By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Dark Horse Comics continued releasing of translated manga has spanned decades, and most of my collection owes a huge debt to them. Coming on February 27, 2019 will be a deluxe hardcover release of Kentaro Miura’s Berserk manga (see image for preorder link) and just when I thought all the He-Man or Legend of Zelda hardcovers were massive, this compendium is a couple of pages more. Plus, it’s a start to a massive commitment to a series which began publication around 1988.
Whether this company’s decision to print them all is up in the air, to read the story (and look at all the blood and carnage contained within) in all its visceral glory, has me interested. The mature and adult content in this series is not for everyone, but I tend to ignore the hentai aspects of the world and focus on the hero’s journey. In how it differs greatly from the 90s anime–which introduced me to Guts, a lone mercenary, out to do what he feels right–I had to explore. Like the Berserkers of Nordic lore, the rage that wells within gives him supernatural powers; this premise is enough to entice me to read.
The original series was a sanitized version of the manga. It was not as violent and the changes were done with the creator’s approval. It was an adaptation of the Black Swordsman arc and emphasized comradeship over exploring the darker aspects of human nature. Curiosity often kills the cat, and in my case, I’ve often wondered what I was missing. The series changed all that, and I was cool with it. The art style kept me glued.
With the print edition, the original manga, I can enjoy studying the exquisite detail Miura’s put into his work. I’m still working through reading as I really want to appreciate the nuances of Guts epic journey. He’s comparable to Conan the Barberian and at times, both have pasts they truly want to escape from. Back in Japan, the stories are still being churned out. When I last checked, it’s up to 356 chapters!
To finally see the differences between the anime and manga is certainly worth the wait. As this company continues to impress with its dedication to bringing popular manga from Japan to western audiences, I’m still waiting to hear about plans with titles that has run its course. Sazan Eyes finished its run decades ago, and only the first three volumes were ever translated. What’s Michael started as a series in Super Manga Blast before getting the softcover treatment, and I would love to see a compendium. Although the fan base is nowhere as big, I would love to see Dark Horse revisit some past works so I can reorganize my collection. Since Berserk is a start, I see no other reasons on why they can not do the same with other titles.