They’re the best Anime that 2013 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Persona 3 the Movie 1: Spring of Birth, Hakuouki Movie 1: Kyoto Ranbu, Lupin III vs. Detective Conan: The Movie, and more!
5: Persona 3 the Movie 1: Spring of Birth
English: Persona 3 the Movie: #1 Spring of Birth
Japanese: PERSONA3 THE MOVIE —#1 Spring of Birth—
MAL Score: 7.56
At the stroke of midnight, the Dark Hour appears—a secret hour which most are unaware of. Those not trapped in coffins during this time, unfortunate enough to find themselves conscious, are met by dangerous creatures known as Shadows. A select few, however, possess the potential to wield Persona: a special power used to defeat these beings. This secret group is called SEES (Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad), and their mission is to uncover the reason behind the Dark Hour’s appearance.
Only a short while after transfer student Makoto Yuuki begins his residency at Iwatodai Dorm, his Persona awakens after an attack by a strong Shadow. Now recruited into the ranks of SEES, he begins fighting alongside his comrades, as only they can protect humanity from Shadows and prevent the anomaly that is the Dark Hour.
The first big-screen outing of Persona 3 is roughly 90 minutes long and it covers April to June. They have cut out much of the school life aspect, and there is no mention of the characters joining clubs or taking exams. Instead, it focuses on the members of SEES and how their bond grows stronger. Makoto Yuki was a blank canvas in the game and at the beginning of the film he still feels like one; he is quiet, doesn’t say much and doesn’t really care about his own life or have much of an interest in those around him. Seeing Yuki piece together his emotions and learn what it means to have friends and comrades is a nice touch to the movie.
If you’ve never played the game but have seen or played Persona 4, the first Persona 3 movie is darker and doesn’t have as much comedy. It focuses more on jealousy, bullying and friendship. It jumps from one Full Moon battle to the next, with moments in-between where the group gets to know each other better. Yuki, Yukari and Junpei’s first battle within the Shadow-infested tower, Tartarus, is very fun and beautifully animated. Junpei ends his battle with his famous line about levelling up, before becoming jealous of Yuki’s abilities. Akihiko and Mitsuru haven’t had their time to shine yet, but there is plenty of time for that in the next movie.
After the credits we see a certain character opening their eyes and are told that the second movie is coming Summer 2014.
I couldn’t help but smile when the opening credits started accompanied by Burn My Dread: Spring of Birth Version and that smile stayed on my face for almost the entirety of the film. Shouji Meguro’s music is always fantastic and this film’s soundtrack is no exception, the memorable themes of Tartarus, The Velvet Room and Gekkoukan High School all return. These familiar pieces alongside the impressive animation makes the film that much stronger.
As a fan of the game, I found Spring of Birth very enjoyable, Makoto Yuki’s character development, the battles and the fantastic animation made it well worth the wait. I would’ve liked to have seen more of the side characters and school life, but overall it did a really good job of bringing the characters to the big screen.
I originally wrote this review for my own website, but several users have messaged me asking me to review it on here as well.
[It delivers us all to the same end.]
The latest effort in animating this esteemed JRPG series is finally here, aaaaand it’s a movie series. This means the release schedule will be hell to endure, but the payoff is definitely worth it so far.
First things first, the animation is beautiful. Anyone let down by the Persona 4 anime’s low quality should breathe easy, for the P3 movie looks stunning. The backgrounds looks great and the characters are sharp and on-model at all times. That movie budget is showing. The Dark Hour in particular looks great, with a muddy painting-esque look differentiating it from the daytime sequences. It works very well in making it look all otherwordly and creepy.
As for soundtrack, here’s where this follows the P4 anime’s footsteps. Most of the OST is lifted from the game, and occasionally slightly remixed, with some original compositions in here and there. It works, even though they liked using the main battle theme just a bit too much. (Several scenes opened with the iconic chant of BABYBABYBABYBABYBABYBABYBABY.)
The 90-minute movie covers the game up to and including the Fuuka Yamagishi arc, which is well over 10 hours of game time. There was a lot of daytime fluff scenes cut, much like in Persona 4, but here it didn’t really end up making the story or characters suffer at all, nor did it make the movie feel rushed. The fluff scenes were important world and character-building in Persona 4, but entirely superfluous and sometimes even badly written in Persona 3, so it’s more like they just trimmed the unneeded fat. What we have in its place is a more tightly paced, suspenseful story, which is more in line with what I expected Persona 3, the game, to be before I played it. The social links are relegated to background props and one-scene extras, but I never liked P3’s social links, so I’ve no problem with that.
With the fluff scenes cut, the main story sequences are relied upon to give the characters depth, which works wonderfully. The movie’s version of the protagonist, Makoto Yuki, manages to show great amounts of depth with very few lines. Just like with P4’s Yu Narukami, the shift from silent protagonist to actual character has gone swimmingly. Other characters I felt gained a lot from the movie were Yukari Takeba and Fuuka Yamagishi. Yukari’s interactions with Makoto are very different from the game, and definitely make her come across as much more than just “designated love interest girl”. Fuuka never got much attention in the game, but her struggles here are played up a lot, which is only a good thing. Other characters, like Junpei, Akihiko, and Mitsuru, aren’t given overhauls that big, but we’ll see how the other movies handle them.
My main complaint is the action sequences. It’s nice to see the party make use of weapons, which was missing entirely in Persona 4’s anime, but the action sequences themselves are very static and awkward, with competitors often just standing around, waiting to get hit. I suppose that’s accurate to the movie’s source material as a turn-based RPG, but it doesn’t make for compelling action scenes.
I’m not used to hearing the cast in Japanese, so that was a semi-new experience for me. It was weird, because the game’s dub was how I first experienced P3, so I’ve come to associate the English voices more closely with the characters than I do the originals. Nevertheless, the Japanese cast is, as is typical, stellar. I particularly like Mamiko Noto’s Fuuka, who projects a whole different image than whoever her English VA is.
I wouldn’t recommend Persona 4: the Animation to someone who hasn’t played the game. The opposite is true here. Despite the limited time, Persona 3: Spring of Birth is a very good adaptation of the game’s opening hours, and many scenes I’d argue were even improved a lot in the movie. There’s a lot to see for P3 veterans, too. Basically, everyone should watch this. You should watch this. If you’ve already watched it, rewatch it.
That is all, dismissed.
To put it bluntly, I went into this film with very high expectations. The Persona sub-series seems to be almost universally beloved in my online friend-circle, and frankly, after years of waiting (I own no Sony consoles besides my (now broken) PSP), I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. What I found here was technically a disappointment, but only because of my artificially raised expectations.
The story of this film is fairly good, but has hints of developing into something extraordinary in the next films. Being an adaptation of what is only the first part of a larger tale, it has very little in the way of plot, focusing instead on (somewhat clunky) exposition and the introductions of the main characters. While I am pleased with what I have seen of the cast so far (particularly Makoto and Junpei) I cannot help but feel that the nature of the film as an adaptation artificially constrained how far we could dive into them in this outing. Mitsuru in particular strikes me as having her development held back because that is how the story unfolds in the game, rather than following how it should naturally go in this medium.
Bolstering the weaknesses of an adaptation is the gorgeous but understated animation. The characters are on-model at practically all times, and the designs of the shadows and personas are breathtaking to see in action.
Overall, this is a solid film for those who are unfamiliar with Persona 3, but my intuition tells me that first-timers like me would likely be better served by biting the bullet and playing the actual game before viewing this. That said, I was sufficiently intrigued by the film to be motivated to get off my ass and buy a used PSP so I can play it, so the film definitely did its job in that respect.
4: Hakuouki Movie 1: Kyoto Ranbu
English: Hakuoki ~Demon of the Fleeting Blossom~ Wild Dance of Kyoto
Japanese: 劇場版 薄桜鬼 第一章 京都乱舞
MAL Score: 7.64
Chizuru Yukimura has come to Kyoto looking for her father, a doctor who has gone missing. While there, she witnesses a fight between an Oni and the Shinsengumi. Taking her into custody, the Shinsengumi debates on what to do with Chizuru, when they discover that she is the daughter of the doctor for whom they are also looking. The Shinsengumi then take Chizuru along on their search after the missing doctor, from adventure to adventure.
As a brief summary, our story start when our heroine, Chizuru Yukimura, decide to go out and looking for her father, which had disappeared. As things go, she discover in the worst way that the streets hide more strange things that she have imagined: bloody creatures, ready to take her blood, as well as a group of young, good looking and mysterious men that protect the peace on the streets. She’s saved, but what’s the cost? Now she knows too much, and it’s taken as a “hostage” by the famous Shinsengumi.
Here we discover that those men are surrounded by mysteries, and with a long war extending around the country. We have then 3 different stories: the Shinsengumi, fighting for their country (based on the original story of Japan); the furies, the mysterious bloody creatures that have a direct connection with Shinsengumi; and Chizuru, who’s going to discover lot of things about her past and who she really is.
The characters are very unique, especially the guys from Shinsengumi. They have very distinct personalities and for me it was impossible to hate any of them, even having my favorite. The villains are also very nice, it just feel they always go away in the most important part of the fights, but they still play their roles; I absolutely love Kazama and I loved how in the movie they showed his demon form not just in the end, it made him seems more interesting as a villain during the story than in the first anime. Chizuru is a thing for me, I don’t like heroines from reverse harens because they’re weak and stupid, and that’s exactly what Chizuru is, she’s just useless in all the stuff that happen around Shinsengumi imo, still, there’s a very specific part in the movie where I loved her, it’s an event that didn’t appear in the TV serie and it’s amazing, when you see, you’ll definitely remember of this part here, ’cause it’s where Chizuru shines in this movie. And well, secondary characters are also enjoyable, although they don’t have much screen time here, since the movie is way more focused on the Shinsengumi.
The animation is simply gorgeous. Studio Deen made an amazing work in this movie, everything seems so well made, a thing that didn’t happen in the anime, where the animation is poor, without details and even the characters eyes seems without life; in the movie no, their hair and eyes are always shining, and I love it. Also the sceneries are beautifully done, the cherry blossoms and the moon, even a scene where it’s shown a river it’s perfectly done. I like to reinforce because Deen isn’t one of my favorite studios, especially because they don’t have quality in their animation, but they put all their effort to make this movie, it definitely seems something very expensive and well detailed.
The background songs and the music for this movie are ok. I’m not a fan of the sound for the anime but it’s really enjoyable, and it fits for the scenes; in the movie, things aren’t different, very similar background songs that fit with the fight scenes and all that old Japan atmosphere.
Overall, this movie was amazing. Even without following lot of events from the original visual novel, I really liked to see a “new route” being created once more for this story, but also some scenes we didn’t have in the previous TV serie. I guarantee this new retelling of the Hakuouki series is amazing! I dare to say is more enjoyable than the TV one, may be because of the new animation, may be because it’s more focused on the main guys, or even because the main character got more attention this time, it’s perfect in many ways! So if you enjoyed the anime, you’ll probably enjoy the movie too.
Why didn’t I enjoy this movie and why wouldn’t I recommend it?
This movie seems to have skipped many important passages. We move from a plot to another without understanding the link between the two stories.
The characters have no characterization and the evolution of their personality is very badly shown and poorly explained. There is no interaction between the characters, they are together because the writer said so.
The main character, Chizuru, isn’t very appreciable. She is weak, useless and always serves the reverse harem. She has no personality (= she is sweet and kind, meh) and only wishes to find her missing father. Nothing interesting about this character. Hijikata has an interesting design but we don’t have much information as well. He seems to enjoy Chizuru but the development of their romance is blurred.
As for the other characters, they are useless or incoherent. They don’t have enough screentime so they can be developed. They appear as “extras” that have no real motivation except to protect the Shinsengumi. They don’t respect the samurai code because they don’t hesitate to take the “weird” potion to heal their wounds. They are only there to enthrall the spectators who will make ships between male characters. (They are handsome men so I guess…)
The animation is probably the best part of this film because it’s flawless. The action scenes are particularly well-worked and intense. The dark atmosphere is very well represented thanks to the use of pleasant dull colors. The chara design of the characters seem a bit shoujo but I liked it.
Concerning the soundtrack, nothing exceptional. The seiyuus did a great job as usual even though I am not fond of Chizuru’s voice but it’s completely subjective. It’s certainly not unpleasant.
Personally I don’t recommend this movie. It had great potential but the whole is underexploited. Maybe I’ll try the original series to compare both but for now I’m not very motivated ~
3: Lupin III vs. Detective Conan: The Movie
Japanese: ルパン三世vs.名探偵コナン THE MOVIE
MAL Score: 7.89
It is a cross over between the series Lupin III and Detective Conan and takes place after the television special Lupin the 3rd vs Detective Conan. The plot follows Conan Edogawa who sets out to apprehend Arsène Lupin III, the suspect of stealing a jewel called Cherry Sapphire.
STORY: This movie is a direct sequel to the popular Lupin vs. Conan special from 2012. In case you didn’t see it, don’t worry, this movie has a summary clip in the closing credits. The series will also make you do a double take a few times as it gives tongue in cheek references to Conan characters and more Lupin references (like the Fujiko series and the Gold of Babylon movie) than Green vs. Red.
CHARACTER: Zenigata is given more lines and more personality in this special, but it seems forced. Still, the differences detracted slightly from the movie. Zenigata also has a very pointed line (I really don’t know how to word that without giving it away) that seems like it’s there for different types of fans. I’m interested to see how they’ll translate it when the movie is dubbed. The more I think about it, maybe Zenigata’s personality is changed due to the fact that he has a competent partner (a Conan character) in the movie?
As for other characters! Conan and Jigen play off the relationship they had in the first special, and it works out hilariously well. Because Conan can arguably be meant for a younger audience, Jigen and Goemon are less gritty and Fujiko isn’t as sexualized. I got a kick out of the Conan kids and how they all worked with the Lupin gang. I thought that with such a large cast it might feel forced, but it didn’t at all.
The only issue was the “flavor of the week” characters, whose problems I found myself glossing over heavily. The movie does not make you care about them at all, which I think is the problem: the first special was about Lupin and Conan while this one was about Lupin, Conan, and a third party.
ART: You have to understand that these are two different styles of animation. However, the Lupin franchise has done a great job over the years mixing in other styles with their own.
A problem with mixing styles that are so different is that they don’t play well together. For example, every time the Conan characters have a scene where they’re shown from the side (profile), I couldn’t get over the elongated face, almost like an animal’s muzzle, and sharply upturned nose. It’s easy to move into that world of animation while watching Conan, but when it mixes with the old, long legged Lupin characters grates on the senses. Lupin’s characters are long limbed and gritty detailed. Putting these two in the same scenes together doesn’t work fantastically. For instance, one of Conan’s characters has big, blue eyes. She’s talking to Zenigata who does his bow legged walk out of the room. Then the Conan characters are shown from the side and look almost inhuman. So you’re left with a dissonance in which you have to force yourself to believe this is the same anime universe.
SOUND: The usual Lupin and Conan cast sounds great! Only problem (to me) is that in an effort to merge the two, they limit the amount of jazz that Lupin fans might be used to hearing.
ENJOYMENT: Very enjoyable! Lupin and his gang over the years have gotten more family friendly and this definitely falls in that vein. I’d describe it as fluffier than many Disney movies. But hey, you want gritty? Go watch the Fujiko series and Jigen movie…
While distinct from the prequel, watchers are advised to view it or they might otherwise miss out on certain parts. The sheer number of characters in both series allows little screen time for the side characters, but you will definitely have your fill of the protagonists. I look forward to more crossovers between the two series.
2: Berserk: Ougon Jidai-hen III – Kourin
English: Berserk: The Golden Age Arc III – The Advent
Japanese: ベルセルク 黄金時代篇Ⅲ 降臨
MAL Score: 8.20
The Band of the Hawk has dwindled in the year since Guts left them on his journey to forge his own destiny. Unaware of their fate, Guts returns to the Hawks—now being led by his former ally Casca—after a rumor about them passes his way. Once the saviors of the kingdom of Midland, the Band of the Hawk are now hunted as they desperately fight for their lives while plotting to free their leader, Griffith, after he was imprisoned for committing treason. But the man they save is far from the Griffith they remember.
Griffith is a shell of his former charismatic self after a year of continuous, horrific torture. No longer able to walk, speak, or even hold a sword, he has nothing but the small, strange trinket, the Crimson Behelit, that will not leave him. The entire Band of the Hawk want to rise to greatness once more, but how much are they willing to sacrifice to return to their past glory? It doesn’t seem possible, but when Griffith’s heart darkens and a solar eclipse blackens the sky, the Behelit offers a choice that will leave the Band of the Hawk with a blood-soaked fate that will haunt them for the rest of their days.
The controversial CG in my humble opinion, has improved but still has its problems. I say the frame rate is more even and the frame size in proportion to the characters and foreground appropriately accommodates it. It still comes across as “gamey,” but it is an improvement, but by no means perfect. The action is very violent and lives up to its bad ass title. There will be plenty of blood and gore. Even though Guts is the main character and a bad ass, I will admit when this guy fights, he scares me and this movie does a good job of making me scared of the main character. There’s nothing to fear, but fear itself, but fear fears Guts. On a list of top anime bad asses, Guts has to be on that list no doubt.
I say what defines the art and animation is how it sets the atmosphere and brings you into the emotions. You feel Griffith’s fragility. Even though you don’t see him unmasked, the detail to the art on whatever you see of his face is enough to give you an idea of what he would look like if unmasked. You see the hesitation of Guts on whether or not he should leave the Hawks again. You feel Casca’s frustrations. I feel that the raw emotions bring a sense of substance in conjunction to its R-15+ (the equivalent to an NC-17 in America) rating.
The voice acting, as I have admitted in previous reviews, has been an issue for me. I will admit that Guts’ new actor has shown improvement and shown instances that he can capture the character. But I will openly admit as a purist and fanboy that Nobutoshi Canna is still Guts to me while Michael Bell will always be his English voice to me. The guy who plays Jedau does an ok imitation of the character’s original voice actor, Ishida Akira. Maybe for people not familiar with the previous anime series and the games will not find this to be an issue and may like the voice actors.
Like the second movie, the soundtrack is more acoustics and orchestrated. My thoughts on that carry onto this movie as well. It suits the time period very well and knows how to suit the atmosphere. The orchestra in the ending credits was very impressive. Susumu Hirakawa still does the opening theme and is my favorite part of the soundtrack. Still, like the newer voice cast, fans new to Berserk who had not seen the previous anime series or played the games will probably not think of this as an issue.
The closest thing to a spoiler I can give is that after the ending credits, there is a post credits scene which isn’t much for some people, but after that is over, there is a message in clear English that says “This is only the beginning” meaning we will get new Berserk movies. I say its only natural with the easter eggs in previous movies, this series deserves its shot where it really shines. For those not familiar with the Berserk manga, this new trilogy is a mere fraction of what Berserk has to offer. So I hope we hear more news soon if a new Berserk movie will come out this year or not.
After that, we get a bonus music video!!! So fans will most likely enjoy this.
After how much I bashed the first 2 Berserk films, you might be surprised to learn that I actually really liked the 3rd one! I try not to be petty and hold grudges, where I will automatically attack every work in a certain franchise or by a certain author, simply because I didn’t like previous entries. In the 3rd film covering the Eclipse portion of the Berserk storyline, they FINALLY get it right.
The first vast improvement is the pacing. The 3rd film covers an appropriate number of episodes, so the much beloved story and characters of Berserk don’t need to be massively watered down in order to fit a 2 hour run time. In fact, the 3rd film is able to give us background about the Berserk world that the original anime wasn’t able to fit in. We also get to actually see the full conclusion of the Eclipse instead of a random fade to black. We know from the first episode of the original Berserk anime that Guts survived the Eclipse, but the first anime doesn’t even hint as to how he could have survived it. The 3rd movie is able to fit in the Skull Knight in all his Deus ex Machina glory! Given the movie did unfortunately cut out the Skull Knight’s fight with Zodd the Immortal, but just showing the escape made it a massive improvement on the original ending. I also appreciated that the movie captured the full brutality and horror of the Eclipse even better than the first anime. There were parts of the original anime that I liked better including Judeau’s final confession of love for Caska. However, Berserk 3 still does a very solid job adapting this portion of the manga…unlike those first 2 movies.
On a technical level, the CGI is vastly improved and actually doesn’t look like complete shit for once. The music was also pretty solid throughout, although the extremely melodramatic piano piece when Griffith rapes Caska was a tad out of place. I wasn’t sure if he was going to rape her or tie her to a railroad track while evilly twisting his handlebar mustache.
Bonus Section: Trivia
The “Eclipse” happens every 216 years because 6 x 6 x 6 = 216.
The Godhand members are all named after obscure books by great fantasy/scifi writers that Miura likes. Each Godhand member is partially inspired by one of these titans of fantasy.
Void = Frank Herbert Conrad = Roger Zalazny Ubik = Philip K Dick Slan = AE van Vogt
Berserk is one of VERY few non-hentai titles to show pubic hair. Although there is no longer a censorship law against this in 2015, most anime don’t do this out of convention to keep the border between hentai and non-hentai echii clear.
Guts was named after the real life historical figure Gottfried “Götz” von Berlichingen, a badass medieval mercenary who fought with a prosthetic iron hand just like Guts.
Often hailed as one of, if not THE best mangas of all time, Berserk has earned itself a spot on many an avid manga reader’s “must read” lists and for good reason as it’s the quintessential dark fantasy manga and the ultimate story of friendship, tragedy, and the pursuit of self-destructive vengeance. This may very well be true in the manga, but Berserk’s animated history isn’t much to speak of. The TV series produced by Oriental Light & Magic in 1997 is hailed as a classic by many but its piss-poor animation along with its mortifying cliffhanger of an ending left a sour taste in the mouths of a lot of people (myself included). Unfortunately, this was the *only* adaptation of Berserk that ever existed… that is until Studio 4C announced that it would be releasing a series of films to adapt the Golden Age Arc of the Berserk manga. Are these movies any good? Personally, I say that they’re great but I’m pretty sure that statement of mine just evoked the wrath of thousands of Berserk fans. Allow me to explain myself:
As fans of a manga, it’s completely understandable that we’d want our adaptations to copy the source material verbatim, but the sad fact of the matter is that it’s just not possible whatsoever. Despite the fact that mangas are basically pre-drawn storyboards for anime studios to work with, anime and manga are two completely different mediums with different demands and nuances to work with. Changes *must* be made for the sake of things like time, narrative consistency, budget, and all that other stuff. If you’re going to get up in arms about how the adaptation lacks every single irrelevant detail from the source material that you adored the shit out of, do yourself a favour and stick with the manga because no matter which way you look at it, the adaptation will *always* be inferior to the source material so there’s no use in complaining about it.
On another note, censorship is generally not an issue when it comes to manga because S&P boards aren’t even a thing when it comes down to print media (well, I think they aren’t anyway). Anime broadcast on television however need to abide by certain standards and given the content that Berserk has, there’s no way it can last as a TV series without either suffering from extensive censorship OR butchering it to the point where it’s a completely different show than what it was intended to be. Cinema on the other hand, doesn’t have to put up with censorship (unless you’re in a country with a turbulent civil rights history like Saudi Arabia, China, or Iran) and it’s more readily accessible to a greater audience than it would’ve been otherwise had it been a TV series. Sure, Studio 4C could’ve easily made an OVA series like Space Battleship Yamato 2199 but ultra-violent GAR OVAs died in the late 80s and early 90s along with parachute pants, grunge music, and The Fat Boys. Also, I don’t think a lot of people would be too eager to buy a full season’s worth of one show on DVD/Blu-ray so there’s that to factor in as well.
Now with all of that stuff out of the way, let’s talk about the movies and how they actually are from a quality standpoint. Well I won’t mince words here: each film in the trilogy is better than the one that preceded it with “Eclipse” being the best and “The Egg of the King” being the worst (by default). Now, that’s not to say that the first movie in the trilogy was terrible because in all honesty, it really wasn’t. It was a fair enough introduction to Berserk, the storytelling was fair enough (albeit rather clunky) and hey! We finally got a chance to see a battle animated properly (and in 1080p) instead of seeing blown-up watercolour stills so that’s also quite lovely. The problem lies in the way the film itself was actually animated. It’s strange to say, but that’s the most succinct way to explain the problem.
Studio 4C is an awesome studio and they’ve got some great stuff on their resume like the short film “Magnetic Rose” from the Memories trilogy by Katsuhiro Otomo, Steamboy, The Animatrix, and Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (if you wanna include their collaborative projects with Warner Bros). Yeah, these guys aren’t slouches when it comes down to the audiovisual department. The problem is that the Golden Age Arc of Berserk contains no shortage of large-scale battles that are incredibly difficult to animate in two dimensions. To mitigate this issue, Studio 4C opted to integrate varying degrees of CG animation into the mix in order to actually animate all those large-scale battles and it works absolutely beautifully in those situations.
Unfortunately, they decided to maintain the CG even when there weren’t any battles to actually animate in the first movie and it just looks so ridiculously clunky to the point where there’s something eerie about it. That clunky CG animation is basically what caused so many people to not even bother giving these movies a chance despite the fact that it actually does get better as time went on. I’m not going to lie, the CG is an eyesore but there’s no denying that the animation across all three movies is a million leagues better than the barely-animated rubbish the TV series had to offer (do keep in mind I’m talking about the animation of the TV series, the story and characters are quite lovely). Hell, the third movie actually got the CG right and used it to great effect during the Eclipse (which I’ll talk about later).
In regard to the story and characters, I must say that Studio 4C did a pretty good job (especially given that they were trying to cover 11 volumes’ worth of content within the span of 3 films). The Golden Age Arc of Berserk is the ultimate story of hardship and sacrifice fuelled by the pursuit of one man’s dream. We start our journey in the middle of a century-long war between two kingdoms. Midland, our country of origin was forced to enlist the help of countless mercenaries just to supplement their waning military forces. In the process, they enlisted two people: our aimless protagonist with no goals in life, Guts and the charismatic and ambitious Griffith and the rest of his team known as the “Band of the Hawk.” Through circumstance, Guts ends up joining Griffith and his band of mercenaries and I’ll just leave the rest for you to experience.
Yeah, there are a lot of things missing from these movies that the TV series had but Studio 4C managed to retain the “spirit” of Berserk throughout the course of the trilogy. Sure, some events are either implied or omitted entirely but most (if not all) of the important stuff from the Golden Age Arc remain intact and dare I say that these movies managed to portray these events much better than the TV series and even the manga ever could. I’m not even being hyperbolic or anything of the sort. A lot of the highlights of the Golden Age Arc just “take” to being animated and I can safely say that Studio 4C did virtually everything they could to make those highlights from the manga stand out and work much better than they ever could’ve if they were just black-and-white panels upon pages with no sound whatsoever.
On that note, let’s talk about the Eclipse. If you’ve EVER spent any time around the Berserk fandom, chances are that you’ve heard of this event and have a vague idea of what it is. But for those of you who aren’t well-versed in the ways of Berserk, I’ll explain what it is. The Golden Age arc of the manga is first and foremost, a protracted flashback that lasted from Volume 3 of the manga to Volume 14. Berserk initially starts off with Guts in the present time in pursuit of Griffith for reasons that were never revealed until the climax of the GAA. The Eclipse is nothing short of a cataclysmic nightmare that seamlessly merged ghastly and surreal horror with heart-wrenching tragedy. A recurring theme throughout the course of the Golden Age arc is causality and the existence of free will. Throughout the manga and the films, these theme was always working its magic in the background and gave us hints and foreshadowing of the ghastly nightmare that we would later experience.
Unfortunately, the TV series lacked this sort of foreshadowing almost entirely. By the time the Eclipse actually happened, it just came out of nowhere. The impact of the Eclipse was lost completely because the themes of causality and the supernatural were downplayed heavily in lieu of putting more emphasis on camaraderie and friendship. Hypothetically, this could’ve led to a more impactful tragedy but the problem is that there was no foreshadowing whatsoever. Instead of making us crap our pants in pure, unadulterated terror whilst also making us cry like little bitches because of the fact that all of this horrible shit is happening to characters we’ve grown to know and love, it made us scratch our heads in confusion… oh, and that’s not even getting into the appalling animation making the entire ordeal difficult to take seriously and how all of this actually ended in the TV series.
Thankfully, none of that was the case when it came down to the third Berserk movie and its portrayal of the Eclipse. In fact, it managed to perfectly capture the sheer intensity of the Eclipse as a cataclysmic tragedy in ways that both the TV series AND the manga failed to do. A lot of this can be chalked up to the fact that Studio 4C did an outstanding job with the animation. Did I forget to mention that the Eclipse is one of the bloodiest and most gruesome parts of Berserk to ever exist (because that’s kinda important…)? The way Studio 4C went about portraying the Eclipse was so graphic to the point where people who actually saw this movie in theatres ended up having to leave because it was just too much for some people to actually sit through. This is the way that the Eclipse was meant to be portrayed from the very beginning. The third movie succeeded where the source material and its previous adaptation failed. I’d love to keep going, but I think that’ll reach into some seriously spoiler-heavy territory and I think I spoiled more than enough at this point.
On that note, let’s talk about how it ends. The TV series ended on what is undoubtedly the single most depressing point of the entire story, but the actual resolution of the Golden Age arc in the manga wasn’t like that at all. Though the TV series left the overall story of the GAA is left largely intact, many alterations had to be made so that the entire story could fit within the span of 25 episodes. Because of this, the guys at OLM decided that it would be an absolutely fantastic idea to just omit the ACTUAL resolution of the Golden Age arc and just ended it on such a mortifying cliffhanger to the point where anyone who wasn’t familiar with the source material would be shouting at the screen going “What the actual fuck?!” The movies completely and totally avoided this and I’m SO thankful that Studio 4C managed to get it right. All you manga purist Berserk fans can talk shit about the films all you want, but there’s no denying that the way the third movie got right what the TV series got wrong.
Now, you may be wondering whether or not the movies do a good enough job of making us care about the characters. Personally, I think that the movie managed to do a great job but others may beg to differ because of the fact that the Golden Age Arc movies cut out a lot of stuff. While I can’t really say much about the secondary/tertiary characters, I can safely say that the movies hit the nail on the head when it came down to our dynamic duo of Guts and Griffith which is what ultimately matters in the end. It’s the dynamic between these two and the rest of the cast that made this arc of the manga so captivating to read in the first place.
Guts started out as a wandering mercenary with a brutal past, no friends, and nothing to aspire toward. His encounter with Griffith and the Band of the Hawk led to him finally knowing what it was like to have friends. What’s more is that it was revealed that despite all of the horrible things that Guts went through in the past, he’s got such a capacity for things like love, trust, friendship, and all that other stuff. At the same time, the GAA by and large is a tragedy and we all know that shit will end horribly for Guts and that he’ll take up his sword in pursuit of vengeance no matter what the cost. I don’t think it’s any stretch to say that he is without a doubt, one of Berserk’s greatest assets. The movies retain the very essence of this tragic character and makes it so that we’ll always have a reason to root for him in the end.
That’s not to invalidate Griffith, because he’s just as great a character as Guts is. Griffith has evoked the ire of countless Berserk fans for his actions in the manga that I’m not at liberty to discuss, but don’t let that make you think he’s not a great character in the slightest. I viscerally despise everything there is about Griffith, and yet I can still find myself finding some modicum of sympathy for him (Kentaro Miura might be fapping away to Idolmaster these days, but there’s no denying that he’s more than capable of writing amazing characters). Many of us have larger-than-life ambitions, but Griffith is one of the few who actually makes the effort to chase after those foolhardy childhood dreams that we end up letting go of as we get older. Throughout the course of the Golden Age arc, Griffith is depicted as a sort of demigod and it isn’t until he encounters Guts when his cool shell starts to crack as he and Guts end up becoming like brothers. It’s this very bond between these two that provides the catalyst for almost all of Berserk’s highlights and tragedies. If you want to know more, then you know what you need to do: watch the bloody movies and then read the bloody manga for context!
Before I wrap this review up, I want to take the time to talk about one last thing: the audio. The Golden Age Arc trilogy’s OST and dubbing is absolutely spectacular. Say what you will about the animation, but there’s no denying that everyone in the sound department deserves a gold medal for their work. On the OST side of things, every single track is absolutely spectacular and fits the mood perfectly… except one track during the climax of the third movie which makes me wonder if Griffith was wearing a top hat, a monocle, and had a thin moustache he was twirling around in one finger whilst waiting for an oncoming train to run over Casca (but let’s not get into that). Of all the tracks that were played across all three movies, I’d have to say that “Blood and Guts” (the ending theme of the first and third movies) would have to be my favourite because it perfectly captures the tragic nature of Guts as a character (that, and it also sounds REALLY fucking awesome).
As for the dubbing, I really have to give props to Viz because they not only hired the bulk of the original cast of the TV series’ dub, but they gave them better voice direction and also managed to sync up the mouth movements properly! Marc Diraison did a wonderful job in the TV series, but he really gets a chance to shine under Viz’s direction. As for Kevin T. Collins, well his work as Griffith is absolutely spot-on and almost everything I’ve said about Marc Diraison can be applied to him as well. My only complaint however is the fact that there are no outtake reels on the DVD/Blu-ray release of any of the movies (at least from what I can gather). Come on, guys… if the guys at Media Blasters have the dignity to show their bloopers, you guys can do it too.
So, what else is there to say about these movies? Hm… well, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that these movies are definitely worth watching. As an introduction to Berserk, these movies do an excellent job with acquainting any potential newcomers with everything whilst giving long-time fans of the series a properly animated adaptation that while condensed and short, manages to perfectly encapsulate virtually everything there is to love about this series. At present, there is no sequel to this film trilogy, so if you’re new to Berserk and you just finished the third movie, you’ll have to do one of two things:
a) Read the manga from the very beginning so that you can see what you missed out on whilst also learning what became of Guts et al post-Eclipse.
b) Wait for Studio 4C to release the next instalment of their Berserk adaptation. They have stated previously that they have plans to adapt the rest of the manga, but they’ve yet to release anything.
Personally, I’d recommend the first option, but waiting ain’t half bad if you don’t wanna buy volumes or put up with shitty scanlations. Anyway, that’s all for now. Feedback’s always welcome and with that, I’m out. Peace 🙂
1: Gintama Movie 2: Kanketsu-hen – Yorozuya yo Eien Nare
Japanese: 劇場版 銀魂 完結篇 万事屋よ永遠なれ
MAL Score: 8.94
When Gintoki apprehends a movie pirate at a premiere, he checks the camera’s footage and finds himself transported to a bleak, post-apocalyptic version of Edo, where a mysterious epidemic called the “White Plague” has ravished the world’s population. It turns out that the movie pirate wasn’t a pirate after all—it was an android time machine, and Gintoki has been hurtled five years into the future! Shinpachi and Kagura, his Yorozuya cohorts, have had a falling out and are now battle-hardened solo vigilantes and he himself has been missing for years, disappearing without a trace after scribbling a strange message in his journal.
Setting out in the disguise given to him by the android time machine, Gintoki haphazardly reunites the Yorozuya team to investigate the White Plague, and soon discovers that the key to saving the future lies in the darkness of his own past. Determined to confront a powerful foe, he makes an important discovery—with a ragtag band of friends and allies at his side, he doesn’t have to fight alone.
I haven’t actually finished the series but I did get to see the movie in theaters. It was simply amazing! I won’t give anything away but you get the typical Gintama goodness!
The story is pretty great. Gintama’s jokes are amazing and the way the story was set up was pretty original! The beginning threw me off but, Gintama always does that, to be honest.
The characters were SIMPLY FANTASTIC! The facial expressions and reactions were awesome and I, along with the theater, were laughing to death because of it. Seriously, great design, expressions, outfits, etc.
The audio was GENIUS! Spyair was awesome as always and the music was incredible. Some familiar music was played and the movie’s original and the battle, humor, etc sounds were great.
Enjoyment is 18798370984273984 out of 10. You can’t beat this. I watched the One Piece and Dragon Ball Z movies and Gintama greatly kicked them in enjoyment. I haven’t laughed so hard in forever.
Even if you haven’t watched Gintama, watch the movie because then you’ll REALLY wanna watch the anime. Got a few of my friends into Gintama now and they’ve never seen it before but changed their minds thanks to the movie.
The movie begins a bit slow at start and this is due to the “Movie Thief” character. While Odd Jobs are working in a theater for some money, the Movie Thief himself starts doing the obvious; filming illegally. As the long discussion goes with Gin and the Movie Thief about right and wrong, the producers decide to add in some jokes for the viewers to enjoy, by putting tons of laughs into it for the viewers. Is that all this Movie Thief is though? Is he just there to film illegally? Or maybe his role is more significant than we may think. But I thought this movie was about his past, not them working at a theater… Guess you’ll just have to watch!
One would think that the way the producers would portray this movie is by showing his past… Well of course they’re going to show his past, but the producers decide to use a theme we’re all used to seeing now, and that is “Time-travel.” To be honest, I was a bit surprised by seeing this, since I just recently watched the Steins;Gate movie and didn’t think that Gintama would also use this type of theme. Though, as we all know, time-travel is a commonly seen thing in shows and that of movies. Some could say that the movie is pretty predictable, but that’s for you to decide; I didn’t think it was.
The one thing I could say that I was disappointed by was the fact that there was little to no development on the future selves. All we know is that the characters have grown in these past 5 years and that Shinpachi looks nowhere close to his younger self. And Kagura, well… She’s grown in places that count to say the least. All that’s known is that Odd Jobs is no longer a group of people, but split into two groups. Odd Jobs Fumiya and the other Odd Jobs Takamoku. Wait, what happened to Gin, the leader? Well… to be frank, he’s missing.
Gintama has always been great for their soundtrack, and they even used some from the series. You can especially expect some great OST during the shounen type scenes later on in the movie. Though, that’s all I can really say about the OST because there’s nothing to really complain about and nothing to say vastly amazing about, but it still does the job at providing some great sounds for us, the viewers
The art has been vastly improved as expected for a movie. I wish it could be like this in the T.V series as well because the fights are animated better, clearer and more colorful to watch when seen in better quality. Character designs as I’ve talked a little about have been changed for a few as well. Shinsengumi is no longer the police force anymore really, but almost something like the Joui rebels themselves, though not necessarily identical. The producers decided to poke at some of the characters too, by making fun of them; Catherine mainly, who prioritizes in mainly making the viewer’s think of her as the troll character of Gintama. Elizabeth’s appearance changed drastically… One could say he’s all muscle now.
The movie, Gintama: The Final Chapter – Be Forever Yorozuya is definitely something a fan of the T.V series should watch. As for myself, I’m always excited for more Gintama and still await the T.V series to return for me to enjoy some good laughs, action packed scenes and just overall enjoyment that is Gintama. Everyone who has watched the T.V series knows that all we’ve seen about Gin’s past was little flashbacks during the war. So shouldn’t we be seeing more of the war? Well no, if they did that the film would be shorter than a 3 episode long series. This was the best way to do things IMO, and the producers did it pretty damn good. Overall, the film gives tons of laughs throughout it, but kind of lacked in the action packed scenes. Though one could argue that Gintama isn’t your typical shounen and that action isn’t everything, which is correct because Gintama does what it does best and that is making you laugh.
The story opens up with the Yorozuya three and Sadaharu in a movie theatre working part-time to grab some cash. Through a series of surprisingly refreshing and funny fourth-wall jokes, Gin and a new and hilarious character, the Movie Thief, end up travelling forward in time by five years. Here Gin learns the true identity of the Movie Thief and discovers that the world has been drastically altered and many people on Earth have died. To make matters worse, Yorozuya has disbanded and in this world Gin is missing and the Gin from five years ago must try and restore the world.
The story, which renews the most popular theme in contemporary anime, is about time traveling. If you’ve seen one anime about time traveling, whether it be Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya or Steins;Gate, you’ve seen them all. What these stories have in common is using time-travel as a plot-device to provoke a sense of regret and gratefulness out of our otherwise complacent main characters. This concept strings pretty far back in the medium and unless the story is presented in an innovative manner the plot device of time travel is incredibly predictable. Time travel can no longer exist as the sole concept in a work. In Steins;Gate it was a character study on the stress of an individual undergoing intense trauma, and in Disappearance it was the deliberation between being safe or being in love. In both stories the main characters support the work. Here time travel is sadly used as a way to advance a very generic story in a setting that was created to provide the Gintama fanbase with some fun character designs.
While the story is predictable it still is entertaining to any shounen fan. All our favorite Gintama characters appear, and the jokes ultimately keep flowing. But we don’t get to see the characters from the main series develop into their new character designs, we just see how they’ve changed in five years. It’s a bit disappointing coming from a series that often pays meticulous care to even the most trivial character’s background. For a movie marketed as game-changing for the franchise, I can’t help but to feel a little swindled. It’s mostly just the same Gintama jokes from the show with less attention to story.
The ill-explained time travel really hurts the bombastic finale of the film and everything about the story felt simply too convenient. While the movie is presented as a mystery Gin does almost none of the footwork to figure out about the world around him or how to fix it. The events of the movie occur jarringly fast. Plot points simply keep forcing themselves into scenes until finally you arrive at the final battle. It’s frustrating that the film is so linear and there is almost no despair to be felt in a world that was supposedly ravaged. Even as far as a Gintama arc would go, it is safe to say that this would be a very weak one. The story suffers from cliches, linearity, and unbelievable explanations to the point of boredom. The main Gintama series can do better than this story and it’s upsetting to see such little thought put into it.
The cast remains the same if not caricatured. Ultimately we learn nothing new about the cast of the entire series other than that Kagura five years in the future is stacked. There is no character development in this film, which you can expect from a side story, but there is also no new character relationships. The films characters are very static.
The soundtrack lifts nearly all songs from the main anime series and is of course very fitting because of this. Despite the contempt for innovation here the score still feels right. The animation looks vastly improved from the main series, though! Simply put, it is more fluid and provides a greater range of facial expression. The fight scenes are also animated very well, and provide for some exciting hack-and-slash entertainment. The character designs are great and should be lauded as well. The movie does a great job poking fun at some characters with the astute redesigns and pays attention to detail here with wardrobe subtleties. A fun example is Shinpachi is wearing Gin’s shirt and Kagura is wearing his robe as a skirt. If there’s an reason to see this movie it’s to see the older counterparts of each character.
Gintama Yorozuya yo Eien Nare is typical Gintama. It’s more Gintama. If you want more Gintama then watch this film. It’s nothing innovative, and it’s nothing you haven’t seen before. Some of the jokes are really funny, but mostly the films struggles with a convincing plot and frequently devolves into artificial sentimentality. I liked the film but was disappointed in it’s simplistic design, but I humbly hope Gintama returns to form with some more hotpot and Christmas episodes in April.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Gintama Movie 2: Kanketsu-hen – Yorozuya yo Eien Nare
2. Berserk: Ougon Jidai-hen III – Kourin
3. Lupin III vs. Detective Conan: The Movie
4. Hakuouki Movie 1: Kyoto Ranbu
5. Persona 3 the Movie 1: Spring of Birth