Berserk Chapter 0AD Review

6 Jan

When it comes to thrills, Berserk, written by Kentaro Miura, published in the 1980’s, through Young Animal magazine, and later by Dark Horse, proved to define a generation of manga artists and writers, who broke away from traditional storytelling and character arcs. In the Black Swordsman Arc, from the first volume, there was no wasting time. No exposition to explain Guts and who he was. Kentaro Miura reveals Guts in the most shocking way ever. Having sex. Sex is a weapon in Berserk, as it can be used for political gain or personal advantage. But Guts, as he has sex, presents a dark perspective of a man who is unlike any hero come across modern fiction. Unafraid of the perils that come before him, the demon thinks he has lured him into a trap. Completely the opposite, blowing the demon away with his prosthetic hand.

Berserk v01 (2003) (Digital) (danke-Empire)

Guts, to the first time reader, seems more villainous than the demons, but to fight a demon, you must become one. A quote from Nietzsche reflects the opening pages, “If you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back into you.” If you stare at it for too long the reader is aware of the structure in Miura’s pen moves. Each drawing is calculated to create a heightened atmosphere. The eyes already fill in what we would see from a heightened drawing in color, but Miura is a master of letting the imagery fill in what the reader can see without color. What is striking is the composition of the drawings, where the demons nor Guts are dissimilar. It’s drawn in a heightened style, a rather rough design where Miura seemed confident in presenting Guts in shadowy color patterns. Once that scene is done, it resembles a traditional story. 

The drawing is so paired down, and to any Berserk fan reading it over again, one can see where the pencil marks and the vision were rather traditionally linear. There is no complexity in the drawing other than to present a story that only the eyes can tell us. A castle. A road. Those are two striking images that tell a larger story from no real use of exposition, extra dialogue. Miura was using images to let the reader know the geography of the picture we the reader should be able to see with our eyes. The reader can fill in what we see. It’s nowhere near the complexity of the later volumes, but the sparse details is apparent in Berserks imagery. Especially for the first volume. Even the crowd is very sparse as it allows the reader to fill in the movement upon reading. We see an ominous shadow over the castle, giving us all that we need to see and the fear is confirmed in the next panel.

Berserk v01 (2003) (Digital) (danke-Empire)

With children being transported in a cage, looking out at Guts, there is a sense that Guts is not intimidated by any of this. A grizzled warrior that we see seems almost inhuman. The crowd is glanced over, as we are introduced to the first character of the series, an elf, Puck, as a knife nearly misses him, and the knife hilt is shown in cinematic form. What we can tell is that Guts is prepared, but the readers aren’t, for a first time reader. What is odd is the closeness, as we see everything presented to us in the comic. Artists benefit more presenting danger close to the page, and pulling back on a body shot takes time and fills up a page. When Guts enters a bar, we know that he’s going to fight. But the composition presented when the reader encounters Guts first fight helping Puck from being a target for Marauders. As he warns the Mauraders, “the black swordsman has come.” Once that happens, his attack covers the entire page, and the Dragon slayer is presented in full view. 

Berserk v01 (2003) (Digital) (danke-Empire)

The Dragon Slayer, as with the famous words, “It was too big to be a called a sword. Massive, thick, heavy and far too rough. Indeed, it was like a heap of raw iron.” These words define the series, as we come to know Guts, and the story that unfolds. Guts is defined by his weapons, as any character in a medieval fantasy series can. Just like Excalibur with King Arthur. But the words are so pronounced. So clear. The blood dripping down it proves that we see Guts strength is defined by a weapon that no mortal should be carrying. 

With that Puck tags along with Guts, but he disregards him and rejects his friendship, “I’ll squash you.” Guts is defined by the path of violence set before him, but for the first time reader, we don’t know who he is. We’re only presented with far few details that keep the reader intrigued, and pursuing him. Guts seems a character who doesn’t like to talk, and even when he does, it’s only to force others away. 

            When Guts is captured, he’s not bothered by the torture, even though whip marks cover his body. The image is striking and what we see as readers is that the question “does might make right” is embodied in the whip marks. Guts is not afraid of anything. From the opening chapter, it’s clear the Black Swordsman is powerful, but it’s his willingness to take punishment that sets Guts off from modern hero’s. He’s not afraid. 

This presents Guts in his physical peak. Miura highlights the whip marks with deep pencil engravings. Almost as if charcoal was applied to give it the smudged texture of blood pressed into a sharp whip wound. In color, it would be red, but our eyes fill it in where the color should be.            Guts is wounded and Puck dresses his wounds, saving his life. What we see next is the very mark that will define the whole series. Puck calls it a crest, but Guts revolts in fear, as much is not known in the first volume.  Only thing we know is that Guts calls it a “brand” and Puck will “know soon enough.”

Only the next panel, as the young Guts rage can channel over into Puck, can feel Gut’s mental toll over him. It’s worth it to mention that Guts youth is represented in almost a hybrid of western style looks. But the dreamy look in his left eye confirms his reckless behavior with charm and experience that the reader is amazed by his raw honesty.

As Guts insults Puck, “can’t believe I risked my life for a little bug” he escapes and begins his slaughter to find the mysterious villain he is searching for. A small note is that he digs his fingers into his arm that will appear later on in the series. 

Guts is approached by the villains bodyguard, as he takes him down with quick arrow shots only to be knocked over by his tail. The lizard tongue reeling out of his face, with a human face inside a lizard mouth, can only prove Miura was not afraid to tell the story the way he wants to.

Guts is fucked up the villains guard, and he strikes perfectly.

Berserk v01 (2003) (Digital) (danke-Empire)

Guts shoots him repeatedly with bolt arrows from his prosthetic hand, he demands to know where the God hand are. But he leaves the villain burned, and the final image from the opening chapter puts Guts in the final view. We are left with Guts wrath and Miura is not afraid to show Guts in a shaded view. We should see his face but the fire hitting his face only lets us see his lone eye in the panel. We don’t know why he has his left eye closed.

What can be said about this opening chapter is that each shade Miura presents allows the reader to see Guts wrath, even when his face is covered with blood. Guts strength is to be feared just as much as the demons he hunts. For the uninitiated we don’t see a lot of sympathy to have for him. Guts path is uncertain for the first time readers. But the less is known creates a persistence to read, and find out what happens to Guts. The art, while Miura is a novice, proves his vision still holds up today in 2020. A master beginning on his craft as Guts starts his journey toward his destiny, as Miura would begin in his legendary series. 

            To speak of the structure of Berserk though has to be touched upon. This opening chapter, for any true Berserk fan, would have to place this after the Golden Age Arc ends, as the Golden Age Arc is a flashback to the Golden Age. So, the structure is nothing short than a great introduction to Miura’s presentation.

Note from Louis: Thanks so much for reading my articles and being such a constant reader. I appreciate it as much as you do. Also, I want to stress that to keep my content ad free, I must ask for donations or to subscribe to my content, that can help keep the content you want, and can help form the page, and grow my platform and keep this review free. While my Youtube is buried under the algorithm, I am still shadow banned, because wrong think is “bad” these days. But to subscribe to my content is what sets you apart. Also, please share if you can’t donate. But if you’re paying for someone who works for himself, you are my boss. So, paying, or even donating to my page, or giving gifts, is also acceptable. Because without you, readers, I am just another hobbyist.

-Louis Bruno is the author of more than 15 books, The Michael Project, Thy Kingdom Come, The Disintegrating Bloodline, Apocalypse Soldier, Hierarchy of Dwindling Sheep. His books can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Lulu. He can be found on Gab, https://gab.com/thereallouistbruno, Parler https://parler.com/profile/therealLouistbruno/posts, Instagram, and Twitter, only for shitposting.

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