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Customer Review

4.0 out of 5 stars The Black Swordsman Comes, 19 July 2012
This review is from: Berserk Vol. 1: The Black Swordsman (Paperback)
"Berserk" is a series of Manga written and illustrated by Kentaro Miura. This first volume was published originally on November 26th of 1990. In volume 1, the hero, if you can call him that, is Guts, the Black Swordsman. With no setup, he appears out of nowhere and appears to be on a mission to hunt down and kill those who prosper under the Apostles, and of course to kill the Apostles as well. In doing so, he saves Puck, an elf who was being tormented, and who attempts to accompany Guts, in spite of his desire to go alone.

The first arc of this Manga series takes up three volumes, so not surprisingly the first volume leaves the reader hanging at the end. It includes three parts, the first being "The Black Swordsman", in which Guts and Puck are introduced, Puck is saved, and Guts takes on the Apostle of the city of Koka, and reveals his desire to take on the members of the Godhand.

In "The Brand", Guts moves on with Puck following along against Guts' desire. In his travels, he is offered a ride by a friendly priest and his daughter. Initially Guts refuses, but when they insist he decides that if his presence causes them to come to harm, it is not his concern. Not surprisingly, those who are after Guts attack, and the carnage continues. At the end it is once again Guts wandering on foot with Puck following behind.

The last section is "The Guardians Of Desire, Part One", in which Guts comes into a city where those in charge are conducting an inquisition, and he is identified as one who is conspiring with the heretics. He battles against the forces of the inquisition, and is eventually helped to escape by a mysterious man who then asks him to destroy The Count (another Apostle). This section ends in a cliff-hanger.

I am no expert on Manga, but I found there were many interesting things here. There are almost no good characters or actions in these stories at all. The hero may be good deep down, but in his quest to destroy the Apostles leaves little, if any, room for caring about anything else. Guts tries to isolate himself from everyone, pushing away those who want to help him, in particular Puck. On the other hand, Puck will not allow Guts to isolate himself, and one gets the sense that Guts appreciates Puck following him, even though he voices opposition, as if he is afraid to let anyone get close to him.

I find it difficult to rate this story, as at this point we know next to nothing about any of the characters. In addition, there are things which are difficult to accept, such as the sword. The sword is impossibly large and the physics of wielding it also make it an impossible type of weapon, and given the dimensions it would be impossible for Guts to even draw it from its sheath because his arms are not long enough. The weight of such a sword would make it difficult to move, let alone swing. On the other hand, the story is sufficiently intriguing to make me want to pick-up the next two volumes in the series so that I can at least complete the first arc of the story. Based only on what is contained in this volume, I give it four stars.
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Location: Australia

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