Until now, I was a virgin. I had never read Berserk, nor had I ever seen either of the anime adaptations for this series. I went in blind, with nothing to guide my way except for the extreme praise the series had received from its fans. And, let me tell you something people. I WAS NOT READY.
The Black Swordsman Arc is the very first arc of Berserk and serves as an introduction of the plot, the protagonist, and a few small key points that I am sure will be explored later. In this arc, we meet Guts, a musclebound warrior with a bad attitude, the personality of an enraged animal getting a colonoscopy, and a black sword that would probably work better as a club. Oh, and let’s not forget about his automail crossbow arm. Guts kills demons and inadvertently helps a few people along the way, though helping people isn’t exactly his purpose for doing what he does. He kills demons because they actively hunt him down and threaten his life due to the brand on his neck that summons them.
In this arc, we are also introduced to Puck. There’s not really much I can say about the little elf since his purpose seems to be to fill in the silence Guts is usually content with and heal the swordsman whenever he gets injured…which is all the time. But I do expect that Puck will have a bigger arc or role to play later on in the story.
Also in this arc, we are treated to the appearance of an Behelit, which from what I can tell acts as some kind of transdimensional portal between the human realm and the demon realm when it comes in contact with blood, though I could be wrong. And, within that demon realm exist the Guardians of Desire (I think that’s what they’re called since the chapter title had that name), five beings that do…something. I think both of these are very relevant and I will be filing them away in my brain as I read later chapters.
So, since everything above this kind of sums up what happened in this arc without spoiling it for new readers, let me talk about my impressions of this manga so far.
This shit is Tarantino level violent. At the very beginning of the first chapter, we see Guts kill a demon that he was balls deep in not two seconds prior. He kills some humans in the most gruesome way just to get to their boss. He kills a father in front of his daughter. Guts, the fucking madlad, gets tortured, beaten, broken, and disfigured only to come back swinging and absolutely annihilate anyone and anything that stands in his way. And I respect the hell out of it. However, I feel that, beneath his aggressive demeanor, there is an underlying sadness or caring to Guts that he potentially views as his own weakness. I’m excited to see his development and I am really am curious if he becomes more or less cold later on.
Story wise, I’m intrigued to see how it all plays out. It seems that Guts has a history with one of the Guardians of Desire and I really want to know what happened there. How does Puck fit into the overarching story aside from just being Guts’ companion? How much more fucked up can this story get? I’ll be reading and reviewing and I will answer these questions as I get to them for your reading pleasure.
All in all, just off of the first arc, I would recommend this manga. If you’re looking to read it, I’ve been reading it here.