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Old 19-06-2002, 04:05 PM   #1   [permalink]
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Review: Berserk, vol. 1-War Cry

Media Blasters intends to make Berserk their flagship title for 2002, and it looks as though they're giving it the treatment befitting such a title. The only people who will find something to complain about in this disc are hardcore fans of the manga version. Comparing it to a friend's bootleg Hong Kong DVDs-no, really, they're not mine, I swear-the improved quality of the video is marked, though not mind blowing. Perhaps his bootlegs were higher quality than usual? Regardless, this is the best the animation has ever looked to me. The lines and subtitles are sharp and the show is free of the dreaded rainbows. I would say it's definitely a match for the Japanese release, especially when you consider they got two or three episodes per DVD and Media Blasters' release contains the first five (future volumes will contain four episodes each, for a six-disc release).

The translation may draw fire from certain fans, who have grown used to a particular translator or fansubbing group's spelling. The main character's name has at least four or five variations in the fan community, but the spelling MB went with, Guts (as opposed to 'Gatts' or 'Gattsu'), has the blessing of the original artist himself, Kentaro Miura. So hopefully, there won't be too many complaints over his name or the others which differ from the common fan translations (Ricket vs 'Rickert'; Chuder vs. 'Chuda'; etc...). Also of note is the prolouge which opens every episode, and is translated differently by every single person. Usually the rumination on fate and free will comes across as awkward or nonsensical, but MB has done an outstanding job of translating it in a way that maintains the internal poetry and goes down reeeeeal smooth.

I feel the packaging will attract the attention of people who might otherwise pass right by it, and I mean that in a good way. To begin with, not many DVDs are packaged in opaque, red plastic. It sounds nasty, but trust me, it works wonders with the cover, a red and black design with one of Miura's portraits of Guts in the center. The title and the volume number are promintently featured and the hiragana version of the title appears right below the english one. It includes the standard insert listing the chapters. For those who care, it's an Alpha keepcase. Of note is the boxset, which is goddamned work of art. If you can purchase volume one with the box, do so. It's worthy of being displayed on your bookshelf.

The menus are a good indication of the series' tone, the main menu being an animated version of a still shot from the opening. It's silhouette of a gnarled tree with several bodies hanging from the branches; the menu options are on the tombstones in the foreground. The one complaint here is that squeezing those options onto those tiny tombstones makes them almost illegible beyond a certain distance. If you sit at the averages distance from your TV though, the only one you might have trouble with is "setup" (second one from the left). Each screen loads quickly, with no appreciable delay.

There is, as yet, no clean opening and ending in the extras, but they may be squeezed into future volumes. What you do get are Production galleries, which I find only mildly interesting, a gallery of Miura's amazing art (definitely worth checking) and outtakes from the dubbing session. People either love outtakes or hate them, in my experience, but I loved this batch. Most are genuinely funny and not just the actors trailing off.

Berserk is a dark, violent series set in a fantasy version of medieval Europe. The supernatural has only a light presence in the series, however. The first, sixth and ending episodes are the only places where it shows up. The rest of the time it's a brilliantly realized period piece, which usually means fancy costumes and people speaking in French accents. In Berserk, it means a horribly bloody war with a side order of court intrigue. The character development is top notch, though it is less evident in these early episodes. Berserk ran late at night with a limited budget, and so the animation looks a bit more dated than 1997, and still shots show up more than once. But it is also clean, consistent and distinct from much of the other animation out there. Were it not for a nauseatingly out-of-place opening song, I'd have nothing to complain about at all.

Highly reccomended, for those who don't mind buckets of blood.
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Old 19-06-2002, 11:25 PM   #2   [permalink]
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Re: Review: Berserk, vol. 1-War Cry

Says Dryden-san:
(lots of good stuff about the DVD release)
Stop it, man! I'm drooling over here!

Were it not for a nauseatingly out-of-place opening song, I'd have nothing to complain about at all.
I need to get this. I must pawn something. I'll do it tomorrow.
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Old 20-06-2002, 12:16 AM   #3   [permalink]
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My brief review can be found in this thread. Some things I want to add... The menu screen is fitting. Very plain and simple, but definately won't win any beauty contests. Some of the outtakes were funny, but it would have done fine without it as well because it didn't really need it in my opinion. However, there is something I did notice in the opening. If you watch the opening theme in the DVD, you see Gatts'... Guts' (...whatever...) hand holding his sword before it fades to white showing the title, Berserk. In the fansub, this was never shown; it faded right to the title. Kinda hard to explain, but if you make the comparison yourself, you should be able to notice. Just a little minor thing I noticed.
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Old 21-06-2002, 11:03 AM   #4   [permalink]
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Re: Re: Review: Berserk, vol. 1-War Cry

Originally posted by Drizzten

I need to get this. I must pawn something. I'll do it tomorrow. dont have the dvd yet!?! if theres a dvd that everyone needs to get-BERSERK! (or excel saga, depending on your choice of genre)

anyhow, im happy MB is finally moving on from the Kenshin flagship (the only title in their catalog that is actually worth something) to Berserk. really really great.

btw dryden-san, the berserk HK dvd is one of the best hk dvd's out there
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Old 03-08-2002, 10:07 PM   #5   [permalink]
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i have the dvd and i love it

the art and the characters are great and i was wondering if anyone has any information on when the next one comes out?
on a lone enough timeline the survival rate for everyone drops to zero
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Old 04-08-2002, 04:52 PM   #6   [permalink]
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Just finished watching dvds 1 and 2 for the first time, and wow, am I impressed with this series! The animation is beautiful, the plot is extremely interesting. I love the way that Griffith's different strategies are shown; it makes Berserk a lot different from other anime where the heroes just run insane killing everything...

The only quibble I had was the music chosen. Not the music during the series, but the music during the Opening and Ending credits. The opening song (as other people have said before) just doesn't go with the series at all! Why didn't they use "Forces" instead? "Forces" definitely captures the whole essence of the series, I thought... And while the ending song isn't as bad, I was really annoyed by the engrish...

Originally posted by Fatal Outlaw
anyhow, im happy MB is finally moving on from the Kenshin flagship (the only title in their catalog that is actually worth something) to Berserk. really really great.
The only title...?! What about Weiß Kreuz?!! ...

dheu <-- hopeless fangirl...

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Old 11-08-2002, 04:59 AM   #7   [permalink]
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I have also just finished watching the first two discs of Berserk and I must say that it one "twisted show." I must say that it was almost too much for me to bare, but nevertheless its got me hooked and I must keep watching it. A little comment on the characters: Griffith strikes me as a very confient and ambitious man who will do anything by any means necessary to win. But he freaks me out though! He looks nice on the outside but on the inside he is evil as hell! I know this. Ah, Gatts. You are my frekin hero! This guy is definately badass. I mean, there really isn't any other way to put it. To sum this up, I am glad that I stumbled upon this show.

Side Note: I had a nightmare about this show! I dreamt that Zodd the Immortal was rippin my flesh limb from limb! The horror, the horror! Too much realism here.
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Old 12-08-2002, 01:02 PM   #8   [permalink]
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BERSERK is my second favortie series, ranking only behind BEBOP, and it's absolutely superb. If you loved the first two DVDs, the third one will hook you absolutely. The assassination scene made me a fanatic for this show and told me that this series is REALLY playing for keeps.

My take on the first DVD: I enjoyed the outtakes. The menu is a bit too gimmicky for me --- it makes it tough to select the options, and the swinging corpses just make me laugh at their campiness. There's way too much concentration on the "demonic" aspect of the series, rather than the raw human emotion and tragedy that makes it so memorable. The trailer for BERSERK that is on the KENSHIN DVDs had this same fault. This is a show that has demons in it, but it's definitely not ABOUT demons.

I also had some quibbles with the translations --- not necessarily with the names, but with some of the word choices. For instance, during the second fight between Guts and Griffith, when Guts asks, "Why didn't you kill me?" Griffith turns to him and says:

R1: "Because I want you to join me as a soldier." (paraphrasing)
HK: "Because I want you, Guts."

The HK is more effective IMO because it first shows how odd Griffith is and his "real" intentions (not necessarily sexual, but rather in terms of "possessing" Guts).

Another example from the same scene, when Guts draws his sword and tells Griffith that he's his if Griffith can defeat him, Griffith says:

R1: "I rather enjoy settling things by force."
HK: "I don't mind fighting for what I want."

It may be more accurate, but I still love my HK version. I just think the HK Fansubs more accurately convey the tone, if not ncessarily the perfect phonetics, behind what's going on the scenes. I am buying the legit show, though, so don't come down on me.

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