From the previous part we established that the main appeal of Berserk wasn’t the crazy intense action scenes and more the great story, personality and history of Guts. I would absolutely not consider Berserk an action manga. This is where the main differences between the three versions of Berserk become apparent.
Berserk 2016 looks like it’s really trying to be an action anime, it focuses on the action and the least interesting parts of Berserk in my opinion . As I’ve already talked about the bar scene to a great extent I will be comparing a scene from the second chapter where they fight a large group of skeletons and, as I’m sure you know, one version does it better than the other – This scene is cut from the 1997 version so I won’t talk about it.
I feel like it’s important to state this now, I don’t believe that 3D animation is inherently bad and don’t think that I’m judging the anime too early just for the style that it’s in. I normally don’t look for 3D animation in anime as it’s not my preference but neither is manga, I always prefer 2D animation in anime, in this regard both of these versions go against my preferences meaning that I can’t really be biased to just one. For the most part I’ll also try not to criticise the anime’s animation as it’s already well known to be terrible, I’ll just be talking about the context and the lack of emotional impact from the anime.
Doesn’t anyone else think that the anime (from now on the phrase “the anime” will always refer to the 2016 version) got Guts’ face completely wrong? His facial expressions don’t have nearly as much personality compared to the manga. A face should look more expressive in anime than in manga yet I always feel like Guts’ personality doesn’t shine through in his face. He normally has the same terrible grin that is unchanged and his speech with his mouth movement’s look unnatural, even for a strange person who’s escaped death many times. It’s due to little things like this that none of the emotional or “cool parts” shine through, I don’t get the impression that Guts is a master of his work in this anime and the unrealistic facial expressions could be because of this. He is shown to be less sure of himself which might heighten the tension but it also reduced my perceived terror of Guts.
So with that out of the way let’s start comparing the anime and manga. To try and add a more dramatic and interesting narrative the anime tries to add a second element, mostly for the sake of adding action from the looks of it. Some bandits are following Guts through the woods in order to try and capture him, but they’re offensively bad and really ruin the tone and emotional impact of the scene. For Quotes I will be using Crunchy roll, this is one of those quotes.
“There are rumors that monsters appear in these forests”…”It wouldn’t be surprising if evil spirits and the like appear.”
A lot of the appeal that drew me to Berserk is completely destroyed by what is said here. I like how evil spirits are drawn towards Guts and that his existence is what draws monsters near (and not that it’s just a haunted forest); this is important to the character development in the manga as it shows how monsters are drawn to Guts, he can never live easily. Therefore, by having these monsters already rumoured to exist in the forest it downplays the ending of the scene.
At the end, two nice, normal characters die for no reason at all. The fact that monsters are drawn to Guts in the manga makes it so that Guts absolutely killed these two characters and did not care at all. It’s not normal to do something like this so we can conclude that Guts must have had terrifying, near death experiences which led him to be as cold-hearted as he is.
“If one can’t live their life the way they want, they might as well die”
This is fundamental for explaining Guts’ character as it shows him as a flawed individual who really doesn’t care for the weak, you are free to judge for his world view and opinions as it’s the perspective of a flawed character and not the manga in general.
However due to these “monsters” that “appear in these forests” the anime’s victims would have died anyway and the quote that Guts uses…
“If you can’t live the life you want, you should just die”
…doesn’t have as much impact as it’s not really his fault in the anime. The key emotional impact and moment from the scene is completely twisted and destroyed in the anime version.
“…It’s not… your… fault”
The outburst of laughter to this sentiment in both versions is seriously messed up however the implications is that for one version the statement is true, and for the other, the statement is false. This is an extremely serious difference and gives the audience a completely different feel of Guts. Not to mention the laugh looks extremely weird in the anime and it makes him feel obnoxiously worse as a character that you can like despite his flaws.
I’m bringing this up now because the world of Berserk seems to feel incredibly real and the terrors that haunt Guts also show how he came to be the way he is: He’s such a flawed and messed up individual because he’s constantly haunted by spirits. This changes the characters immensely. Guts in the manga has an explanation for the way he is yet Guts in the anime seems to be an arsehole for no reason. What’s also interesting is the fact that this world view is said by Guts (in the manga) both before and after this event which is great for showing that He’s a character who sticks to his morals, no matter how terrible they are, even in the face of extreme danger and tradgedy.
It’s key differences like this that makes one version of Berserk far more superior to the other. As well as this, the terrible differences in the action scenes completely ruin a lot of it.
I will continue to analyse this scene from both versions in the next part and talk about a far more server gripe about the way Berserk 2016’s story is fundamentally different from the manga and why this is a detriment to the anime as a series on the whole. So be sure to stay tuned for that and be sure to share this post with anyone who might find it interesting or anyone who wants more reasons to hate the Berserk 2016 anime adaptation.