Author: Kentaro Miura
Genre: Adult Fantasy
𝐑𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐟 𝐯𝐨𝐥𝐮𝐦𝐞𝐬 𝟏 – 𝟒𝟏: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“𝐁𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐡𝐞𝐞𝐝, 𝐒𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐠𝐠𝐥𝐞𝐫. 𝐒𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐠𝐠𝐥𝐞, 𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐮𝐫𝐞, 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐝. 𝐅𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐚𝐥𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐝𝐞𝐟𝐢𝐞𝐬 𝐝𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐡. 𝐃𝐨 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐝𝐬.”
The quote above perfectly summarises Berserk.
Have you ever read a story that plagues every waking moment of your life? A story that is not merely a work of fiction but an alternative reality we choose to ignore in order to survive?
Almost as if the incomplete mirror you’ve been staring at everyday has found its missing piece and is now reflecting something else entirely?
Many queries spring to mind because of Berserk. Philosophical questions which address what it means to choose a path leading to struggle for happiness or dream to obtain our lifelong ambitions.
If we select the path to happiness, is every struggle, demon chase, regret, heartbreak and loss worth surviving over a beautiful dream you’ve longed for but unfortunately remains beyond your reach and will haunt you forever?
Alternately, if we pick our dreams, would we demolish everything we’ve built, every relationship we’ve fostered, every moment of happiness, every struggle we’ve overcome, and use them as the means i.e. a building block to obtain our ambitions?
Berserk has been recommended to me before but I dismissed it as a shounen manga that merely focuses on swashbuckling action and fighting final boss character archetypes which was why it never appealed to me. Looking back on it, I think it was all about timing. Certain stories do not speak to you unless you’ve experienced personal suffering that leads you to reliving moments you never thought you’d relate to in the first place. Another push to pick this masterpiece was the mangaka. Upon hearing about Kentaro Miura’s passing which left millions of fans heartbroken, I slowly started to take notice of his work’s reception being much more than what I wrongly assumed it to be.
After watching a few testimonials on YouTube and episodes of the anime, I had to give this manga a chance and unbeknownst to me I was in for the rockiest ride of my life.
Unlike most fans I am fortunate enough to read all 364 chapters in one sitting but loyal Berserk audiences have been on this journey with Miura since 1989 which is commendable in every way.
This isn’t a story I can easily recommend as at its core, Berserk is a violent grim dark fantasy filled with mature themes that is not for the faint hearted. I know I barely scratched the surface of this manga, especially the breathtaking art, intricate world building, unforgettable characters, profound characterisation of immoral characters, exploration of friendship, revenge, and other themes which need to be experienced first hand through reading the manga. Trigger warnings need to be researched prior to picking this up.
There will never be another Berserk. Definitely not in terms of scope and mastery lengths that the mangaka has taken. If Miura wrote Gut’s journey as a novel, I believe that it would still be as impactful but of course the beautiful art gives the horror and gore that extra push.
Disclaimer: One day, I hope to own all 41 volumes or the anniversary omnibus editions but I will settle with Volume 38 being my prized possession