Berserk: The Egg of the King
Studio: Studio 4C
Release Date: September 13, 2012
Berserk: The Egg of the King is the first film in a series of films set in the Berserk universe. The franchise has existed previously as a manga and had an anime adaptation. The series follows the character Guts and his really big sword as they do battle as mercenaries. Berserk: The Egg of the King is one of the films set to feature at this years REEL Anime festival here in Australia by Madman Entertainment.
Berserk: The Egg of the King follows the story of the mercenary Guts and the band of mercenaries known as the Band of the Hawk. Through circumstance, Guts is forced into this band of mercenaries and is quickly befriended by its leader, Griffith. However, Griffith has his own ideals and this sees him taking advantage of Guts’ forming friendship.
What I particularly liked about the story in this film was that a lot of the characters are doing things for their own ambitions rather than some kind of black and white kind of morality. For example, this is evident early on when Guts’ is still a solo mercenary and is offered a position of prestige and comfort. Instead of taking this offer up, he instead turns it down to live his life his own way. The film has plenty of other moments that exemplify this theme, but the opening example is least spoilery to run with.
I remember that a few times throughout the film I was pointing at the screen and trying to work out whether or not certain characters were heroes or villains. The best example of this is Guts himself. He initially doesn’t seem to be any kind of moral character, but as the movie progresses, you definitely see a different side to him that wasn’t immediately evident.
I actually really liked the way the movie flowed. It really felt like I was being absorbed in the story the whole time. The only problem the film has with the stories flow is that it feels like the movie was way too short. They could have clipped another 20 minutes to the film easily and still have left me saying the same thing. I can’t wait to see the next part of this film series!
As someone who has very little knowledge of the Berserk series of manga and anime, I can’t be certain when this takes place in the Berserk storyline. However, it never once felt like I was missing out on anything or that the other materials were even relevant. I think that someone who has enjoyed this series in the past will probably enjoy this differently to someone who has gone into this without the foreknowledge, but ultimately I don’t think anything is lost if you don’t.
Now this is where things start to get a little bit messy. I was probably the worst person to review this film from a visual standpoint as I absolutely can not stand CGI in anime. I mean, films like Appleseed and Ghost in the Shell 2 are the -only- two films that I can take with this level of CGI. However the way it was done in Berserk was not quite to my liking. Don’t take this to mean that it was bad in any way, it’s just a major peeve of mine.
What was good though, is a few scenes still look like they’ve been drawn… or at least that’s the way it looked from the angle of the scene. However, wherever there are major amounts of movement, it is really quite evident that it was CGI’d over a background of some kind. There’s one really bad scene for it where this character is walking down a flight of stairs and their legs do not look quite right. Also, some of the fight scenes looked a bit stiff… as you’ll get with CGI over hand-drawn animation. However, there are some really fluid and gory moments, so don’t let a few broken scenes dissuade you.
The character designs in this film are quite well done. They really give this kind of medieval kind of world a good vibe. However, some of the characters look really Japanese, which seems kind of out of place considering the world they’re in.
One of the really cool things I liked about the character Guts is that he has a few different outfits during the film and each one of them look amazing. However, clear favourites are the costume he wears in the battle at the start of the film and his ninja outfit later on in the film.
Overall I’d say that the visuals in this film are a mixed bag, not enough to ruin the experience, but just enough to stop it from becoming truly magnificent. Also, the film seemed a little too bright all of the time, but that may have just been the screener copy I was given.
In this release that will be shown at the REEL Anime festival, you will be watching the film with a Japanese voice over track and subtitles. So for those of you who can’t understand Japanese and can’t read quickly, you may have a few issues with this film.
Fortunately, the Japanese audio track is quite good on the ears and doesn’t really sound too flat in any particular areas of the film. Unfortunately though, it’s a bit weird seeing what looks to be characters based on British and European styled armour speaking in Japanese. However, this is just me being -really- nitpicky right now… just looking for any kind of issues with the audio to call out on.
The soundtrack is pretty good and I’m reasonably sure the opening theme is different to the annoying one used in all the anime trailers that I used to watch back in the day. So yeah, this theme is pretty good and the so is the films background score.
What was also really good about the audio was that the sound effects matched up with the actions portrayed in the film quite well. You know how in some films you’ll see something and the sound effect wont quite match what you’re hearing? Yeah there’s none of that in this.
Overall, Berserk: The Egg of the King is an amazing film to start off what appears to be a multi-part film series. Fans of the Berserk franchise will love this film for its insane action sequences and storyline while viewers that do not know anything about the franchise will become interested in it for those reasons. This is definitely the must see film of the REEL Anime festival this year.