After getting done with the Guardians of Desire arc way back in October, we return to Berserk with Volume 4, where we properly get into the Golden Age Arc.

Title: Berserk – Volume 4
Written & Illustrated by Kentaro Miura
Translation by Duane Johnson
Published by Hakusensha (Japan) and Dark Horse Comics (USA)
Publication Date: July 2004

Available from Amazon.com and RightStuf

The Premise

After Gambino loses his leg in combat, he becomes bitter and resentful to his adopted son. When Guts is forced to kill Gambino in self-defense, he goes on the run. After bouncing from mercenary company to mercenary company for several years. Eventually he encounters a charismatic young merc named Griffith, leader of the Band of the Hawk.

High Points

The big massed battles are incredibly well done. Frankly, these are some of the best battles of this scale I’ve seen in manga.

Low Points

I’m sorry, but how the hell do you block a Big Frelling Sword like Guts’ with a saber like Griffith’s – particularly if you’re acknowledging that weapons can break in this story.

Content Notes

Explicit sexual content (including rape) and graphic violence.

Scores

Originality: To my knwoledge, very few manga before Berserk depicted medieval warfare quite like this. 5/6

Story: This volume’s story basically exists to introduce Griffith and the main members of the Band of the Hawk. It does that job well enough. 4/6

Artwork: The artwork continues to be stunning (see the high point). 6/6

Characterization: Each of the members of the Band of the Hawk we meet in this volume has their own distinct personality traits. 4/6

Emotional Response: This isn’t so much a breather aftre the last few volumes as much as a case of mood whiplash. We go from the grim and intense scenes with Gambino to the scenes with Guts & the Band, which are considerably lighter in tone (with intentional non-dark comedy). 4/6

Flow: 6/6

Overall: This volume didn’t grab me as much as the last, but I’ll keep going. 4/6

In total, Berserk – Volume 4 gets 33/42.