Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Berserk main characters analysis Part Four: Thoughts on Golden Age Arc.

I know I said last time that I'd give an overview of what came after Griffith's betrayal, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that that might be a bad idea. Like I said before, there's a lot of ground to cover in Berserk, and even trying to summarize it would take me forever. So I decided instead to leave it alone and come back to it another time. And instead, I'm just going to give you my thoughts on the series that I've covered so far.

I should also probably explain the title of this post.You see, as of right now, the Berserk Manga has a total of five story arcs. The Black swordsman arc, The Golden Age arc, The Conviction Arc (i.e. my personal favorite), The Falcon of the Millennium Empire Arc, and the most recent (and ongoing) The Fantasia Arc. And although the Black Swordsman arc was the first published, the arc we covered, The Golden Age, is the first arc chronologically. And it's the one that casual fans would be the most familiar with simply because it's been animated twice. Once as a 25 episode TV series in 1997, and, more recently, as a film trilogy.

Literally, we see Guts' birth.
Anyway, here's what I think of the Golden Age arc. It's no secret that I like it, why else would I be writing about it? But honestly, the character development is kinda, 'meh'. Oh, it's not bad by any means, Kentarō Miura did a great job in avoiding the stereotypes of his chosen medium. But the only character that he seemed to put any real effort into was Guts. We get to see Guts' from the time he's a newborn and all the way to Griffith's betrayal, a time span of several decades. At least we do in the Manga and the TV series. We get to see Casca as a child too, yes, But not to the same degree as we do Guts. The odd man out here is Griffith *stabs him in the face with a very big knife*. While I will still argue that he's a very interesting character, we still don't know much about his past. What about his formative years helped mold him into the ambitious, backstabbing scumbag that he is today? Why does he want to become a king so bad? To my knowledge, the Manga has never really addressed this, and neither has any of the animes.

Griffith,why can't you just DIE!!!?
Despite that, as I've said, Griffith is still a very interesting character. I mean, yeah, I've wanted him dead, since the moment I laid eyes on him, but that doesn't change the fact. He's the kind of character that you "Love to hate," I think that that's one of the highest compliment you can give a villain character. "I despise you so much, that I love you." I still want him dead, though.  As for the other Hawk members, we don't get to see them as kids either, but we do get a clear enough picture of who they are and how they development as the story progresses...but then again, all but one of them (not counting Casca and Guts for the moment) are dead, so they don't matter.
Schierke...not in the Golden Age.

As for the story, itself, I like it. It's careful to avoid all the supernatural stuff till it's important to the plot, which in the Manga is only three times in the arc we covered (and only twice in the TV show and movies), and that includes Griffith's betrayal. Like Game of Thrones, The Golden Age arc focus a lot of its attention on political intrigue and character development rather than "how cool Guts looks as he slays 1 million demons while his bulging muscles rip out of his shirt." Arcs after the Golden Age retain the same level of politics and character development, but we also get more traditional fantasy elements, like magic, fairies, witches (including my personal favorite character, Schierke), and of course, more demon slaying than I care to get into here. While I don't have a problem with fantasy elements; yeah, it's kinda hard to deny that, when compared to the others, the Golden Age is probably the best-written arc of the series. At least so far.

Casca, post-Griffith's betrayal. 
If I had one big complaint about Berserk as a whole, it's the lack of a proper ending. As I said in the first post, The Berserk Manga is, at the time of writing, 37 volumes long and there's still no end in sight. Game of Thrones feels like a paragraph by a first grader when compared to this series sometimes. Part of that, hell most of it, is on Kentarō Miura himself. I'm not gonna claim that he's artificially extending the length of Berserk, as there is no evidence to suggest it. And, as a fantasy writer myself, I can understand and appreciate that telling a big story like this takes time. But there are times when I feel like he deliberately ignores opportunities to get to the ending quicker. For example, much later in the story, Griffith returns to the mortal realm and reforms the Band of the Hawk, but this time with Demons disguised as humans at his beck and call. Being the genius that he is (sarcasm), Griffith visits Guts and tries to get him to join this new army. Guts obviously tells him to eat shit and die and attacks him. But Guts is repulsed by Griffith's demonic bodyguard and escapes. Rather than do the sensible thing and, ya know, go after him and kill him once and for all, Guts decides to take Casca (who still has the cognitive functions of a child due to the traumatic events of the eclipse) and go on a journey to find a cure for her madness. Sure....why not?

There's also the fact that Miura puts Berserk on hiatus often, and for long stretches of time, particularly these days. And, as a result, the publication of a new Berserk chapter is erratic and not all regular. I've heard that he does this because of  health-related reasons, but I haven't been able to find a reliable, English-language source (I can't read Japanese) that confirms or denies this. So for all I know, he could just be giving himself a break. Which is understandable given that, like many manga creators, he writes and draws all of his graphic novels himself. Writing is hard enough, but drawing it too, well you'd be burned out quicker.

Another thing that bugs me about Berserk as a whole doesn't have anything to do with the work itself, but it's fanboys and fangirls. I've already talked about the myth about Guts' sword, Dragonslayer, being the first oversized sword in manga and anime, we all know that's not true. But there are many other things that have been put forth by fanboys/girls that have become misconceptions about the series. Now, every fandom has its share of cringe-worthy fans, but the Berserk fanboys/girls scare me the most because of how many of them choose to paint Griffith, which I'll get to in a second. But for now I wanna address some of the misconceptions:

scene from the Akira Manga.
  • "Guts is the most bad ass and hardcore anime character ever.": This is a matter of opinion, not one of fact. I personally think that Motoko Kusanagi   from the excellent anime/manga series Ghost in The Shell  (seriously, why haven't you all read or seen Ghost in the Shell) is more bad ass than Guts because she can literally rip both people and giant mechs apart with her bare hands. And besides, when I ask Berserk fanboys/girls to explain what do they mean by "Hardcore." none of them can answer me. 
  • "Berserk is known for its illustrations being far superior to any other manga out there!": ....um.... Have you all never read Akira, Ghost in the Shell, or any other manga whose target audience wasn't kids and teenagers (hell, I'd even argue that kids and teens manga can be just as detailed as Berserk)? When you read Manga that's meant for adults, you're gonna see more detailed drawings as a general rule. It depends on the artist's style and what kind of deadlines they're under, but the point is that Berserk isn't unique here. 
  • "Berserk is better written than any manga or western comic book.": Generally said by the fans who don't know a goddamn thing about writing, anime, Manga, or western comic books. Moving on.
  • "Griffith isn't the villain, he's the antagonist/ Griffith did nothing wrong": I mentioned this briefly in the post about Griffith, but this is where the fan misconceptions really start to disturb me. Yes, you CAN make the argument that the antagonist of a story isn't necessarily the villain. Problem is that that argument doesn't hold water when it's applied to Griffith. He's manipulative, controlling, sees his friends and comrades as stones that should only exist to pave the way to his dream. And he murders people just to get what he wants, and he murders those who reject him and he ultimately doesn't care. Need I remind you of what he did to the Band of the Hawk after they saved him? Or what he did to Casca? All of which leads to one conclusion, HE'S THE VILLAIN. Who are you KIDDING?! Griffith is evil, he has ALWAYS been evil. Cut, print, end of bloody story. And if your STILL one of those people who think that Griffith did nothing wrong...***ck. right. off. 
I could go on, but I think I made my point.

Anyway, that concludes my analysis on Guts, Casca and Griffith, and my Thoughts on Berserk as a whole I guess. I hope you all found it informative and enjoyed it. Have any of you read Berserk? Do you agree with my analysis? Do you want me to talk about the other Arcs? Let me know down in the comments. 

Oh, and if you are reading this from Goodreads.com or my Amazon authors page (becuase I know that this blog is linked to those sites too). DON'T POST YOUR COMMENTS ON THOSE SITES. I WILL NOT see them if you do. Leave your comments on the proper post here: http://thesummersleeper.blogspot.com/  

And that's all out of me for now dear readers. I'll see you next week.

Oh yeah, yeah, you wanna know why they haven't made an anime out of Berserk's other story arcs, right? Well, I don't know why they didn't with the TV shows or the movies, buttttt......
Hell Yeah. Beyond summer of this year, I don't know when exactly this new series will air. But I do know that it will pick up where the recent film trilogy left off and eventually cover the Manga storyline in its entirety. And I know that anime streaming website, Crunchyroll, have acquired the rights to stream the series in the west as it airs on Japanese TV.  I'm not ever sure how that works, but whatever.

If you wanna read the manga for yourself, it has been released in the west by Comic book company Dark Horse Comics, and you can buy the volumes at any book retailer (Amazon is your friend), and it can easily be found online at the time of writing.

And in case you all missed them, here are the links to the other Berserk posts: Part 1: http://thesummersleeper.blogspot.com/2016/04/berserk-main-characters-analysis-part.html

Part 2: http://thesummersleeper.blogspot.com/2016/04/berserk-main-characters-analysis-part_12.html   

And Part 3:http://thesummersleeper.blogspot.com/2016/04/berserk-main-characters-analysis-part_19.html    

Now I'm out for real, later.                                      

No comments:

Post a Comment