It’s very rare that a product is released that the staff just didn’t care about. It might seem easy to sit in an armchair snarking about how your grandmother with arthritis could produce better animation than Berserk, but the reality is that anime is hard to produce. Very hard.
The most recent target of armchair “industry experts” has been the latest adaptation of Berserk, directed by Shin Itagaki and produced by Liden Films. Now, seeing the lacklustre CGI production, along with some poor narrative pacing, fans have flooded to Director Itagaki’s MyAnimeList page, spewing abuse. In particular, the lovely “_Zwei_” wrote a letter to Shin Itagaki stating:
“You need to die for what you did to Berserk, right now.”
Some would call esteemed critics like “_Zwei_”, a ‘troll’. I prefer the terms, ‘a despicable waste of sperm’ or more simply, a ‘[REDACTED BY THE EDITOR]’. We like to think that a language barrier is enough to separate ourselves from the anime industry, but it’s been proven time and time again that members of the industry are well aware of their international coverage. Because who could resist Googling your own name?
However, it’s not just that “Zwei” along with various other finger-pointers are varying levels of asshole, it’s that it’s not entirely understood how much of a bloody miracle it is that Berserk is getting a continuous adaptation in the first place. Originally written by Kentaro Miura for Hakusensha, the series has become a cult icon. Selling very well for a monthly seinen serial, Berserk has captured a dedicated audience and even those that don’t watch it, are aware of it through reputation.
Take that last line into consideration and imagine you’re working for Hakusensha. You see, the purpose of adaptation is to boost sales of the original source material. So who needs another Berserk anime? The first one did its job, the second one reintroduced the franchise to a modern audience and they both did their job successfully.
Berserk 2016 never needed to exist, but thanks to a huge group of varying circumstances, it’s somehow managed to happen. A Japanese streaming website wanted the rights to it, NBC Universal was interested in the brand, Omega Force wanted to make a Berserk themed Dynasty Warriors game and even Ultra Super Pictures and Liden Films jumped onto the production committee just so this thing could get made. It’s a bundle of odd names and it’s doubtful that anyone ever expects to make money off it (Except Koei Tecmo, who probably have some faith in Berserk Warriors).
Berserk is a product of compromise. A deal with the devil, to be somewhat more thematic. A new adaptation could be made and it could even be a sequel, but it’s not going to be with a superstar director with a superstar writer. It’s not even going to be produced in 2D, since the best that could be managed would be a series of still-frames. Can we get Polygon Pictures? No, of course not. You get GEMBA. Who are they? Fuck knows.
Hopefully you’re getting my point here about Berserk
Berserk is on a barely sustainable production model with a 3D studio who have never produced their own series before. Even when Teekyu director Shin Itagaki is drawing good storyboards, it’s a struggle to be able to actually bring them to any meaningful life. Even the script supervisor and CG Directorial staff have very little experience with anything like this.
But it was this or nothing.
And not once have we had evidence of this being at all a product of laziness or a lack of care. So when MyAnimeList’s “LoneWolf” asks, “Is this really the best guy they could find to adapt something like Berserk? I feel like he didn’t even read the manga,” the answer is Yes.
Not only was he probably the best option under the circumstances, but he was absolutely passionate about it. He even drew several drawings on Twitter, including this one showing his excitement at having been given the opportunity.
This isn’t a “Shut up and eat what you’re given” article. This is an opportunity to reflect on the realities of anime production. It’s really really not easy and getting some products made, particularly a third anime adaptation of Berserk are the results of miracles. And by miracles, I mean bad business decisions for the benefit of anyone who’s begged to see more Berserk on TV.
Even the assholes who start sending anime directors death threats.