Picking up from the end of the original series way back in March 1998, or the recent Golden Age movie trilogy, 2016’s new Berserk series is finally here with the first episode having aired on July 1. Although it skips some side-story from the manga between the end of the series and where we pick up, we see Guts in his Black Swordsman guise with steel arm and the giant sword Dragonslayer strapped to his back. We’d previously seen the Black Swordsman in the very first episode of the original anime and the very and of the movie trilogy, but now we’ll get to see his story unfold for real in animated form.
This first episode sees the beginnings of Guts picking up his new party, as he beats the living shit out of some rowdy drinkers in a pub harassing a young boy and frees the tiny elf Puck in the process, who has been the subject of knife-throwing target practice. True to form, and unlike some other returning series, 2016’s Berserk isn’t holding back on the violence, and it isn’t long until blood starts flowing (I’m looking at you, Dragonball Super). As he ventures from the establishment and into the woods, eventually accepting a ride from a monk and his young daughter, who Puck has also hitched a ride with, the inescapable demons hunting Guts make their presence known and the situation becomes incredibly brutal in very short order.
And with that, we’ve got to address the elephant in the room. This series is leaning heavily on a 3D CGI animation style with a sketchy pencil filter over the top to create look reminiscent of the manga. I suspect I’m going to be in the minority here – I’m on board with the animation style and I applaud the studio for trying something new with the way they’re approaching the animation. My Berserk-obsessed wife is definitely not on board, nor is our resident boss-man Inferno, and I do understand the complaints to a degree – based on the first episode there are moments where it looks undeniably janky and intense emotions aren’t quite fully realised, but this is only the first episode and they already demonstrated that they’ll splice in traditional animation for moments that CG doesn’t quite fit, so personally I’m curious to see more of the style and how it progresses and evolves as the series progresses.
Regardless of where you stand on the animation style, it’s hard not to be enthusiastic about new Berserk and this is a solid first episode, and heading into next week’s episode as the The Holy Iron Chain Knights surround Guts it’s killing me to have to wait a week between episodes!