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Berserk: Movie 2 - The Battle For Doldrey [Blu-ray]
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He trusts nothing but his own sword. He has no place to call home. The lone mercenary Guts travels a land ravaged by a hundred-year war. Moving from battlefield to battlefield, his skill and ferocity eventually attract the attention of Griffith, the leader of a group of mercenaries called The Band of the Hawk. Desiring Guts's power to help him achieve his goals, Griffith succeeds in recruiting the distrustful Guts by challenging him to a duel and defeating him.
As the Band of the Hawk fight together and their bond as a unit grows stronger, Griffith and Guts's bond deepens as well. With their continued success on the battlefield, Griffith achieves the first step toward his lofty goals: his band of mercenaries becomes recognized as a full-fledged army within the Midland Kingdom. Despite all their success, Guts begins to question his reasons for fighting for Griffith's dream, which, unbeknownst to Guts, is destined to bestow a monstrous fate on them both.
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You wouldn't get short odds on it, as once again there's not really a definitive answer, but there's plenty to appreciate and plenty that will appeal to those who aren't judging it COMPARATIVELY.
For the sake of finishing on a high note, let's start with the bad and the ugly...
The first film covered episodes 1-10 of the original anime and for the most part covered it well. There were pacing problems, sure, but perhaps that was a consequence of retelling the anime and manga so faithfully: they had to run over parts too quickly. The Battle For Doldrey on the other hand, which covers episodes 11 through to 19, manages to cut the fleshier parts right down to its bare bones. One case in point is the absence of Minister Foss. His whole existence is simply erased. A newcomer could watch the film a thousand times, read this review and STILL be scratching their head as to who he even is! His name doesn't even feature. It gets worse, as the burning of the castle is also omitted. Ditto the queen conspiring against The Hawks. That whole chunk is just left out, which I felt had always been an excellent part of the original series and a section where we saw the extent of Griffith's unrivalled ambition.
Weighing in this time round at just under an hour and a half, there's still the same argument carried over from the first film that they're a little on the short side, certainly given how much content got left out.
The CGI, too, from The Egg Of The King triggered a whole slew of disapproval, but it seems to be limited here to when characters wear armour. Sounds silly, I agree, but it does only appear choppy when there's big action shots of armies on the battlefield. Aside from that it's glorious, and every bit as good as the source material deserves.
And so to the good! To start, episodes 11-19 are an excellent chain of episodes, delving ever deeper into its dark fantasy genre, so in many ways the film was silver spooned before it even began. It inherited a wealth of brilliant action. Guts, Griffith and Casca, finally, all get their fair share of character development here. Guts' inner monologue during his 100 man fight is deeply emotive, while the fight itself is a 10 on the Richter Scale! If there are lists out there for the best scenes in anime, this has to be one of them. Shows what a genius Kentaro Muira is, seriously. The Griffith we see in this second film is an escalation of the character we caught glimpses of last time round, while Casca's own dark past is revisited.
The final third of the film takes a turn. You could call it a turn for the worst in terms of how emotionally disturbing it is, but in regards to the story, it's magnificent.
So really, after all that, you begin to forget I ever complained about the film at all. There's so much knock-out potential here. The whole thing should be a home-run, but it's just let down a little bit in places. But, in COMPARISON to the rest of the film, it's a very, very little bit.
Let's just hope they don't stop at the Golden Age Arc!
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