Questions and Answers pertaining to the publication and creation of BERSERK.
What is BERSERK?
BERSERK is an epic, fantasy graphic novel that follows Guts, a swordsman in a medieval setting. Guts' journey takes him through a stunningly detailed world brimming with bloody battlefields, demonic creatures, and political deceit in a world on the brink of collapse. BERSERK pulls no punches. It is certainly not for the faint of heart or mind. Be prepared to see intestines and grey matter fly when Guts unleashes his Dragon Slayer, a giant, 6-foot-long "sword".
With a 1000-year long, mythical history and a cast numbering in the triple digits, BERSERK is one of the few series today that benefits a close, detailed reading.
Who Created BERSERK?
The creator, artist and writer of BERSERK is Kentarou Miura. A member of Buronson's (of "Fist of the North Star" fame) generation, Miura set out to create a fantasy series with a striking character struggling through a dark, brutal world. Influenced by several works, including movies such as "Flesh and Blood", Conan: The Barbarian and Highlander, and the novel series, which Miura said was a primary influence, "Guin Saga".
Miura began BERSERK towards the end of his college career. Sending out a one-shot story, the BERSERK: Prototype featured an early, more whimsical Guts invading a heavily guarded castle, seeking out his revenge on Apostles (the prototype is included with volume 14). The publisher knew a winner whenthey saw one and BERSERK was given the green light on becoming a serialized manga in "Animal House" and later on in Hakusensha's "Young Animal", where after 15 years, it is still published.
After the release of the Anime, BERSERK recieved an explosion of attention. After several years of hard work, he was finally properly recognized during the 2002 Tezuka Osamu Cultural Awards. BERSERK recieved 2nd prize, behind the national hit VAGABOND by Takehiko Inoue.
A very detailed biography was written by fellow forum member ZKK and can be read by clicking here.
When is it Published and Where can I get it?
BERSERK is serialized in Hakusensha's "Young Animal", a seinen magazine published twice every month. "Seinen," in Japan is the older-age bracket for serialized manga publications. If you live outside Japan, you can obtain a subscription to Young Animal through a variety of ways, just a few of which are:
- Contact your local Japanese Bookstore (search the yellow pages, or dial 411 if you don't know where it's located) and special order "Hakusensha's Young Animal". They'll likely have to order an annual subscription, because of the inexpensive price of individual issues (290 yen, or ~$3).
- kinokuniya.com, or any local Japanese bookstore can set you up with a mail-order subscription.
Roughly twice a year, a new volume is released, containing ~10-11 episodes. You can buy these at the above vendors.
Dark Horse Comics along with Digital Manga began publishing BERSERK in Fall 2003 and has no plans to stop. Their publishing rate is ~one volume every 3 months, but after volume 13, the rate will increase to one volume every 2 months (according to Chris Warner of Dark Horse). You can find BERSERK at Amazon.com, your local book store or comics shop for around $15.
Episode? Volume? Chapter? Wha-?
It can be a little confusing at first, but it's best to be well-educated. An EPISODE refers to the ~20 pg sequences published semi-monthly in Young Animal. A Volume contains 10-11 episodes. A Chapter can contain from less than one to several volumes ( for example: "Chapter of Lost Children," "Chatper of the Binding Chain," "Chapter of the Birth Festival"). Finally, an Arc encompasses several chapters, and marks a definite period, or story arc in the manga.
Is there a second season of the Berserk anime? Will there be?
The short answer is NO. Studio VAP produced the 25-episode series Kenpyuu Denki: Berserk in 1998 in Japan and have announced no plans of producing further episodes. Media Blasters acquired the rights to Berserk in 2002 and published 6 DVDs (details here) in America. For several years now, eager fans have turned the handle to the rumor mill and every now and then, another rumor will form. These have all proven to be false, in time.
Why aren't Skull Knight/Silat/Wyald/Puck in the anime?
Several characters were omitted from the anime adaptation of BERSERK. These include the elf Puck, the apostle Wyald, Silatt, the Bakiraka and several others. Each of these character removals were done so the anime could be self-contained in 25 episodes.
Episode 83: The Lost Episode
In 1996, Young Animal released Episode 83 of Berserk. It contained the most controversial subject matter in the series, a conversation between Griffith and the god of Berserk, The Idea of Evil. It was removed from the collected manga (1997) by Miura upon his request. The reason he gave for its removal is that it said too much, too early in the series. You can find a text translation of the episode here.
Who is the main composer of BERSERK's soundtracks?
Hirasawa Susumu has composed music for the entirety of the 1997 BERSERK anime, the majority of the 1999 Dreamcast Game and two songs for the 2004 PS2 Game. More detailed information about Susumu can be found on his webpage located here: http://chaosunion.com/hirasawa/e/.
When will BERSERK end?
There isn't an end in sight. Guin Saga, one of Miura's self-professed primary influences, is a 100+ volume series.
Questions and Answers to commonly asked questions about events in BERSERK.
What happens after the end of the anime?
The anime ends at a critical point in the story, the eclipse. Guts is being held down, forced to watch Casca being raped by Femto. In the manga (volume 13), Skull Knight bursts through the sun above the scene and attempts to strike Void with his sword. He is repelled and escapes with Guts and Casca on horseback. Femto is about to attack them, but stops himself. Later, Skull Knight drops Guts and Casca off at Godo's hut in the mountains so they can recover.
When Guts awakens, Casca has lost her sanity and regressed to child-like behavior. In despair, Guts escapes the cave and laments the loss of his friends. As night falls, Guts is haunted by spirits. Skull Knight appears and tells him the nature of the new world he is living in, thanks to the brand on his neck. Guts rushes off to protect Casca. He finds her in the middle of birth to a demonic child. Casca was pregnant with Guts' child when Femto raped her. The result is a deformed child that chose an evil nature, and posesses supernatural powers. Guts gathers equipment at Godo's and sets off on his lonely quest for revenge, leaving Casca behind.
Explain the Eclipse/Sacrificial Ceremony.
Each Ceremony begins using the Beherit to summon the God Hand. Blood, tears and strong will have all been used to activate Beherits, though the exact moment of activation is up to the Beherit and Causality. There are three levels of Sacrificial Ceremonies (Shoku, in japanese). The first two ceremonies follow similar rules and patterns. The third will be elaborated in detail afterward.
The First, more common occurance is the Sacrificial Ceremony that marks the birth of an Apostle, or minion of God Hand. The Second, less common (every 216 years) occurance is the Eclipse ceremony which marks the birth of a new God Hand. Each of these ceremonies take place within the Nexus of worlds. To an outsider, it appears as a great tornado. Humans caught within an eclipse are typically marked for sacrifice and branded. During these ceremonies, the God Hand offer the summoner the ability to achieve their dream at the price of their most cherished love. The fear and anguish of a branded one's death is nourishment for the newly born Apostle/God Hand.
The Third, even less common occurance (every 1000 years) is the Reincarnation Ceremony. These occur outside the Nexus and mirror events of the previous Eclipse (God Hand birth) ceremony. During this ceremony, a being of divine ego (i.e. a God, God Hand) can take fleshly form. In the most recent ceremony, Griffith was reincarnated from his spiritual, God Hand form, to flesh.
What are the effects of the Brand?
The Brand marks those sacrificed to God during a sacrificial ceremony. Branded humans reside in the Interstice between the Human and Astral worlds. Ghosts hunger for the flesh of the branded at night. In response to strong evil, the brand will bleed. Around an apostle, the blood would only trickle out. Around a God Hand, the brand would shoot blood out in huge gushes.
Where did Guts get his equipment?
Godo and Rickert supplied Guts with his arsenal. The Dragon Slayer was forged by Godo long ago. He never intended it to be wielded properly, however. The repeating crossbow was modified by Rickert to fit Guts mechanical arm. The arm-cannon was invented by Godo. Rickert gave Guts the bag full of exploding mini-grenades, and the throwing knives. [In Volume 17] Godo re-forges the Dragon Slayer and makes several minor adjustments to Guts armor. Berserk's Armor was given to Guts by Flora (volume 25).
Griffith = Femto = Griffith?
Yes. Femto is the spiritual form of Griffith's ego, after he is reborn as the fifth God Hand at the eclipse (volume 13). Even further down the line, Femto becomes reincarnated as Griffith Reborn (volume 21), using Guts/Casca's demonic child as a fleshly vessel. Each incarnation (Griffith, Femto, Griffith Reborn) has the same mind.