While Miura was in college in 1988 he made a one shot manga chapter called the Berserk prototype which is set in the world of Berserk and is about the character that Guts could have been. It seems that the prototype was Miura’s first initial vision of what Berserk was going to be and it is completely different. The only real reason why you would read it is because you like the world of Berserk or you really care about Miura because it’s not that great and far worse than the average Berserk chapter even though it’s still brilliant for a college student.
It shows Guts with an eye patch on his eye instead of a scar like in the original manga which actually makes sense. It’s normal to cover up a broken eye however it feels like a very normal thing to do and something that Guts would avoid unless it helps him in any way e.g. a cannon arm.
You can also immediately tell that he is a massively different character from the Guts in the manga. His facial expressions are more expressive and tend to show his more irritated side making him appear like a Guts unscarred by the events by his past, which makes sense because we don’t know if Miura had planned the golden age arc at this point.
A very similar event takes place in this one shot to a moment in the manga. The moment where Guts saves Puck for personal reasons is very similar to the start of this as Guts saves a girl whilst attempting to find food. Due to the fact that the bar scene has more stakes and meaningful story impact I can imagine that Miura tried to improve this moment massively to communicate more meaning.
The difference between Guts in these two versions is that the prototype Guts is near tsundere in nature, he pretends to not care but just can’t help but do something. Despite this minor issue it still does a really good job of establishing a villain in a short amount of time, it’s not fully fleshed out however it’s pretty good for just 47 pages. Through this you can see the elements that Miura left behind and which ones he liked and decided to keep, such as Guts’ lack of compassion for the dead bodies and the creepy villain designs coupled with the massive sword and gruesomely violent scenes.
The differences between these two versions of Guts are immense and show how much thought and effort Miura put into the Berserk franchise as a whole and the massive amount of changes that took place.
Without these changes I’m sure that Berserk would never have gotten nearly as popular as it portrays Guts as a relatively standard hero character and the crazy, scared madman who we know from the first chapter of Berserk manga. Whilst entertaining it feels like a massive departure from the overall cannon so I’ll be glad to get back into the actual version as soon as possible.
This will be my last Berserk post before going on hiatus to allow me time to read farther into it. Thank you for keeping up with all of these 5 Berserk posts, they were a real joy to write. Is it weird to find so much to talk about after reading 4 manga chapters, the prototype, the first two episodes of Berserk 2016 and 1997 and both OST’s? I think the answer is probably yes.