Berserk – Episode 9 Review

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Attempting to infiltrate the tower where Casca is being held, Guts has finally made his way to its exterior with Luca and the rest in an attempt to rescue her. Falling behind, Guts only has a split second to decide what to prioritize, and how to proceed. Will he finally be reunited with his one time partner, or will she elude his grasp once again?

Efforts by the Holy Iron Chain Knights have proven to be ineffective to the monk’s desire, as he has a subordinate confront Farnesse, their leader, about encountering Guts outside the tower the day before. Not satisfied that they did not capture him, he dismisses her and gives her orders to return back to the city where she’s from at the request of her father. Unhappy that her subordinate had been reporting to her father, she chastises him in the hallway before turning to the hall and seeing Nina be escorted down, who has given up Casca to the interrogator. Casca is then taken away to be tortured and personally encounters the monk in charge of the inquisition at Albion, who declares her to be swept into an iron maiden. Before that occurs, resident demons are summoned to the brand on her breast, and they immediately begin to devour all in the room, instantly melting any who fall into the goop. Unlike the rest, however, Casca is absorbed into the strange mass as Puck watches, stunned by what he’s seeing. Meanwhile, Guts speeds into the dungeons trying to find her while Luca and her bribed guard find Nina and figure out where Casca has been taken. Guts locates Farnesse as she is fleeing for her life, and forces her to take him to the torture chamber. There, he finds Puck cowering under a helmet, who informs Guts of everything he has seen and where the demons have moved. Throughout the chaos as everyone is attempting to flee, Guts manages to locate the top of the tower and blocks a strike from the newly awakened Apostles from an unknown behelit before they can strike down Luca, Isildoro, and other companions. The monk holds Casca as hostage as Guts begins to battle against the seven who guard them, and Farnesse walks in at the end to witness Hell’s angels floating before her, unable to process the horrors in front of her.

As par for the course at this point in this series, the story is far from the issue that the show presents: it’s the staggeringly low quality animation, the terrible sound production, and overall clashing sense of tone compared to what’s given by the manga. Despite there being some action scenes, everything from the framing, to the animations performed by characters themselves is all wrong. Guts’ placement in the various scenes he’s in are confusing, difficult to follow, and the camera is far too wild to allow the viewer to process any of the visual information being presented. While this can be used to convey a sense of chaos as the episode has plenty of it within the story, instead it simply confuses the viewer to the spatial awareness the characters themselves have in the story’s universe. It simply makes the action hard to follow, and textures look incredibly low quality… with even Guts’ cape and arms never seeming to look as though any of them are attached to him. It is becoming even more evident that the music budget has been scraped thin, as Susumu Hirasawa’s “Hai Yo/Oh Ashes” is, once again, regurgitated in yet another bastardized interpretation to signify a random violent action Guts takes. It never seems to be incorporated into the universe, and ultimately dulls the sense of intrigue and effect the song could theoretically have on the viewer.

Although the work of Susumu Hirasawa has been, once again, utilized inappropriately, it seems more leighway was given to Shiro Sagisu, who has begun to incorporate more of the Berserk movie trilogy style music into the episode rather than focus on raging electric guitar. Although it’s a nicer touch than yet more ill-fitting Jrock, it’s too little too late at this stage, and still conflicts heavily with the clunky and uncoordinated CG and animation. Color schemes feel dull and drab, which could fit the mood if it wasn’t for the lack of contrast anywhere- the only real separation seen since the beginning of the show is when the angelic wings of the new apostles are revealed, which emit a sort of angelic light that contrasts heavily with the darkening deep surrounding them. It would be a nicer touch if it wasn’t for the fact that the CG effects still have every character looking like a block of wood on an N64.

You know the drill by this point- the viewer is perfectly capable of seeing exactly how the show contains so much potential, but ultimately lacks any passion or subtlety. Not enough time, money, and coordination was put into this episode or any before, and the results continue to be staggeringly awful. Being vaguely faithful to the plot of the manga does not justify just how far this show has fallen down the pit, and any defense of it falls flat to the classic argument of “Just look at it!”