Title: Berserk Official Guidebook
Author: Kentaro Miura (Story & Art)
Genres: Fantasy, Supernatural, Seinen, Action-Adventure, Horror
Published: 2016 (Japanese); September 2018 (English)
Volumes: 1 [Complete]
Japanese Publisher: Hakusensha
English Publisher: Dark Horse Comics & Digital Manga Publishing
Available to Purchase in English?: Yes (Dark Horse Comics / Amazon)
*Please note: Due to the very graphic nature of Berserk, this guidebook is rated 18+.
It’s a new year, so it’s time for my annual Berserk-related post. ;D
I came across this manga randomly at Chapters last month and had to buy it right away. The only other guidebook I have is for Vampire Knight, so if I ever come across a special item like this I just have to add it to my collection.
Anyways, pardon my fangirling. [ cough ] This amazing guide covers the series up until volume 38, when Guts and his comrades finally arrive on Skellig Island. The guide is divided up into 4 main chapters, which cover all of the character profiles for: Guts’ party and all the good guys, Griffith’s Reborn Band of the Hawk, other characters from the physical world, and characters from the Astral World. Each of these 4 chapters is also divided up into two sections: one to analyze the character profiles and a shorter section that usually looks at something else related to the characters from that section. For example, the first chapter lists all the profiles for Guts and the others, and then the chapter’s second section gives some details on the history of Midland and lists some of Puck’s “techniques” he uses throughout the series. There’s also a beautiful 8 page glossy color art gallery at the beginning of the guidebook.
In the guidebook’s final chapter, there’s a transcript of an incredibly detailed conversation with series creator Kentaro Miura, a full analysis of the major events in Berserk leading up to the end of vol. 38, some sketches of some of Berserk‘s characters and weapons, and a peek at both panels from vol. 39 and some Elf Island storyboards.
At the end of the guidebook there’s also a cute quiz the reader can take which, by answering different questions, supposedly reveals which Apostle the reader is most like. xD It’s the horror version of the tacky quizzes you can find on Facebook or in magazines aimed towards pre-teen girls.
While reading this guidebook I was almost overwhelmed with how MUCH information is crammed into it. So many details are included, many of them obscure. Major characters like Guts, Griffith and Casca get at least 4 or 5 pages devoted to their character profile, while less important characters get a page or two. Very minor characters usually get about half a page, sometimes less. But, everyone is included. The profiles of Berserk‘s main human cast include an analysis of their personality and ideology, a list of their personal history and skills, a neat graph of their personality parameters, and a profile listing of traits such as hair and eye color, height, weight, and age. With the main characters, their profiles have several of their quotes peppered throughout their pages, as well as a shortlist of descriptive terms used by Kentaro Miura. Some of these descriptions made me laugh, such as Guts being described by Miura as only “lone-wolf tendencies; stubborn”, and Azan being described as “amusing chivalry guy; despite fooling nobody, thinks of himself as really being the mysterious mustached knight.”
When the guidebook gets into the character profiles for the Apostles in the Reborn Band of the Hawk, these profiles follow the same presentation as the profiles for Guts’ crew and other human characters, Griffith included. However profiles for the pseudo-Apostles and other monstrous creatures (ie the Godhand) focus less on their personal traits and more on their supernatural abilities.
My favourite part of the guidebook was the interview with Miura and the pages of character sketches. I also found the analysis of the events in Berserk to be useful because while I’m very familiar with the Golden Age Arc thanks to the movie trilogy, I realized I’d forgotten some of the later events and the analysis was helpful in refreshing my memory.
My Score: 10/10
Do I Recommend This Title?: If you’re a big fan of Berserk I highly recommend giving this guidebook a read. It contains information about anything you could ever want to know about the events of Berserk. ^_^v