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Here’s every Berserk anime, and which ones are worth watching

Guts in 2016 and 1997 Berserk adaptations

Berserk is held up as one of the best dark fantasy franchises in media, and the legendary manga has seen plenty of anime adaptations. Unfortunately, not every adaptation is worthy of the Berserk name.

Despite being one of the most influential manga series today, with fingerprints on everything from games like Elden Ring to animated series like Castlevania: Nocturne, it has struggled when it comes to adaptations. While expectations will inevitably be high for a series based on something so iconic, some adaptations haven’t been able to meet the bare minimum.

Many fans discovered Berserk through the anime, though first impressions vary wildly depending on which adaptation they happened upon. Whether it’s falling in love with the gritty epic or wondering where the budget went, here’s every anime adaptation of Berserk. 

Berserk 1997

Berserk 1997 covers Chapters 1 to 87 of the original manga and is widely regarded as the best adaptation to date.

Many fans discovered Berserk through the 1997 adaptation, and with good reason. Even during the heyday of ultra-violent anime, this 25-episode series still stood out with its brutal action, bleak storytelling, and iconic moments.

Despite the positives, Berserk (1997) isn’t a perfect adaptation. It skips through much of the Black Swordsman arc, which establishes important details about Guts’ backstory, and also skips over significant chunks of the Golden Age arc. Still, for those who want an introduction to the world of Berserk, it’s hard to do better than the 1997 adaptation.

Berserk 2016

Berserk (2016) is an adaptation that is widely considered one of the worst anime adaptations of all time, and is one fans should skip.

Although it’s the only Berserk series to cover events after the Golden Age, it cuts so much content that it borders on no longer being an actually qualifying as an adaptation. Worse, it features CGI animation that was uniformly rejected by fans and blasted by critics. Most fans warn newcomers to stay away from this disappointing adaptation.

That said, many veteran Berserk fans watch it like Tommy Wiseau’s film “The Room” and simply enjoy it as a campy jaunt. For newbies looking to kick the tires on Berserk, this is not the right show. For veteran fans who want a laugh with friends, it might be worth a weekend afternoon. 

Berserk: The Golden Age Memorial Edition (2022)

Berserk: The Golden Age Memorial Edition is a mixed bag according to fans and critics.

It remasters and converts the 2012-2013 trilogy of films that cover The Golden Age arc into a TV series. More importantly, it improves some old scenes and adds new scenes. Because of that, aspiring Berserk fans should skip the movies entirely, and instead watch the Memorial Edition anime.

While it’s arguably the best-looking adaptation so far, it also suffers many of the same issues the 1997 anime had, and in some cases, is even worse. With only 13 episodes to cover the entirety of the Golden Age, the series cuts much of the content that’s not directly attached to the main story. Ultimately, while a decent dip into the world of Berserk, the 1997 anime still beats it in terms of length and coverage.

Should I read Berserk manga or watch the anime?

Longtime fans highly recommend reading the Berserk manga for a full appreciation of the story. While there are plenty of anime series based on Miura’s work, there isn’t yet a definitive one.

Bersker Manga Art

All suffer from the limitations of the TV series medium. At best, this leads to large chunks of the story being skipped over. At worst, it leads to key moments being softened of their impact.

Because of this, fans are best served reading the manga. This remains the lone method for getting the full story of Berserk, and the cherry on top is getting to see Kentaro Miura’s acclaimed artistry. The manga is available online and in print through Dark Horse Entertainmment.

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Written by Gab Hernandez

Gab Hernandez has a particular love for video games that give players control over the narrative direction, such as Divinity: Original Sin 2 and Disco Elysium. Gab spends just as much time playing games as they do gushing about them online to anyone who will listen. Their work has also been seen on TheGamer, Gfinity, and Wargamer, and you can follow them on Twitter / X at @HardlyWorkinGab.

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