Berserk is a legendary manga that has spanned over 30 years and 40 collected volumes and is still going strong to this day(despite all the hiatuses). Considered by many to be the greatest manga ever made, it’s definitely series creator, Kintarou Miura’s magnum opus. The story of Berserk perfectly balances action, drama, philosophy, and superb character development, but be advised it’s not for the faint of heart.
If you’re thinking of jumping into the series, I would highly recommend you start with the manga as that is the definitive way of consuming this amazing story. Miura’s art, pacing and panel design is phenomenal in every aspect of the word. However, if you’re an anime-only person and you’re wondering with which out of the three anime adaptations to start with this is the guide for you. Here you will find the right order in which to watch the Berserk anime adaptations along with info on what each does right and wrong.
Watch the Berserk anime adaptations in release order
This watch order is the best way to enjoy the anime for newcomers and here is why!
This is the first(and possibly the best) anime adaptation of the original series. It’s only 25 episodes and quite easy to skim through. Although the director of the anime took a minimalistic approach in retelling the story, it works surprisingly well. Many of the bigger, static landscape shots correlate perfectly to their manga counterparts. Of course, this anime is not as detailed as the manga(but what is!) but you can’t really judge it for that.
If I have to be frank, this adaptation has aged quite finely and can still be enjoyed today in 2020, 23 years after its initial release. But what about its story, does it do the source material justice?
Without going into spoiler territory, Berserk (1997) covers the entirety of the “Golden Age Arc” and small parts of the “Black Swordsman Arc”. It’s a fairly faithful adaptation, although there’s one big plot point that is skipped over. In this version of the anime, Puck is never introduced. Now this doesn’t hinder the “Golden Age Arc”(where the character is introduced) much, it does, however, lower the quality of the story in the “Black Swordsman Arc”. This is mainly due to Puck playing a vital role in that one.
The sound design and English dub of this anime are very enjoyable. It’s one of those rare occasions where the dub even rivals the original voice work. The soundtrack is very memorable with its minimalistic but haunting production.
Overall, Berserk (1997) is not to be skipped.
Berserk: The Golden Age Arc 2012-2013
If the name of this anime adaptation sounds familiar, it’s probably because the arc it covers is the same as the 1997 anime. So what’s the difference? Why remake something that was close to perfect, to begin with?
Well for starters, unlike the first anime, this one comprises of 3 feature-length films.
- Berserk: Golden Age Arc I - The Egg of the King
- Berserk: Golden Age Arc II - The Battle for Doldrey
- Berserk: Golden Age Arc III - The Advent
The animations style in these movies is a mix of traditional digital animation and CGI. Although certain scenes look polished and well crafted, there are many that feel rushed and have janky 3d animation.
Since these three movies condense 24 episodes worth of content, a lot of the story feels rushed. Many great scenes are skipped over in this adaptation, however, there are some extras here, which were not present in the 1997 anime. Also, there’s less censorship in the movies of both gore and sexual scenes. And it should go without saying that the animation is way more fluid compared to the static images of the first anime.
So is this one worth watching?
Well maybe, as it adds new pieces to the puzzle with its extra story beats. However, go into this one only after watching the original, as that one is more well-crafted.
Regarding the dub, it’s still pretty good.
Bersek (2016) consists of 24 episodes and starts off where the first anime and the movies left off. So this adaptation covers part of the “Black Swordsman Arc” and “Hawk of the Millennium Empire Arc” and all of the “Conviction Arc”. A lot of material from the manga is skipped in this one and the story is presented in a different way. However, that’s not this version’s greatest shortcoming, as to put it bluntly, this anime adaptation is downright abysmal.
The animation is almost entirely in hideous 3d, seriously, this is some of the worst CGI used in anime, period. The action is presented under different weird angles and the sound mixing sounds like somebody throwing cutlery.
A lot of this is due to the studio producing the anime, not being qualified enough and not having enough time to present a finished and polished product. You can check this video out for more details on the production of this adaptation.
So should you watch this one?
Well, yes and no. If you’re a manga reader and just wanna check out the anime adaptations, definitely skip this one. However if you’re an anime-only fan and really want to know what happens on later in the story, then maybe give it a shot. Who knows, you might end up liking it.
Watching the Berserk anime in chronological order
I don’t recommend watching the Berserk anime adaptations in chronological order unless you’ve already seen them before. If that’s the case, knock yourself out!
So here’s the chronological order:
- Start with episodes 02-25 of the 1997 anime
- Watch the last 52 minutes of the movie “Berserk: Golden Age Arc III - The Advent”
- Check episode 1 of Berserk(1997)
- Watch episodes 1-24 of the 2016 version of the anime
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