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[[quoteright:283:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/berserk-volume-14_2702.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:283:"Dragons are dragons because humans can't beat 'em. So, what's a man who beats dragons?"[[labelnote:Pictured]][[AntiHero Guts]], center; [[FairyCompanion Puck]], top right.[[/labelnote]]]]

->''"[[InAWorld In this world]], is the destiny of mankind controlled by some transcendental entity or law? Is it like the hand of God hovering above? At least it is true that man has no control, even over his own will."''
-->-- '''OpeningNarration'''

The [[RedBaron Black Swordsman]] walks the land, a brooding, blood-stained figure. His name is [[AntiHero Guts]], and wherever he goes, evil spirits from hell follow. Guts bears the cursed Brand of Sacrifice on the back of his neck, [[WeirdnessMagnet which attracts ghosts and demons hungry to devour him]] -- but he is also one of the strongest men in the world and carries a [[{{BFS}} very big sword]]. When the demons find him, their deaths aren't pretty.

Guts is a warrior haunted by his past, namely the tragedy that ended in the loss of his hand, his eye, and everyone he cared about. He is WalkingTheEarth seeking only one thing: {{revenge}} against [[{{Yandere}} Griffith]], [[WeUsedToBeFriends once his best friend]], who treacherously sacrificed him and all their comrades to the evil deities known as the [[BigBadDuumvirate God Hand]] in order to be reborn as their fifth member. The world is crawling with Apostles, monstrous servants of the God Hand who gave up their humanity in exchange for power. By hunting these creatures, Guts hopes to pick up the trail of Griffith and make him pay.

If any human can take on these [[TheLegionsOfHell legions of hell]], it's Guts. Born from the womb of a hanged woman and raised by a cruel mercenary as a ChildSoldier, he has spent his whole life taking [[TookALevelInBadass one level in badass after another]] in order to be tough enough to survive. He wears fearsome armor, has a [[{{Arm Cannon}} cannon-equipped iron prosthetic]] where his left hand used to be, and carries the slab-like [[{{BFS}} Dragonslayer]] sword on his back wherever he goes. Initially accompanied only by the diminutive elf [[FairyCompanion Puck]], who tries to act as a voice of conscience for the ruthless wanderer, he follows the God Hand while leaving a trail of enemy corpses in his wake.

''Berserk'' (''Beruseruku'') is an ongoing {{seinen}} manga series by Creator/KentaroMiura set in a grim MedievalEuropeanFantasy world. Beginning the action InMediasRes with the first three volumes establishing Guts, the setting, and the antagonists, the story then goes into a ''twelve-volumes-long'' flashback called the Golden Age arc which explains HowWeGotHere and reveals Guts' [[DarkAndTroubledPast painful backstory]]. Guts survives an abuse-filled childhood by becoming a prodigious fighter and lives as a lone sell-sword, until he meets the charismatic mercenary leader Griffith and his undefeated [[TrueCompanions Band of the Hawk]]. Griffith is a man with a dream of winning his own kingdom despite his common origins, and possesses an egg-shaped artifact called the [[ArtifactOfDoom crimson behelit]], which he was told will grant its owner the world in exchange for his flesh and blood. Inducted into the Band by [[DefeatMeansFriendship losing to Griffith in a duel]], Guts finds himself for the first time surrounded by companions united by Griffith's dream and loyalty to each other, and grows to view Griffith with both friendship and admiration. By turning the tide of a hundred year war in favor of the Kingdom of Midland they become the most celebrated force in the land, but a falling out between Guts and Griffith plunges the latter into despair, setting off a chain of events that ultimately brings their friendship and the Band of the Hawk to a disastrous end.

Aside from Griffith, the Golden Age arc sets up the other major characters of the series: [[TheChick Casca]], Griffith's [[ConsummateProfessional serious]] and [[ActionGirl capable]] female [[NumberTwo second-in-command]] who evolves into Guts' LoveInterest as their [[BelligerentSexualTension initially hostile relationship]] defrosts; [[TheDragon Nosferatu Zodd]], a [[NobleDemon demonic but honorable]] BloodKnight who cements the reality of demons to both Guts and Griffith; and the [[HorrifyingHero Skull Knight]], an enigmatic rider in skeletal armor who opposes the Godhand and acts as Guts' AloofAlly.

With the depressing conclusion of the Golden Age Arc, the series returns to the present day to show the deep-rooted effects of those events on Guts and the world at large. Guts is still pursing revenge against the Apostles with Puck in tow, but he has attracted the attention of a KnightTemplar named Farnese who is [[InspectorJavert determined to arrest him]] on behalf of the Church. Meanwhile, the God Hand is stirring up trouble all across the world. Pestilence and foreign invasion threaten the people of Midland, who cry out for a savior. It may be that the newly empowered Griffith intends to step in to fill this gap and work his nefarious designs. The biggest development by far, however, concerns Guts. Finding that his solitary vendetta has gotten him nowhere, Guts discovers that he has [[MyGreatestSecondChance one last chance]] to save from the ashes something--someone--that he thought he'd lost forever. But this will be the most arduous journey yet, and he will need new friends and allies if he hopes to succeed. And [[HeroicRROD even if his body can survive]] being pushed to the limit when every fight seems more impossible than the last, the blackness left on his soul from two years of seeking revenge is not about to let go of him so easily!

In serialization since 1990 with 38 volumes and counting, ''Berserk'' advertises itself as the "Number 1 Fantasy Comic" in Japan, and stands as the author's ''Magnum Opus''. Miura incorporates story and visual elements from many different media into his epic manga, which was mainly inspired by Kaoru Kurimoto's ambitious and long-running ''LightNovel/GuinSaga'' fantasy series. He loved the classics of the [[ShonenDemographic shounen genre]] including Buronson's ''Manga/FistOfTheNorthStar'', as well as two of the most dark and violent works of Creator/GoNagai, ''Manga/{{Devilman}}'' and ''Manga/ViolenceJack''. At the same time, he appreciated manga written for the ShoujoDemographic and their focus on character drama, and has called ''Berserk'' the result of his attempt to fuse the worlds of ''Fist of the North Star'' and ''Manga/RoseOfVersailles''. The latter is especially evident in his depiction of love and political intrigue in the court of Midland, and in the complicated triangular relationship between Guts, Griffith, and Casca. Lastly, Miura acknowledges the influence of action, horror, SciFi, and fantasy films from Hollywood and from some of his favorite literature in creating the look and feel of the series. His creation broke new ground because of the unique way that he combined and developed upon these influences, and ''Berserk'' has been successful enough to leave its mark on a new generation of storytellers.

Because of its frequently disturbing and graphic content, which includes child abuse, torture, sexual violence, and copious amounts of gore, this manga is NOT safe for all audiences. It's certainly not recommended for the [[NightmareFuel faint of heart]]--[[NauseaFuel or stomach]]! However, for those who dare to take it on, there's a huge payoff in thrilling action and human drama as it explores the great problems of existence, such as {{revenge}}, [[SlidingScaleOfFreeWillVsFate fate]], religion, morality, the causes of evil and suffering, the nature of an individual's hopes and dreams, and the various ways that people cope with living in a cruel world. The depth and atmosphere of the setting, the engrossing plot, the psychological complexity of the characters, and the [[AwesomeArt virtuosity of Miura's art]] are all reasons that ''Berserk'' has attracted many loyal fans. Having said upfront that there's a lot of pain ahead, it would be just as wrong to misrepresent it as consisting of nothing but angst and gloom, since this series can sometimes offer inspiring examples of human resilience when you least expect it. It also contains a surprising amount of humor. As of February 2016, the manga has [[http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2016-02-04/new-berserk-anime-is-tv-series-that-premieres-in-july/.98320 40 million copies in print worldwide]].

The manga has also spawned numerous adaptations in different media, which cover various parts of the story and often substantially [[AdaptationExpansion expand]], [[CompressedAdaptation compress]], or [[AdaptationDistillation change]] its content:

* ''Anime/Berserk1997'', the first work to adapt the manga, is a twenty-five episode anime with animation by [[OLMIncorporated Oriental Light and Magic]] that aired from October 7, 1997 to March 31, 1998. It covers the Golden Age Arc after starting off with a short prologue in the Black Swordsman Arc; the main differences are that Puck and the Skull Knight get AdaptedOut, and the ending after the Eclipse leaves more questions unanswered than in the manga. Despite modest production values it's quite well done and regarded as a classic.
* ''VideoGame/SwordOfTheBerserkGutsRage'', the first of two [[LicensedGame licensed videogames]] developed by Yuke's which featured the anime's voice actors. The original Japanese version titled ''Berserk Millennium Falcon Arc: Chapter of the Flowers of Oblivion'' came out on the Sega Dreamcast in 1999, while the English localization by Creator/EidosInteractive re-titled ''Sword of the Berserk'' had its North American release in 2000. ''Sword of the Berserk'' is an {{Interquel}} utilizing an original scenario and characters created by Miura and set between volumes 22 and 23 of the manga.
* ''VideoGame/BerserkMillenniumFalconHenSeimaSenkiNoSho'', the second videogame made by Yuke's, came out on the Playstation 2 on October 7, 2004. Unlike ''Sword of the Berserk'', it was only realeased in Japan and Korea with [[NoExportForYou no English localization]]. It adapts volumes 22 to 27 of the manga, covering the titular ''Chapter of the Holy Demon War'', but also adds an original sub-plot where a child-like Apostle named Charles forces Guts to confront and fight apparitions of his fallen comrades from the Band of the Hawk.
* ''Anime/BerserkTheGoldenAgeArc'' is an anime film trilogy covering the Golden Age Arc, featuring animation production by Creator/Studio4C. The first, second, and third installments came out on February 4th, 2012; June 23rd, 2012; and February 1st, 2013, respectively. The films generate mixed opinions, as they were relatively lavish on the production side, but relied on ConspicuousCG to animate large battles, and significantly compressed the plot and character development in order to fit everything into three movies.
* ''Anime/Berserk2016'', the first anime sequel to the Golden Age Arc, aired in 12 episodes during the Summer2016Anime season, with simulcasting rights in the West licensed by Crunchyroll. This one is produced by LIDEN Films, with animation production by studios GEMBA and Millepensee, and combines a bit of the Black Swordsman Arc with the second and third chapters of the Conviction Arc. Animated mostly in 3D with passages of 2D mixed in, it's been quite controversial among the fans. A second season will air in Spring 2017.
* ''VideoGame/BerserkAndTheBandOfTheHawk'', known in Japan as ''Beruseruku Musō'' (ベルセルク無双 ), is a ''Franchise/DynastyWarriors''-style videogame adaptation produced by Koei Tecmo and developed by Omega Force. It covers the story from the Golden Age Arc to the Millennium Falcon Arc, and--as in the main ''Dynasty Warriors'' series--players can choose one of several characters and fight against waves of enemies while completing mission objectives on a large battlefield. It was released in Japan on October 27, 2016, for the [=PlayStation=] 4, [=PlayStation=] 3, and the [=PlayStation=] Vita; It will be released in North America and Europe on February 21 and February 24 of 2017, respectively, for the [=PlayStation=] 4, the [=PlayStation=] Vita, and the PC via Steam.

There are several other works apart from those already mentioned that may be of interest to those who like this franchise. One is ''Manga/OokamiNoKuchiWolfsmund'', penned by one of Miura's former assistants Mitsuhisa Kuji, a dark medieval story emphasizing history rather than fantasy. Another is ''Manga/{{Claymore}}'', a story about half-demon female warriors who hunt shape-shifting monsters using [[{{BFS}} giant swords]]. The video games ''VideoGame/DemonsSouls'' and ''VideoGame/DarkSouls'' also tend to enjoy overlap with ''Berserk'' in popularity, as they share a similarly grim and fatalistic fantasy atmosphere. For a short, action-packed demon-slaying story by Miura's friend Shizuya Wazarai with an art style similar to ''Berserk'''s early volumes, try ''Manga/BlasterKnuckle''. See also ''LightNovel/ReZero'', which in later arcs is being seen as the ''Berserk'' of LightNovels in terms of tone, themes and suffering.

Be careful not confuse this work with the similarly named classic arcade game ''VideoGame/{{Berzerk}}'' or with the 1967 B-horror movie ''Film/Berserk1967''.

'''WARNING: Do not read the spoilers if you have only watched the anime or the movie trilogy, unless you are prepared to risk ruining your enjoyment of the manga; from here on out, spoilers will also include information about the latest releases. In addition, we cannot guarantee that all potential spoilers will be in spoiler tags. Read at your own risk.'''
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!!They were much too big to be called Tropes. Massive, thick, heavy, and far too rough. Indeed, they were like a heap of raw folders:

[[index]]
* [[Berserk/TropesAToD Tropes A-D]]
* [[Berserk/TropesEToH Tropes E-H]]
* [[Berserk/TropesIToP Tropes I-P]]
* [[Berserk/TropesQToT Tropes Q-T]]
* [[Berserk/TropesUToZ Tropes U-Z]]
[[/index]]

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->'''[[TheStinger John Avner (As Narrator)]]''': In this world, for—
->'''Director:''' Uh uh, that's all John. We don't need that stuff anymore, the show's over.
->'''John''': Who are you!? I am the Hand of God hovering abo—
->'''Director''': No, no, John, John, thanks, that'll be all.
->'''John''': No! You have no control! Not even your own will!
->'''Director''': Ohwoahwoahwoahwoah! No, uh, it's the end of the series, that's—that's the last episode.
->'''John''': But this is...my will...
->'''Director''': John, would you please get out of the booth?
->'''John''': Who is John, I am the Hand of God, hovering—hey-get your hands off—