by Jayden Leggett, Assistant Editor
From the very first shot of crows flying across a vivid blue sun-streaked sky, it was clear that Berserk – Golden Age Arc I: The Egg of the King was going to be something very visually striking. Admittedly, it has been quite a long time since I have watched any anime films, and I should also state that I am in no way familiar with the Berserk manga, anime series or videogames, so I guess showing something like this to me is the equivalent of showing an iPad to a caveman, but I digress, Berserk – Golden Age Arc I: The Egg of the King had me very much engaged from the get-go.
The film is based in a medieval setting, and begins with an epic-scale battle scene with an army laying siege to a castle. It was here that I realised that the film actually consists of a crisp fusion of traditional 2D animation combined with cel-shaded 3D CGI scenes (pretty much exclusively used for action sequences), and while at first some of the motion of the 3D scenery seemed a little jilted as the camera tracked through the environments, I really ended up enjoying this stylised aesthetic. Adding to the impressive nature of the visuals, the cinematography was also top notch (especially during battle sequences), and went hand-in-hand with the highly-energetic fight choreography.
Speaking of the fight scenes, it should also be noted that there are quite a few instances of ultra-violence and excessive gore. Eyeballs pop out of their sockets, bodies are cleft in twain, blood gets splattered onto the “camera” for dramatic effect and so on. Oh, and if a character has been stabbed and is about to die, apparently it is necessary for blood to all-of-a-sudden explosively gush out of their mouths. Not that I am complaining mind you, as while at times the violence was over-the-top, it was visually spectacular and all relevant within the context of the narrative, and never became gore for the sake of gore.
For those of you who don’t care about the production values and just want to know what the hell happens in this movie, start paying attention now. During the opening battle scene, we are introduced to the main character (later revealed to be named “Guts”) who is a mercenary for whatever factions are paying the highest. Naturally enough, Guts carries an enormous sword, and definitely knows how to use it. And by that I mean that he eviscerates all who stand in his way, as can be attested to by the enormous battle-axe wielding enemy soldier who after already slaying at least 30 men falls victim to Guts’ battle prowess.
Soon after the castle has successfully been conquered, Guts is ambushed, defeated and then hired by the ridiculously androgynous Griffith (complete with long flowing silver hair, delicate eyes and soft lips), leader of “The Band of the Hawk” mercenaries who are feared and renowned all over the world. Cut forward three years and Griffith, Guts and Casca (a potential future love interest for Guts who is presently always butting heads with him) are now in the employ of the Midland army.
During this time Griffith reveals the origin of his interesting little trinket, the “Behelit” (more commonly known as the Egg of the King), and Guts and Griffith have a very dangerous fight with “Zodd the Immortal”, who transforms into an awesome-looking demon halfway through the battle (again the cel-shaded 3D effect here is amazing). Apparently having “commoners” winning Midland’s battles for them doesn’t go down to well with one of the Lords, and without revealing too many spoilers, assassination attempts ensue, with devastating results.
I found the story (told primarily through the eyes of Guts) to be particularly engaging and entertaining overall, but towards the end I started to ever-so-slightly lose interest when the obligatory romantic scenes were playing out between Griffith and the Princess (which I felt the movie could have either made more exciting or downplayed a lot more, but I’m sure there are people out there who eat this stuff up). As a whole this movie was very enthralling indeed, so unsurprisingly enough I will be eager to get my hands on the next chapter in this trilogy, titled Golden Age Arc II: The Battle for Doldrey.
Australian residents will get the opportunity to see this film on the big screen along with three others as part of the Reel Anime 2012 festival, heading to various cinemas around the country for a strictly limited run from September 13 to 26. If you want to check out what cinemas near you are hosting this festival head to www.reelanime.com to find out the details.
ComicsOnline gives Berserk – Golden Age Arc I: The Egg Of The King 3.5 out of 5 overly-feminine looking male characters.
Be sure to lead your band of merry mercenaries towards ComicsOnline.com for more anime reviews, news and everything geek pop culture!