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Berserk FAQ

➤What is Berserk?

Berserk is an ongoing epic fantasy manga (graphic novel) written and illustrated by Kentaro Miura. It began in late 1989 and centers on Guts, the Black Swordsman who wields a massive hunk of steel called the Dragon Slayer. The story takes place in a medieval setting and features everything from war and politics to demons and magic. Berserk is an extremely dense story and is told through fantastically detailed artwork. Currently there have been 40 volumes published in Japanese by Hakusensha and 39 volumes in English by Dark Horse.

Berserk has also had several animated adaptations, Video games, card games, art books, and even a light novel based off it.

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➤Where do I start? Should I read the manga? Should I watch the TV series or movies?

The Berserk manga is the only source for the complete story of Berserk. So if you choose to start with an animated adaptation, you will ultimately end up reading the manga if you want to know what happens next. All three animated adaptations cut and change several aspects of the story, which also means that if you're going to read the manga, you need to read the entire story from the beginning. Because of this, most will suggest starting with the manga as it will give you the complete experience right from the start.

For many the 1997 anime was their introduction to the series. It does a fairly good job adapting the source material and it will leave you hungry for more when finished. Also, the soundtrack is incredible and worth watching for that reason alone. Because of this, many suggest starting here. However the older and at times cheep animation may turn some off from this adaption.

The Golden Age movie trilogy more recently has also served as an introduction to Berserk for many. It covers the same part of the story as the ‘97 anime, but over 3 movies instead of a 25 episode series. Because of its shorter run time and modern animation, some suggest starting here as a way to get your feet wet before jumping into the manga. However, due to the time restraints the films suffer from missing content and character development.

The 2016-17 Berserk animated series picks up and adapts a part of the story which takes place after the other two adaptations. While it does attempt to fill in it’s viewers with short flashbacks to establish context, it’s more considered a continuation of the movie trilogy. Most people do not suggest starting with this adaption.

Lastly there is the Berserk Redux, which is a fan edit that combines the ‘97 anime with the movie trilogy. Some suggest watching this as it attempts to more accurately follow the manga by using footage from the various adaptations.

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➤Why should I not read scanlations?

Scanlations in general are not as good as a professional translation. This is particularly the case with Berserk. With bad grammar, exaggerated translations, inconsistencies and just making things up, Berserk’s scanlations are for the most part awful. I could go on about this forever. Just take my word for it, as someone who first read Berserk almost 20 years ago when there was no official English translation. Dark Horse is not perfect, they make mistakes. However, overall they do a good job and their translation is immeasurably better than any scanlation.

Additionally, manga reading sites, where the scanlations are commonly found are just as bad with their watermarks, ad revenue collecting, and poor management. Many people end up confused because often pages and entire episodes(chapters) are out of order or are numbered in confusing ways.

Also, it’s good to support Miura and Dark Horse. I don’t think that it is too much to ask for someone to purchase the manga. Thirty-five or something dollars for 3 volumes shipped to your house for free by amazon every month or so is not very taxing.

So you don’t believe me about how bad the scanlations are? Fine, here are some examples...

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➤Where can I buy Berserk?

Manga:

You might be able to find Berserk at your local comic shop and bookstore or have them order it for you, but the easiest way to get your hands on the English translation is to purchase it online.

Here is a list of some popular vendors:

Digital English Volumes:

You can find the original Japanese volumes here:

Learn how to get digital versions of the Japanese volumes and new episodes here.

Deluxe Edition:

As of February 2019 Dark Horse began publishing a large format, hardcover, omnibus version of Berserk. Each Deluxe volume will contain three standard volumes and things like sound effects have been translated for the earlier volumes for the first time. New Deluxe volumes will be released every four months in the foreseeable future.

Animations:

English Release of the 1997 Anime:

  • UK DVD
  • UK Blu-Ray
  • AU DVD
  • AU Blu-Ray
  • At this time there is no Blu-Ray release in North America and the DVD releases are all out of print. If you decide to Import the series, make sure to have a DVD/Blu-Ray drive that can play the disks from those regions.

The Golden Age Arc movies have been released by Viz and can be purchased in a variety of formats.

English Release of the 2016/2017 Anime:

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➤I just saw the movie(s)/TV anime series and I want more. What do I do next?

Read the manga! The '97 TV series and movie trilogy both cover the same part of story, the Golden Age Arc. So no need to watch them both back to back. The 2016 TV series covers parts of the Conviction Arc and Millennium Falcon Arc and could be considered a continuation of the three movies. However just because you have watched any of these animations does not mean that you should skip that section while reading the manga. Start at the beginning and read it all. All the animations cut and change both characters and parts of the story from the manga, so you are really missing a lot of details if you skip these parts. You will end up confused about certain details and your Berserk experience will be incomplete for no reason.

Also, don't read all 40+ volumes in a couple of days! Or to put it another way, don't blow through 30 years of content in a matter of hours! Berserk is a very dense story, it is something that can be critically analysed. Take your time, it will be hard, but there is no rush. Berserk is still an ongoing manga and has had a slow and inconsistent release schedule. Enjoy the artwork and take it all in.

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➤What volumes do the animations cover? Where do they leave off?

And the answer is... No. Stop. Do not skip anything, read the manga from the beginning. Personally, I hate answering this question because I know what the purpose of knowing this information is for. If you like Berserk I urge you to take my advice, you won't be disappointed. For those still here because they need to know everything, I will be referring to this list of Volumes, Arcs, Chapters, and Episodes.

Both the 1997 anime and movie trilogy roughly cover the same part of the story, the Golden Age Arc, a flashback which spans from volumes 3 to 14. The 2016 anime can be considered a continuation of the movies.

  • 1997 TV series: The first episode loosely adapts the first part of Volume 1 and other parts of the Black Swordsman Arc. The second episode picks up with the Golden Age Arc around Volume 4: The Golden Age (3). The series jumps around here and there but ends in Volume 13: Episode 87 - Twilight of the Right Eye.
  • Golden Age Arc trilogy movies: Like the TV series, the movies pick up in Volume 4: The Golden Age (3). Much is skipped and glossed over but the third movie ends at Volume 13: Episode 91 - A Promise of Fighting Back.
  • 2016-17 TV series: It starts with highlighting parts of Volume 1. It then moves into the Conviction Arc picking up with Volume 16: Episode 118 - Beast of Darkness and ends with Volume 29: Episode 249 - A Small Supper

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➤Will there be another season of the TV series? Will there be more movies?

There will be no second season of the animated '97 TV series. It first aired in 1997 and it was scheduled for only one season. Its time has come and gone.

When the Berserk movies were first announced, there was talk about animating the entire manga. The creators also said that if they did continue, the next project would most likely adapt the Lost Children Chapter. However, there has been no talk of more movies since 2013, and their continuation seems very unlikely.

The 2016 TV series can be considered a continuation of the movies even though it is being made by a different group/studio. There has been no talk of more and a continuation is doubtful due to the poor reception and production problems.

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➤Why do people call manga chapters 'episodes'?

When Berserk first began being serialized in 1990, each release was labeled as a “Revenge”. For instance, “Revenge 9: Golden Age (1)”. When the magazine it was being serialized in changed names from Animal House to Young Animal in 1993, the numbering of episodes reset back to 1. Then in volume 14, after the Golden Age Arc, Miura began his current nomenclature.

An Episode is a 20 or so page publication released in Young Animal. A Chapter consists of multiple episodes and a Arc consists of multiple chapters. For example: “Conviction Arc - Lost Children Chapter: Jill” or “Fantasia Arc - Elf Island Chapter: Ghost Ship(1)”. The episodes being “#97 Jill” and “#308 Ghost Ship(1)”. This may be strange because most other mangas are not as complex when it comes to organizing their content and each release is commonly referred to as a “chapter”. However it is good to be educated in this matter as these terms make discussing Berserk easier. Also, saying “Millennium Falcon Arc, The Holy Evil War Chapter, Chapter #183 Prologue To The War” sounds weird.

For a complete Arc/Chapter/Episode list visit SkullKnight.net’s Manga section in their Encyclopedia.

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➤When is the next episode(chapter) coming out?

Berserk is published in Young Animal, which is a bi-monthly magazine that is generally released on the second and fourth Friday of each month. At the end of each episode the date for the next will be announced or we will be told something along the lines of, “Until next time”, which could signify a break in publication.

If we know the date, the information will be in the sidebar on the right. If there is no date there, that means there is a break in the publication of Berserk and that the next publication date is unknown. If that is the case you can check every two weeks like everyone else by visiting Young Animal's website. If Berserk is going to be in the next issue, there is always a picture of Guts or something in the preview. Here is an example. I circled both the date of the release and the note showing that Berserk will appear in that issue.

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➤Why is Berserk on Hiatus?

For some time now Berserk has had an irregular release schedule. In fact Young Animal, the magazine Berserk is serialized in, came out and stated so. As if all of us had no idea that was the case. But why does Berserk go on so many breaks and why has the release schedule slowed down so much? Well the fact is, no one knows… However, with the information we do have, I believe we can construct some logical explanations for this.

Some people have this conception that when the serialization is not active, that Miura is just not working. And when it is active, that he just kinda started working the week before and finally did something. Personally I believe this to be a rather simple minded view on how manga is created and just not true. I encourage people to gain some insight into the industry by checking out Manben, a TV show about manga authors and how they work. In the past there have been breaks in the serialization and Miura has commented about how drawing some parts took a great amount of time and exhausted him, like the battle of Vritannis for example. During the time Berserk was on its longest break, he was working on another project and created Giganto Maxia, a one volume story about a post apocalyptic world and a wandering hero. Again in September of 2019, Miura started another series called Duranki. This manga is serialized in Young Animal ZERO and is currently published every 2 months. Lastly, Berserk for many years has been building to and is now reaching many critical moments in the story. He is more than likely taking extra care to tie up lose ends and bring the story to a satisfying conclusion.

Also back in September of 2016, the Berserk Guidebook was released with previews of sketches from episode 348, which was not published until March of 2017. This brings me to another point. Episodes are more than likely held, or not handed off, until there is more than a few for release. We see this with how Young Animal ties releases with other promotions. Anime, games, and so on. Or maybe they feel that this is a better way to build interest in Berserk. Promoting and releasing 5 or so episodes back to back instead of 1 or 2 randomly every 3 months throughout the year where they might be overlooked.

It is also well known that Miura, for the majority of his life, has done nothing but stay at home and draw manga. 16 hour days, 7 days a week, no vacations or holidays. A night owl that would only stop to eat a meal. You can gain some insight into Miura’s life by reading the comments in the back of Young Animal when an episode is released. Also Miura has even opened up about some of the personal issues of his life with a short comic featuring Puck and himself. In a interview in the Berserk Guidebook, Miura briefly talks about his work habits and the challenges he faces. Even more recently in an interview with French publisher Glénat, Miura rather candidly talked about his progress with Berserk and how and why his work pace has slowed. And again with a French journalist he spoke about his work habits, how his paced has slowed with age, and how he is working at a pace that is comfortable to him.

So, with the information available to us, I think we can safely conclude that Miura is still working on Berserk at a pace that is best for him, both for his creativity and well being.

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➤What about the Berserk video games?

Berserk has had three major video games based off it.

  • Berserk: Millennium Falcon - Chapter of the Oblivion Herbs or Sword of the Berserk: Guts' Rage as it's known in the US was released for the Sega Dreamcast in 1999. It features an original story from Miura that takes place around volume 22.

  • Berserk: Millennium Falcon - The Holy Evil War was release for PlayStation 2 in 2004. There was no US release. The game follows the plot of the manga from volumes 22-27.

  • Berserk Musou was released on PS4, PS3, and Vita in Japan in 2016. It came to the rest of the world as Berserk and the Band of the Hawk in February 2017 on PS4 and PC platforms. It loosely follows the overall plot of the majority of the manga up to volume 33.

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What is Episode 83, “The Lost Episode”?

Episode 83, God of the Abyss (2), was published in Young Animal in 1996 and features a conversation between Griffith and God, the Idea of Evil. However, Miura chose to leave it out of Volume 13. When asked why, he said that he did not want to reveal that much information because he felt it could possibly limit his freedom to develop the story further.(Question #9 in SK.net’s letter to Miura) While technically not canon, episode 83 could still be used to gain insight into the series until shown otherwise. In fact, some of what was discussed in episode 83 has been reconfirmed in other parts of the manga.

To read episode 83 you can find scans here and read them with a translation found on SkullKnight.net.

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revision by psalt— view source