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Berserk Volume 16 Paperback – Apr 10 2007
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I disagree with an earlier reviewer, I am glad that Dark Horse is now translating the sound effects - I also like the fact that they're not just ham-handedly trying to convert it into English equivalents there are some things for which it just doesn't work. (The 'sound' of something being noticed, for example).
Berserk, often hailed as one of the premier examples of adult manga, began publication in 1990. Written and illustrated by Kentaro Miura, the title is set in a dark fantasy inspired medieval Europe, following the exploits of wandering mercenary Guts. Weaving great action with eye popping art; it also features excellent characterization, sweeping epic storylines which span years of the characters' lives, and intense violence/horror. Berserk gained popularity in America from the limited 25 episode anime, and has spawned 3 movies, 2 videogames, and numerous action figures. New chapters of berserk are still released, unfortunately its on a fairly erratic schedule. This is one of the most emotionally engrossing manga series I've read, and comes highly recommended to fans of seinen manga, and graphic literature in general.
As always this chapter resumes immediately after the engrossing events of Berserk, Vol. 15, concluding the smaller Lost Children Chapter within the Conviction arc. The bulk of the chapters within are dedicated to violent combat. Still, there's important character development, revealing how far Guts has already descended into darkness. A character seemingly linked to Guts by destiny makes a highly intriguing appearance, raising questions of their true motives. The action maintains the bloody visceral tone we've come to expect, while providing enough story to keep the reader's interest. The story segues seamlessly from the Lost Children Chapter into the Binding Chain Chapter, which is refreshing considering the more serial tone the series had taken. Despite some complaints, the first section of the conviction arc was a fast paced romp, and the second section sets several important elements in motion. Really though, if you've been reading to this point, things only get better in Berserk, Vol. 17.
As far as production goes, this book is fairly typical of what one would expect from a manga volume released in the US. Roughly 260 pages, featuring eight to eleven chapters of about 16-18 pages each. Bound in a softcover, and printed on classic manga/newsprint style paper. The series appears to be wholly uncensored in the US, featuring a competent translation, along with uncensored gore and nudity. Dark horse has finally addressed my one main issue with their production on these volumes, and have begun to include translations for the sound effects. Some other amazon reviewers have raked Dark Horse over the coals due to the inclusion of sound effects, and their placement. I personally appreciate the inclusion of translated sfx for several reasons. The artist chose to include the sfx to add atmosphere, and even important information. In some cases the sounds are important enough to be a major part of the art, so why should all of this information go untranslated? As for the placement, the majority of translation notes are placed in between panels. When that isn't an option they're either off to the side or bottom of a panel in an area with little to no visual information.
I don't have much bad to say about Berserk, other than its not for the squeamish or faint of heart. The art is truly breathtaking, and not only in it's action panels. Every character, set piece, and background is expertly rendered, with a loving attention to detail that demonstrates Miura's skill as a mangaka. That being said, the action panels are some of the best I've seen ;D. Fortunately, the story is quite enjoyable as well. Featuring tales of friendship, romance, Ambition, heartbreak, and tragedy. I became emotionally invested in several members of the main cast, thanks in part to good interpersonal character growth. It really can't be stated enough that Berserk does feature depictions of sex, and extreme graphic violence. The depictions of intercourse are pretty tame though, mostly featuring one person on top of the other, and some nipples. The violence and horror elements, on the other hand, can be quite grotesque, leaving little to the imagination. I'd recommend this series to anyone interested in a story with amazing art, cool characters, and a finely woven tale ages 18 and up.
I do wish that Dark Horse had opted not to translate the sound effects, Miura's art is all the description the reader needs.
One of the more notable parts of this book are the manifested "Beast of Darkness", an apparition within Guts which taunts him at times and commands him to spill more blood. The Beast takes many shapes but most often it takes the silhouette of a large wolf. Another important note is Guts' image itself, as he seems to appear more like the evil he's fighting than a normal man, as if the horrors he endures again and again have twisted him into something else entirely. It's not the prevalent image of him by far, but in this novel you see Guts' appearance change into something more reminiscent of a monster or a devil, like he belongs in the darkness more, or at least like he is certainly not out of place there to say the least.
I thought seeing this side of Guts outside of a battle and during a simple conversation a little exciting and troubling at the same time. It marks an interesting change in Guts' character, one I can't wait to see develop in the story. This was a fairly good novel of the bunch, one that deserves a read, it's also pretty good action and character growth so it goes by faster than some, but it leaves you hanging. None the less, I highly recommend this installment of the series.
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