McMillan’s Codex 57 By C.T. McMillan
Berserk Musou (Trailer Analysis)
One of the great things about this blog is getting to talk about whatever I want. My pieces on Dawn of War were excuses to talk about Warhammer 40k. When I wanted to write about cyber punk, I reviewed cyber punk games. Now I am analyzing a trailer to talk about one of my favorite manga and anime series: Berserk Musou.
Berserk is the story of Guts, a mercenary driven by bloodlust in the war-torn kingdom of Midland. After one battle, he joins the Band of the Hawk led by the charismatic Griffith on his own journey to greatness. That is about as much as I can say without spoilers.
One unique aspect of Berserk is the historical fantasy setting. The time period is roughly grounded in the latter years of the 100 Years War with crossbows, cannons, intricate plate mail armor, and castles. There are also supernatural beings with elements of Lovecraft and body horror just behind the curtain of this seemingly medieval world. On top of these visually stunning elements are the usual manga tropes of big impractical weapons and characters that border on superhuman.
What makes Berserk a great story is its themes. One theme is Man versus God. The later parts of the series focus heavily on characters working towards a goal that stands in the face of their fate.
Another theme is the dueling ambitions of two characters that are bound together and how their desires affect each other. Encompassing the whole is a very dark tone that sets the series apart from normal manga and anime fare. There are atrocities, rape, and grotesque imagery that could only come from nightmares.
Berserk Musou’s trailer has a lot to say in terms of gameplay. As per the signature of developer Koei Tecmo, the genre is large scale hack ‘n’ slash. You fight hundreds of enemies at once on a closed map. There are combos, special moves, and you can play as multiple characters. There are also mild RPG elements and item usage. A lot of Koei Tecmo games follow this formula within the context of another property like Zelda, Gundam, and their Dynasty series.
Musou is the same, but in the Berserk universe. The playable characters include Guts, Griffith, Casca, and a small host of other familiar faces. The enemies you fight are not unlike the same soldiers and monsters the characters encounter. I cannot tell how close the game’s story follows the manga/anime story, but based on the available characters and Guts’ look, Musou may cover everything up until the infamous boat arc. Because Berserk is also unfinished, I doubt Koei Tecmo will make up their own ending, lest they incur the wrath of us fans.
According to the trailer, some of the cinematics will consist of clips taken from the Berserk: Golden Age anime movie trilogy that was released not long ago. This was a reboot of the first anime that came out in the 90s, but with a lot of added content from the manga. The trilogy was a jumping off point for the new anime that follows the Black Swordsman arc, 20 years after the original anime. As a fan, the new anime is a big deal despite the poor animation.
Berserk as a manga/anime was almost made to be a videogame. While you may lose a lot of the nuance and themes that make the series great, the ability to slaughter soldiers and monsters in droves as Guts is just awesome. We fans have been pining for a proper videogame adaptation, a continuation of the anime, and an end to the manga hiatus before author Kentaro Miura dies. Hopefully Berserk Musou will satisfy our epic enjoyment of this story in dynamic game form.