Guts and his comrades have finally reached the merchant city of Vritannis. It has recently been appointed as a Holy See naval base, so it’s very crowded with tons of soldiers and townsfolk alike.
Everyone is able to get past the city guards at the front gate easily except for Schierke. The guards refuse her entrance, and she has to use her magic to brainwash them into letting her in. Isidoro hassles her for her appearance and tells her to buy some normal looking clothes, but Schierke refuses. In a moment of frustration Isidoro knocks her hat from her head and it’s crushed by a passing cart. Schierke gets upset and walks off; Ivalera remains behind long enough to tell Isidoro that Schierke’s clothes were handmade for her by Flora and they are therefore important to her. Isidoro feels guilty upon learning this, so Guts tells Isidoro to chase after Schierke while the rest of the group looks for an inn.
As Schierke walks with Ivalera she comes across the distorted spirits of some Kushan slaves who were hanged. When she uses her magic to interrogate two nearby guards, they tell her that the men were sacrificed to improve the city’s morale. What a waste. Schierke gets angry and tells the two men that they will help her cremate the bodies. Unbeknownst to her, Sonia is watching her from above.
Afterwards Schierke finds herself down at the port, where she sits at the end of a dock with Ivalera and uses her magic to make some gull friends. This is where Sonia finds her. They make small talk about how it’s hard to be different, and Sonia relates an improvised story to Schierke about an ugly duckling. A tentative friendship forms between the two girls as a result of this meeting.
Meanwhile Isidoro, who is still looking for Schierke, encounters another one Griffith’s allies: Mule, the blond noble from earlier in the season. He is looking for Sonia, who has evidently run off. However he uses the term “witch” to refer to Sonia, but Isidoro thinks the knight also looking for Schierke (being that she is an actual witch), so he runs off in an effort to get to Schierke first.
Down by the water Sonia and Schierke have encountered pirates, who have captured the Kushan children of the hanged slaves from earlier in the episode. Schierke uses her magic to protect the two of them long enough for Isidoro to show up. This fight is important for Isidoro because it’s the first time he’s attacked a human target; previously all of the creatures he’d fought had been non-human monsters. Sonia is able to read Schierke’s mental conversation with Isidoro and tell Schierke that the young boy is trying to keep her identity as a witch hidden.
Mule shows up on his horse and easily dispatches the majority of the remaining pirates. Then the pirate captain shows himself and Mule engages him in battle, but when the fight moves to a small rowboat on the water, Mule is knocked down due to being unsteady on the water. Isidoro takes over and fights the captain back several rowboats. However he too is knocked over, albeit for a different reason, and Puck steps in to use his flash ability. This causes the captain to be blinded and fall into the water, where Isidoro gives him a good whack with a paddle.
Schierke, Sonia, and Mule are able to get the children out of the city safely thanks to Schierke’s subtle magic use. Sonia wants to take the children to Griffith and while Mule initially resists, he eventually caves and allows Sonia to take the kids. Isidoro gives Mule a stolen sword, since Mule dropped his fancy one in the water, but the two starts to bicker and then start pulling punches with each other.
A turning point in the episode comes when Sonia invites Schierke to come with her and Mule. If Schierke says yes, she theoretically could become one of Griffith’s allies (although she doesn’t know this yet). It seems like Schierke might very well say yes, but she spots Guts waiting a little ways away for her and this instantly makes up her mind. Schierke thanks Sonia but turns her offer down. As Mule and Sonia leave with the children, Sonia advises Schierke to leave the city as soon as possible, and leaves a horrifying mental image in Schierke’s mind as proof. Schierke and Isidoro also apologize to each other.
Later that evening in a tavern, Guts and the others are having a meal together. The tavern is extremely busy due to all the soldiers in town, so they were lucky to find a room at all. Farnese debuts Schierke’s new civilian look; the young witch is not thrilled with her new clothes, but Farnese says it’s only a temporary change. Drunk men in the tavern keep attempting to hit on Farnese, Casca and Schierke, and Guts has to repeatedly beat them down.
In the final moments of the episode, Guts praises Schierke for knocking out a drunk with a frying pan, and we see what is perhaps the first true smile from her this season. After everyone goes to bed, Guts is walking the city alone and we’re reminded that he will one day soon see Griffith again.
My thoughts: You know what my favourite part of this episode was? The tavern scene at the end. Although it was still a combination of 2D and 3D animation, it looked to me the closest to the animation from the original Berserk that we’ve seen yet from either season 2 or 3. I would be thrilled if we got more seasons done in this particular ratio of 2D and 3D.
I think it’s a little ironic that in the final episode of the season, the star of the episode is not Guts but Schierke. And Isidoro played a very important role as well. It was neat seeing him more in the background as some of his allies stepped up and be featured more prominently.
All in all I feel like it was a fitting end to another great season of Berserk.
As I’ve said before, I will never not be grateful to have more Berserk anime to watch, and this season was no exception. The voice acting and music selections continue to be highlights of the series for me.
Story: It’s been awhile since I’ve read this far back in the Berserk manga, but as far as I can recall the manga has been adapted faithfully. We just finished one of the more enjoyable arcs, and while the next one is not my favourite I am always eager to see more. Perfect score on the story from me!
Characters: Now that we’ve met Schierke and Ivalera and completed Guts’ new Band of the Hawk, we’ve had a chance to see some major character development. Again I feel like Farnese has changed the most (much to Serpico’s continued amazement), but Isidoro has also had to grow up as well. I also appreciate the budding relationship between Schierke and Guts, which at the moment is manifesting as more of a crush from Schierke’s side, but stay tuned because its dynamics will change after events later in the series. Plus as we’ve already seen, Puck, Ivalera and Isidoro are often used for comedic relief, but they are also capable of having serious moments as well.
Music and Animation: While I’m still not a fan of this mixed 2D-3D animation, it’s started to grow on me. I still feel like close-ups are the best examples of how this style shines, because such shots allow for more detail and often makes the characters look very similar to their manga counterparts. Also I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I felt like the 3D animation in this season was a little smoother and more fluid compared to last season. Anyone else notice this too?
The music featured in this season is mostly carried over from the last season, but there are a couple of new tracks. “Hai Yo” was the insert song from season 2, and in this season it was Hirasawa-san’s song “Ash Crow” (which I tolerate more than anything; I feel like “Hai Yo” works better as an insert track). I did enjoy both the opening and ending themes for this season though, and have been listening them on my ipod. ;D
Overall Thoughts: I wanted to take a moment to talk about the Berserk fans who do not approve of the recent seasons. The most common complaints I seem to hear are about how “ugly” or “slow” the animation is, but I’ve also heard fans being unhappy about things like cinematography and art direction. Just look up any video on Youtube critiquing Berserk (2016) or (2017), skim through the comment, and you’ll see what I mean.
I don’t know if it’s because I’m an “older” anime fan and this is a generational difference, or if it’s because I’m not as picky when it comes to cinematography, but I have always felt that even if I didn’t like a show it was important to show respect for the people who created it. I don’t think I’ve ever watched any anime, let alone any TV show or movie, and called it things like “absolute garbage” or slung insults at the people who made it. It boggles my mind that people a) get that worked up about it, and b) are that venomous towards Berserk‘s producers and original creator in the first place. Like holy fuck people, calm your tits. The anime industry is already struggling with major issues like underpaid and completely overworked employees, and as cliche as it sounds I do feel like we should be grateful for what we get. People slaved and put their literal blood, sweat and tears into making these shows, and we as fans should show some respect.
Do I love the animation? No. I respect that the staff at Gemba, Millepensee and Liden Films have tried something different, and have opened my eyes to a style of animation I haven’t encountered much of in anime. Do i wish they’d stick to 2D? Hell yeah. There’s so much more detail that can be incorporated in 2D animation, IMHO. But for all we know there will be future seasons in 2D. No one has a clue. Time and money will tell.
For now, if you’re a Berserk fan and like me you enjoyed the last two seasons, please do your best to help support the show. Buy the manga, which is being published in English by Dark Horse Manga. Buy Berserk (2016) on Blu-ray when it’s eventually released in North America (volumes 1 & 2 are being released in Japan later this year). Show Berserk‘s producers that we love that show and want to see more.
Lastly, thank you to those who’ve taken the time to read my reviews and follow these new seasons along with me.
Final Score: 9.5/10