The Battle for Doldrey, the second Berserk movie, ensures that anime lives up to its 18-certification with plenty of blood, sweat and tears – blood from a torture scene and some deadly combat and the sweat and tears from all the other physical activities people tend to get up to.
The hybrid form of animation used by the Berserk Film Partners, mixing hand-drawn art with CG rendered art together, is deployed successfully and powerfully in The Battle for Doldrey. We have thousands of horseback riders charging across a dusty terrain in sweeping shots that are nothing short of impressive. We have the camera swinging around smoothly, showing great vistas or the insides of gloriously decorated buildings. We have this fantasy version of medieval Europe brought to life with stunning style.
Berserk: The Battle for Doldrey is a key arc in the series. This is the Bank of the Hawk at the height of their powers. The 5,000 strong force take on the nearly undefeatable forces at Doldrey. This is Guts and Griffith at their finest.
For a while, at least.
This movie also marks the descent towards darkness. The series is called “Berserk” after all and despite all the gory battles, we’ve not seen much of that yet. Guts starts to question why he fights for Griffith and Griffith’s ambition pushes him on towards a horrible fate.
That sense of reaching the top of the curve is well played by the movie. There’s certainly the sense that The Bank of the Hawk has almost done the impossible; both at Doldrey and with winning support from their own employers in the Midlands. Even before the first signs of concern begin to creep in – we’re asking; “Where can they go next?” We worry.
The movie contains the homoerotic undercurrents as The Egg of the King has but upscales this to overtones. Despite that the movie still only hints at certain encounters and relationships in some key scenes, leaving viewers who don’t know the manga to wonder what might have happened in the past. Knowledge of the manga is not necessary to enjoy the movie series.
There’s no doubt that fans of the TV anime series or of the first movie will enjoy Berserk: Movie 2. The usual disclaimer applies; perhaps not for the squeamish.
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