Well. Episode 3 was full of surprises wasn’t it? I have to admit, part of me was expecting for the events of this episode to be substantially re-written vs the events in the manga, but not in this fashion.
Before we go on, I’d like to add my standard spoiler warnings for this episode. I’d recommend in all cases to watch the episode first before continuing. While it is not my intention to do a full scene by scene summary, I will be giving you my thoughts on how the events of this episode compare to the manga (approx. chapters 123 -125).
Since the events of this part of the manga contain content that I wouldn’t consider very “fit for television” (particularly the Horse and Sword straddling scenes) I expected those to be omitted. But this episode surprisingly kept all those elements from the manga and actually added more original content. Granted there was a generous helping of blackout censorship, adjusted camera angles, and good-old-school omission of anatomy, but I am surprised that they pretty much kept everything and even added on. The additional story centering on a new apostle and some sad flashbacks of a lowly houndskeeper and his unfortunate friendship to the young lady of the household. Since this 2016 series omitted much of the “Black Swordsman” arc, I suppose it’s only expected for some additional content be added to introduce the elements of the behelits and the apostles for viewers unfamiliar with the original series/movies or manga (my stance is to recommend watching the original series or the movie trilogy at the minimum before jumping in to this current series).
Let me make an aside as to the visuals and direction. I don’t intend to gripe about this every other week for the next 21 weeks, but yeah the character models and movements are not up to snuff for me. I’m actually ok with the crosshatched shadows, but the blocky proportions of some of the characters and monsters aren’t really impressing me in action. Guts facial expressions aren’t quite right. Also I still find some of the action and camera “choreography” unclear and hard to follow. The show’s music and sound are gorgeous though, with the sound of the Dragonslayer smacking things being especially satisfying, That isn’t a sword that slices like a razor, its one that just smashes through things. Some of the backgrounds look pretty good when they are lit well enough, and some characters look decent until they move. I actually thought most things from the segment within the Capital of the Midlands looked pretty decent.
I’m actually surprised at how quickly the pace of the story is moving. This version is covering a lot of ground quickly, even with the addition of the houndskeeper apostle. Perhaps the creators are uncomfortable with lingering too long on the disturbing and unsavory events of this escape sequence. If you are able to do so, you may enjoy reading the comparable manga chapters just to contrast the storytelling and tone for yourself. While I am as discontent with the visuals of this new series as anyone, I am quite happy that the content of the manga is being conveyed with essentially no filter. It doesn’t seem like Berserk will be watered down at all and I suspect as the weeks go on, the actual story and characters will be the thing that drives the viewership, at least beyond the visceral reaction to its looks.
That is the one major positive I can say about this new series. If it came down to it, I’d prioritize keeping the Berserk story unaltered (as it is in this series) over improved visuals. Just as the original series wasn’t a visual standout for its time, it nailed its characters and storytelling. If the visuals don’t really get much better, but the storytelling does improve, Berserk (2016) it will be in decent shape. I know the source material can deliver.
Well that’s it from me for now, please leave me your thoughts or start any discussion in the comments below, I look forward to reading them. I am alternating with fellow author ShadowHaken for weekly reactions to this new Berserk series. We approach things sort of differently, so please be sure to check out our reactions from the previous weeks below: