The anime adaptation of Berserk was absolutely amazing, so I was understandably excited when I heard of the movies coming out. I enjoyed Part I, the animation was astounding and the sound effects were great. Part II has those same qualities, but I found that the “feel” of the manga and anime were lost, as extended sex scenes were given priority over important plot points. Berserk Golden Age Arc III: Descent is the final chapter in studio 4°C’s series of films, finishing the story of the swordsman Guts and the Band of the Hawk. In short, I loved the movie. The music is great. The story is well told. The visual is amazing. It will please old-school fans.
Continuing from where the last movie leaves off, Guts leaves the Band of the Hawk and Griffith is captured. It is now a year later and Guts has returned to save Griffith who is now only beyond a mere shell of his former glory self. Anyway, I say this has been the best movie of the trilogy so far. In context to story, the beginning is very rushed and some scenes are taken out from the original manga and some are properly rearranged. But it doesn’t really hurt the flow for the story in relation to the movie. Sure, there’s some irksome stuff here, such as the useless and non-canonical backstory to Skull Knight and their trademark awful 3D animation. All of which is forgiven when you finally see the Eclipse re-imagined. The action is very violent and lives up to its bad ass title. There will be plenty of blood and gore.
Coming in at a running time of 120 minutes, Descent is the longest of the Golden Age Arc films. I say what defines the art and animation is how it sets the atmosphere and brings you into the emotions. You feel Griffith’s fragility. Even though you don’t see him unmasked, the detail to the art on whatever you see of his face is enough to give you an idea of what he would look like if unmasked. You see the hesitation of Guts on whether or not he should leave the Hawks again. You feel Casca’s frustrations. I feel that the raw emotions bring a sense of substance in conjunction to its hard ‘R’ rating.
For a fan, it’s awesome stuff. I’m still disappointed that they didn’t cover some of the insane events before Griffith’s rescue from the manga. In retrospect it’s not much more than a movie adaptation of the ’97 anime with a deeply inferior soundtrack. Speaking of which, it’s weird how Shiro Sagisu, composer of the magnificent Rebuild of Evangelion soundtrack, managed to make something as uninspired as this. The closest thing to a spoiler I can give is that after the ending credits, there is a post credits scene which isn’t much for some people, but after that is over, there is a message in clear English that says “This is only the beginning” meaning we will get new Berserk movies. It also does a great job of setting up the following events of Berserk, unlike the abrupt ending of the anime.
Let these movies continue. Watch it if you have the chance. And wait for after the credits. Boom, trilogy completed!