Posted 20 hours ago

Berserk Volume 1-5 Collection 5 Books Set (Series 1) by Kentaro Miura

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Themes of isolation, camaraderie, and the question of whether humanity is fundamentally good or evil pervade the story, as it explores both the best and worst of human nature. Above is my completely spoiler free review showing my appreciation for this series and its characters. The first arc is only the tip of the iceberg of a very complex, dark and violent tragedy. If you find yourself to be not too impressed with the first volume, I highly recommend reading until at least volume 4 before deciding if this series is for you or not. The first three volumes serve as an interlude to help prepare you for the atrocities to come and may seem somewhat underwhelming in terms of plot, but believe me when I say the payoff is highly rewarding and memorable.

Just as the arc was heading for a climactic buildup to the finale, it ends on a tearjerking cliffhanger that serves as the untimely ending of the series as a whole. It’s a shame that Miura’s masterpiece wasn’t able to be finished, but he’s created the most influential manga of all time that heavily impacted millions of readers and thousands of artists all over the world.It’s difficult to review this arc because it was left unfinished after the author’s untimely passing. There's something special in this weird little medieval-fairy-tale-Europe-as-imagined-by-20th-century-Japanese that kept me reading. A whiff of Nietzsche and Sartre and Kierkegaard, a promise of complexity and depth hiding behind the simplistic tale of an unlikeable protagonist's journey of revenge, despair and brutality toward self-knowledge. It's cringy, stereotypical and very much rooted in the '90s but there's earnestness and some emotional truth in this ugly, depressing tale that makes me read on. Which is also an issue, since Guts is still the one defeating most of the enemies while everyone else is low level support. Despite the story expanding to include a dozen other characters and themes, it still has the same one guy doing all the work. While Guts was butchering to pieces anyone standing in his way, it was excused because he was getting the spotlight. Now a dozen other characters get some spotlight and are close to worthless in battle. How can you care about all the extra stuff thrown in there when none of them can stand on their own without Guts constantly jumping it to save them?

Don't get me wrong: this is certainly not what you would call material suitable for toddlers. This is some gory, brutal and unremittingly dark story, at the onset of a series famed for its gruesome horrors, cruel fates, and unflinching depiction of the absurd side of life. The events in this first tome are already merciless and harrowing. Nieztschean tragedy indeed. This is also an emotion and a state of spirit I find when reading some works by H.P. Lovecraft. Facing Old Ones or Apostles, the odds are so monstrous, the part played by the characters so seemingly futile and abysmal, that paradoxically, the most resilient form of meaning appears. With H.P. Lovecraft's fiction, if you want to keep a litteral interpretation of them, that is certainly not the case with most of his tales. And yet I still hold that his stories have a curious life-affirmation quality to me. Life appears so ludicrously gratuitous, uncalled for, fragile, in a word impossible, that I am never more conscious that the mere fact of my being alive in such a puzzling universe is quite a wonder.Guts is a severely traumatized vagabond that wanders the world, throwing himself into one battle after another in hopes of finding a meaning in the tremendous suffering he's endured. His sword is his only trusted companion and he's consumed by a lust for vengeance. Griffith is a charismatic mercenary with dreams of ending a hundred year war in hopes of attaining his own kingdom. Little do his comrades and enemies know, he's not the flawless hero many believe him to be. When the paths of these two men clash, the entire world drastically evolves around the earth-shattering conflict between their indomitable wills. This volume has 3 chapters, and they don't really give much information regarding Guts's motivations. We can see that he's on some form of vendetta, and his vigilante-like behaviour must be coming from a much deeply seated wound. Despite his brutality, we do see that he is the protagonist of the story, after having murdered a group of thugs in a tavern and saved his new fairy friend, even though that little encounter led to The Snake Lord feeling threatened over his domain and unleashing hell (quite literally) in town as a response to Guts's transgression. We can see that Guts is some form of grimdark antihero character.

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