Berserk is an anime (based on a manga) that takes place in medieval times. A charismatic leader named Griffin gathered together a group of rebels, calling themselves the Band of the Hawk, and tries to usurp the nobles who are in rule over the kingdom of Midland. The main leaders of the Band of the Hawk are Caska and Guts, a notorious fighter with a huge sword who is known to have killed over a hundred men. Despite a hulking hero, Berserk is by no means Conan The Barbarian. It is more concerned with the personal dynamics between the ambitious Griffin, the searching for a purpose Guts, and Caska, who is torn between the two men. The fights are brief and have some blood spray, but overall the action, nudity, and such is strictly PG-13.
EPISODE 18: TOMBSTONE OF FLAMES- After an attempted poisoning, the thought to be dead Griffin tracks the conspirators behind his aborted assassination. He ends up burning all of them to cinders, including the queen. Meanwhile, Guts has decided to leave. EPISODE 19: SEPERATION- Guts explains that he doesn't want to be in Griffin's shadow anymore, that although they may be friends and were united in a cause, he wasn't treated as an equal and doesn't want to be looked down upon as some lunkhead muscle. Griffin challenges him to a duel for his freedom, which Guts wins. Everybody's depressed, especially Caska and Griffin, who makes a rash decision, resulting in his capture. EPISODE 20: SPARKS- Guts has some downtime, reconsidering his life as a warrior. His soul-searching lasts a year and ends when he hears of a band of rebels who are on the run nearby called The Band of the Hawks. EPISODE 21: CONFESSION- Re-uniting with the Hawks, Guts learns how Griffin was captured and they were left in shambles. Caska especially felt betrayed by Guts and holds him responsible. The crew plan to break Griffin out of Midlands torture chambers.
The DVD: Media Blasters
Picture: Full-screen. I was actually surprised to find out that this series was done in 1997. The quality of the animation looked maybe, ten years older than that. Although, to be fair, it all depends on the studio and it is only in the past five or so years that the animation quality of anime has been on a steady rise. Still, it looks okay, and the DVD presentation does a good job. But, like I said, it was a bit grainy and had an overall look and definition that made me think the series was older.
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo English or Japanese language with optional English subtitles. Overall the sound is good and the subtitle translation seemed faithful and nuanced. I watched three of the four episodes in Japanese and the other in English. The English dubbing wasn't very good, very hackneyed over-acting, and the slightly muffled mix on the dub made the sound fx and music settle into the background more. The Japanese dub didn't have as much low end, was brighter, clearer, and better mixed
Extras: Chapter/Episode Selections--- Trailers (none for Berserk though)--- Outtakes (8:39) Flubs and goofing around by the English dubbers. Some of it seemed forced, most weren't funny, but there were a couple of good bits. Amusing , but it could be cut to half the length and be more entertaining. Interview with producer Toshio Nakataui (17:58). Pretty interesting and detailed look into producing the show. Hampered by the interviewers constants "Ahhh's"--- Toycom Preview of action figures.
Conclusion: Well, for me, I thought it was a bit leaden- like characters square off for a duel, but we are then treated to long takes of every characters inner thought on the duel instead of getting right into the fighting. But, as I said, I admit I cannot correctly judge a show 18 episodes in with no idea about what has already happened in the series. Anyway, being whtat it is, obviously the disc is out for pre existing fans of this medieval action/melodrama. In that case, the DVD presentation is fine, good pic and sound, and a couple of okay extras.