REEL ANIME Review - Berserk: The Egg of the King
Based upon the manga series by Kentaro Miura, Berserk: The Egg of the King is the first of three films which retell the original 1990 manga series and 1997 anime series. Much like REEL ANIME alumni Rebuild of Evangelion, Berserk compresses the anime series into a series of films that often mirror sequences from the TV series frame to frame.
"An epic action-adventure tale set against a dark, European-inspired medieval fantasy world, Berserk - The Egg of the King follows the story of Guts, a lone mercenary renowned for his ferocity and unmatched in a fight especially when armed with his imposing sword, a towering blade as tall as he. His destiny is to eventually become 'The Black Swordsman' and he will face untold horrors in battle."
As a massive fan of the Berserk franchise it is incredibly difficult to enter this film with an open mind, that is, it is very hard not to gush. The storyline of the film mirrors that of the manga and anime at a basic level. Obviously due to the condensed time frame that the story is delivered in, certain elements found in the manga fall by the wayside. That said, director Toshiyuki Kubooka (Batman: Gotham Knight) and writer Ichiro Okouchi (Brave Story, Wolf's Rain) have done a great job of separating the the wheat from the chaff. What these two gents deliver is a great adaptation of Miura's original work which manages to be faithful while stile injecting enough life to make The Egg of the King its own beast.
The animation style is faithful to Miura's original character designs while being sharper and slightly more fluid than ever. These polished designs make it easier to believe that our main character, Guts, is a nimble as he is. Furthermore, Griffith appears slightly more beautiful and androgynous than in the anime series. I felt that this may have been a conscious decision in assisting to place highlight on the ulterior motives of this pretty boy and leader of the Band of Hawks. STUDIO4°C (Mind Game, Spriggan) are known for their amalgamation of traditional and CGI animation and this film is no exception. While the CGI is at times a touch jarring, it undoubtedly adds to the film and assists in making large scale battles as epic as they should be. CGI animation allows for a large amount of characters to be inserted in frame without the loss of detail that would occur through traditional animation alone. There is no arguing, for an epic action film such as this magnitude, CGI is a necessary evil and one that adds volumes.
With a score composed by a modern day legend, Shiro Sagisu (Rebuild of Evangelion, Bleach), it is surprising how flat this particular score feels. It seems to lack the highs and lows and ebbs and flows that such an epic and grandiose story deserves. Of course, the score in itself is a dynamic creature and the coming story arcs in the film trilogy may see more drama injected into the score to mirror the growing threat towards Guts and his newly found brotherhood. As with Rebuild of Evangelion before it, Berserk: The Egg of the King repackages certain elements of the anime series and delivers them in a near frame for frame manner. While this could make for quite a bore, the fluid and polished animation really makes each scene pop and impresses just as much as the first time. Berserk: The Egg of the King is a gory, medieval action epic that will leave you relishing in its sheer awesomeness. The perfect big screen cinema experience, this film has forced me to search for more superlatives, I do not currently have enough.
Berserk: The Egg Of The King is currently screening at Madman's REEL ANIME festival in most Australian major cities. Head on over to the REEL ANIME website to check screening locations in your town.
All images © KENTAROU MIURA（STUDIO GAGA） - HAKUSENSHA / BERSERK FILM PARTNERS