These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Base Breaker: You guessed it: Griffith. On one side, you have the fans that admire him because of all of the outstanding things that he has done over the course of the story. They see him as a three-dimensional and complex character who can't quite be called "evil", making the argument that his Lack of Empathy actually makes him Above Good and Evil (and come on - he's gorgeous looking!). But on the flip side, you have the fans that detest (or at least acknowledge that he's bad news if they still like him) this guy because his actions are ones only the truly evil would commit. That, and they see him as a guy who ruined himself because he had a pissy temper tantrum for losing a battle ONCE. Again, the whole fanbase is split over this.
Broken Base: As stated above, everything surrounding Griffith breaks like fine china. Also, there seems to be skirmishes of who's the biggest and most hideously vile villain in this series: Femto or Emperor Ganishka. And there are other debates, like the "does the recent Lighter and Softer shift in the series mean that Berserk is going downhill?" debate.
Come for the X, Stay for the Y: Many fans were introduced to Berserk from just hearing other people regale how horribly violent and gruesome the story is. If one is able to survive that much, you'll most likely end up sticking around just to see how the characters that you've grown to love (or hate) will fair through for the duration of the story. This describes a sizeable portion of the fanbase. The other portion? Well, we'll get to that below.
The new film trilogy's soundtracks are looking pretty promising with such tracks as "Blood and Guts", which perfectly captures the tragic essence of Guts' character.
Damsel Scrappy: Oh, Charlotte. The post-Eclipse Casca notably avoids this status, due to being a massive Woobie.
Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: The setting is so very crapsack and the Anti-Hero protagonist tending to be both really morally questionable and hopelessly overpowered by the main villains, not to mention the arguably gratuitous rape and violence, means people can simply get bored of the darkness. It does get better later in the manga, though.
Don't you see? He did it all for her own good because it was what she always wanted from him! It was out of love!
Dork Age: A lot of fans don't enjoy the first three volumes. Other of us find it refreshing to read something about a protagonist with absolutely no moral compass.
Some fans aren't liking the current arc that much either.
A number of the most vocal fans consider the story to be only the Golden Agenote which starts on the last chapter of Volume 3 and ends about 2/3 of the way through Volume 13 – some 10 volumes in total, and absolutely nothing else, completely dismissing the entire rest of the story. Please note that at this point the Golden Age now makes up less than a third of the story's total runtime.
Ear Worm: The Engrish opening song from the anime, it'll stay in your head for a while, love it or hate it.
Luca, the Hooker with a Heart of Gold, who took care of Casca after she was separated from Guts. Despite her limited role, she is still vividly remembered and liked by most fans who often wish she would have joined Guts in his quest.
Also Judeau is liked by most fans and fondly remembered despite a small role in the series.
Slan is the most popular member of the Godhand due to her large... assets.
People still remember Theresia and expect her to make a return, even to this day. She hasn't been seen or even mentioned in over 20 years.
It could also be that the series has a surprisingly large number of strong and/or interesting female characters, especially after the Golden Age arc ends.
Casca may seem nowadays a textbook example of an Affirmative Action Girl, but her realism and complexity was groundbreaking at the time. To this day she has lots of fans, eagerly waiting for her return to badassery.
Evil Is Cool: Admit it: As much as we utterly hate him, Femto might be the coolest-looking villain in the Berserkerverse.
Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Invoked by a few characters, such as when Guts told a young boy who he saved/used as bait during the Lost Children Arc that revenge felt good and that he should try it sometime, or when Gambino told Guts in the Boyhood Arc that you're safest when you trust your own actions and not others, not even your own parents'.
Some fans also disregard Wyald's presence in the story, saying that he was just an unnecessary sexist and violent addition to a storyline that would have made just as much sense - if not more - without him raping up a storm.
Well, it's never been officially conveyed, but you can get a buttload of Judeo-Christian symbolism out of Berserk depending on how you look at it, starting with the part where both Guts and Griffith can be interpreted as messiah-like figures.
As mentioned in chapter 287 of the manga, Guts always seems to be saving Casca whenever she is near water. Whether this is suppose to mean something or just a Running Gag has not been explained yet...
Freud Was Right: Most apostles and other Eldritch Abomination types look like genitals, fetuses, or woodlice. Guts also holds his ridiculously huge sword at crotch level throughout the series.
Rosine's One-Winged Angel form places what remains of her human body inside what looks disturbingly like a vagina.
Ever take a look-see at Slan's corset? NSFW. Granted she's a BDSM sex goddess of evil, but you'll never look at her the same again.
Volume 34 is probably sixty percent double-page spreads depicting events of unbelievable scale and badassery. Two-mile-tall Physical God crushing entire battalions under its foot? Check. The most powerful Apostles in the world ripping through untold thousands of Eldritch Abominations, backed up by virtually every human army in the known world? Check. Griffith surfing Zodd onto the head of the aforementioned god in an attempt to kill it? Check. Add the Skull Knight showing up from nowhere and taking care of the problem (with a stroke meant for Griffith) and a massive magical shockwave that consumes the entire planet and releases mythological creatures all across its surface, and you have a book that might just kill an unprepared reader.
Come now: do you really want to get into another discussion about Griffith's questionable sexual orientation (up to and including GutsxGriffith pairing)?
Griffith's morality tends to incite debates, as well (see Broken Base above.)
God forbid if you get into the "Casca is a bitchy whore" debate. Depending on what forum you're on, you'll either come across Griffith sympathists and Guts idolizers who slam Casca for basically being a woman (4chan), or you'll go into Casca-worship territory where such sexist behavior is not tolerated (Tumblr).
It's the Same, Now It Sucks: A major criticism of The New Tens film trilogy adaptation is that it adapts the same manga plot arc as The Nineties' television anime series, but in roughly half the running time, meaning that several subplots and minor characters had to be cut or massively condensed. So It's the Same, But Less of It, Now It Sucks, and fans who have been waiting for decades to see post-Eclipse content animated get to keep on waiting. It doesn't help that the animation isn't much better than it was fifteen years ago, just uneven in a different way (with stiff, low-poly CG models replacing copious amounts of still frames).
Griffith can be considered one of these while he is being tortured in Midland's dungeons and after the Band of the Hawks rescues him. (Up until the events of the Eclipse, it's hard not to want to hug him and/or punch him in the face. However, he emphatically isn't a woobie afterwards.)
Also Guts, given his backstory, it's understandable why he became a revenge-obsessed jerk.
Even The Scrappy Nina can technically count as this because her two-faced behavior seems to be driven by fear rather than outright malice. And given the Crapsack World she lives in, she is quite justified in being afraid. Also, she's aware of what a horrible person she is, which is quite sad.
Just Here for Godzilla: So, the other portion of the fanbase who aren't here for the story are mainly in it for the gratuitous violence and rape, character development be damned. So disgruntled some of these fans are for the shift in mood that the story has recently taken up that they actually go so far as to say that the lack of 1-2 rapes scenes every other volume is killing the story. Yup you heard right.
Griffith'sFace-Heel Turn during the Eclipse, Mozgus's torture of innocent refugees, Gambino's selling of young Guts to the pedophile Donovan for three silver coins, everything Ganishka does...
Everything that each Apostle does.
Rosine needs to be mentioned here. Not because she herself is so evil (compared to her peers, she is actually rather nice) but because the Godhand has the nerve to hand out behelits to little girls who cannot possibly be expected to fully comprehend what they are doing.
Narm: An Apostle from the Eclipse that killed Judeau has a silly appearance that can not be taken seriously.
During the Conviction Arc a horde of zombies attacks Guts. They first call him "jerk".
In the second movie; Charlotte's over the top reaction to Griffith merely touching her breast.
This probably doesn't cross our minds much, since we're too busy being horrified at what he does, but has anyone ever processed that Femto is so evil that he's literally made of evil? Even his friggin' semen. It not only totally compels a developing zygote to go to the dark side, but it also makes said zygote rapidly develop into a six week old embryo straight into an eighteen week old fetus all in under about four days, adding the fact that the semen is a mutagen. If Femto's semen can do all that, just think of what his spit is capable of doing. It'd probably change the whole coarse of evolution. And that's kinda scary. Not to mention he seems to have an infinite supply of the stuff. There was a sick, almost voyeuristic aspect to Griffith forcing Guts to watch as he raped Casca, as if he wanted Guts to watch him (Griffith) having sex, albeit very violent and vile.
Everyone, everything, and every entity is out to get you in this world, so you really can't trust anybody but yourself to be extra safe. And even that's stretching it!
One particular horrifying source of paranoia fuel is how some people who have already become apostles, and therefore have already sacrificed at least one person, might be keeping other people around them as "spares"... In the event that they need to renew their life again. What makes this so disturbing from the get go is that those chosen by the behelits don't sacrifice you because they hate you, but because they love and care about you. How screwed up is that?!
Periphery Demographic: While statistics aren't clear, Berserk does have a female minority fandom that isn't completely composed of girls who are in it for the guys (to see the flip side, see above). It's probably because Berserk is one of the more "female friendly" Seinen series (considering what you call "friendly" in this world), with the series having a good romantic focus, but also a lot of realistic Character Development, cynical realism, non-flat female characters who aren't there only for Fanservice purposes and an ever evolving story plot that you just can't get from a lot of Shoujo.
Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Farnese. Her initial appearances see her doing little else besides getting in Guts' way and acting like a hypocrite, and even after she joins Guts, she tends to be The Load. She gradually starts getting better as she has to help protect Caska and gets to know Scheirke better, but she really proves herself to have changed when they reach Vritannis. She essentially allows herself to be married off so that the rest of the group can get a ship, and shortly after she attempts to fend off a demonic tiger with nothing but a silver candelabra, demonstrating clearly that she's finally taking initiative for herself.
Romantic Plot Tumor: Inverted, possibly due to the Schedule Slip and myth stall. Some fans complain that Miura is focusing too much on Guts fighting random enemies and monsters and less on just getting Guts and his team to Elfhelm so that Casca can get cured.
Puck for breaking the fourth wall and generally subverting the Grim Dark tone. Worse than ever now that Guts' band of True Companions has grown large enough that subtler comic relief can be found elsewhere, leaving him with little to do but go chibi and make pop culture references that are lost on a non-Japanese readership.
Nina from the Conviction Arc. Being a spineless, indecisive, emotional and painfully weak-willed character who partakes in the worshipping of Slan, many readers hate her even more for making it out of the arc alive.
The Pirates have also entered this, mostly for being overused and heavily associated with the current arc.
Ship-to-Ship Combat: Though they tend to be small and localized, the Berserk fandom nevertheless falls victim to the occasional Shipping War, the biggest armadas being the U.S.S. Gutsca (Guts/Casca) and the H.M.S. G x G (Guts/Griffith). Some skirmishes go as followed:
Fan-Preferred Couple: Despite being little Ship Tease between Serpico and Farnese and the fact that they're half-siblings, Serpico/Farnese is still a popular pairing within the Berserk fandom. Even though she's arranged to marry Roderick, there's not much approval for that pairing in the Berserk fandom.
Despite its length in time, Berserk seldom drops any Anvil. However, when it does, it's rather upfront and direct about it. Aesops that the story conveys include:
There's a huge difference between what God is and what people want or believe Him to be.
Everything you do has an effect on you or your surroundings. Everything.
Fighting destiny is all well and good, but even a Determinator isn't assured to win in the end. It can go either way. Fate isn't always victorious but neither is willpower, no matter how strong.
There is no external reward for good actions. The only reason to do the right thing is because you choose to. Do not expect the universe to give you a pat on the head, or even refrain from kicking your ass. Likewise, there is no external punishment for wrong actions. The only reason not to screw your neighbor in the most horrific way possible is because you choose not to. (Interestingly, The Bible expressed much the same sentiment in Matthew, often quoted as "the sun shines on the righteous and unrighteous alike.")
That One Level: From the same game, the sequence where you have to run down a corridor ahead of the mandragora tentacles smashing through it behind you. Depending on the difficulty level you're allowed either at most 3, 1, or NO slip-ups before being instantly killed and the part where you have to run TOWARDS the camera is particularly annoying. It's quite plausible to beat the preceding boss without losing a single life, only to lose ALL your lives at once on this one sequence.
Ugly Cute: The Child in his demon form. Yes, he's squeamish, malformed, and was created under the most horrible circumstances, but you gotta remember that he is still a baby. So you notice that he still retains the infant-like chubbyness, puckered lips, and he even crawls like a five month old (in one panel, he crawls up to Casca's chest and laps up the blood from her brand as a twisted parallel to breastfeeding)! Call him a "freak" if you must, but he is an adorable one! ... Or maybe I'm the freak for actually noticing this.
Mozgus says that all what he does is just God's will, and he did give some freaks a second chance, but he still believes that starving refugees and torturing them for the sake of it is perfectly justified.
It might give one a really weird, even disturbing, feeling when reading volume 9 where Guts described how Gambino sold him out to Donovan as a child prostitute or just how he was treated like shit by this complete asshole his entire childhood... and Guts doesn't say one bad thing about Gambino, a guy who downright said that the kid disgusted him and that he should have died instead of Sys (who was one of the few people who truly loved Guts in his whole life, along with Casca and a few of the Hawks Raiders and Guts' new True Companions in a hero-worship-y kinda way), just leaving little Guts utterly heartbroken to tears. Just looking at how a guy who runs on rage when fighting monsters, seethes with hatred toward the man who betrayed him in the same fashion, and is brutal toward anyone who gets in his way (for better goals or for not so good goals) and how he doesn't show any animosity toward the man who orchestrated such an horrific, traumatizing evil kinda says that if there is one magical entity that needs to manifest itself, now that the magic has come back to the world, it's counselors.
Griffith. Dear, dear, Griffith. If you absolutely had to go throw away all of your hard-earned work by sleeping with the princess you should have at least taken Lupin'sadvice and take an alternative route.
Also, when the King stormed into Charlotte's bedroom the next morning and uncovered some blood stains in her bed from her hymen being broken, she could have saved herself some trouble by saying that her period just started. It might have only had a 50-50 chance of convincing the King with all of the other evidence present, but some guys just stop with no questions asked when a girl starts talking about her time of the month.
Griffith left a ton of evidence behind that Charlotte couldn't have possibly explained to her father, besides getting caught while trespassing. With the maid's testimony, the water tracked on the floor from Griffith coming in through the bedroom window, and the love bites on Charlotte's body, the King knew exactly what those stained sheets meant. Quite simply, Griffith's magnificent bastard skills deserted him that night.
Both Guts and Casca qualify, especially post-Eclipse. As mentioned before, they just can't catch a break at all.
Jill. Let's see she has abusive parents, has to deal with her father's drunken friends, her best friend wants to turn her into an elf whether she likes it or not, and she lives in the Berserk Universe.
Pre-Eclipse Griffith, after sleeping with Charlotte. Yes, he wasn't innocent and had serious Yandere overtones, but still. He got tortured for years, horrifically, just merely because he beat the king in deflowering her, then he became a powerless cripple in And I Must Scream situation. Then the Eclipse happened, he saw his former friend happen there (and yet knew exactly what was going to happen but was powerless to stop him) and he was Mind Raped into betraying his former friend. Femto/Griffith, however...
Theresia. Her mother was murdered. Her father become an evil demon and locked her in a room for most of her life. When she finally escaped her prison, it got even worse.
The Egg of the Perfect World. He was a deformed outcast who abused by the residents of St. Albion and forced to live in a hole full of dead bodies to protect himself. After he obtained his Behelit and become an Apostle, he wanted to create the perfect world. To do so, he sacrifices his life to give birth to Griffith.
The Baby. It's one thing to be born into the Berserkerverse, it's a more horrifying thing to be born into it under the worst circumstances imaginable. If none of this had happened, he would have been a normal little kid growing up with his parents - and they probably would not have made bad parents either. This whole family is just one. Big. Woobie.
Shit, every ordinary person in the Berserk universe probably qualifies.
Trapped by Mountain Lions: A Justified example. We frequently see full acts in the circus performing while they serve as little more than Padding. However it works because it does raise tension as to whether or not the killer will strike then, especially during the elephants' act.