Sunday, May 12, 2013

Thoughts & Review: Berserk - The Golden Age Arc I & II: The Egg of the King & The Battle For Doldrey

I attended the Berserk Double Feature Event at New People in San Francisco last night with a friend of mine. Being able to see the first two movies on the big screen was quite a treat.

I already saw the first movie, The Egg of the King, on Blu-ray when it first came out, so being able to see The Battle For Doldrey for the first time -- and on the big screen -- months before its DVD/BD release* was quite exciting. You won't be able to fully enjoy the scope of the battlefield until you see it in a theater equipped with surround sound.

An important thing to note about the Berserk series and its story is that the violence and sex contained within its plot are not there for "shock value" or for entertainment sake. The Medieval Era (in particular, The Dark Ages) was one of many brutal periods during human history, and its depiction in Berserk is a reflection of that. It's not politically correct in any stretch of the imagination; it's not meant to be.

Both movies are surprisingly very well paced, focusing only on the key points of the story and character development. This makes the films very easy to digest for new fans of the series and for those who have never heard of it, while it helps longtime fans get back into pace with the story without having to deal with a lot of "plot fluff" (remember the Griffith bathing scene near the beginning of the series?).

The integration of CGI within the initial 2D animation does take some getting used to, but otherwise implemented well. Most of it is done during the battle sequences and more often during the battlefield scenes. There were times that I was so caught up with the action that I barely notice whether or not the scene was done in CG.

Both movies were presented in its English dubbed format, since Neon Alley was the main organizer of the event, along with promoting its streaming service. The English voice cast did a rather good job depicting the characters, in comparison with the Japanese voice cast. For the main characters, Marc Diraison voiced Guts, Kevin T. Collins voiced Griffith and Carolyn Keranen voiced Casca.

Susumu Hirasawa returns with his song, "Aria", as the movies' title track. You may remember him from the song, "~FORCES~", from the Anime. Hirasawa-san composed the soundtracks for both the Berserk Anime and video games. He also composed the soundtrack for Satoshi Kon's Paranoia Agent and Paprika. The music score works well in tandem with the overall atmosphere of the series, from epic orchestrations during the battlefield scenes to its soft moody undertone tracks.

Despite the truncated feel of the movies, Berserk: The Golden Age Arc I & II are enjoyable in their own right, both as a quick and easy introduction to Berserk, and as a classic Anime and Manga series done with a fresh coat of paint for newer generations of fans. The animation is beautifully done and the music score is excellent. The violence and sex scenes might be too much for some fans, but they don't deter from the overall story too much.

I very much enjoyed watching both movies and I can't wait to see The Golden Age Arc III: Decent when its released here in the States!

*Berserk: The Golden Age Arc II - The Battle For Doldrey will be released on DVD and Blu-ray in North America on August 6, 2013.


My biggest worry about when people first watch The Battle For Doldrey without reading the Manga or watching the Anime beforehand will end up taking the sex scene with Griffith and Princess Charlotte out of context.

This is the point where Griffith first show signs of him going into a Despair Event Horizon after Guts leaves, suspending that belief (or in this case, the "dream") that Griffith could have anything he ever wanted. Him having sex with Charlotte was just him dealing with his frustration.

And it all gets worse from there.


  1. It's nice to see even now that Berserk holds true to itself, and really no one in it is all that happy. Sometimes consistency is very reassuring. :)

    1. This is true. They've really stuck to their guns and kept with the series' roots.