Berserk: The Golden Age Arc I – The Egg of the King (2012)

77% – Critics
77% – Audience

Berserk: The Golden Age Arc I – The Egg of the King Storyline

This arc is a flashback showing Guts’ youth and what led him to become the “Black Swordsman”. Guts grows up as a young mercenary until his enrollment in the Band of the Hawk. He develops complex relationships with Casca and Griffith, the Band’s charismatic leader and holder of the mystical artifact known as the Crimson Behelit, who leads the Band to its rise to prominence within the Midland army.—

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Berserk: The Golden Age Arc I – The Egg of the King Movie Reviews

An Excellent 3-Part Story, but this one was rushed.

This movie is Short, whereas the runtime may be about 78 minutes but with credits and an opening “anime”-style intro, it’s only approximately 70 minutes long. It’s short, which Can work in certain films, the Main issue is that certain scenes that were Crucial in the overall Arc were rushed, badly. Especially one scene with Zod where this took up about 15 minutes in the 1997 series, a 10/10 series by the way, but the Movie made it seem less important than it was. Also, the lines are Very straight-forward, as in telling the audience exactly what happened with no room for interpretation. The Best way I’ve heard this described is “leaving no room for interpretation and just telling the audience what happened means bad writing,” and there is a Lot of that within this film, compared to the series which is just superb. That being said, it is still a Great watch, especially if you like animation and anime-type cinema, and the story it goes on to tell is top notch… at least the 3 movie series and the 1997 anime which I recommend in English dub over the films; at least a first-watch. If the film was to be a 10/10, it would need to have edited the writing to make it more eloquent, extended the film to about 100 cinematic minutes Minimum, and certain Critical scenes needed to have been rewritten to be more obviously important rather than just line-dropping without time to absorb what was conveyed. Another great thing is many of the Original English Voice Actors Returned for this film series from the 1997 series! This is just amazing, as it was 15+ years and they came back. This is just Professionalism at its’ finest.

High quality action anime. The origin story of a legend.

The first in a trilogy of movies which follow the Golden age arc which is probably the most famous and well loved Berserk story. It’s the origin of Guts, a hard as nails swordsman who joins a group of mercenaries called The band of the hawk and his relationship with it’s charismatic leader Griffith. It all takes place in a semi-realistic medieval setting but it progresses to include supernatural and full on horror elements.

The movie isn’t very long at 77 minutes so if you’ve seen the 1997 anime series which is based on the same arc then it might be a bit jarring at how quickly the story plays out and how it skips over important moments.

Just think of it as a streamlined version of the arc. The characters aren’t as deep as they are in the series but it works fine for a what it is and the plot is easy to follow for non fans. Voice actors from 97 also return to play Guts, Griffith and Casca.

The animation is impressive with some beautiful backgrounds and the characters look crisp and vibrant, it blends 2D and 3D animation pretty much seamlessly. The large combat scenes are fast, fluid and more violent than the series with dismemberment, beheadings and eyeballs popping out. It’s not for the faint of heart but if you like this style then it’s pretty awesome. The animation in the original series is fine but hasn’t aged all that well so it was a real treat to see such high quality work here.

I would say watch the 1997 series first because you will have a greater understanding of the lore and characters but this is still top notch action anime set in a dark fantasy world.

Masterfully directed climatic epic saga

Few stories can capture your mind and soul in a visceral way from the beginning, and never leave you. Berserk is one of them.

Written and illustrated by the legendary manga artist Kentaro Miura, Berserk (ベルセルク) is an epic fantasy saga that knows no time, no boundaries, and no has end. It tells the story of a Guts (ガッツ, Gattsu), a boy born from the corpse of a woman hung on a battlefield, who struggles to fight his unfortunate destiny. Set in a fictional version of medieval Europe, Gatsu is a young mercenary who travels with no direction nor purpose, swinging his huge sword in merciless fights in order to survive. He buries his blade deep into the flesh of his opponents, fighting like a madmen in battle, reminiscent of the nordic berserks, coming closer and closer to death, maybe to finally feel alive. His life is meaningless, his actions have no honor nor reason, except survival. He strives to escape his nature, that of a man born from a dead body, already between this world and the other, with nothing to lose except his miserable life.

That is, until he meets Griffith, the impossibly beautiful and charismatic leader of the undefeated mercenary band called “the Band of the Hawk” (鷹の団 Taka no Dan). This encounter will forever change his life, and that of everyone else.

Beware, Berserk is not an ordinary series. It is hard, violent, and not easy to follow. There are no flashbacks constantly reminding you of what happened before, no fill-in episodes, no sweetening of the pill. It is a solid punch of crude reality hitting you in the stomach, and you have no way of guarding yourself. Miura’s genius permeates in each page, down to every minute detail. The themes treated are difficult, and never simplified for the sake of the reader. Reality has no shortcuts, no easy way, and that is reflected in the story. The characters in Berserk are genuine, real, endlessly complicated, troubled. They hold secrets, they cheat, murder, conspire, but they are also capable of great kindness. Friendship, ambition, causality, the supernatural, our ambivalent nature, the struggle for power, love and hate. Twenty-two years in, still going strong, in what is possibly one of the greatest stories ever told.

With that premise, you would think that the task of turning such a story into a series of animated feature films would be arduous. And you would be right. Only an animation studio capable of immense greatness could be up to the task. STUDIO4°C is one such group.

From the opening scene we know what kind of film we are dealing with. A clear, peaceful blue sky is contrasted by the presence of ominous birds flying in circles, while balls of fire fly over them. Guts looks up at the sky with sad eyes, a scar in the middle of his nose and a helmet on his head immediately tell us what he is. A heartless mercenary. The deaden sound of the blasting gives us a hint of where we are. Everything moves slowly, as if underwater, or inside a womb. How appropriate for someone who was born in a battlefield, who is neither truly alive nor dead, until he begins to fight. Gatsu’s heart starts pounding, as he watches a black hawk fall down, the sound increases, until the bird drops dead in the middle of the fight, crushed beneath the boots of armed mercenaries, assaulting a castle. That is the time when the sound rises up at full blast, and we are catapulted into the battle.

The fight is cruel and violent, unlike anything I have even seen. The Lord of the Rings, Braveheart, Game of Thrones, list what you want, nothing compares to the level of horrifying realism that Berserk has to offer. The animation is top notch, the colours vivid and stunning, you could take any frame from the film, hang it on the wall, and it would work as a painting on itself.

The soundtrack by Shiro Sagisu is perfectly calibrated to match the already spectacular animation sequence, the epic chorus elevates the scenes to a sense of greatness, without ever overdoing it. The first eight minutes are a masterpiece of action down to the last second, flawlessly directed by the talented Toshiyuki Kubooka.

In every moment we can see something in motion, be it the clouds in the background or the hair on someone’s face, the level of maniacal details is lessened only by the overuse of 3D animation (which is a bit irritating at times). But action sequences of crude violence, great animation, and impeccable sound effects are just a spec of dust in the whole opera. The real value lies in the moments of silence, when the characters quietly ponder about their lives, or study each other, looking into their souls. We can see through their fears, their dreams and aspirations, their hate, without them needing to utter many words. And the few words that are spoken weight a million tons.

Berserk Golden Age Arc I: The Egg of the King covers volumes 4,5 and half of 6, each of which requires a few hours to read, all delivered in 70 minutes. As you can imagine, they had to make some choices and not everything was included. When this happens, the story usually loses value, the characters are simplified, and everything becomes dull. Surprisingly, this is not the case here. The first part of the Berserk Saga Project, which should cover the Golden Age Arc of Berserk does not disappoint. In fact, it excels, in both execution and presentation. The climatic drama and the anticipated tragedy yet to come reach the peak at the end of the film, accompanied by an epic final score by Susumu Hirasawa.

STUDIO4°C has delivered a compelling and engaging story, masterfully animated and directed, which breathed life to Miura’s pencil, and gave it voice.

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