I’m a sucker for Kentarou Miura’s Berserk and its epic bloody battles in a dark fantasy setting. Back in 2016, a new Berserk anime series debuted, marking the series’ return to animated form. One of the main criticisms leveled at the modern release was the heavy use of CG in the animation, a point I’ve brought up in my own review of the 2016 Berserk anime. What I’ve learned is that the new Berserk 2016 Blu Ray set remedies some of those problems by featuring redrawn/hand animated scenes and full NSFW uncensored glory. After much google-fu, I’ve also found out a US release of Berserk 2016 uncensored on Blu Ray is scheduled for January 2018 by Funimation, with preorder price set at $48.74.
Digging around a bit it looks like you can get the discs a little cheaper (around $5 cheaper) on Amazon.
Regular Blu-Ray set – Includes the discs and the box set sleeve.
Limited Edition Set – According to RightStuff, it includes “a rigid chipboard box with specialty print featuring Japanese cover art and a 4-panel digipac featuring a spread of character art.” The box definitely looks bigger in the product photo.
One of the causes of lackluster animation is a tight schedule to meet television release deadlines. With the Blu Ray sets, the animation teams get extra time to improve the worst offending parts. The reality of getting things just good enough to air, then fixing it later sucks, but what can you do when you have limited time and budget to produce a show in time for television?
Yeah, you want some visual proof of the improvements. Don’t worry, I got some comparative gifs for your viewing pleasure.
Berserk vs Berserk
CG animation has an issue with faces–it looks robotic and cold unless special care is taken with it. The version aired on TV definitely did not have that extra attention paid to it. Check out this comparison of the Blu Ray and the original to see how much warmer the hand drawn animation is.
I’d complained about this before, but I felt that several scenes were on the cost cutting crosshairs when it came to the dynamics of the animation. Some parts were simply a static image with the camera panning over it–cheap filler material. The Blu Ray remedies some of that with added movement that you’ll notice in the following comparison
Want to see a side by side comparison on video? Youtube user Marty has got you covered:
Toss in Some Extras
The Japanese first press Blu Ray releases feature some original artwork by Kentarou Miura for the covers. These special first press limited editions throw in extras that sweeten the deal, according to Otaku Tale:
- A special illustration cover (above) drawn by Miura
- A draft of a side story by Miura
- A booklet containing screenplays and storyboards
- A three way case drawn by character designer Hisashi Abe
- Priority ticket sales for a future event
- An OST CD
- Uncredited Opening and Ending sequences
Unfortunately, for buyers of the US Blu Ray release by Funimation, almost none of those extras are thrown in:
- Promo Videos
- Textless Opening & Closing Songs
However, for about 20 more bucks you can get a few extras with the Limited Edition. According to RightStuff, it includes “a rigid chipboard box with specialty print featuring Japanese cover art and a 4-panel digipac featuring a spread of character art.” The box definitely looks bigger in the product photo.
The Blu Ray sets also includes DVD if you don’t have something that can play Blu Ray.
The Blu Ray Season 1 set cover design looks fairly similar to the cover for the Japanese volume 1 release though, which is nice. You should also consider that the Japanese volume 1 Blu Ray is $148–almost $100 more than the US Blu Ray–while only containing the first half of the season.
When’s the US Release?
Looking to buy? You’ll have to wait for the US release, but you can buy the Japanese box sets right now from Amazon’s Japan site. Funimation will be distributing a US release on January 16, 2018, with preorders currently available at the price of $48.74.
Or buy a Berserk Blu Ray set with these Amazon links. It’s a few bucks cheaper than the Funimation site’s price.
The story behind the US release is a bit complicated. Currently, CrunchyRoll has the rights to simulcast the Berserk anime series at the same time as the Japanese airings. Last summer, during July’s Anime Expo, the company confirmed they would be releasing the series on Blu Ray and DVD. The release of Berserk and several other anime series marked CrunchyRoll’s entry into the home video market. In the fall of 2016, after that summer announcement, CrunchyRoll revealed that they would be partnering with Funimation to distribute and share their respective properties. Fast forward to March of this year, when Funimation announced they had acquired the Berserk Season 1 dub by Bang Zoom! Entertainment and you finally had a situation ripe for the US Blu Ray home release to happen. Now, we finally have our confirmed US release date of January 16th, 2018.
Volume 1 of the Japanese Berserk anime was released in October of 2016, so it’s already been over 1 year that North American fans have been waiting. If we count just from March 2017, when Funimation acquired the Season 1 dub, and go to the scheduled January 2018 release, the production time for the Blu Ray release totals about 10 months. I’m hoping Season 2 won’t take so long.
For comparison purposes, if we look at timeline of the Viz Media North American release of the Berserk: The Golden Age Blu Ray sets, those were released half a year after the Japanese versions were released. More specifically, the Japanese version of the first movie arc was released in May 2012 while the North American version was released at the end of November 2012, a wait time of about 6 months.
Hope for a Traditionally Animated Season 3?
Perhaps even more exciting is rumors of a Season 3 that will be fully animated in a more traditional 2D manner, instead of a bunch of CG uncanny valley moments. People have pointed to the final minutes of Season 2 being the direction that the animation will progress in. Now that would be a definite buy on Blu Ray.
We can only hope.[Article updated on 2/14/18]
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A graduate of SFSU with degrees in Marketing and English Literature, he's got experience working in digital marketing agencies, startups, and in his own freelance ventures wearing a multitude of hats in every role. He's currently upping his technical game with a Udacity Nanodegree program in front end web development.