Try to condense the essence of Berserk using as few words as you can.

Hi! I'm new to this forum, I came from the Berserk discord. I read Berserk for the first time this year, but quickly became a fan. I listened to a few episodes of SkullKast and really enjoyed that! (especially the mythbusters one.:ubik:)

So my question is this: Try to simplify Berserk's themes and qualities as simply as you can describe. What is the core philosophy behind Berserk?

P.S describe a bit about yourself. When did you become a Berserk fan? How has your view of the manga changed over time as you built a better understanding?

:daiba:

update: Thanks for the replies! Camaraderie, betrayal. Struggle, destiny. All great answers.
 
Whoof. Big question there :farnese: Well, first off, welcome to the forum! Always glad to see Berserk reaching more and more people!

As for your question, I think Berserk boils down to the essence of camaraderie and the essence of betrayal. I'd also say the main theme is man's struggle to create his own future, or else succumb to destiny. Not a small amount of words, I know, but as I said, big question :ganishka:

As for me, I was first introduced to Berserk 4 or 5 years ago, so I'm about as far from a veteran as can be on this site. I first watched the '97 anime, which left me hungry for more. So I immediately watched through the film trilogy, which I enjoy more than most. Then I dove into the manga, reading through it all in about a month. It's only now that I'm finishing up my second readthrough that I'm really enjoying the cohesion and world-building of the latest stuff, as I've been more or less starry-eyed towards the Golden Age era.
 

jackson_hurley

even the horses are cut in half!
Hello there! Welcome aboard.

"Dreams can lead to shit." Would be a good one. :ganishka:

Haha but joke aside I'd the struggle of life in a harsh world. Nchaskew also made a good point with camaraderie.

As for myself, I've been into Berserk since 2003 when dark horse released the first 3 volumes. I had just finished watching the '97 anime and spotted in the credits that it was based on a manga. Being a huge comic/manga fan I've decided to embark on the journey. Found this website once, forgot about it and then found it again and subscribe around 2005. Since then I have read the manga once or twice a year and I've stuck here since then. Which I'm glad because it help me a lot to get a better comprehension of the story.
 
Gonna bite the bullet and try to give an answer to this extremely tricky question.

I would say Berserk is most importantly about humanity, and all the complexities of being human, but that's just partially what Berserk is. I don't believe there exists a single word or syntagm that can be used to wholly describe it, otherwise it wouldn't be as good as it is to my mind.

NCHaskew said:
As for me, I was first introduced to Berserk 4 or 5 years ago, so I'm about as far from a veteran as can be on this site. I first watched the '97 anime, which left me hungry for more. So I immediately watched through the film trilogy, which I enjoy more than most. Then I dove into the manga, reading through it all in about a month. It's only now that I'm finishing up my second readthrough that I'm really enjoying the cohesion and world-building of the latest stuff, as I've been more or less starry-eyed towards the Golden Age era.

Wow, this is word by word exactly what my description would look like. I was actually surprised when I first read it because it felt like a page of a journal or something. Good to see someone else liked the Studio 4C films. :ubik:
 
Here's my elevator pitch to people asking about Berserk:

Berserk is a very ‘R’ rated Japanese manga set in a gritty medieval world of mercenary armies fighting on behalf of nobles that despise them, with a dark Lovecraftian supernatural undercurrent behind the scenes. It is a tale of ambition, betrayal, and revenge and involves a notorious anti-hero known as the Black Swordsman who, though just a man, wields a gigantic sword to hunt creatures beyond human understanding, restore his insane lover, and defy an inevitable fate of damnation.
 

Griffith

My posts are better.
Going strictly by the challenge: "BERSERK!!!!" :mozgus:

Better yet, if we're counting by the character, pun intended:

"GUTS" :guts:

Ok, in reality I'd probably start with some boring genre description like "A Dark Fantasy" and pivot to, "but arguably the best thing ever written." :carcus: I think the biggest selling point, at least to me, is the depth of the human condition and depravity it explores literally and thematically while pulling no punches, not being exploitative (YMMV), and with great characterizations, making is superior to most things for the effort. That'd be my focus anyway, then I could work on word count.
 

Walter

Administrator
Staff member
Try to simplify Berserk's themes and qualities as simply as you can describe. What is the core philosophy behind Berserk?

I see the question as less of an elevator pitch to the uninitiated, and more a request to condense what Berserk "means" as much as possible. It's a tall order though, because there are MANY themes, all of them intertwined to facilitate a dramatic, fascinating story. And I think Miura is primarily concerned with telling a great story, with the philosophical lessons from it taking a secondary footing.

But to answer your question, I think Berserk is an analysis of the human condition. The essential qualities of human beings are writ large in apostles, making them monstrous, which isn't unlike a fantasy version of how power corrupts a person. With the God Hand, we see humans as distanced from humanity as possible, empowered to perform terrifying acts. And in a character like Guts, we see the range of possibilities in humans -- the good and the bad. It's also a very optimistic series, to me. Because as overpowering as the odds always have been against Guts, he still struggles, he still overcomes. He's the man who will rise up, holding a broken sword.

NorthernHobbit said:
P.S describe a bit about yourself. When did you become a Berserk fan? How has your view of the manga changed over time as you built a better understanding?

Berserk is pretty much the only series I follow these days, and I started reading it in summer 1999. I've followed it episodically since July 2000 (ep 165 was my first Young Animal), when I launched this site. Before that, I watched many different series, but once I realized the depths of Berserk, nothing else held a candle to it, and most comics just fall flat for me. As for my view of the manga, my respect for it has only gotten greater over time. There's no one else out there doing the kind of work that Miura is.
 
Berserk- Suffering is the path to growth.

There are a lot of satanic themes in this manga. The wish to sacrifice that which you hold dear for “power” falls in line with satanist concepts that have their root in much older religions.The belief that the personality is burned away in the fires of trial, and a new more perfect self rises from the ash. Another way to put it; Give up cherished habits, give up selfishness, give up laziness and achieve your “prize” of a well ordered life. All this is simply buddhism washed of its dark overtones.

I started reading this manga 7 or 8 years ago. It spoke to me then as it does now. Guts suffers, he descends into darkness, he crawls through the real world as those around him live their dream. And all the wile he’s blind to the fact that he deserves a dream too. He deserves happiness, he deserves peace, and the pain he felt all those years has made him worthy.
My view of berserk hasn’t changed much in 7 years at which is refreshing and speaks to the material and themes of the manga.
 
To me, berserk’s pervasive focus on the idea of dreams has not changed much since I was first introduced to the show. I started with the original anime several times before progressing to the 3D continuation series. In the end, I found this a surprisingly enhancing set up to the manga experience. I found the wording differences subtle and somehow extremely affective.
I will never forget seeing that first bit of berserk that blew my mind away. Nothing I had ever consumed in this crazy existence quite touched on such vulnerably personal emotions let alone a 1997 Japanese creation. Hence my name, this scene comes early on during Gut’s hilltop admissions to Casca in passing. I find it bizarre that nothing else I have seen naturally includes questioning one’s existence as a primary character trait. This dreamlike entry point is followed up soon after with an almost too intense rant from Griffith defining what a dream in life really is. Realizing a dream continues to exist as a major theme of interest even after all the demons, horror, and world-building.
It is indeed a human story, one with “satanic”/panentheistic philosophies involved that focuses on themes like brotherhood, suffering, and humankind’s historical realities. But to me, I have always been biased towards Miura spinning some personable virtue on the importance and dangers of dreams. The story as a whole is a dream to me while being all too real in ernest (minus the big sword). Think I got off track with the purpose of this reply but wanted to speak my truth for my first post on here.

In summary, I think Berserk can be described as a violent and heartbreaking dream on human ambition, friendship, and existence. Thought this was a good prompt as it shows such varying responses when I would have imagined the audience generally noticing the same themes. But it takes time to mature and learn as a human indeed:)
 
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