Are Berserk 1997 and 2016 the same? Difference between the anime adaptations explored

Berserk 1997 (top) and Berserk 2016 (bottom) cover (Image via Sportskeeda)
Berserk 1997 (top) and Berserk 2016 (bottom) cover (Image via Sportskeeda)

There are several differences between the anime series Berserk 1997 and Berserk 2016. These include differences in the animation style, level of fidelity in the adaptation, sound design, and fan reaction. Berserk 1997 covers the Golden Age arc of the manga, and it is one of the most appreciated and critically acclaimed adaptations of Berserk. Meanwhile, the 2012–2013 film trilogy reinvented the 1997 anime with better visuals and more accurate content and was followed by the 2016 anime.

Since 1989, Young Animal magazine has printed Kentaro Miura's dark fantasy manga series, Berserk, which he wrote and illustrated. The plot centers on Guts, a mercenary warrior who fights in a world full of demons, conflict, and treachery while brandishing a huge sword.

Berserk has been adapted into numerous media, like novels, video games, anime, and movies. However, not all of them have been faithful or well-received by fans.

Berserk 1997 hailed as the best adaptation of the series

Berserk 1997 exposes the origins and relationships of the key characters. Despite its modest budget and vintage looks, the 1997 anime is regarded for its compelling tale, mature topics, melancholic music, and expressive animation. There is a devoted fan base of the 1997 anime, who view it as the greatest adaptation of Berserk.

However, fans have also pointed out that there are several issues with the 1997 anime. It leaves out a few pivotal moments and characters from the manga which establish the plot and tone of the novel. These include the God Hand, the Black Swordsman arc, and the Skull Knight. In addition, there is a huge cliffhanger at the finale, which leaves many viewers disappointed and questioning what transpires next.

Additionally, fans from other countries may find it difficult to obtain Berserk 1997 anime lawfully as it has neither been officially licensed nor released outside of Japan.

On the other hand, the 2016 anime series is considered by many to be among the worst anime overall and among the worst Berserk adaptations.

As mentioned earlier, the 2012–2013 film trilogy, which remade the 1997 anime with better visuals and more accurate content, is followed by the 2016 anime. Berserk 2016 covers the Conviction and Falcon of the Millennium Empire manga arcs, which pick up where the Golden Age storyline left off.

The animation of the 2016 anime combines 2D drawings and 3D computer graphics to create a choppy, inconsistent, and unappealing visual style. It provoked criticism from fans of the manga and the 1997 anime alike. The voice acting, music, direction, and sound effects in the 2016 anime are equally subpar, which detracts from the scenes' intensity and immersion.

A few important manga chapters, the Berserker Armor, the Moonlight Boy, and the Lost Children chapter are either omitted or altered in the 2016 anime. This has an impact on the story's character arc and narrative development. A contentious conclusion to the 2016 anime introduces a new character that is neither explained nor hinted at, departing from the manga.

As a result, there are notable differences between Berserk 1997 and Berserk 2016 in terms of reception, quality, and content. The 2016 anime is considered a disaster and a disgrace to Berserk, whereas Berserk 1997 anime is a timeless and accurate rendition of the manga.

Readers who enjoy Berserk can read the manga, which is the best and original source of the story, or watch the movies, a respectable and modernized version of the Golden Age arc.

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Edited by Madhur Dave
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