Berserk: Golden Age Arc III - The Advent
The visceral conclusion of the epic BERSERK The Golden Age Arc trilogy is finally here!
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 has been on the run and is on the brink of breaking apart. Much to everyone s surprise, Guts returns to the Hawks and the search for Griffith begins!
Contains the Uncut, R18 version of the film along with exclusive interviews, art galleries, outtakes, original trailers and more. Japanese with English subtitles and English language included.
The Most Horrific Animated Film You'll See All Year! --Japanator
Satoshi Kon Award Winner --Fantasia Film Festival
Official Selection --Annecy Film Festival
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Now if you are like me and enjoyed the previous two Berserk movies, then I think that this one will by far be your favorite. If however, if you're part of the small minority who couldn't abide the departures from the source material, then the improved quality of the third installment won't be enough to save the franchise for you.
This movie opens some time after The Battle for Doldrey ended. Griffith is in prison having some trippy visions, clearly in bad shape. The Band of the Hawk isn't fairing much better, although they're being held together by Casca, who has taken up the mantel of leader in Griffith's absence. After some brief backstory about what's taken place since the last movie, the camp is attacked by mercenaries working for the King of Midland. Silat makes a brief but memorable appearance fighting Casca before Guts reenters. The visuals of the fight scene here were absolutely spectacular!
The scene between Casca and Guts at the waterfall is one of the most touching moments we've seen in the trilogy. The music, the visuals, and the dialogue are all beautiful. This was a pleasant change of pace from the previous installments, which kind of cut down on a lot of the character development between Casca and Guts. The sex scene was graphic, but without being pornographic. My biggest gripe here is that the love scene itself was another big departure from the way it was handled in the manga. As we know in the manga Casca is in pain at first, and then of course Guts chokes her and has that big breakdown, and it ends with her accepting his dysfunction and taking a "wound" to protect him (emotionally).
The Skull Knight's entrance is masterfully done, as was the Hawk's descent into the dungeon. We even get to see the Gaiseric and the branded corpses at the bottom of the pit. I was very pleasently surprised that this was included, as even the 90s anime left it out. The violin music when they find Griffith is a bit over the top, as it makes the scene seem almost satirical, but other than that the shock and horror of Guts and the rest of the Hawks is well captured.
Unfortunately, despite rumors to the contrary, Wyald is once again absent from the adaptation. This was probably my biggest disappointment with the movie, but it's hardly a deal-breaker. The reality is that there are time constraints and the studio can only include so much.
A bit more lame CGI when Casca fills everybody in on Griffith's condition, and then everything after this is a pure, sexy, awesome, roller-coaster ride to Hell. Griffith breaking down and the Behelit activating is flawless, and one of the best scenes in the entire series. Everybody being transported to the sacrificial grounds and the Godhand's intro is the best kind of spooky. It gets even creepier when Griffith starts having visions of his childhood and the corpses of all those who fell in battle for him.
Once the "feast" begins it's sheer horror. And the shift in colors from purple to red wonderfully accentuates the shift in tone. When the Hawks are first transported to Hell, the scene is balancing on the edge of a knife, and once the brand goes out it tips over the edge into pure chaos. More awesomeness from the Skull Knight as we see him clash with Zodd. The animation here is once again, absolutely spectacular. In fact, the animation throughout most of the Eclipse is very well done. Even the CGI is better, as it gives the Apostles a spooky, otherworldly appearance.
Finally we arrive at "that scene." The infamous rape scene is every bit as horrifying as it was in the manga. I had to fight back tears when Casca told Guts not to look. The only thing I will say is that it's extremely graphic, much more so than the 90s anime, and not for the light hearted. The Skull Knight's siege on the eclipse cranks the badass levels up by about 80%, and then just like that, it's over.
The shift in tone comes about as naturally as it could given the situation. We don't get to see the birth of the demon child, but if you watch after the credits you will get to see Guts suit up as the Black Swordsman.
All in all I think that this movie, as well as the rest of the Golden Age Saga, was an absolute masterpiece of animation and storytelling. It had it's problems, but there is a noticeable improvement with each installment. Aside from the cheesy CGI that pops up every once in a while, my biggest issue is with the departures from the source material. Many of them I understand, since there are time constraints, but I was very disappointed that many of the tender moments between Guts and Casca were left out. That being said, I loved the moments between the two of them in this installment. They ranged from touching, to horrifying, to absolutely heartbreaking.
The animation quality in this movie exceeds almost anything I've ever seen. In particular I have to praise the scenes with the Skull Knight, the Eclipse, the descent into the dungeon, the fight scene with Silat, and the scene with Guts and Casca on top of the waterfall. The music for the most part was fantastic, other than some inappropriate violin music during a few otherwise serious scenes that takes away from the tone. The voice acting, both English and Japanese, as very well done, almost equally so. I'm so thrilled that they were able to gather so many of the old Dub actors and actresses from the 90s.
With the English DVD/BR not released yet, I can't comment on the specifics of this set in and of itself. Once the set is released I'' update this review with the regards to the extras, this particular dubbing, and whether or not any parts of the Eclipse are censored. One comment I'll make now is that I really like the cover art. If I'm being perfectly honest, I do prefer the black Blu Ray that was released in Japan, but I do enjoy the dark and imposing tone that this one creates, that so accurately reflects the contents of the film itself.
One final note that I really want to drive home, is how important it is to buy this series if you enjoyed the movie. These days piracy is at an all time high, and nothing is hurt worse by this than American distributed anime. Since Berserk is already not as well known as other, clearly lesser quality, anime such as Naruto and Bleach, it's particularly difficult for high budget projects like this to make any headway when everybody just streams it online and doesn't bother to support the series. The manga scans of Berserk gain tens to hundreds of thousands of downloads within the first few days of being uploaded, meanwhile the volume sales are so low that Darkhorse has stopped printing the old issues. If you love anime, and in particular if you love Berserk, please buy this series so that Miura and studio C4 are able to continue the series. It took so long for us fans to get this reboot to happen, I would hate for the opportunity to be squandered.
If I can give this remake of Berserk any credit at all in the midst of its flaws, then it would definitely be its steady progression towards the better. This third installment manages to capture some of the essence of the original; and although there are some things left out or outright changed. I have to admit that the new additions make up for a lot of these things. In fact, the ending is far better this time providing a lot more very necessary closure that the original was lacking. Now does this bit of information justify a remake of this series? Well, when looking at how so much was missing from the first two movies, rushed character development and story elements that can feel brushed upon even for a newcomer. The answer for me is still no. I would have much preferred a re-release of the original in its full glory with the story being continued, because let's face it, the ending here could have worked as a flashback of sorts for Guts. In any case, this volume is still better than previous volumes.
The animation still managed to improve in each installment with a minimum of flaws. The dark dungeons fits very well with the personality of this series, along with the hellish setting late in the movie. It truly creates a rather haunting atmosphere as if death is only arms length away, in which it is actually. The backgrounds are simply excellent around nearly ever corner, with vibrant, hazy flashbacks and bright sunny days. The action is still as barbaric as before capturing the brutality of this world. There is little left up to the imagination with various slashes and stabbings. Even after I thought that I seen it all, there was still one sick moment involving a blade. The CG still has its slight problems with one moment standing out when the soldiers when running forward, they all appeared to be kind of bow-legged. I don't think I've ever seen anyone run like that.
The plot follows The Hawks after they're brutally attacked and Guts appears to save them. From here they plan to rescue Griffith from the castle's dungeon with inside help, and things take another sinister turn for the group.
I'm happy to be wrong about some things coming into this volume in regards to the writing. The previous volume felt quite mad cap at times, with things simply happening just because. This time things are more wire-tight with well understood motivations and drives. The character development is quite better and one will have more of an understanding of Griffith and Caska. Unfortunately, some of the other characters are still present for a headcount given lines here and there. However, Guts felt a little short changed here simply appearing.
I know it's redundant by this point to harp on the changes that will bother many older fans, but it is what it is. There were things especially involving Guts that was cut out completely and these things would have helped more towards his full development; but newbies will indeed get the most out if this which is the writers and production teams aim anyway.
In closing, despite this volume not being as heavily action packed as the previous volume; it does contain a good amount of action anyway and it's very well paced and quite engrossing. I will point out that the final act doesn't feel as horror oriented as the original due to its cleaner visuals and less than sinister OST. The original was a product of a darker era in anime that I don't think can be easily replicated through a remake. In any case, I think older fans should skip this volume if they totally hated the first two, and I'm talking if they found no enjoyment in those at all. However, if the previous volumes were at least watchable then definitely try this out. Newbies shouldn't even hesitate in grabbing this, but I highly advise to watch the original at some point if possible.
Pros: Solid conclusion with better closure, better paced and developed
Cons: Some missteps in character development, older fans may still cringe