• Dark Horse (2003–ongoing)
• Hakusensha (Young Animal, 1989–ongoing)
• Seinen, Fantasy, Horror, Adventure
• 18+ (language, frequent extreme graphic violence, nudity, sex)
A blood-soaked sword-and-sorcery epic with elements of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser. In a Dark Ages of ceaseless war, a lone warrior walks the land: Guts, a one-eyed, one-armed swordsman with a giant sword and an automatic crossbow grafted onto his prosthetic arm. Half mad, shunning human contact, Guts fights the literally demonic feudal lords of Midland, seeking revenge on the friend who betrayed him and opened the gates of hell into the world. Don’t let the antiheroic violence of the opening chapters fool you—Berserk is no mere exploitation comic, it’s an almost dead-serious, epic tragedy. A lengthy flashback from volumes 3 to 14 reveals Guts’s past, from his birth under the gallows tree to his youth as a mercenary, when he fought in vast military battles and met the loves of his life. Berserk’s medieval European world of mud and blood is so realistic—and drawn in such realistic detail—that when dark fantasy elements begin to intrude upon it, they do so with a slow, dawning horror. (There are a few exceptions, such as Guts’s sidekick Puck, a winged fairy-like creature.) The story is savage in the extreme, with sexual abuse (of both genders) and elements of tentacle rape, but the most explicit scenes are timed to hit the reader with maximum emotional impact. For once, this is a manga about an angry bad-ass in which you actually understand how he got that way. The art combines close-up violent scenes drawn in splattery brushstrokes, with wide-screen shots of castles and armies drawn in intricate detail.