Dark Horse Releases "Deluxe" Berserk Edition

Walter

Administrator
Staff member
I finally bought the first volume and it's arriving tomorrow, what are yall thoughts on the deluxe version compared to other formats?

We've got a meaty thread on the topic of the Deluxe editions over in Manga Mausoleum (which is dedicated to older volume discussion). The Merchandise section is primarily for things like statues. So I'm gonna merge these threads if you don't mind.

Here are my thoughts on the Deluxe editions from when they first released in 2019:

Mine arrived! I will say it's fundamentally cool to have all of Black Swordsman in one mega-sized volume. Your mileage may vary on whether that novelty alone is worth the $30~50 retail price, given the other problems with this edition. Now that I finally have it in my hands, I can give it the book-nerd breakdown I've been waiting to read elsewhere (TELL ME ABOUT THE INKKKKKKK)

PROS:
+Good paper:
The paper quality is improved over the standard volumes. It's about on par with what Viz did for Vagabond (and slightly less stiff than the recent Blame! master editions). The paper is thicker, toneless, and it doesn't have that half-step-up-from-newspaper vibe of the volumes. They nailed this.
+Good ink: Possibly as a result of the higher paper quality, the lines appear sharper and less fuzzy than even the Japanese volumes. The finish on the paper is less textured, so the ink doesn't leak through the tiny lines of the paper grain. However, also possibly because of the sheen on the paper, the contrast isn't quite what it should be. This is not evident in pictures or scans, but in practice, there's a slightly reflective quality to the paper that robs it of deeper blacks.
+Big size and solid feel: This is the most significant upgrade of the bunch. The enlargement of the visuals changes the experience of scenes like the unveiling of the Dragon Slayer in the bar, and of course the God Hand reveal. As someone who has repeatedly re-read the series, those scenes feel larger because of the size upgrade. It's also hefty. It feels like a book you'd have to lug around in high school. Wrap this shit in a paper bag. That callback ages me, doesn't it?
+/=It's leather: The leather appears to be of good quality, not just fake shit. I've never personally skinned a cow and hung it out to dry. But as a leather layman, it seems legit. Now, I don't particularly give a shit about leather myself, but sure. Why not? Looks Biblical, and there's something gratifying about that. Also, small note, but because of the size and weight of the leather binding, you can lay it flat and the pages fall flat. That's a big improvement over the originals.
+Looks good on a shelf: The big, bold red-foil lettering, and the minimal arrangement of the spine all get big thumbs ups from me. Just gotta find room for it...

CONS:
-Bad initial scan quality remains bad,
particularly for what's supposed to be a "DELUXE" edition. This is problematic. Dark Horse admittedly improved their scan quality over time to the point where I genuinely can't think of a visual defect in the later volumes. But this set of volumes from Dark Horse has had problems since their first print, and they've never been resolved. This old example of a washed-out scan that makes fine details simply disappear from the page remains in the deluxe edition. They can and should have done better here. If they're going to upsell fans on a new edition, it warrants a re-scan, particularly given the evident problems. I scanned a new example to demonstrate the moiré pattern issues (Deluxe Edition, Japanese Edition -- note the effect around the crossbow). If the size was the biggest reason to buy it, this is the biggest reason not to bother.
-Ugly low-resolution / low-quality volume covers in the back: I don't know exactly what happened here, but they are blurry and over-saturated compared to the originals. This could be a result of color bleed on the glossy paper they chose. But it seems more likely to me that the sources they used just weren't high resolution, or in some way weren't mastered properly. Anyone who has seen what those covers look like in the Illustration File will immediately recognize the issue.
-Miura's name. If they're going to engrave Miura's name in leather, I'd prefer they actually bother using the correct ō in Kentarō. They got the his name correct in the goddamned Library of Congress entry for this book, but not the cover? Aside from that, the bio in the back also has a number of errors: 1) Futatabi is misspelled as Futanabi. 2) Noa was not a canceled series, but a one-shot. 3) Gigantomachia was published as a volume in 2014 not 2013 (it began serialization in 2013, but that's not what they were referring to). 4) The Dreamcast game came out in 1999 (2000 in US) not 2004. If it were just one or two issues, eh it's understandable. First editions are plagued with these. But add them up, and it comes across as lazy.
-Defects: These are small, but glue from the binding splattered onto the page in two instances of mine, and one corner of the leather cover is undercut, so it overhangs a bit. I don't care too much about these aside from the feeling that I just paid for a premium edition that doesn't have the fit-and-finish I'd expect of a premium edition.

If you've never bought a Dark Horse edition, I say by all means, jump on it. Bigger is better. But if you were holding out for the definitive Berserk reading experience, this isn't quite there yet.
 
We've got a meaty thread on the topic of the Deluxe editions over in Manga Mausoleum (which is dedicated to older volume discussion). The Merchandise section is primarily for things like statues. So I'm gonna merge these threads if you don't mind.

Here are my thoughts on the Deluxe editions from when they first released in 2019:
great! thank you for merging actually, i was looking on the merch subforum searching "deluxe" but found nothing lol
tnx for the review, Imma go ahead and read this whole thread now :guts:
 
It's too bad the official guidebook has many inaccuracies and tasteless stuff in it, though. Almost feels disrespectful to append Miura's final chapter with a quickly put together "guidebook" with tactless stuff like this in it :schierke:: If they include all the color pages + Miura's interview + Miura's character designs; correct or exclude erroneous stats; and remove the silly character profile parameter graphs, cutie collection (still can't believe they had the gall to include that), and silly romance puzzles, then that would be so much better.

On another note - NPD Bookscan released 2022 USA sales figures of graphic novels the other day.
According to this article, Berserk sold about 799k copies in USA last year (Deluxe & softcover combined)! :ubik:
Notably, the Volume 1 Deluxe edition sold 146k copies in 2022 vs. 57k in 2021. That's over 2.5 times more than in 2021!
Wish they could've included a breakdown of top manga titles sold to see where Berserk falls. But in any case, really happy more people have been getting into Berserk :SK:
who on earth penned that text.....................my god. it also looks like it was either AI generated or translated by chatgpt/deepl, to make it worse...........
kill it, kill it with fire :stop:
 

guuuuuuuuts

Excited for the next chapter!
Most of the Deluxe editions are available for $22 each as a buy one get one discounted sale on Amazon. The others are roughly $30 each. Cheers.
 
Just ordered 13 and gonna order 14 a month from now as a Christmas present to myself. Been a long journey itself collecting these. Never thought I'd put like $400 into a set of books but of all the series I've read, Berserk deserves it. When they are all together I'm definitely posting an epic photo of them stacked up, with my sword and armor collection gathered up around them thematic as can be!

It's too bad the official guidebook has many inaccuracies and tasteless stuff in it, though. Almost feels disrespectful to append Miura's final chapter with a quickly put together "guidebook" with tactless stuff like this in it :schierke:: If they include all the color pages + Miura's interview + Miura's character designs; correct or exclude erroneous stats; and remove the silly character profile parameter graphs, cutie collection (still can't believe they had the gall to include that), and silly romance puzzles, then that would be so much better.

On another note - NPD Bookscan released 2022 USA sales figures of graphic novels the other day.
According to this article, Berserk sold about 799k copies in USA last year (Deluxe & softcover combined)! :ubik:
Notably, the Volume 1 Deluxe edition sold 146k copies in 2022 vs. 57k in 2021. That's over 2.5 times more than in 2021!
Wish they could've included a breakdown of top manga titles sold to see where Berserk falls. But in any case, really happy more people have been getting into Berserk :SK:
Berserk was always on a bit of a slow burn into mainstream pop culture, but I think when Miura passed there was such an outpouring of praise, news, grief, etc... from fans across the internet and IRL that a glass ceiling of sorts was suddenly broken, and the deluxe editions made jumping in easier and more immersive than ever for new people as well. Lots of youtubers started picking the deluxes in the last couple years and doing read throughs-reviews too, which has exposed the series to probably tens of thousands of new people.
 

Dark Emperor

I’ll gnaw right through your arteries!
Lots of youtubers started picking the deluxes in the last couple years and doing read throughs-reviews too, which has exposed the series to probably tens of thousands of new people.
Regarding readthroughs (and audiobooks), I find it pretty disappointing that there’s such a market/audience for them: a demographic of grown adults who need to have things dictated to them like they’re still receiving their mother’s bedtime stories. There’s almost no way one can really understand a story by having someone else read it to them. In Berserk’s case, if one doesn’t want to buy the work themselves, it’s fairly easy to find it through other means, so needing to be introduced the story through a readthrough shows that said people are likely just lazy and even more unlikely to even finish reading the series.
 
Something similarly awful happened in the stand-alone version of volume 38 when Daiba saves Erica from Rakshas, though they actually fixed that in the Deluxe version.

I think they're the only Major manga publisher in the US I've ever seen this happen with.
 
So despite these problems, I'm quite happy with seeing all of the Deluxe Editions on my shelf, so I'm glad to finally have the (in)complete series. I don't know Japanese, so if I imported the originals, that would not be a smooth reading experience. (looking at a fan translation alongside is no way to read comics, no matter how good the translation is. This isn't film/tv, where you can view fan translations intuitively) I also don't know any other languages. So for better or worse, I'm sticking with the Deluxe Editions.
However, I'm curious, is there any knowledge here about which translations/localizations are the best for Berserk?

And I did run through some of these posts about problems with the Deluxe editions, but I still have some questions. Walter said "Dark Horse admittedly improved their scan quality over time to the point where I genuinely can't think of a visual defect in the later volumes." But I'm not exactly certain where that cutoff point is. What volume does that start to change, exactly? I don't have any other editions, so it's difficult for me to compare on my own. I do remember seeing some print defects in a later volume, but I forget which one.
I'm also curious, has anyone done a comparison about translation changes between the Deluxe editions and the Dark Horse tankobon volumes? I've read here that they made a couple of changes, but I'm curious if any one on here has done a comprehensive look at the whole series, now that it's done to see the translation changes?
 

Walter

Administrator
Staff member
So despite these problems, I'm quite happy with seeing all of the Deluxe Editions on my shelf, so I'm glad to finally have the (in)complete series. I don't know Japanese, so if I imported the originals, that would not be a smooth reading experience. (looking at a fan translation alongside is no way to read comics, no matter how good the translation is. This isn't film/tv, where you can view fan translations intuitively)
I can't read Japanese fluently either, so when I need to crack open a volume simply to read it, I turn to Dark Horse. But the Japanese editions are beautiful, if you care about such things. It's the best print quality you can get for Berserk. So to me it's not a matter of choice, it's simply "why not both?" It's also nice to have the official edition, and not a translation of the thing you love, you know?

However, I'm curious, is there any knowledge here about which translations/localizations are the best for Berserk?
If you're asking which officially licensed localization of Berserk (Spanish, French, German, etc.) is the best translation of the material, I don't think there would be an easy way to get a consensus of that. If you mean fan translations, Puella's are the closest to authoritative by a large margin. Hers are the only ones that seem to care about conveying the original meaning instead of scenarios like: "well it'd be more convenient in English if they said this."

And I did run through some of these posts about problems with the Deluxe editions, but I still have some questions. Walter said "Dark Horse admittedly improved their scan quality over time to the point where I genuinely can't think of a visual defect in the later volumes." But I'm not exactly certain where that cutoff point is. What volume does that start to change, exactly? I don't have any other editions, so it's difficult for me to compare on my own. I do remember seeing some print defects in a later volume, but I forget which one.
Scan quality and print defects are two different buckets. The first 4 volumes of Dark Horse have numerous instances of badly scanned pages, leading to overexposed images that lose finer lines and details. I've shown this image quality comparison from Volume 3 off a number of times, but it's one example in a dozen that one could make (like the moon in the scene with the wolves in Volume 4). This exact problem was carried into the Deluxe Editions. They didn't bother re-scanning the material. I haven't seen anything like that in Volume 5 and onward, though.

As for print defects like typos or transposition problems, you'll find those throughout DH's run.

I'm also curious, has anyone done a comparison about translation changes between the Deluxe editions and the Dark Horse tankobon volumes? I've read here that they made a couple of changes, but I'm curious if any one on here has done a comprehensive look at the whole series, now that it's done to see the translation changes?
Since they're making these changes progressively, no I doubt anyone has done that. It wouldn't amount to much though, because the changes that I've seen posted have been very slight corrections. For example, "Knight of Skeleton" changed to "Skull Knight" starting in Deluxe Vol 3. King Hanafubuku was changed to "Flower Storm Monarch" in Deluxe Vol 10. It's that kind of thing, from what I've seen.
 
I can't read Japanese fluently either, so when I need to crack open a volume simply to read it, I turn to Dark Horse. But the Japanese editions are beautiful, if you care about such things. It's the best print quality you can get for Berserk. So to me it's not a matter of choice, it's simply "why not both?" It's also nice to have the official edition, and not a translation of the thing you love, you know?
That is totally fair. I guess personally, because imports are so expensive, I haven't taken the plunge, since I usually go to imports for things that aren't available in English at all. (likeee, I've been collecting the storyboard books for Miyazaki's and Satoshi Kon's films) So next on my list for Berserk would probably be the art-of book for the Dreamcast game.

Even if the scans aren't as good as the Japanese ones, it is still a beautiful series to look over. I got into Berserk because of how incredible the art is, and that still shines through with the Dark Horse editions.
But anyway, thank you for clarifying when the scan quality improves. Much appreciated, I've been a lurker for awhile, and this forum has been a pretty helpful resource for me!! I will try to check out Puella's translation sometime.
 
That is totally fair. I guess personally, because imports are so expensive, I haven't taken the plunge, since I usually go to imports for things that aren't available in English at all. (likeee, I've been collecting the storyboard books for Miyazaki's and Satoshi Kon's films) So next on my list for Berserk would probably be the art-of book for the Dreamcast game.
Yeah it can be quite expensive however I got my 1-41 Berserk Japanese singles set for only 120 euros on Ebay, sometimes u can find good deals like this
 
Deluxe edition 14 arrived at my house a short while ago, and with that, I now own all of Berserk in Dark Horse's deluxe edition format. It's a great way to read the series in my opinion. The large pages do wonders for observing the art work and for getting immersed in the story. Of course, there are some unfortunate printing defects, though, especially in the earlier volumes, like I'm sure a lot of you have seen. Even later on there are very rare defects. I can only think of one defect past the Golden Age, and it's on a panel of Guts looking up at Zodd and Ganishka during the battle at Vritannis port. There's a big blotch of black ink on his neck.
To be honest, my biggest issue with the deluxe editions is how flimsy they feel. It feels like them breaking is inevitable, and each time I crack them open to read brings the book closer to that point unless I'm extremely careful (which I do try to be). I haven't had any of them break on me but I've other people's volumes breaking. With the last deluxe edition though, volume 14, this isn't as big of an issue as the book itself is smaller due to the smaller amount of pages. Volume 14 opens and handles more naturally than the rest.
Also, for people who love to read manga while reclining back or laying down, it's pretty hard/impossible to do those comfortably with the deluxe editions. You pretty much have to read them sitting at a table. That's not a huge downside but sometimes I find myself wanting to grab one of my tankobons instead so that I can read more comfortably.
Overall I love the deluxe editions. They're hands down the best way to read the series in English. Berserk definitely deserves higher quality omnibus editions than what Dark Horse put out with these deluxe editions, but in terms of immersion, I think they do the job just fine, unless you're the type to lose immersion in the story when you come across the occasional printing error.
 
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