Berserk Manga: What made it so special?

Article at a glance:

  • Berserk’s early introduction to the manga scene set a precedent for dark and gritty storytelling, influencing subsequent works in anime, manga, and even video games like Dark Souls.
  • The Golden Age arc shines as the pinnacle of Berserk, delving deep into character backgrounds and motivations, particularly the contrasting journeys of Guts and Griffith, culminating in a tragic and impactful narrative.
  • Despite its flaws, Berserk’s enduring appeal lies in its portrayal of the human spirit’s resilience amidst darkness, embodied by the compelling protagonist Guts, making it a unique and unforgettable manga experience.

I probably should’ve made this article a while ago but, well better late than never I guess. Berserk is often regarded as one of the best mangas of all time. MAL rankings aren’t everything but Berserk has been the highest-rated manga on MAL for years now. Is that all just for show? Is Berserk overrated? Or is it deserving of the top spot for such a long time? Well, today I want to discuss my views on all these questions.

Now, before I even start, let me clarify a few things. These are all just my opinions and thoughts. Does Berserk have issues? Yes. Am I a little biased? Yes, I am. Is Golden Age the only good arc in Berserk? No, but it is the best. With those few small disclaimers out, let’s get right into why I think that Berserk manga is special to so many people and is so widely regarded as one of the best mangas ever made. Let’s get started.

What made the Berserk Manga special?

First and foremost, I think Berserk understands its target audience well. Kentarou Miura (rest in peace) knew the demographic he wanted to target with this manga and did his best to cater to them. This is also helped by the fact that there was nothing quite like this in the manga market back when Berserk first hit the shelves. Berserk came out in 1989. And it kind of pioneered a lot of dark and gritty anime/mangas we see today. It even has had influences on famous games like the Dark Souls series.

So that’s one thing. The strong sense of style combined with the dark and gritty tone. The other thing is how well the characters are written. Now, this only comes into focus in the Golden Age arc. As I mentioned previously, the Golden Age is by far the best arc of the series. And that is because of how character-focused it is. We learn why Guts is the way he is and then there is the uprising and downfall of Griffith. Someone who once had grand ambitions, disgraced, lost everything, and in his last act of desperation did something that forever changed him.

The slow downfall of Griffith contrasted with Guts’ growing as a character is what makes the Golden Age so special. And when Griffith finally falls into the darkness and ascends as a “god”, he dooms Guts and Casca. The story is still pretty good after that but the Golden Age arc is definitely peak Berserk. The world Kentaro Miura created was special and to the very end, the manga showcases the strength of the human spirit above all else. Guts’ strong desire to live, even if it is for vengeance, his strong desire to live despite everything is what makes him a compelling MC.

Of course, I cannot understate how much Miura’s iconic art style helps in giving this manga the strong sense of identity it has.

That is all for now!

Berserk is not a perfect manga. It is not for everyone and it does have a bunch of flaws like its treatment of female characters. But if you see the series for what is it, you will not find something like this anywhere else. And that is why this manga is special, at least in my opinion. Let me know what you guys think in the comments, I will take my leave here. See ya!

Also, check out my mid-season review for Wind Breaker here!

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