There’s a saying circulating around the internet regarding this lovely and bleak series: “Berserk is as cursed as Guts” and that really hits the nail on the head when it comes to being a fan of Kentaro Miura’s epic dark fantasy story. From unwanted influences stemming out of IDOLMASTER, nearly a decade on the boat, and hiatus after hiatus, the making and publication of Berserk itself really does feel as damned as it’s forsaken protagonist.
However, for the past year or so, there’s been a light for the fans following Guts’ crew into Elfheim. There was finally movement towards Casca’s awakening – something so integral to the core of Berserk and the last real loose end to tie up before the story could logically move into a final act.
Even though we had to endure a hiatus right in the middle of Shirecke and Farnese moving through Casca’s subconscious, Berserk felt like it was moving forward with purpose and a clear goal ahead. We didn’t know whether or not Casca would truly wake up, but we could feel each chapter meaningfully progressing towards that reveal. For the first time in what seemed like forever, Berserk felt focused and on track. Chapter 356 is a loss of focus in a truly painful way, and frankly the last thing the series needed right now.
Let’s be honest, we all knew deep down inside that suffering was coming back soon. Casca just got revived and there wasn’t an immediate awful Monkey’s paw to the situation – there just had to be some fuckery afoot in the near future.
The worst part about this issue is that we just don’t get anything new. I mean sure these exact weird giant monsters weren’t previously causing Griffith and the Neo Band of the Hawk trouble when we last saw them but its really just more the same stuff. Ever since Griffith literally ripped a hole between worlds and initiated the Fantasia arc we’ve gotten used to creatures like this putting up an effortless fight against God mode Griffith.
Nothing even happens in the fight! We get a small role call on some key non-demon members of the Neo Band of the Hawk but they’re all just plodding about doing nothing of any interest. Really when the only intrigue and lingering question related to the plot contained in this chapter is ‘Oh man I wonder if the leader of this nameless band of giants is going to beat a literal God and the main antagonist of the story’ then there’s something wrong with the presentation.
its not all bad though – Miura’s Masterful technique just makes everything he touches turn to gold. Even when we’re looking at plot-insignificant troll thing armies his immensely detailed art is an absolute feast for the eyes.
It’s hard to imagine any truly terrible issue of Berserk because as long as Miura is leading the art they could do a 70-page chapter that exclusively follows Isidro wondering about the woods and I would say ‘well those trees still look amazing.’
Here’s to hoping this shift to Griifth and the crew wraps up fast or takes a hard left turn in the next chapter. Fingers crossed everybody!
Final Grade: C-
I like anime, manga, music, and video games a whole lot. I never know best.