4 August 2013

Berserk Movie 2: Battle For Doldrey Blu-Ray Review


Rating: 15
BD Release Date: 12th August 2013 (UK)
Director:Toshiyuki Kubooka
Cast: Hiroaki Iwanaga, Toa Yukinari, Takahiro Sakurai
Buy:Berserk: Movie 2 - The Battle For Doldrey [Blu-ray]

Griffith's words about true friends still resound in Guts' head. They haunt him on the battlefield and in his downtime, making him question his moves and motivation. This doesn't stop him from fighting for Griffith as the Band of the Hawk joins the other forces of the king to take down Doldrey, a nigh impregnable fortress that has never been successfully besieged. In between battles, Guts continues to ponder where his life is headed if he sticks with the Band of the Hawk, strengthens his bond with woman warrior Casca, and ultimately makes a decision that will have a great impact not only on his future, but on the rest of the Hawks' as well.

I first encountered Berserk when I picked up a copy of it in my library and I remember how different it was to other manga’s. It was more violent and graphic than other manga’s I had encountered (I had still to discover things like Ninja Scroll and Fist of the North Star) and I went to great lengths to acquire the other volumes. I then discovered that there was an anime of Berserk and since these were the dark ages before internet shopping became so easy to use (yes I am that old now shush) I had to scour DVD shops, HMV’s, charity shops and Forbidden Planet’s to find a boxset. But eventually I acquired it and myself and some other anime obsessed mates sat down to watch it. Wow were we disappointed! It was just a bit pathetic compared to the excellent manga we had all been reading.

Years later in 2012 I would go to the Scotland Loves Anime festival in Edinburgh where they were showing the new Berserk OVA’s and I will admit I was not that excited about these films. However I was blown away by not only the quality of the animation but the skill and time taken to properly translate Kentaro Miura’s manga to anime. Studio 4˚C brought their unique animation style that had been used to great success on their previous film Steamboy and from what I heard in the interviews after the films they went to great lengths to honour the original manga, including visiting Edinburgh to get a feel of medieval cities (shameless flattery to the Edinburgh fanbase I think though). The animation style is a mixture of CGI and hand drawn styles. Now this works for most of the film with the bodies and action being mostly CGI but the faces and emotions all being hand drawn but occasionally you will see the two styles clash with one another but this rarely happens and so the action scenes and battles look amazing and you get amazing characterisation and emotion from the animation. However many of the battle scenes do seem to be fought by armies of clones and so there is often very little variety in some of the larger battles and since this film focuses on a major battle it is slightly disappointing.

This film focuses on the interaction between two of the main characters Guts and Casca and the development of their friendship while fighting in the Band of the Hawk. These two characters form the basis of the Berserk series and it is their interactions and what happens to them that progresses the story. Casca is a great character and moves away from the standard warrior woman in manga and anime by having actual motives to fight alongside men rather than just being the regular chain mail bikini clad warrior. Saying this though her design does slightly drop her into this trope as she rides into battle with thigh high boots and armour that has its own cleavage.

Guts is a rather simple character but this is what drives him. He spends the film questioning what he is doing and if it is what he wants in life. He is left with a choice that means either staying with Band of the Hawk or trying to make his own life by himself. His growing friendship with Casca makes him want to stay but his desire to make his own life away from Griffith conflicts with this and the ending is suitably tragic for them all.

The voice acting of the Japanese actors is brilliant with Hiroaki Iwanaga, Toa Yukinari and Takahiro Sakurai as voices of Guts, Casca and Griffith. The English voice work is good but doesn’t sound as good as the Japanese. It’s not because they are bad but mainly because the Japanese language suites the melodrama of the series over the English.

Now the film is very good but what lets it down is the editing. Every so often there are scenes that seem to be missing. You will be watching it then suddenly the characters will have changed location or something would have been said that makes little sense. Overall this doesn’t affect the plot but affects the viewing experience and makes it look rather sloppy.

Overall though it is a great film for fans of the manga or any other anime fans.

★★★☆☆

Adam Cook


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