TRIGGER WARNING: Review includes discussion of child abuse and graphic imagery.
Berserk Deluxe Volume 3 HC, written and illustrated by Kentaro Miura, is another addition to his ultimate adult fantasy manga re-released in a beautifully embossed 7″ x 10″ hardcover deluxe edition published by Dark Horse Comics. Volume 3 collects Berserk volumes 7, 8, and 9. This volume picks up where we left off at the end of Berserk Deluxe Edition Volume 2, with Casca and Guts beginning to bond with one another more while they hideout from their enemies. Also, as the war between Midland and Tudor grows closer to an end, the Band of the Hawk, led by Griffith, turns the tide in Midland’s favor. This results in earning them and their leader more popularity and power throughout the kingdom. Which also helps Griffith to take another step towards achieving his ambitious goals. However, this victory ignites a secret war within Midland, as some members of the royal court see the ambitious Griffith as an obstacle to their power.
Something I’ve always liked about Muira’s work with Berserk is his attention to detail when he illustrates gritty and graphic combat scenes. Miura has a great talent for capturing the gore and intensity of the combat that his characters are facing on the battlefield. For example, in this volume, when Guts single-handedly takes on 100 soldiers for Casca to escape to safety and get help. With every skull-crushing swing of his signature over-sized sword, Miura doesn’t hold back on showing how bloody and gruesome the battle can be. He does this to convey the intensity and power that his characters have as they face in their battles.
Another thing I liked about this volume is that it highlights the theme of camaraderie, especially when it comes to Guts’ relationship toward the other members of the Band of the Hawk. Previous to joining the Band of the Hawk, Guts had suffered from a significant lack of affection in his life, especially following the death of his adopted mother, Shisu. That left him to be raised by his abusive adopted father, Gambino, who Guts had admired and always wanted to gain some sense of validation and acknowledgment from him. As a result of his harsh upbringing and traumatic past Guts had decided not to let other people get close to him. He preferred wandering from battlefield to battlefield without forming any connection with the soldiers he fought beside.
However, after he joins the Hawks, we slowly see Guts learn the value of calling someone a comrade and trusting others on and off of the battlefield. He even comments that Hawks gave him his first taste of camaraderie and that the past three years he spent with them has meant a lot to him. Because they were able to help feel that void of affection and acknowledgment that he always wanted from Gambino. I also think it is important to note how the shared friendship and trust between Guts and the other Hawks have impacted and changed him for the better. They helped him see it’s worth making connections and bonding with others, instead of isolating and shutting himself off to everyone.
One of my favorite parts throughout the entire series of Berserk is the moment when Guts leaves the Hawks. Over the last three years, Guts, like the rest of the Band of the Hawk, becomes mesmerized and inspired by Griffith’s prowess and continual victories that bring him closer to achieving his dream. Guts holds Griffith in higher regard because he has such an ambitious dream and he confidently knows what he wants as well as how to achieve it.
Eventually, Guts realizes that he doesn’t want to get left behind or swallowed up in Griffith’s dream. Instead, he wants a dream or rather a purpose of his own that will also allow him to stand next to Griffith as his equal. This moment shows a significant change in Guts. He wants more out of his life than just being a mercenary. He wants to find something of his own that he is passionate about and can strive for that will fulfill him with a purpose. And while it is not a decision, he takes lightly, and he gives it a lot of thought before he goes through with parting ways with his comrades. However, in the end, he knows this is the right decision for him to make, and it is necessary if he wants to find his purpose in the world.
It is also important to note that Guts’ leaving the Hawks and Griffith is a huge catalyst in the series of Berserk because it puts a lot of significant plot points into motion from that point on. On Guts’ night alone after his departure from the Band of the Falcon, he is approached by the Skull Knight the first time. The Skull Knight is a mysterious supernatural figure that proclaims himself as a foe of demonkind, whom he has been battling for over a 1000 years. The Skull Knight tells Guts a prophecy of the treacherous event called the “Eclipse.” The event will happen in one year and will leave Guts and his comrades consumed by madness and death. Before leaving the campsite, the Skull Knight tells Guts to fight and survive in spite of his and his friends’ impending doom. This exchange between Guts and the Skull Knight is a massive foreshadowing for the dark and dangerous events that are to come, not just in this volume but for the other volumes that will follow.
Overall, Berserk Deluxe Volume 3 HC is full of drama, action, and extremely graphic illustrations that focus on the intensity of combat on the battlefield. Miura doesn’t hold back when it comes to gruesome and horrific imagery, that makes his work stand out amongst others when it comes to the dark fantasy genre. This volume also highlights the themes of camaraderie and explores the desires that most, if not all, humans wish to be acknowledged and to find their purpose in life.
Berserk Deluxe Volume 3 HC is available now.
Berserk Deluxe Edition Volume 3 HC
Berserk Deluxe Volume 3 HC is full of drama, action, and extremely graphic illustrations that focus on the intensity of combat on the battlefield. Miura doesn’t hold back when it comes to gruesome and horrific imagery, that makes his work stand out amongst others when it comes to the dark fantasy genre. This volume also highlights the themes of camaraderie and explores the desires that most, if not all, humans wish to be acknowledged and to find their purpose in life.