We continue with the horror and horror themed Manga in October with Volume 2 of Berserk, which continues the Guardians of Desire arc (which properly takes us into the realm of horror).

Title: Berserk Volume 2
Written & Illustrated by Kentaro Miura
Translated by Jason DeAngelis
Published by Hakusensha (Japan) & Dark Horse Comics (USA)
US Publication Date: January 2004

Available from Amazon.com & RightStuf.com

The Premise

Guts, the Black Swordsman, is now hunting The Count, as he learns the full depths of The Count’s depravity from his former court physician, Vargas.

High Points

The Count this volume gets humanized slightly, in comparison to the main demon from last volume. Guts also gets a lot more development here, making it more clear (to people who haven’t seen the anime) that his cold, detached attitude is something he puts forward to protect others, rather then to just be an jackass.

Low Points

The fight scenes with Lord Zondark just don’t work for me. There isn’t much that’s visually dynamic with them. His style and Guts work almost the same way, which leads to a boring fight.

Content Notes

Graphic violence and gore

Scores

Originality: The Inquisition-run-amok bit has been done before in numerous works of fiction, but not, to my knowledge, in a swords-and-sorcery context. 4/6

Artwork: Miura is an excellent artist. I wouldn’t compare him to Miyazaki or Otomo, but he’s still good. Miura’s art tries to use the same level of detail that Miyazaki and Otomo do, but with the addition of a focus in how light and shadow is used. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it really doesn’t – particularly during some of the action sequences. 4/6

Story: This volume is much better than the last, in terms of the narrative. We move from an episodic style to one that’s more serialized, and gives the story more time to form a proper arc. 4/6

Chracterization: As said in the high points, the characters are fleshed out incredibly well. Vargas in particular, is a character who in the last volume would have been a character who exists to be killed, with no backstory or purpose of his own. Here he’s given background and a motivation, rather than being just walking exposition. He still doesn’t survive the volume, but he’s still more fleshed out than the travelling merchant last volume. 4/6

Emotional Response: This is where volume 1 works against the manga. The story does a good job of building empathy with the characters, but because of volume 1, we know better than to build sympathy. 4/6

Flow: 6/6

Overall: This is a much more enjoyable read than the last volume, though it still can be improved. 4/6

In total, Berserk – Volume 2 gets 30/42.

October Horror Manga Reviews

October 1st – Domu: A Child’s Dream by Katsuhiro Otomo
October 8th – Berserk: Volume 2 by Kentaro Miura
October 15th – Berserk: Volume 3 by Kentaro Miura
October 22nd – Uzumaki: Volume 1 by Junji Ito
October 29th – Uzumaki: Volume 2 by Junji Ito
Halloween – Uzumaki: Volume 3 by Junji Ito