***This was our 2010 April Fool’s post***
(For actual Berserk Season 2 info go here)
BEWARE OF SPOILERS
It is truly a shame when a classic anime is forgotten. The Berserk anime used to be praised up and down by the fan community; on everyone’s 10 top favorite anime lists. But the second season has gone largely undiscussed online which is a travesty. I hardly saw any fanfare on the Internet and only one or two episode blogs seem to have reviewed any of it. As I understood it, Berserk sells well for Dark Horse but I guess that is more among comics and graphic art fans than anime fans. I hope that after Narutaki and I do this review more people will go back and check out what they are missing. Berserk season two meets if not succeeds in surpassing the high bar of dark fantasy that the first season established.
Well, perhaps it is just because the follow up to the extremely popular first season was a long, long, long time coming. I think people just got tired of waiting and finally moved on, but they should really reconsider and come back to Berserk. Another worry that many could run into is whether or not a second installment like this can really live up to it’s predecessor. But much to our surprise, not only does the second season sport the high standards of the first but you have a great studio behind it, and some grand new editions that both come from the manga and are completely original.
Season two picks up right where season one left off. We have Skull Knight busting in and saving Guts and Casca on a horse that looks exactly like Fuunsaiki. After getting cleaned up Guts vows to take down the God Hand but first he has to go through a training arc. Guts gets swordsmanship lessons and life lessons from a most unusual source. I would say who his teacher is but I don’t want to ruin the surprise. Guts then has to enter a tournament to recruit new allies and friends to take down the dreaded God Hand and their sinister minions. But of course they have some laughs and make a few missteps along the way. All of this building up for the big showdown at the end, which ends on another cliffhanger.
Eventhough the series starts very much where it left off and moves right along from the manga, it’s nice to see their own touches here and there which get stronger as the show goes along. This was especially seen in the new cast and the return of some favorites. I never would have expected there to be an essentially zombie version of the Band of the Hawk. You might think that would destroy the impact of their beautiful-horrific destruction at the end of the first arc but the seance scene and then the later resurrection episodes are so spectacular that you’ll be happy to have them back. I also really liked the addition of Guts’s philosophical musings, it gave at introspective feel to some of the major twists.
Guts and Casca really show some amazing growth during this season as they learn about each other and themselves. Also their combo attacks are amazingly over the top. We finally get Puck added to the series which is nice for fans of the manga. Of course they had to redesign him so now he is a she in the form of a sluttier Tinkerbell. Puck’s new catch phrase is equally delightful. Griffith’s twin brother is just as beautiful as his brother but truly a man’s man when it comes to swordsmanship and the ladies. But don’t think this rapscallion does not have a deeper introspective side to him. Who would have guessed that Charlotte would join the new Band of the Hawk and become their best tactician and competent fighter as well. As always Farnese is a creepy fire-toucher girl but I guess they couldn’t resist throwing her in.
Starting this series was both elating and tragic considering the events of the final episodes of the first season. There was so much devastation for Guts both physically and emotionally, but he proves time and again that he is the manliest man that ever thought of being a man. It’s most impressive when he dual wields thanks to some help from Puck. And that is really the only reason I was glad to see Puck, haven’t ever been the biggest fan of the character. But on the flip side a character like Charlotte who I thought I could never come to like ended up being a new favorite after the major overalls they did with her in the series. Similarly, I was shocked to see Casca pregnant by the end of the series but also proving her worth on the battlefield once more.
Every episode is movie level quality animation from Studio Madhouse. Sunao Katabuchi really knocks it out of the park with the fight scenes with precision be when they are atop a volcano, in the spirit world, or on the surface of Mars. He cut his teeth on Black Lagoon but perfected his craft in Berserk. I was also really impressed by the level of energy and grandeur that they are able to express in Guts’ bullet ballet arm cannon-fu. A visual masterpiece.
What can I saw about Berserk Season 2, it’s been a long-time coming but it was worth every excruciating moment because they did it all right. Watch the first amazing season over again, and then dive right into a sequel that respects its characters and story but still adds its own flavor to it. I always lament anime not having a large fantasy genre presence and with a series as good as Berserk you’ll be sad they aren’t cranking them out more. Then again just watch Berserk over and over and be happy they poured this much soul into one show.
From start to finish Berserk season two is a masterpiece of action, drama, sports, comedy, philosophy, and romance. It cranks it up to 11 in all categories and easily redefines what anime can be. I really hope this spotlight helps bring attention to this ambitious ground breaking story that far too many fans overlooked. Lets just hope that an ending is planned for the near future. Well because this is Berserk and it’s never going to finish. Ever. But I am really hoping they make good on their promise for a third season.