Berserk: The Golden Age Arc II-The Battle for Doldrey (Blu-ray) (2012)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 16-Oct-2013

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Trailer-x1 for another film
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 92:58
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 Shiro Sagisu


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

     Berserk - The Golden Age Arc II: The Battle for Doldrey (Beruseruku: Ougon jidai-hen II – dorudorei koyaku), 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 trilogy follows the same golden age story arc as that TV series, albeit greatly reduced in running time but with a much bigger budget. Berserk - The Golden Age Arc II: The Battle for Doldrey is the second of the trilogy that began with Berserk - The Golden Age Arc I: The Egg of the King, which I reviewed on this site here.

     Berserk - The Golden Age Arc II: The Battle for Doldrey commences with a 2 minute recap of the first film before plunging straight into a massed battle between Chuder and Midlands in which the Band of the Hawk are playing a leading part. However female warrior Casca (voiced by Toa Yukinari / Carrie Keranen) is fighting weakened by fever (and female problems). She is facing death when Guts (Hiroaki Iwanaga / Marc Diraison) saves her but he is wounded and the pair forced over a high cliff to fall into the river below. Guts saves Casca, and the two shelter in a cave where the audience finds out more about Casca’s background and how she joined the Hawks. When the forces of Chuder track them down, Guts participates in an epic battle, killing100 Chuder soldiers to allow Casca to escape.

     The war against Chuder is going well for Midland, except that they have failed to take the strategic Chuder fortress of Doldrey and their best troops, the White Tigers, have been decimated in the attempt. The leader of the Bank of the Hawk Griffith (Takahiro Sakurai / Kevin T. Collins) still wants to rise above his humble origins and to create a kingdom for himself, and so tells the Midland King that his mercenaries will capture Doldrey. Griffith and his 5,000 Hawks set out to attack the 30,000 soldiers in Doldrey, including the heavy cavalry of the Purple Rhino Knights. Of course, it is not a spoiler to reveal that the Hawks succeed where everyone else had failed and win the war; Griffith, Guts and the Hawks are feted by Midland and the Band of the Hawks are made the White Phoenix Knights, no longer mercenaries but part of the Midland army. It seems that Griffith’s dreams are one step closer to reality; the King’s daughter Charlotte is enthralled, but the Midland nobles remain suspicious and hostile.

     But peace does not bring joy to Guts, who has had enough of being part of Griffith’s dream, and he leaves the Band of the Hawk, defeating Griffith in a reversal of the way in which he had been recruited. Griffith breaks into the palace to meet with Charlotte. But he has overreached himself, and the Midland King orders his capture and torture as well as the ambush and destruction of the Bank of the Hawk.

     Berserk - The Golden Age Arc II: The Battle for Doldrey is anime that is definitely not for children. The film has beautiful visuals, the landscapes vibrant with pastel yellow, greens and blues but the film includes full frontal nudity, sex, gory torture and battles which are brutal and very bloody. Fans have pointed out that, in contrast to the manga or the TV anime, the films sheer away all the characterisation, motivations and character development, leaving mainly action, and there is some justice in this. Other than some background about Casca, we still know nothing about Guts or Griffith, or about the mysterious Egg of the King he wears around his neck. However, as an action film it must be said that Berserk - The Golden Age Arc II: The Battle for Doldrey delivers, and then some, as horses gallop around the sound stage, limbs and heads are severed and the red blood spurts everywhere.

     Fans of the manga and / or the TV anime have expressed opinions as to how well the films function in the Berserk canon, however this is a review of Berserk - The Golden Age Arc II: The Battle for Doldrey as the second film in an anime trilogy without assuming any prior knowledge of the source materials. And as a film, I can say that Berserk - The Golden Age Arc II: The Battle for Doldrey is beautiful, bleak and bloody, with a power and intensity that left me breathless.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

     Berserk - The Golden Age Arc II: The Battle for Doldrey 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 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 are in a white font. They seemed error free and were easy to read. The subtitles cannot be changed or selected on the go. Instead, you must select “Japanese with English subtitles” from the main menu. Unlike the first film you cannot change the audio from Japanese to English with the remote while the film plays and thus retain the subtitles with the English dialogue. Nor can Japanese speakers remove the English subtitles.

     A sometimes soft looking print with some beautiful colours.

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 battle was loud and aggressive utilising all the speakers. Arrows fly, thuds reverberate from body hits with edged weapons, horses’ hooves resonate. There is lots of panning and directional effects with horses galloping in and out of shot, arrows and thrown weapons striking targets. The sub-woofer was fully utilised adding bass to everything.

     The symphonic score by Shiro Sagisu was a highlight, diverse, epic and heroic and it 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 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 II: The Battle for Doldrey 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. The Japanese Region A version has no English subtitles or English dub. Buy local.

Summary

     Berserk - The Golden Age Arc II: The Battle for Doldrey is the second 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 includes sex, nudity, torture and bloody, brutal gory battles; it is beautiful, bleak and bloody and with a power and intensity that left me breathless. I am very much looking forward to the conclusion of the trilogy; the IMDb gives the third film as Berserk - The Golden Age Arc III: Descent but a title at the end of Berserk - The Golden Age Arc II: The Battle for Doldrey gives it as Berserk - The Golden Age Arc III: The Advent.

     The video and audio are 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)
Wednesday, December 04, 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

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE