ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Berserk Deluxe Volume 4,’ Hard Cover

Reading Time: 5 minutes
TRIGGER WARNING: Review includes a discussion of abuse and graphic imagery.

Berserk Vol. 4

Berserk Deluxe Vol. 4 HC, is the latest addition to the re-released embossed 7″ x 10″ hardcover manga collection published by Dark Horse Comics.  The popular adult fantasy manga was originally written and illustrated by Kentaro Miura. Volume 4 collects Berserk volumes 10, 11, and 12.

Berserk Deluxe Vol. 4 picks up where we left off at the end of Berserk Deluxe Edition Volume 3, Casca and Guts’ relationship gets taken to a new intimate level. They soon learn that being in a romantic relationship with a comrade can cause complications on and off of the battlefield. However, their newly found romance has to take a back seat as they prepare themselves and the other strongest Band of the Hawk members to embark on a dangerous mission to rescue their leaders, Griffith. Horrors beyond their wildest imaginations await Guts and the Hawks as they journey through secret passageways and catacombs in the hope of saving their leader.

Even if they manage to rescue Griffith, they will still have to face off against the Knights of the Black Dog, led by their ruthless and beast-like captain, Wyald, who has sinister power residing in him. Meanwhile, Griffith has been mercilessly tortured and imprisoned in isolation by the King of Midland for a year for his brief sexual relationship with the King’s daughter, Princess Charlotte. Griffith, who has been beaten and tortured within an inch of his life, still holds to what little sanity remains.

This arc of the story is very significant to the overall series because it shifts the focus from war and politics back to dark fantasy and demonic horror being the main focus of the story moving forward. Similar to the that we saw more of in the first couple of volumes. While I enjoy the war and politics narratives in this series, I enjoy the arcs that focus on horror and dark fantasy even more. A good example is when Ricket, the youngest member in the Band of the Hawk, and the injured-reserved members are under attack at their campsite.

Ricket, the youngest member in the Band of the Hawk, wanders off after a fairy-like creature catches his eyes. Little does Ricket know the beast is purposefully luring him away. When Ricket realizes he’s lost and tries to find his way back to the campsite. When he arrived, he finds a massacre of blood and death. All of his friends at the campground are dead, brutally eaten alive by the demons. This scene and more that follow it shows how the focus of the story and its characters’ destinies are on a path riddled with disaster and horror.

Berserk Vol. 4

When it comes to this series, I’m a hopeless romantic whenever it comes to Guts and Casca’s relationship. Granted, Berserk is nowhere a romance manga, and it is full of dark fantasy and grim horror a majority of the time. So I’ll gladly take any romantic moments between these characters. Especially when they are moments of them acting like an actual couple and try to manage their feelings for each other on and off the battlefield.

An excellent example of this is in a scene where Casca, Guts, and the other members of their covert rescue team are about to enter the dungeons to rescue Griffith. Guts tries to casually suggest that Casca should stay behind instead of going any further into the dungeon. Casca, who is the acting leader of the Hawks, insists that she has to go on the mission. When Guts tries to push back again, Casca realizes that he is worried about her safety, not just as a comrade, but as someone he loves. She reminds him that they need to focus on the task at hand and that this is not the time to mix personal feelings.

Berserk Vol. 4

Another thing I appreciated in this volume is Muira’s great work with developing Griffith, the once seemingly charismatic and heroic leader of the Hawks, into a villain. I’ll be very frank; I hate Griffith. He is number one on my most hated character lists of all time. I would say that my hatred for the character is a testament to Muira’s work with building the character and how well he wrote the manga. When we first meet Griffith, he is a benevolent and caring leader to everyone around him. His soldiers admire him and would follow him into any battlefield without question.

However, as the story goes, more of Griffith’s sinister side is slowly revealed to the audience. Due to his dream to rise above the lowly status, he was born into; he is willing to make any sacrifice as long it helps him achieve his goal. Throughout the series, Griffith holds onto his dream no matter what sacrifices he has to make. An example of this is during the climax of this volume. When Griffith, who can no longer hold a sword, is offered a chance to be reborn, but only if he is willing to make another sacrifice that will solidify him as the antagonist of the series from that point on.

I like this moment In Griffith’s character arc specifically because after all this time of thinking he is some courageous hero with a dream but in actuality, he is now the villain. Up to this point in the story, the audience may have been inclined to excuse and forgive some of the pass transgressions because he seems like he is the noble hero type. However, it is this moment that reveals he’s truly selfish And vile nature.

This Is also a moment in the series and Griffith’s character development that further strengthens the story even more. Through the series Miura has shown the audience that there’s is a devious side to Griffith in previous chapters, however up until this moment no one, the audience or readers might have suspected he would commit such a heinous act of betrayal his loyal followers. Especially Guts and Casca the ones that were closest to him. These are the people that have loyally followed him for years and just less than day ago risked their lives just to save him. So by having Griffith commit this act of betrayal in this pivotal moment, Miura solidifies him as villain who will be a formidable antagonist going forward.

I loved everything about this volume. From the character development to the sprinkling of romance, and of course, the main focus returning to the horrific dark fantasy storyline. I especially liked Volume 4 because the entire time you’re reading, it feels like it’s setting up a big shift in the series focus and the direction that it takes the characters. As always, I only recommend Berserk Deluxe Vol. 4 for mature readers as this manga deals with intense graphics and violent imagery and sexual themes.

Berserk Deluxe Vol. 4  is available on February 26, 2020.

Berserk Deluxe Volume 4 - Hard Cover
5

TL;DR

I loved everything about this volume. From the character development to the sprinkling of romance, and of course, the main focus returning to the horrific dark fantasy storyline. I especially liked Volume 4 because the entire time your reading it feels like it set up a big shift in the series focus and the direction that it takes the characters.