I remember a commenters on here a good while ago that mentioned the ending didn't satisfy or come together well and made the investment not worth it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: Honestly it was only near the halfway point I vested any interest in pandora hearts, the first 4 volumes left me wondering if I'd drop it, then near the last few volumes I simply fell out of reading it.
Bokusenou
I feel like I'm one of the few people who don't understand why Re: Zero is so popular...the only characters I half liked were Puck & Crusch (the latter because she reminded me of Saber from the Fate series, minus the unnecessary perma-blush marks) My anime club screened the series and I really should have skipped those meetings...
Lenlo
Mmm Inuyashiki episode 2 tomorrow. Time to see where it goes
AidanAK47
@Anon, That reminds me. Anime limited better announce the date of the Re:Zero Blu-ray release at that panel of theirs at MCM London Comic Con. They are the only ones known to have licensed it and they have a partnership with Funimation. Even if we don't get a second season I have to get the first on Blu-ray.
Anonymous1490189
Emilia re:zero
AidanAK47
Finally Got that review up. Been sitting in my to do list for a while.
SuperMario
I remeber in Dragon ball, they state that Son Goku takes 6 years of training to become a Super Saiyan. His oldest son takes 3 years and then the youngest one... only takes 3 months of training with his mother. So yeah...
AidanAK47
While we are talking about manga, I was looking into getting some manga boxsets and I saw one for pandora hearts. However I started reading it and 15 chapters in I just can't get into it. I hear a lot of praise for it but is it really worth continuing?
AidanAK47
@Amagi, yep. Like Naruto with the nine tailed beasts and Sharingan. At first they were cool and then everyone and their mother had Sharingan or a tailed Beast.
Though If I had a problem with SNK its that I just find the thing to be poorly written overall. It has creative idea's, but the characters and dialogue is really weak in my eyes.
Amagi
You know that SuperSaiyan syndrome. At first it was special and mysterious, but once the second one gets to have the power they tend to pop up everywhere. Same with Claymore and basically almost every shounen ever.
Amagi
I overall like the SNK manga but I have to agree I really have a problem with this shounen trope of some speciality one character has that suddently turn out to be the speciality of many.
Lenlo
It turned from a horror/thriller to a sort of... shounen mystery thing for me. I wasnt a fan once EVERYONE became titans.
AidanAK47
@Lenlo, I dropped off at that point, picked it up again and read it up to date. Now I am falling out again. True be told I haven't really got into it since the beginning chapters and I am not a fan of the direction it took. If you don't like it now I say future chapters won't really change your mind.
Lenlo
Does Attack on Titan get better? I was reading it up until Season 2 came out and then just fell off the wagon.
KTravlos
oh what a cliffhanger in the Shingeki no Koyjin manga! I am happy where this is going!
Kaiser-Eoghan
I agree that the way the series addresses emotion has some interest to it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The later chapters I read had some action in them.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Had a read of the children of the wales manga, I am glad to see a shoujo that isn't based on an otome or school life series , additionally I like it on an aesthetic level, I can see it going somewhere but the fast-forward pace makes it hakes it harder to connect with.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: Blame! was recently adapted and thats cyberpunk, even if it didn't follow the manga.
Amagi
@Kaiser: Agree. Cyber- and steampunk are two of the few settings I really dig. Especially because I think that there are a lot of potential plots and twists for cyberpunk/VR settings anime haven't used yet. AR is great too, the only series about that is Dennou Coil and it was made ~10 years ago. Maybe the SAO movie but it was just a movie.
Amagi
@Aidan: Same here lol. I remember the toilet thingy but not the woman's backstory. That being said, I enjoyed the series as whole, though some parts were too K-ONish for my taste.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The idea of would agorophobia maintain itself and they'd stay inside or would the fear of being raped/tortured/killed and bypass the agorophobia ?
Kaiser-Eoghan
Random tangent, but I would find it fascinating to see a hikkikomori subject to a home invasion.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Although honestly, I would prefer a cyberpunk wave of anime series to get popular again.
silver
I too am starting to really enjoy the 'adventure anime' genre. The medium of animation is uniquely suited to fantastical worldbuilding.
AidanAK47
@Mario, Was that the one where the girl is desperately trying not to piss herself? Also why can I remember that and not this blonde woman's backstory?
SuperMario
@Kaiser: yep, agreed. It's at its best when it can use the settings to flesh out the characters. The episode after that one, one the other hand, was Sora no woto's dullest episode - where the main girl spends the whole episode waiting for a freaking phone call.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: The Blonde woman's backstory in the middle of sora no oto, that was the best episode of it.
SuperMario
@Amagi: for reccomendation, if you don't mind another cute girls in a post-apocalyptic world show, you can try Sora no Woto (Sound of the sky). I love that show to bits
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