Berserk – Episode 7 + 8 Review

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Tight on the trail, Guts has followed Casca to Albion in pursuit, trying to protect her. Can Guts manage to catch up in time and save her from the incoming destruction that awaits them in the dark, or will the Struggler stumble in his own ambition?

Note: I know I said I’d be on time after the previous episode review, but I encountered some personal encumbrances last week. I’m back on track for this week, and I apologize for the delay.

In Episode 7, Casca has been branded a heretic witch by the group of orgy cultists that Nina is a part of, and they begin to shower her with luxurious gifts, causing problems by drawing notoriety to Luca’s encampment. With Guts trying to play catch-up, he inevitably ends up killing more of the Holy Knights and encounters Luca, who leads him to her tent only to discover Nina took “Claire” (Casca) and ran away. The cult catches them both and plans to sacrifice Nina to give her heart to Casca, and then have a cult member mate with Casca in a ceremony. The ritual is interrupted by demons, and the Holy Knights are alerted to the cult’s presence by Joachim, who Nina thought died in a fall sustained episodes previous. The episode ends with Guts arriving to the cave, led by Puck, who immediately makes in impact by severing the arm of the resident goat demon.

Upon the beginning of episode 8, we see Guts battling with numerous demons who have surrounded both his group and the Holy Knights, devouring anyone in their path. After finishing the enemies in his path, Guts continues towards the exit that his companions had shown to him before, only to fall into a trap set by one of the Holy Knights. On a narrow cliff, Guts has to duel the prominent fencer, only to narrowly escape and continue forward. Upon discovering Casca and Nina have been captured, Guts goes into a fury. Inside the mysterious tower, Nina and Casca face terrible fates, and Nina is tricked into volunteering for torture. Questioning her life choices, she is led into a den of torture and death. Guts and company are then seen approaching the tower, unsure of what awaits them there.

One of the primary reasons these episode plot recaps are getting shorter is because less is happening in each episode. Each episode seems to “require” an amount of atmospheric filler that takes up a considerable length of each episode, with Guts or someone examining something at length and talking to themselves or someone contemplating something. In what could be an atmospheric delivery, instead, it comes off clumsily and flat. Casca, in particular, seems hit hardest by her flat portrayal and childish demeanor that doesn’t reflect trauma at all. Instead of the emotive, denial-based response we saw in the third film after she becomes broken, instead we have someone who simply appears mentally handicapped. Even Guts, who should be sounding emotive and contemplative in the scenes he deliberates with himself and other characters, comes off as a flat piece of wood. We know these voice actors are capable of more- they delivered very powerful performances in the Golden arc, but those performances are simply not here. The entire series thus far has felt like a bunch of staff who simply wanted to go home for the day, with each take feeling incomplete and rushed. The animation style has also not improved, and the scenes with CG paired with 2D images simply look stilted, awkward, and uncomfortable, but not in the way Berserk intends to make the viewer uncomfortable.

Instead of having a powerfully delivered message of ambivalence, moral ambiguity, and intelligent subtext alongside its action, we’re simply delivered a surface level action series with little to make the viewer think about. These episode perpetuate that idea and enforce it, showing little of Guts’ motivation outside “SAVE CASCA AT ALL COSTS” and giving him little-to-no personality that we were so effectively able to absorb in the films. Both of these episode have the same exact feel: token, hollow, and stilted. Unfortunately, the future looks grim for this series, unable to rivet itself out of the hole it dug itself.