See the review for the first Berserk movie . Second movie . For the television anime series, please refer .
So here we are; the final installment of the Berserk movie trilogy. The previous movie ended with the departure of Guts. Driven by Griffith's words of what "true friendship" really is, he went on a journey of soul-searching in order to become a man truly capable of being Griffith's equal
Easily one of the most gruesome and depressing anime films to come out in recent history, ADVENT (also known as "DESCENT") wraps up the story that has been building over the previous two Berserk movies. The Band of the Hawk, once a petty band of mercenaries, had risen to become the mightiest force in the kingdom of Midland. However, the Hawks were brought to ruin when their leader, Griffith, made a careless mistake that enraged the king. The remaining Hawks, now under female commander Casca's leadership, struggle to survive as the Midland Army relentlessly pursues them.
All hope is not lost. Casca and the Hawks firmly believe that glory could be theirs once again if they rescue Griffith from imprisonment. They just have to live long enough to get him back. Luckily for them, our disturbingly difficult to kill hero has just arrived to save the day.
So, with Guts in tow, the mission to rescue Griffith finally commences
I can say that Descent is the best of the three films as far as pacing goes. Now that the trilogy has frantically rushed through its source material, it can slow down and focus on the little bit of the Golden Age Arc remaining. Characters take more time to explain things, and Guts and Casca get several quiet moments together. Unfortunately, what should have been very emotional moments lose almost all of their impact because of the rushed pacing from the first two films. Guts and Casca don't feel as developed as their manga/TV series incarnations, thus we don't feel as badly for them when their romance is interrupted.
(I'll give the film some props. The cave scene? Easily one of the most heartbreaking moments I've seen in recent anime. If only the film trilogy had more of this!)
This affects the other characters as well. Gaston essentially has 99.9% of all his dialogue removed from the films. Judeau, a prominent supporting character, barely gets any screentime at all. (Thus, his unrequited crush on Casca is almost completely overlooked. And yeah, this hurts his final scene. A LOT.)
What really gets to me are the baffling omissions, which really hurt the plot:
- Wyald, just like in the TV series, is completely written out. The movie would've benefited heavily from his inclusion as his battle (and the aftermath) would've given much needed information regarding the demonic elements of Berserk. (Which, up to this point in the films, has only been lightly glossed over.)
- Charlotte's subplot with the king, which would've confirmed Griffith's accusations from the second movie, is completely dropped
- Bakiraka battle is replaced with a short escape scene of the Band of the Hawk hijacking some horses and wagons and making a break for it at night.
- Rosine's assault on the secondary Band of the Hawk camp is omitted, as is Rickert's rescuing by Skull Knight
- Godot's scenes are cut. He's reduced to a mere reference.
What do we get in place of this stuff? Extended sex scenes (WHY WOULD YOU EXTEND THE ECLIPSE SCENE, YOU MONSTERS?!?!?! YOU KNOW WHICH SCENE I'M TALKING ABOUT!), a lame-ass escape scene from Midland, a weird segment of Griffith pondering LIFE, THE UNIVERSE AND EVERYTHING, and a cheesy shot of Guts nearly landing a blow on an all powerful demon because "Rule of Cool!".
THAT BEING SAID, this is still the strongest of the three movies. Technically, the animation is at its best. The 2D looks crisp and vibrant. The 3D is well used, and also well integrated when a scene calls for a 2D/3D mash-up. The 3D also looks a bit better, despite retaining the choppy framerate of the previous films. Special mention goes to Skull Knight, who looks absolutely amazing. Vocal performances are just as strong as before, and the soundtrack is put to good use.
Ultimately, one has to wonder who these movies were made for. I can easily see Advent leaving newbies scratching their heads. And veterans banging their head against the wall at all the omissions.
ADVENT GETS A 3.5 OUT OF 5. IT'S A RELATIVELY SATISFYING CONCLUSION WITH SOME EXCELLENTLY HANDLED MOMENTS, BUT ULTIMATELY SUFFERS FROM BOTH THE SHORTCOMINGS OF ITS PREDECESSORS AND ITS OWN QUESTIONABLE STORY CUTS. BERSERK NEWBIES BEWARE: YOU MAY WANT TO PERUSE THE MANGA A BIT BEFORE WATCHING THIS MOVIE TO GET A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF ITS EVENTS. I'd be interested in seeing STUDIO4 C continuing Berserk, albeit a with a stronger director and less reliance on iffy CG animation.
- G.K. Sil Kamina