Berserk-Volume 1: War Cry (1997)

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Released 12-Dec-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Gallery-Production Sketches x36
Gallery-Series Art x8
Outtakes
Featurette-Textless Opening
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Vampire Hunter D - Bloodlust, Noir, Rurouni Kenshin,
Trailer-Hellsing, GTO - Great Teacher Onizuka, Excel Saga
Trailer-Burn Up Excess
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 118:04 (Case: 125)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (70:50) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Naohito Takahashi
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Nobutoshi Hayashi
Masuo Amada
Akira Ishida
Yűko Miyamura
Toshiyuki Morikawa
Norio Wakamoto
Tomohiro Nishimura
Unshô Ishizuka
Case Click
RPI $34.95 Music Susumu Hirawasa


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
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 is a Japanese animated television series centred on a successful warrior named Guts who acts as a mercenary in medieval Europe.

    Guts is a young mercenary who wields a massive sword and is a formidable opponent on the battlefield. After a short battle he is taken under the wing of a mercenary leader known as Griffith and becomes an integral part of the group. Griffith is the head of a highly successful mercenary group known as The Band of the Hawk. This band of battle-hardened warriors becomes legendary after numerous successful campaigns and the group gains the confidence of the King of Midland. The group's rise in status helps to further Griffith's ambitions for power.

    Berserk is a twenty-five episode anime series that is based upon the popular Japanese manga series by Kentaro Miura. The series uses a traditional cel style animation technique and often has only minimal movement with a high number of static shots and pans across static backgrounds. Like many Japanese animated shows, this series contains a number of supernatural elements but these are considered unusual in the character's universe.

    This first DVD release contains the following five episodes. I have included a very short description for each but as these may contain some very minor spoilers you may wish to skip directly to the Transfer Quality section.

The Black Swordsman
    A mysterious stranger known only as The Black Swordsman comes to town carrying a massive sword and demanding to see the Lord of the local castle. The two meet on the battlefield and the Black Swordsman proves that he is a formidable opponent while the Lord is clearly more than he first appeared.

The Band Of The Hawk
    A wandering mercenary known as Guts is employed to defeat the local warrior Bazuso. Using his massive sword, speed and strength, Guts defeats Bazuso and receives a significant reward. As Guts travels to the next town he is ambushed by a group of mercenaries and a fight begins, climaxing in a fight with the group's leader Griffith.

First Battle
    Guts and Griffith continue their duel and the outcome will determine both of their futures. After the duel, Guts recovers and he learns that not all members of the Band of the Hawk welcome his presence. The group is employed to destroy an enemy encampment and Guts is given a pivotal role in the attack.

The Hand Of God
    Griffith discusses his motivations and ambitions for the future with Guts. As the group prepares to enter battle again, Guts remembers his past and we learn how he has come to this point in his life.

A Wind Of Swords
    The Hawks enter battle again but Guts fails to follow the plan, putting himself and his men in danger. After their numerous successful missions, the King formally recognizes the Hawks and specifically Griffith, increasing their status. The group's missions continue as they attack an enemy supply base and castle.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This transfer is presented at the original full frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

    The transfer is slightly soft throughout but it is able to easily display the animation's full detail. No low-level noise was detected at any stage during the transfer. The transfer displays excellent shadow detail and is able to reveal the details of the original animation during the dark scenes.

    The transfer utilizes a varied and vibrant palette that often uses large patches of solid colour. These colours are accurately reproduced and there is no bleeding present at any time.

    A number of small Gibbs artefacts may be seen around the opening credits for each episode. Examples of this problem may be seen at 1:49, 24:41 and 72:22 but they are only very slightly distracting.

    No aliasing artefacts were detected at any time during the transfer.

    A small number of minor film artefacts are present throughout the transfer. Some examples of these artefacts may be seen at 8:43, 9:11, 10:17, 10:28 and 56:46. All of these artefacts are quite minor and are only minimally disturbing. There is obvious film grain present throughout the transfer and its presence is moderately annoying.

    A small amount of telecine wobble may be seen during the transfer. Some examples of this problem may be seen at 8:36, 21:51, 47:33 and 71:06. This wobble is quite minor.

    A number of NTSC to PAL frame rate conversion artefacts (interlacing) may be seen during the high paced scenes at 35:47, 36:02 and 78:42. These artefacts are only obvious for a short period of time and are only slightly annoying.

    A single set of yellow English subtitles are provided on this disc. These subtitles are always clear and easy to read but are presented in a rather blocky typeface that is slightly distracting. Another problem with the subtitle stream occurs when multiple characters are speaking at the same time, such as at 102:40. At this point each character's lines are not differentiated and it is quite difficult to work out who is saying what when reading the subtitles.

    The layer change occurs at 70:50 at the start of Chapter 19, between episodes three and four and consequently is not disruptive.

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

Audio

    English and Japanese Dolby Digital 224 kbps 2.0 soundtracks are provided on this disc. I listened to both in full and found them to be consistently of high quality.

    The dialogue was always clear and easy to understand at all times.

    As this is an animated feature, there are the expected obvious problems with audio sync for each soundtrack. No dropouts were detected at any stage during the transfer.

    The original score by Susumu Hirawasa varies in style considerably during the transfer but surprisingly always suits the on-screen action. The opening and closing audio tracks for the series are performed in English and I initially found this to be quite annoying, but as the series progressed I found it less irritating.

    The surround and LFE channels were not utilized at any time during the transfer.

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

Extras

Menu

    The animated menu is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

Production Sketches

    This is a gallery containing 36 production sketches and character designs.

Art Gallery

    This gallery contains eight different pieces of art from the series.

Outtakes (2:18)

    This extra is a number of outtakes from the recording of the English audio track. This section is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Textless Opening (1:11)

    This is the opening animation for each episode presented without the overlaid text credits. This extra is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack and English subtitles.

Trailer (2:05)

    This trailer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with a Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Trailer: Vampire Hunter D - Bloodlust (1:55)

    This trailer is presented with an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and it is not 16x9 enhanced.

Trailer: Noir (1:31)

    This trailer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with a Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Trailer: Rurouni Kenshin (1:31)

    This trailer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with a Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Trailer: Hellsing (3:39)

    This trailer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with a Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Trailer: GTO - Great Teacher Onizuka (0:37)

    This trailer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Trailer: Excel Saga (1:39)

    This trailer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with a Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Trailer: Burn Up Excess (1:00)

    This trailer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with a Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    As the Region 4 release also includes a textless opening, my slight preference would be for this version.

Summary

    Berserk is a highly entertaining anime series that should appeal to a wide audience as it has numerous action sequences in addition to a strong character-driven storyline.

    The video transfer is of high quality and shows no significant artefacts.

    The choice of audio tracks will appeal to fans of both dubs and subs.

    The small collection of extras is a welcome addition and will appeal to fans.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Anthony Kable (read my bio)
Sunday, April 13, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySony KP-E41SN11. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationFront left/right: ME75b; Center: DA50ES; rear left/right: DA50ES; subwoofer: NAD 2600 (Bridged)
SpeakersFront left/right: VAF DC-X; Center: VAF DC-6; rear left/right: VAF DC-7; subwoofer: Custom NHT-1259

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