Toshiyuki Kubooka’s trilogy of new Berserk movies begins with The Egg of the King. This is an 18 rated movie and with good reason. There’s blood and nudity. The hero is called Guts. There is plenty of Guts.
Berserk has a loyal fan base. The manga is more than a dozen years old. There’s been a TV series which abruptly ended in a most horrible way and that just helps the cult form.
Action picks up in the heat of battle. There is plenty of battle in Berserk: The Egg of the King. Guts steps forward out of a crowd of mercenaries to take on and defeat, just, a monster of a man. This is enough to attract the attention of Griffith, the leader of mercenaries known as The Bank of the Hawk.
Griffith is a driven man and his dream threatens to bestow a horrible fate on Guts and the others.
This is a series of war, combat and political tension. It’s brutal. However, intentionally or otherwise it’s also loaded with homoerotic overtones. Griffith, leader of the feared mercenaries, is incredibly effeminate and that’s just the start of it.
Before watching The Egg of the King I had seen plenty of the ill-fated TV series. The character rendering is spot on. Our heroes and villains look the same. Equally, the characterisation feels right. The Band of the Hawk is full of people you want to see survive – and a few you won’t miss.
The animation of The Egg of the King is interesting. The movie uses a mixture of hand drawn animation and CG. The hand drawn animation tends to be on the character faces, deployed to ensure expressions and emotions are clear. The CG is used not just in battle scenes with many people, or complex movements but also on armour and architecture. The hybrid technique feels like a chore but it certainly looks effective in this Berserk movie.
Berserk is set in a world inspired by medieval Europe. If a high-fantasy Europe, power politics and most of all the bloody death of dozens of soldiers is for you then watch The Egg of the King. It feels like a part of anime history.
If you’re squeamish or need happy endings then, well, perhaps this isn’t the story for you.