Berserk: The Golden Age Arc 1 – The Egg of the King (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)
February 28, 2013 by Dennis Amith
“Berserk: The Golden Age Arc 1 – The Egg of the King” is an entertaining yet violent action animated film based on the manga series. While those who want the story may want to opt for the manga or 1997 anime series, for those with no interest in reading past volumes or watching the old school animated version will enjoy this first film of the “Berserk: The Golden Age” trilogy.
Image courtesy of © KENTAROU MURA (STUDIO GAGA) HAKUSENSHA/BERSERK FILM PARTNERS. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Berserk: The Golden Age Arc 1 – The Egg of the King
FILM RELEASE: 2012
DURATION: 77 Minutes
BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Subtitles
COMPANY: Viz Media
RATED: TV MA
Release Date: November 27, 2012
Directed by Toshiyuki Kubooka
Screenplay by Ichiro Okouchi
Music by Shiro Sagisu
Originally Created by Kentarou Miura
Character Design by Naoyuki Onda
Art Director: Goki Nakamura, Yusuke Takeda
Chief Animation Director: Naoyuki Onda
Animation Director: Satoshi Iwataki
Anime Production by Studio 4°C
Featuring the following voice talent:
Hiroaki Iwanaga/Marc Diraison as Guts
Takahiro Sakurai/Kevin T. Collins as Griffith
Toa Yukinari/Carolyn Keranen as Casca
Aki Toyosaki/Rachael Lillis as Charlotte
Kazuki Yao/Sean Schemmel as Gaston
Kenta Miyake/Michael Alston Baley as Nosferatu Zodd
Minako Kotobuki/Michael Newman as Rickert
Rikiya Koyama/Jesse Corti as Adon Coborlwitz/Julius
Takahiro Fujiwara/Patrick Seitz as Pippin
Yoshirou Matsumoto/Doug Erholtz as Corkus
Yuuki Kaji/Christopher Kromer as Judeau
He trusts nothing but his own sword. He has no place to call home. The lone mercenary Guts travels a land ravaged by a hundred-year war. Moving from battlefield to battlefield, his skill and ferocity eventually attract the attention of Griffith, the leader of a group of mercenaries called The Band of the Hawk. Desiring Guts’s power to help him achieve his goals, Griffith succeeds in recruiting the distrustful Guts by challenging him to a duel and defeating him.
As the Band of the Hawk fight together and their bond as a unit grows stronger, Griffith and Guts’s bond deepens as well. With their continued success on the battlefield, Griffith achieves the first step toward his lofty goals: his band of mercenaries becomes recognized as a full-fledged army within the Midland Kingdom. Despite all their success, Guts begins to question his reasons for fighting for Griffith’s dream, which, unbeknownst to Guts, is destined to bestow a monstrous fate on them both.
In 1990, the manga series “Berserk” was published by Hakusensha for Jets Comics. Created by Kentaro Miura, the series would be serialized in “Young Animal” and a 25-episode episode anime series was made. Also, video games and now an animated film series.
With the first animated film “Berserk Golden Age Arc 1: The Egg of the King” released in Japan on Feb. 2012 and in the U.S. courtesy of Viz Media on Blu-ray in Nov. 2012.
The second animated film “Berserk Golden Age Arc 2: The Battle for Doldrey” was released in theaters in Japan on June 2012 while the third animated film “Berserk Golden Age Arc III: Descent” was released in theaters in Japan on Feb. 2013. The other two animated films have also been licensed by Viz Media.
While many fans are drawn to the series for its medieval storyline, its violent action-packed storyline and its characters, for some, it has been a series that Kentaro Miura has taken his time with, as one to two volumes of the manga series are released each year. And as of 2o13, a total of 36 volumes have been released. So, for 20 years, this storyline has been released slowly but still is going strong and admired by many readers internationally.
As the films feature different animated artwork and voice acting since its 1997 anime series, the animated film series is produced by Studio 4°C and is directed by Toshiyuki Kubooka (“Gin Rei”, “Gunbuster”), screenplay by Ichiro Okouchi (“Angelic Layer”, “Azumanga Daioh”, “Brave Story”, “Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion”), music by Shiro Sagisu (“Bleach”, “Kimagure Orange Road”, “Nadia – The Secret of Blue Water”, “Neon Genesis Evangelion” series and films), character design by Naoyuki Onda (“Armitage III”, “King of Thorn”, “Ergo Proxy”) and art direction by Goki Nakamura (“King of Thorn”, “Ghost in the Shell II: Innocence”, “Cat Soup”) and Yusuke Takeda (“Armitage IIII”, “.hack/Quantum”).
“Berserk: The Golden Age Arc 1 – The Egg of the King” begins with a war between two countries. With one proud general asking the enemy for anyone to beat him in battle, no one volunteers to fight him except one. The Byronic hero known as Guts. Guts kills the general and his fight catches the eye of the mercenary group known as the Band of the Hawk.
After collecting his payment for killing the general, Guts is attacked by the Band of the Hawk and easily cuts them down. The group’s leader Griffith then sends the female soldier Casca to fight him but before Guts can kill her, Griffith shows up and shoots an arrow towards Griffith’s arm. Guts then tries to fight Griffith but to his amazement, Griffith is so quick and stabs him with his sword.
When Guts wakes up, he finds out he has been out and he was nursed back to life thanks to Casca and Griffith.
Upset that his enemy saved him, Guts wants to fight Griffith once again. Griffith tells him that if he beats him in battle, Guts must join the Band of the Hawk and essentially, he will own him.
The two then get into a fight but once again Griffith wins in battle and Guts must join the Band of the Hawk. He also tells him that he will be responsible for killing Guts, no one else. And that his motivation of needing Guts is to rule his own kingdom.
Fast forward several years later and Guts is seen fighting alongside the Band of the Hawk as a commander but his thirst of fighting and wanting to put himself in the battle before anyone, upsets Casca who screams at him for not taking the group into consideration. But still the men of the Band of the Hawk value Guts heroics and look up to him as a hero. As does Griffith.
One day, the Band of the Hawk goes after a rumored monster known as Zodd the Immortal. As usual, Guts goes into fight the thing before anyone else does and to his shock, Zodd is a monster. Despite being beaten, Guts manages to injure Zodd and earning respect by the monster, who now wants to fight and kill him. But the Band of the Hawk come to save Guts and Griffith tries to save Guts but both are injured while fighting Zodd.
As Zodd is about to kill Griffith, he sees the Behelit around Griffith’s neck. Zodd tells Guts to not trust Griffith, he is not a friend and by following him, it will lead to his death. And the monster flies away.
Guts is not sure what that warning meant but he is curious why the monster escaped when he saw Griffith’s Behelit.
As the two heal, Griffith continues his question to get closer to the nobles and the King.
“Berserk: The Golden Age Arc 1 – The Egg of the King” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The first thing that long time fans will see the creative difference that Studio 4°C brings to character designs but also giving a new look with detailed art backgrounds and the studio’s integration of 2D and 3D which they are known for. The anime is colorful, while not super detailed when it comes to shading of the characters, the art backgrounds and mechanical designs are quite pleasing to watch.
But I’m sure viewers will have a subjective opinion towards the overall look of the film versus how things looked in the original 1997 anime series and compared to the manga series.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Berserk: The Golden Age Arc 1 – The Egg of the King is presented in English and Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1 with English subtitles. The dialogue and music is crisp and clear and while most surround usage is during the action sequence, the film utilizes a wonderful score from the legendary anime composer Shiro Sagisu. The voice acting is well-done on both Japanese and English soundtracks but it’s important for people to know that the voice acting does not utilize the same talent from the original 1997 animated TV series.
“Berserk: The Golden Age Arc 1 – The Egg of the King” comes with a production art gallery.
For someone who follows “Berserk”, part of me was excited that a new animated film was created because so many people have been waiting for more “Berserk” for a long time. The manga is released slowly and suffice to say, when I was following this series, It was not long after graduating from high school. And like many people who have grown up with this series, nearly 30-years have past and it still has not concluded.
So, I think that for fans, seeing “Berserk” as an animated film is exciting…
But there is a problem when it comes to animated films that are based on the manga series and are not standalone stories. And the fact is that only so much storyline can be included in an abridged version of the film.
With the animated TV series having been released in Japan (and hopefully in the U.S. in the near future), people can watch and get a better idea of the storyline of Guts.
In fact, the animated film tries to cover seven episodes featured in the anime series in 76 minutes and that’s pretty tough. While we see images of Guts and his adoptive father Gambino in short flashbacks, we miss out on important details of how Guts killed him.
So, there is just more story that is featured in the anime and manga series than what is seen in the animated film.
It would have been great if fans got an all new standalone story, not an abridged version of what was seen on television and the manga series because the animated series was well-done for its time and what people are expecting is a continuance of the story and something new.
So, in essence, what viewers are watching is an abridged film utilizing today’s animation technology with 2D and 3D implemented courtesy of Studio 4°C.
While two more films are yet to be released on Blu-ray, I still found “Berserk: The Golden Age Arc 1 – The Egg of the King” to be enjoyable and for those who are not interested in reading the manga series or watching the old school animated series will surely find the animated film series to be good enough for them.
For those new to “Berserk”, it’s important for them to know that like the animated TV series and the manga, this is one of the most violent series that was featured in Japan. And that violence carries onto the animated series. There is a lot of blood, a lot of decapitations, bodies cut apart, guts spilling out… this is a series that will appeal to those who like violent swordfighting action.
The Blu-ray features a colorful pallete with beautiful art backgrounds and utilization of 2D and 3D was good, dialogue and music was crystal clear but not too immersive as I would have hoped. And special features is only a production gallery and that’s it.
Overall, “Berserk: The Golden Age Arc 1 – The Egg of the King” is an entertaining yet violent action animated film based on the manga series. While those who want the story may want to opt for the manga or 1997 anime series, for those with no interest in reading past volumes or watching the old school animated version will enjoy this first part of the “Berserk: The Golden Age” trilogy.
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