Regarding the story behind “Berserk”, I feel that any kind of detail is unnecessary, since the story of Guts, the Black Swordsman, is known among most anime fans. In this latest arc, following the restart of the franchise by Kubooka Toshiyuki in the three movies comprising “The Golden Age Arc”, Guts is a completely broken man, who roams the world in search of Casca, who lost her sanity and memory after the onerous events that concluded the aforementioned title. At the same time, he is after the God Hand’s Apostles and Griffith, who is nowhere to be found.
In his travels, he eventually draws the company of Puck, an elf and Isidoro, a boy who wants to learn from him how to be a fighter. Lady Farnese, the supposed leader of a military band, and Serpico, her bodyguard, come across his way, in a series of events that ends, once more, in a hellish setting.
All the elements that made “Berserk” one of the most popular anime titles of all time are here. Guts’s immense sword still spreads mayhem whenever he uses it, with the title being filled with gore, and rather impressive battle scenes, with the finale being the highlight of this tendency. Add to that a number of religious concepts that could be easily deemed blasphemous, some humor (which I found somewhat unnecessary), some drama, and much nudity, and you have the backbone of the first season.
Evidently, the CGI visuals are a bit distracting, and seem to detract from the essence of the anime, particularly in terms of animation, where the movements of the characters seem like the ones we see in video games, and not in anime. However, the base material is so strong, that this fault is soon forgotten as Guts proceeds to deal with his enemies in the most impressive fashion, and after 2-3 episodes, the CGI did not bother me at all.
The coloring is still dark and bloody in grotesque fashion, in a tactic that benefits the title to the most, while the characters are drawn with much detail, as is the case with the background. Again, the prowess of the production values shines in the finale of the season. Hiroshi Iwanagi does a great job as Guts, with his bass and deep voice fitting the persona to perfection.
However, everything good that is found in the 2016 arc is almost totally absent in the 2017 one. The story takes a rather ridiculous turn, with Guts actually becoming a caring and even kind man, the new characters being largely uninteresting and even the colors turning bright and occasionally motley, to the point that the word that came to mind is fruity. Furthermore, the battles are less and not as impressive, the gore is almost nowhere to be found and the whole title has a PG15 essence that seems ridiculous. Lastly, there is not even an impressive finale to compensate, as in the first season, while the last episodes of the season look like fillers.
“Berserk” is a title that will always appeal to the fans of the first series, one of the greatest action anime of all time, but the creators of the new arc, particularly in the second season, seem to make an effort to get as far away as possible from the exploitation aesthetics that form the basis of the title, with awful results. I hope that the next season will return to the style of the 2016 one, at least.