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Berserk: Golden Age Arc III – The Advent UK Anime DVD Review

9 min read

Berserk 3 UK CoverTook its time to arrive but was worth it…mostly.

What They Say:
It’s been a year since Griffith’s imprisonment by the Kingdom of Midland. Once praised as the saviors of Midland, the Band of the Hawk is now on the run and on the brink of breaking apart. Much to everyone’s surprise, Guts returns to the Hawks, and the search for Griffith begins!

The Review:
The DVD release has 5.1 English and 5.1 Japanese audio track, which is getting to be the standard I am happy to say with movie releases. The audio quality is fantastic, with a rare occasion I felt that the Japanese audio being superior to the English because the effort into the original audio with the synching for the UK release. With the setting that Berserk has (mostly fantasy style battling), the amount of effects as well as music it has means that they did a great job in making sure the quality was a good as can be to make you feel the atmosphere, with no issues with synching or cuts from the audio, and considering some of the vapid visuals that occur, the sound works to the best degree, whether you want it to or not in certain scenes.

The video quality for the most part is excellent, set in a widescreen format with no noticeable slowdown (especially considering the amount of action and CGI used) – with the combination of animation and CGI working for the most part, albeit there was a number of times when the CGI sections were obvious but at the same time there wasn’t as much clumsiness as there had been and with this being the movie the longest to prepare, definitely shows the most effort (not like the first two were bad by any stretch either) and the use of the 2D animation is back to being its strongest. With the dark visuals interplayed, Berserk is a gritty setting that really makes use of the better budget and really showcases the horror that Guts and the crew go through, no holds barred with graphic and often times, horrific detail. This is a testament to the animators and designers and this release stands out even more so than the first two because of that. That said, go into this careful as a lot of the scenes animated maybe too graphic at times…

Menu has a dark red background with shots of the movie on the left as bandaged Griffith is in the centre, with selections on the top right of Play Movie, Set Up and Scenes. Whilst scene selection is always pleasant, it seems to only happen in film cases and there is no extras selection. Atmospheric and sets the tone for the movie, selection is easy and non-problematic but that is all there is sadly.

There were no extras for this release.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The conclusion to the Golden Age arc is here, in all of its bloody glory. And I’m not using the word ‘bloody’ as a term we Brits use – I truly mean BLOODY glory. Uncensored, violent, uncomfortable and stuff that rivals many of the older generation tentacle porn in violence and nastiness, it is somehow worse than the first two in that whilst cleaning up the animation so we can see all this in perfect harmony. Let’s just say that you better be comfortable with blood and gore (and worse) otherwise this could be a long movie for you…

Seeing the previous two movies of course is paramount to watching this, as major spoilers are here and of course it continues the story of the first two movies, linking plots in both of them to this conclusion. The initial scene is that it is set after a year since Griffith got captured after being ‘deserted’ by Guts and making love to Princess Charlotte, we see creatures called the Unforgiven crawling into his cell, saying he could be the King of Longing….

Meanwhile, we cut to the Band of the Hawk where a scouting mission to find Griffith leads to more that they can chew but Guts returns to save Casca and the others in the nick of time. Exposition of Guts not being there, and not knowing Griffith was captured combined with a desperate need and growing feelings between Guts and Casca ever since he left, with Casca also over emotional thinking she is weak compared to Griffith nearly leads to her killing self, and from that, the tension and passion between them since the 2nd movie finally erupts and the two get together and make love (again, nothing censored) with Guts still not wanting to be part of the Hawk but a) wants to rescue Griffith and b) after they do, for Casca to be with him. The trouble is there are still lingering feelings for Griffith via Casca and we all know Griffiths’ obsession with Guts so…

Linking with Griffith, Guts also sees spectral visions in his sleep which later become important, but they now make a plan to rescue Griffith and thanks to Princess Charlotte (who actually wanted Griffith to make love to her) they managed to find him, but he is a shell of his former self, severed tendons and his tongue being removed but still alive (Guts even cries seeing him in this condition) but then locked up by the torturer in a rather freaky scene describing how much enjoyment he got out of the torture…to say Guts gives him what he deserves is an understatement before rampaging through the guards, becoming the literal one man army.

With Griffith back in their care and Guts now not only wanting to stay but the Hawk now wants him to be their leader, but Casca says he has to go after seeing Griffith struggle to even move when she was tending his wounds (and something else which in hindsight is a disturbing prelude to a later infamous scene) – which leads to Griffith somehow using visions of his youth and some dark energy escapes on a horse but can’t control it and is knocked into a river, almost dead…but then the return of the Behelit from the first movie comes into his possession…and an eclipse occurs…

Cue hell.

The animation goes full throttle, as we change from countryside, rivers and animals to demonic beasts, extremely bloody looking ones, and a massive onslaught due to this summoning which Griffith seems to have subconsciously wanted. This is where watching the first two movies is imperative because it all links together with Griffiths’ psyche and how he is able to do this – with four guardian ‘angels’ revealing about the Egg Of The King, and wanting sacrifices for the Advent. Griffith has to offer them all as a sacrifice to become a demon and with the illusions as a child that Guts managed to help him forget, he now has no hope and decides to change into a demon to a new body. The bloodbath is not pleasant as you can guess, which some of the guards shown in detail their demise and some more likeable one taken out with more dignity (Judeau, the second in command is revealed to have been in love with Casca but knew she and Guts were to be, and they get a few moments before the inevitable) but with Guts and Casca the only ones still alive, Griffith, now reborn as Femto, captures Casca…and let’s just say that this infamous scene is not for the faint of heart. Casca is raped whilst Guts is forced to watch, his arm removed and his eye stabbed. And whilst the vision of the Skull King does delay Femto and Guts and Casca do escape, the scars are definitely lasting.

The ending is both tragic and sets up a new saga, a new story and a new beginning. Casca is traumatised, can’t speak, is afraid to be touched and doesn’t remember Guts, whilst he is still chased after demons but still fights them despite his new handicaps, and the epilogue shows Guts with a new metal arm charging into the snow with the words ‘THIS IS ONLY THE BEGINNING’…

To say this is an experience is giving the term lightly – this is a film that deserves its 18+ relating, there is stuff that you could compare it to Urotsukidoji the amount of brutality and uncomfortableness it leads you to. Granted, this was in the original Berserk anime as well but with much in depth animation and much more brutal, the fact it adds from the manga with some potential and hope that there will be more on the way which was never animated (some characters that never appeared in the original do appear in the final scenes). The trauma Guts, Casca and Griffith all suffer differently is portrayed very vividly whether it is Guts anguish over decisions, over Griffith, and then his rage due to the betrayal and the fact the woman he loves may never know, touch or recognize him again, whilst Casca suffers betrayal over who she loved original and the pain seeing the one who loves her see her in a terrifying and tragic way makes the viewer feel so much for her. Even Griffith, despite his decision you realize he has snapped due to the torture, and the hints were there he could turn to the dark side, but thanks to Guts he was able to keep the sanity. With what happened at the end of the 2nd movie, that thread was snapped, and seeing the pit he digs himself to and what he does to get out of it is tragic, albeit one that you would now have genuine reason to despise Femto, if not Griffith.

The little bits given to the guards and a bit of back-story again are nice, the animation is superb despite the graphic nature of it, and the story tugs throughout with the tragedy and potential future. In one respect, it is the best movie of the three in terms of the animation, the plot not losing any key-points, sound quality, and some of the original English VAs coming back as well. However there are three things that I feel do downgrade it a bit, hence the lower grade compared to the first two films. Firstly, is of course the really dark turn it has. Berserk is obviously a bloody anime as it is but the 3rd movie takes it above and beyond, and combined with the rape scene and a lot of the deaths, it can get uncomfortable so be forewarned. Related to that, Casca sadly seems to have been dropped from near equal to Griffith/Guts to damsel in distress – she has to be saved at the beginning and is there more for fan service than her skills in battle (which we saw from the first two movies) so her character being like this seemed a bit off and disappointed. Lastly is that the final section after the carnage felt a bit rushed before the epilogue which would help more if extended for those not familiar of what was going to happen in the future, i.e. those who have not read the manga. Whilst it suggests there will be more, if there isn’t, it does feel like an inconclusive solution.

That said, it is a conclusion to the Berserk Golden Age arc and it delivers to Berserk fans. If you are a fan of Berserk, you will get this anyway, it is superb. Just make sure you have your tolerance to high and you had a bucket ready just in case.

It could get ugly.

Berserk: Advent is the conclusion to the Golden Age Arc and delivers as best as it can within the amount of time it has. All three films combine do a showcase of how an ‘abridged’ condensing of a significant manga arc can work as long as you aren’t too picky. It showcases the mangas’ violence, physical and sexual, in full force so it can get uncomfortable. As a showcase for animation and the end of the saga, it does it justice and these movies are fantastic. Just don’t watch them too late at night…

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A

Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: June 10th, 2014
MSRP: £19.99
Running Time: 110 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment: Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.

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