I’m drunker than glothelegend so bear with me here.
I’m extremely familiar with Berserk, having watched the (first half of) the anime and read the manga, then watched the anime again, so I know this story (one of my all-time favorites) like the back of my hand. Going into this movie, my expectations weren’t high. I’d seen previews and found the style of character designs awkward, and I didn’t understand why we were revisiting the Golden Age arc again. It’s already been done by the original anime, and people have wanted a continuation of the story forever.
But I’m not one to snub my nose at HD remakes. There’s nothing that a fan stands to lose from the existence of such things. Don’t like the remake? Well, the original is still there. Maybe just be glad that the new one has something you might like in it. I went into the first Berserk movie asking myself, what does this add to the franchise as a whole?
Because indeed, I don’t think this is a “replacement” for the anime or the manga. I would not recommend watching just the movies on their own. As a Berserk fan, there’s nothing to lose, but just as any fan of the anime should definitely read the manga because it has more of the plot, and any fan of the manga can do no wrong to watch the anime, if you watch this movie, you owe it to yourself to partake in the original anime and the manga, because the movie cuts too much out.
In just over an hour, this movie covers about ten fucking episodes of the anime (not including the first episode, which isn’t covered). I’m not sure how much of the manga this is, but it’s probably something like six volumes (we must skip the first three and a half because, again, those aren’t covered here). There’s certainly a lot of useless shit in the show, where episodes feel a little longer than they may have needed to be (usually while enemies talk about how awesome they are for minutes on end), yet this movie happens so fast that it doesn’t give time to endear one to the characters or get sucked into what’s happening, or get wrapped up in Griffith’s enigma.
But maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’ve seen Berserk too many times, and am interpreting it as a fan would, not knowing how it would appeal to new hopefuls. Also, I was slamming shots the whole time, so I could barely even see by the end of it.
Anyway, there’s something to gain here. It’s in the massively enhanced realism. One of the biggest drawbacks of the original show is that the battles suck a fat cock. We just see a bunch of shots of dudes killing dudes, with spacial relationships constantly changing while people stand around talking about what’s happening. The new movies bring the world and the scenes to life better than the show or manga could. It has the sense of “if this had really happened, this is what it really would have looked like.”
I enjoyed this aspect a lot, because it seemed to fill in the gaps in my imagination about what had happened in the story. For instance, in both the show and manga, all we ever see of the first battle where Guts kills whats-his-fuck is the fight itself, whereas in the movie, we get a better idea of the fact that a whole battle happens, and there’s shit like siege weaponry employed.
That said, it’s not like the new battles are necessarily interesting. The movie has realism, but it isn’t well-directed or particularly interesting to look at outside of being a re-imagination of Berserk. Moreover, the entire movie is in CG. At first, I found this incredibly awkward, and I’m still not sure if I just got used to it, or got so drunk that it stopped being as apparent to me. The CG is what allows for these big-scale fights and for the realistic movements, but it is smack dab in the middle of the uncanny valley; weird as fuck.
Fans of the series probably won’t be impressed by this movie because all it adds is a small bit of visual enhancement while cutting even more from the story that had already been problematically cut from the anime. When I’d heard there would be three movies, I thought it would mean that they were going to cover everything, not that they were going to make the movies ultra-short, which makes no sense.
But again, I’ve lost nothing. At worst, I’ve gained. Just not a whole lot.