Berserk (Manga) Review

Berserk (Manga) Review

The Highest-Rated Manga of All Time

Berserk (ベルセルク) is the highest-rated manga of all time. And, it’s not even close. If we look at MyAnimeList, it has an average score of 9.47/10. The second-place manga is Jojo’s Part 7 with a 9.30. That might seem close, but it’s not. A difference of 0.17 is huge.

For comparison, let’s look at the highest-rated anime. Right now, it’s Frieren with a 9.17. But, that’s still airing so we can’t trust its rating. Many airing anime have reached the #1 spot before falling. The next two highest are FMA: Brotherhood with 9.09 and Steins;Gate with 9.07 — only a 0.02 difference.

Oh, and in case Berserk’s #1 ranking isn’t enough, it’s also the most popular manga on MyAnimeList. Ranking is how highly a manga is rated. Popularity is how many people have read it. So, more people have read Berserk than any other manga — even Attack on Titan and One Piece (the next two most popular).

Now, with all that said, I actually don’t think Berserk is the best manga I’ve read. But, in this review, I’m going to discuss each of the five major arcs and give my thoughts on them.

Black Swordsman Arc (Chapters 0-8)

Berserk Volume 1 manga cover art
Berserk Volume 1

The first arc of the series, the Black Swordsman arc, is also the shortest. However, it’s not the first chronologically. This is actually a look into the future, between the Golden Age and Conviction arcs. So, we get to see a glimpse of where the story’s going to be headed.

Since this arc is so short, not all that much happens in it. We’re introduced to Guts and Puck. Guts defeats two Apostles of the Godhand. And, we get the introduction of the five members of the Godhand — the main antagonists of the series.

Overall, this is a pretty strong start to the series. I like when we’re thrown right into the action from the start. But, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. One issue I have with it is the mere existence of Puck. This might be blasphemy to other Berserk fans, but I don’t like Puck.

Also, I get that this is only the first few chapters. But, Guts isn’t exactly a very interesting character here. I saw someone claiming that he never develops throughout the series — and that’s simply not true. But, if you only read the beginning, I can see how you’d think he’s one-dimensional.

Golden Age Arc (Chapters 9-94)

Berserk Volume 5 manga cover art
Berserk Volume 5

The Golden Age arc is the second arc of the series and my personal favorite. This is the only arc I’d rate as a 10/10. It’s what I consider peak Berserk — which is kind of weird to say since it’s pretty different than the rest of the series.

This is the arc covering Guts’s origin story and the major events that made him who he is. From a young age, all Guts has known is the battlefield. And one day, he’s recruited into the Band of the Falcon by Griffith — a man who wants to create his own kingdom.

I think what makes this arc so great is all the characters within the Band of the Falcon and how they interact with each other. Also, it features a lot of large-scale battles between armies, which is cool. Oh, and Puck doesn’t exist in this arc, which I loved. But, the highlight of the arc comes at the end.

The golden age ends with an event known as the Eclipse. Without getting into major spoilers, everything changes on the day of the Eclipse. Guts, Griffith, and the Band of the Falcon will never be the same.

Conviction Arc (Chapters 95-176)

Berserk Volume 18 manga cover art
Berserk Volume 18

The Conviction arc is my second favorite arc of the series. It’s pretty much a longer version of the Black Swordsman arc, which therefore makes it better. But, it’s not as good as the Golden Age arc. Puck is back and the focus is no longer on the Band of the Falcon.

This arc is all about rescuing Casca and Guts’s determination to defeat Griffith. That’s cool. I like that. It also introduces some new main characters: Isidro, Farnese, and Serpico. But, I have mixed feelings about these additions. To me, they’re what starts bringing the series down.

Like Puck, Isidro is mostly a comedic relief character, which I don’t like in this series. And, I don’t know if I can explain why, but I don’t like Serpico either. He annoys me. But then, we have Farnese. When Farnese was introduced, I had very high hopes for her.

She’s originally an enemy of Guts and is hunting him down on behalf of the Holy See. She’s also a sadomasochist, which is awesome. But, neither of those things lasts beyond about the first half of this arc. She becomes an ally of guts, stops being kinky, and becomes a boring wimp.

Falcon of the Millennium Empire Arc (Chapters 177-307)

Berserk Volume 22 manga cover art
Berserk Volume 22

The Falcon of the Millennium Empire arc (or Millennium Falcon arc, for short) is the longest arc, so far. Fantasia might surpass it, but isn’t complete yet. Apparently, this is a popular arc. But, it’s actually my least favorite of the five that exist.

In this arc, Isidro, Farnese, and Serpico officially join Guts on his journey. And, Schierke and Ivalera join, as well. Schierke is a young witch and is currently my favorite of Guts’s companions. Ivalera is an elf and is there for comic relief like Puck and Isidro (so I don’t care for her).

This is really the arc where Farnese becomes boring. I mentioned Casca earlier, but she was a former Band of the Falcon member like Guts. And, back then, she was a very cool character. But now, her mind has reverted to that of a child and Farnese is her babysitter.

So, that’s not exactly what I like to see. But, what I did like to see is how Schierke shakes up the dynamic of the entire series by introducing magic. Unfortunately, that’s also counteracted by a lot of the monster horde fights in this arc being long and repetitive.

Fantasia Arc (Chapters 308-Present)

Berserk Volume 38 manga cover art
Berserk Volume 38

The Fantasia arc is the current arc — and should be completed eventually. But, it was delayed for quite a while after the death of Kentarou Miura in 2021. One of his close friends is working with the rest of Miura’s team to complete the manga.

Now, Fantasia isn’t my least favorite arc. But, it starts off with content I didn’t like very much. The beginning of this arc has a lot of the same drawn-out, repetitive monster horde fights that we got in the Millennium Falcon arc. I didn’t enjoy all the pirate and sea monster stuff.

However, the “second half” is better. Guts’s party makes its way to Elfhelm, the island home of the elves. And there, Casca’s memories are restored. Since I was a big fan of Casca in the Golden Age arc, I was glad to see her “return” in this arc.

Also, this arc is setting up for the major battle between Guts’s group and Griffith’s new kingdom. Until this arc, Griffith focused on consolidating his power and taking out his rivals. But now, he’s changing the entire world as we know it. And, it’s clear that he realizes he’ll need to fight Guts (again) at some point.

Final Thoughts

As a whole, I’m going to give Berserk a 9/10. If I averaged my scores for each arc, it would likely end up as an 8. But, that would be a bit misleading since the arcs don’t exist in a vacuum. I also have to take into consideration the overall story and character development.

I’ll probably revisit the Berserk manga when it finishes. That is if this blog still exists in 10+ years when that happens. But, considering I’m still going strong after over 6 years, that seems possible.

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Finally, I’d like to thank Roman and JasonHK for supporting at the Heika tier this month. To learn more about the perks of supporting this blog, check out

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