OP: 「サクリファイス」 (Sacrifice) by 9mm Parabellum Bullet
「ほころぶ世界」,「冬の旅路」 (Hokorobu sekai, Fuyu no tabiji)
“The Rent World”, “Winter Journey”
‘Tis the season of plenty it seems, as dual episode starts and early airings greet our presence. Not to be outdone is Berserk’s sequel, which rushes out gates with not two, but three back to back episodes. Yeah, yeah, the first may have been a recap, but got to admit it’s pretty awesome. If in need of a refresher or just plain new to the show, I’d seriously recommend giving that recap a whirl before reading on though because Berserk wastes no time returning to the thick of things.
When Berserk left off nearly a year ago, The Tower of Conviction had fallen, Griffith (Sakurai Takahiro) was reborn in a new corporeal body, and Guts (Iwanaga Hiroaki) had finally reunited with Casca (Yukinari Toa). Instead of taking a breather, the story—more or less—pushes right on into this season’s plot: Guts wants Griffith’s head, Griffith wants his kingdom, and a whole host of other characters end up caught in the wake of their travails. It’s a pleasant pace Berserk is setting, and certainly doesn’t leave anyone wanting for action. After all, we immediately get a brawl between Zodd and Guts, a succinct demonstration of Kushan conquest, and a “sex” scene certain to give Cross Ange a run for its money (more on that later). Seems the producers did learn a thing or two from last time.
Of course, however, not everything has improved. As expected the 3DCGI remains prevalent, showcasing its lackluster impact when viewed against the 2D scenes. Personally the 3D animation never bothered me, but it’s hard not noticing it at times, such as Rickard’s hilarious running scene, or those noticeable ghosts. Then there’s the sound effects which can get a little surreal at times, in particular the swords; might just be me, but I’m pretty sure bashing broadswords together does not sound like beating on metal plates. At least the background music and OP/ED are very much on point. Combine that with the pacing Berserk is setting—along with the material being adapted—and the show might just make up for its questionable animation. Probably not enough to change every mind of course, but I’d argue this adaptation definitely deserves some benefit of the doubt now.
The interesting bit for me though lay in what story was revealed this week. Instead of going all in on Griffith’s ride into the heart of Kushan’s warriors, we received some backstory on Faranese (Hikasa Yoko) and Serpico (Okitsu Kazuyuki)—definitely not expected, at least for me. Having never read the manga (yeah, yeah I know, sue me) the depraved, chaotic behaviour of Faranese—and Serpico’s secretive blood relation—surprised the hell out of me, although a lot of last season’s actions now make more sense because of it. It especially showcases how important Faranese’s request to Guts is because this girl in her previous life would never even entertain the thought. Particularly amusing too is how Faranese’s actions weren’t even the worst on offer. Purifying flames, burning your half-brother’s mother alive? Pure child’s play, let’s try some demon-induced rape. Nipples or no, the two stage Casca defilement definitely widened the eyes in a sickeningly intriguing way, the sort of moment you want to look away from, but cannot no matter how hard you try. Casca may be mentally broken, but I’d imagine she will have a hard time warming back up to Guts following that stunt. Just shows that Guts’ vengeance—and his own sanity—will not be lacking in collateral damage.
With a firm basis—and some provocative scenes—under tow, Berserk is certainly set to blaze into this season with style. Faranese and Serpico are now part of the gang, Puck (Mizuhara Kaoru) and Isidro (Shimono Hiro) are back for comedic relief, and we have a white haired pretty boy set to f*ck things up for some Kushan troops. No idea where this all leads, but I’ll be damned if Berserk didn’t pique my interest hard. Not enough to impulsively convince me to cover this of course, but easily enough to warrant hanging around for another episode or two. I’m quite curious seeing where this sequel leads.
ED: 「一切は物語」 (Issai wa Monogatari) by Yoshino Nanjo feat. Nagi Yanagi