Review: BERSERK: THE EGG OF THE KING Is Brilliant And Epic (REEL ANIME 2012)

Contributing Writer; Sydney, Australia (@HugoOzman)
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Review: BERSERK: THE EGG OF THE KING Is Brilliant And Epic (REEL ANIME 2012)
Berserk: The Egg of the King offers a great start to the film trilogy that is to be based on the popular manga and anime series Berserk. This faithful film adaptation should please both fans and newcomers alike with its massive battles, bloody fights and intriguing storylines surrounding the compelling characters. It is quite simply one of the best animated action films of recent years.
'Berserk' may just be the perfect title considering how wild and out of control its central character Guts is. This mercenary, who carries a big sword, values money over honor, hates obligations and has little purpose in life, is incredibly skilled as a fighter. What makes him particularly dangerous is the way he just throws himself into the jaws of death and fights like he does not care about losing his life. He draws the attention of Griffith after defeating a strong fighter called Bazuso, and ends up joining Griffith's Band of the Hawk, known as 'outsiders' and 'commoners' to kings and knights but 'the gods of death' to enemies on the battlefield.
The brutal and bloody battle scenes are epic in scale. While some of the 3D computer graphics employed are less than refined, it does not detract too much from the intense and well-designed action sequences. What is most impressive is how every single action scene in the film contributes to the telling of its story, whether it is through revealing something about the characters, or simply by advancing the plot. One classic example is the fight between Guts, Griffith and the mighty Zodd the Immortal, which is tremendously entertaining and at the same time gives much insight about Guts, Griffith, their relationship and even their fates.
Berserk: The Egg of the King's story of ambition, loyalty and betrayal is a gripping one. Viewers will come to connect with and care for the characters. In particular, there is something mesmerizing about Guts. Perhaps it is his sad past (as hinted by one brief scene in the movie, though the film never goes into a lot of details about that), or it may just be his extremely violent nature. The complex relationships between Guts, Griffith and the Band's female warrior Casca are subtly portrayed and form the backbone of the story. By the time the film reaches its end, one cannot help but wish to see more of these characters' adventures. So if the filmmakers can continue to perfectly combine strong storytelling and exciting action, the Berserk trilogy will surely be destined to become an anime film classic. 

Australia's REEL ANIME 2012, presented by Madman Entertainment, will be showcasing From Up On Poppy Hill, the latest masterpiece from the Academy Award-winning Studio Ghibli; Wolf Children, from Mamoru Hosoda, critically-acclaimed director of Summer Wars; Berserk - The Egg of the King, the action-packed first feature film in a brand-new trilogy, based on the best-selling manga and anime series, Berzerk; and Children Who Chase Lost Voices, a visually stunning adventure film from cult director Makoto Shinkai (Voices of a Distant Star, 5 Centimetres Per Second). All films will be screened in Japanese language with English subtitles.
REEL ANIME 2012 will screen in selected cinemas from September 13 - 26. For more information, please check out their official website.

REEL ANIME 2012 Review: Mamoru Hosoda's Wolf Children

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PulstarAugust 28, 2012 7:15 AM

Compared to the original series, this is nowhere as deep or desolate.

hiroaki.jAugust 28, 2012 9:12 AM

The Manga or 90's TV show? (haven't read the former).

gurotakuAugust 28, 2012 1:13 PM

I'll definitely give it a chance once it hits BD but the mix of 2D/3D graphics looks really jarring from the trailers, with some parts looking like PS2 cutscenes.

I still hope the three films do well enough to spawn a sequel trilogy that finally carries the story into some previously unfilmed territory.

blackula jonezAugust 28, 2012 1:34 PM

This looks promising even thought it seems to be a condensed version of the manga and anime (Guts origin, joining Griffin and the Band of the Hawk, facing Nosferatu Zodd) which is only the first 1/3rd of the short lived anime and 1/5th of the still ongoing manga. I

t is an investment in time or money of you go the legit route and buy the Dark Horse manga volumes but the saga of Guts is one of the best over all comics I have ever read and one of the few I still pay money for and actively collect (36th volume comes out in October). Hopefully this will get a U.S. release before the end of the year.

Major_RagerAugust 28, 2012 4:45 PM

Honestly, I don't think I've disagreed with a review here on Twitch so vehemently as I do with this (no offense, sir). I thought this movie, much like Evangelion 1.0, was incredibly shallow compared to the manga and TV series. But at least with Evangelion 1.0, there was better animation and some interesting changes in story here and there to keep me interested. This Berserk rebuild, as I like to call it, missed the mark completely, for me. Berserk is known for being gory, gritty, and most importantly, epic, and the movie is absolutely none of these. The whole supernatural aspect with the demons and such, which sort of slowly creeps it's way in to the Band of the Hawk story with the anime series, pops out of no where half way through the movie and therefore doesn't really resonate or shock the viewer. The animation is way way way too pretty and clean for such a dark and gritty tale, in my opinion; it looks a lot like a gory Disney film. My biggest issue was how much information they compressed in it's hour and half, allowing for almost zero connection with any of it's secondary characters. Luckily, I've been reading that the second film is way better and takes much more liberty with the story, that way us fanboys will have an excuse to check it out. This first one, however, was a big dud for this berserk Berserk fan.

Major_RagerAugust 28, 2012 4:47 PM

And excuse me for being a pest, but I am slightly annoyed that the Skull Knight is in that poster when he's not even in the movie, and probably won't be until at least the 3rd, if that. 28, 2012 9:56 PM

It never ceases to amaze me when I read comments like the Major's here.... We haven't seen anything animated from Berserk in YEARS, and now we get what looks to be a promising start on a exciting project, and all that can be done is pick the film apart and complain about animation style?
" The animation is way way way too pretty and clean for such a dark and gritty tale, in my opinion; it looks a lot like a gory Disney film."
Really? You actually took the time to type that out?
And Evangelion 1.11 sucks too right?
Sorry Major, but it may be time for a dishonorable discharge.....

Hugo OzmanAugust 29, 2012 8:17 AM

Dear Major_Rager,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts so eloquently. Please do not call yourself a pest. Because to me, every reader's opinion is just as valuable as my own. You are obviously a massive fan of the Berserk manga and anime series, and so I can see why you are critical of Golden Arc I: The Egg of the King - because you think it could be better. In certain ways, I think you're right.

Having said that, however, I think you would agree that Berserk is not the easiest show to adapt into a few films, because of its scope and dark subject matter. Personally, I have found the first film of the trilogy very entertaining and think it will encourage more people to check out the original manga and anime series (which we love). And that could only be a good thing.

Hugo OzmanAugust 29, 2012 8:34 AM

Dear martinstratis,

Thank you for your comments! I believe that regardless of what each of us thinks about Golden Arc I: The Egg of the King, every Berserk fan (the Major included) is truly hoping that the film trilogy, at least as a whole, will be a worthy addition to the amazing franchise.

Major_RagerAugust 29, 2012 1:27 PM

Well, gee, aren't you going to be disappointed when you take a look at every other review of this movie. 90% of them bash it just as harshly as I did. I also watched this with a room full of people who have no idea what BERSERK is, and they didn't like it either. Sorry, but I'm not gonna be one of those fanboys who will love everything and anything with the word BERSERK on it. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" has always been my motto. I don't care that we haven't seen any new BERSERK shit in years... in my opinion, we STILL haven't.

And no I didn't think Evangelion 1.11 sucked, per se. There was still a lot to love about it. 2.22 however was pretty disappointing. But we're talking about two entirely different beasts here when we're comparing the BERSERK and EVA rebuilds but I'm not going to get in to that because apparently opinions aren't welcome on a review site.

Major_RagerAugust 29, 2012 1:29 PM

I should also add that you just said " We haven't seen anything animated from Berserk in YEARS, and now we get what looks to be a promising start on a exciting project, and all that can be done is pick the film apart and complain about animation style?" which tells me you haven't even seen it yet.

It's unfair to rip apart a movie before seeing it, but so is defending it against those who have.

Major_RagerAugust 29, 2012 1:32 PM

Glad someone realizes that my opinion of a movie should not be seen as an attack on those who did enjoy it. Kudos! Hopefully, the second one will be as amazing as I've heard!

Greg RiveraAugust 29, 2012 5:30 PM

To Major_Rager, please don't take this the wrong way, but you actually sold me on this movie (you had me at "gory Disney film"). The question I'd like to ask you (or anyone reading this, please, Mr. Ozman or martinstratis, please let me know) how does the movie play for those of us not terribly familiar with the anime series or manga — is it accessible at all? My only exposure to BERSERK was the Sega Dreamcast game from years ago, which I greatly enjoyed. Any and all comments are appreciated.
— Greg

midianAugust 30, 2012 2:32 AM

I love the berserk manga and tv series but the things that made the manga and tv series great like the character development I feel are missing here and to me this first film fells like a recap episode of a tv show where they are trying to remind people of what happened.

Hugo OzmanAugust 30, 2012 3:28 AM

Dear Greg,

This may be best answered by fellow Twitch writers or readers who have seen the movie but not watched the series or read the manga, but I think the movie should be pretty accessible to those new to the world of Berserk. Having said that, some knowledge of the manga or series will help fill in some of the gaps in the narrative (such as Guts' background).

Major_RagerAugust 30, 2012 1:13 PM

I watched it with a date (I know, I'm a sick bastard) and she didn't like it either. I don't remember her thoughts exactly, but I do remember her saying that she felt that the whole horror aspect (ie. encounter with Zodd) came out of left field and seemed completely random, and didn't feel like it fit in with the rest of the story which was, up to that point, pretty standard medieval battle stuff.

Now, i might have thought it was pretty terrible because I keep comparing it, but if i were to be able to flush all of my knowledge of Berserk out of my brain and review it, I'd say that is nothing special at all, and certainly not epic. But to each their own!

Major_RagerAugust 30, 2012 1:17 PM

There was another couple with us as well but I don't remember either of them saying much nice about it either. Guess you're just gonna have to watch it!

Greg RiveraAugust 30, 2012 11:56 PM

The Good: the fighting scenes, gory Disney indeed!
The Bad: ummmm.exactly what was the story about? Failed to grasp, sorry; as a strict collector of theatrical (or theatrically-styled) anime, this one fell into the trap that too many series-adapted-into movies fall into, that they make no sense whatsoever to the uninitiated (I've gone through this a few times now). When will I ever see my next Akira or even Sword of the Stranger? I'm open to suggestions from Twitch readers.
The Ugly: The incomprehensible storyline grinds the movie to a complete and utter halt after the battle with the demon.
But I appreciate the sincere review, Mr. Ozman, and I sought this movie out based mostly on your review, thank you. Please, keep 'em coming.

Dragon HlaingSeptember 24, 2012 8:43 PM

Finally a reasonable review! Sick of hearing all the haters complaining about how it's different/inferior to the manga/anime, what's been missed, blah blah. Sure a few things here and there were missed but it was still an entertaining film to watch, and we can't judge the entire remake based on what is essentially an introduction to the series. I would've liked a bit more time expanding on the rest of the Hawks, and some of the CG was horrendous but at the end of the day, the relationships between Guts, Griffiths and Caska are what really matters and this movie did a decent job of laying the groundwork. "Watch the anime/read the manga, it's way better." Mate, how about you watch all three movies and then decide for yourself whether this version or that version is better. Because right now, it's like judging a book based on it's opening chapters.

SoSuaveSeptember 25, 2012 1:39 PM

I thought it was good, outside of a few major problems. The biggest problem with the first movie is its pacing and lack of character development (ESPECIALLY this). It all happened too quickly, like someone mentioned...the fight with Zodd just kind of happens with absolutely no warning or build up, among other things. But the biggest problem with the film as a whole is character development, more so than anyone...Guts' childhood. Why they decided to completely half-ass that of all things is beyond me and there's absolutely no excuse for it. Other characters, besides Caska and Griffith can be ignored for...well, reasons...even if Judeau is my favorite character. The only problem with ignoring them is that the 3rd movie will leave less of an impact on anyone who watches it but the Berserk fans. As it stands right now, the manga and anime are definitely superior...but we still have two more movies to go, which also have much longer screen time. The selling point of the third movie is going to be whether or not they have Wyald and The Black Dog Knights in it. If they don't...they'll pretty much have ruined their chances at a successful reboot.

The movie was great, I really enjoyed it...but I'm a long time Berserk fan and can fill in the blanks without too much of an issue, so it doesn't hurt me to miss out on those things, though I was disappointed I didn't get to see Dilos nearly cut in two. For a newcomer it can be crippling. But from what I've heard, the 2nd movie is much better than the 1st.

The whole "gory Disney" thing is a bit of an exaggeration as well. I found the art to be quite breath-taking and very alluring to look at, excluding some of the bad CG. People want to say "Berserk is supposed to be gritty."...and it is, but not in the Golden Age Arc. That's why it's called the Golden Age Arc. Wait until shit REALLY starts to happen.

AizentNovember 29, 2012 11:40 AM

I have to agree with the popular sentiment: this was a terrible film, and if not then what qualities make for a quality film? Plot: terrible. Character development: none. Even the visuals are marred by the worst CG I've seen in an animated feature in at least a decade (seriously, the framerate left me woozy). So what are we left with, fan service? Fine, but as a fan of the manga and the original series, this stinks. To someone who is unfamiliar with the source material it will stink even worse, because nothing will make sense.

Far from being one of those "nothing will ever be as good as the original" fans, I was very much looking forward to what was promised to be a "re-telling" of the story--but this is indefensible, IMO.

MangaUKJanuary 13, 2013 9:02 PM

Berserk is brilliant!

There's a great unboxing video of the new release on the Manga UK blog!