Berserk: The Golden Age Arc I-The Egg of the King (Blu-ray) (2012)

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Released 20-Feb-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Trailer-x1 for another film
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 76:51
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Toshiyuki Kubooka
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Kentaro Miura
Ichirô Ôkôchi
Kevin T. Collins
Jesse Corti
Colin DePaula
Marc Diraison
Shingo Egami
Doug Erholtz
Takahiro Fujiwara
Hiroaki Iwanaga
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Japanese DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     In the pre-credit sequence a medieval castle is being stormed by men in armour. A huge warrior holds off the attackers until a young mercenary named Guts (voiced by Hiroaki Iwanaga / Marc Diraison) with a big, big broadsword and excellent fighting skills takes him out for 7 pieces of silver. This act is noticed by Griffith (Takahiro Sakurai / Kevin T. Collins), the leader of an elite band of mercenaries called the Band of the Hawk. Griffith tries to recruit Guts, who initially refuses, but after being defeated by Griffith in a fight Guts agrees, much to the annoyance of the band’s second in command, the woman warrior Casca (Toa Yukinari / Carrie Keranen).

     Griffith has a dream and much ambition. He wants to rise above his humble origins and to create a kingdom for himself, Guts just wants to fight. Griffith also wears a scarlet egg shaped charm around his neck, called the Egg of the King that has unspecified powers. Over three years, the band successfully fights for the King of Midland against his enemy, the Kingdom of Chuder. During the storming of one castle, Guts and Griffith are challenged by the huge demon Nosferatu Zodd; Zodd is on the verge of victory when he notices the Egg of the King around Griffith’s neck. He breaks off the battle, but warns Guts to beware of the man wearing that charm.

     After their series of successful battles, Griffith is knighted by the King of Midland and the Band of the Hawk become the vanguard of the Midland army. Griffith also becomes interested in the king’s only daughter Charlotte, who returns the interest; both these factors lead to hostility from the Midland nobles, not least by the king’s brother Julius. During a hunt, Julius attempts to have Griffith assassinated, but fails. In response, Griffith sends Guts into Julius’ castle; Guts infiltrates the castle and kills Julius, but inadvertently he also kills Julius’ young son before escaping. As the film ends, Casca and Guts overhear a conversation between Griffith and Charlotte that causes them a lot of concern.

     Berserk - The Golden Age Arc 1: The Egg of the King (Beruseruku: Ougon jidaihen I – Haou no tamago), to give the film its full title, is based upon the manga by Kentaro Miura that was first published in 1990 and is still going strong after 25 volumes or so. An anime of the manga started on TV in 1997 and ran for 26 episodes before ending abruptly. That TV series was released on DVD in six volumes some time ago, the first two of which were reviewed on this site here and here. The relevance of this is that the film follows the same golden age story arc as that TV series, albeit greatly reduced in running time but with a much bigger budget. This film Berserk - The Golden Age Arc 1: The Egg of the King is the first of a trilogy and covers approximately the same ground as the first 10 episodes of the TV show.

     Fans of the manga and / or the TV anime will have an opinion as to how well the new film functions in the Berserk canon. However, this is a review of Berserk - The Golden Age Arc 1: The Egg of the King as an anime film without assuming any prior knowledge of the source materials.

     Berserk - The Golden Age Arc 1: The Egg of the King is adult anime. The film has beautiful visuals, the landscapes especially vibrant with pastel yellow, greens and blues but it includes nudity and battles which are loud, brutal and very bloody as limbs and heads are severed and the red blood flows. There is also a darkness within the characters; the “heroes” are not beyond betrayal, murder and the killing of innocents although this makes the characters more interesting than most. Griffith and Guts are opposites in many ways: Griffith is elegant and fights with finesse; he has huge ambition and a dream and is not averse to using (or misusing) others to achieve his ends. He is an enigma, and we are just starting to get to know him when the film ends. Guts is big and brawny, enjoying the fight and the bloodshed. He is not a deep thinker, and exists in the moment but his inadvertent killing of Julius’ young son does have an effect upon his unquestioning adherence to Griffith. The third main character is Casca, but in this film she has very little to do except annoy Guts. In this first film we know very little of the back story of any of them; instead, especially for the first half of the film, it concentrates upon the brutal and bloody battles. The film slows down a little for the intrigues in its second half, but not for very long!

     Berserk - The Golden Age Arc 1: The Egg of the King at only 76 minutes certainly had time to add more of the backstories of the characters as we are just getting to know more about them when the film ends. The anime has beautiful visuals, but is not a children’s show as it raises adult themes and some loud and brutal action. I am very much looking forward to where it goes from here in Berserk - The Golden Age Arc II: The Battle for Doldrey.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Berserk - The Golden Age Arc 1: The Egg of the King is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original release ratio, in 1080p using the MPEG 4 AVC code.

     Much of the print is quite soft and detail can be on the indistinct side. However, this anime mixes muted colours in the battle scenes with some spectacular landscapes with pastel yellows, greens and blues which look absolutely stunning. Blacks and shadow detail are fine.

     I did not notice any marks, dirt or similar artefacts or issues except for minor aliasing.

     It is anime so lip synchronisation is approximate in either audio track.

     The English subtitles in a white font. They seemed error free and were easy to read. The subtitles cannot be changed on the go. Instead, you must select “Japanese with English subtitles” from the main menu. You can change the audio from Japanese to English with the remote while the film plays, and in this way retain the subtitles with the English dialogue.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is a choice of Japanese or English DTS HD- MA 5.1. Both are good, and the comments below apply to both although to my mind the Japanese track was slightly better with a crisper sound.

     Both the Japanese and English dialogue is clear and easy to understand. The sound design right from the opening castle assault was loud and aggressive utilising all the speakers. Arrows fly, thuds reverberate from the canons and ballistas, horses hooves resonate and body hits thump. There is panning and directional effects aplenty and the sub-woofer was fully utilised adding bass to everything.

     The score by Shiro Sagisu was suitable epic and heroic and was supported by the theme song by Susumu Hirasawa.

    An excellent loud, aggressive and enveloping sound mix. Just what is required.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     A trailer for Bleach: Hell Verse (1:00) plays at start-up. Otherwise there are no extras at all which is disappointing. We probably need to await the release of the entire trilogy in a box set with extras!

     I don’t usually comment on menus, but this time I will. The main menu had only three choices – play feature, chapters and either Japanese with English subtitles / English – but it took an age, up to 5-6 seconds, for the cursor to move between the three. I note that a reviewer of the UK Region B Blu-ray had the same problem, using different equipment to mine.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Our Region B release of Berserk - The Golden Age Arc 1: The Egg of the King is identical to the Region B UK release. The Region A US release is listed as being in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. No release has any extras. Buy local.

Summary

     Berserk - The Golden Age Arc 1: The Egg of the King is the first in a trilogy of films, a reboot of the anime that ran on TV from 1997. The film is adult anime. The visuals are beautiful but the film included nudity, battles which are loud, brutal and very bloody and the “heroes” are not beyond betrayal, murder and the killing of innocents.

     The video is fine, the audio very good. Extras are non-existent, but no other release around the world has any.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, April 02, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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