The first story arc (two sections) in Berserk Volume 37 ties up Guts’ epic battle with the gigantic whale sea god and gains the travelers the aid of the mermaids to guide them to Elf Island; however, instead of continuing the journey to seek healing for Casca on the island, the storyline backtracks to Guts’ past as a very young mercenary. The three-section plot shows the warrior’s kind side as he befriends and tries to free a tiny flower spirit he meets while briefly imprisoned. It also reveals that his biggest weakness is children, perhaps because Guts didn’t have the best childhood. The final plot in this volume introduces Griffith’s new base of operations, Falconia (previously known as Windham). His army rescues a group of refugees fleeing from the monsters that have taken over the world including a young man named Rickert who was part of Guts’ and Griffith’s former mercenary group, the Band of the Hawk. While the majority of the soldiers are human Griffith utilizes monsters of various types to increase his numbers including Irvine, a powerful non-human archer who is the only one who can face down the deadly cockatrice intent on killing the refugees.
Readers who have followed every volume of Berserk may see the pattern of these three diverse storylines, but as someone who watched portions of the anime ten to fifteen years ago, I was quite confused by how the three pieces fit together as a whole; however, each was interesting and kept me intrigued, although I scratched my head as to why these parts were matched in one volume.
Another source of confusion for me was why the Japanese word for mermaid, ningyo, was translated as “merrow” in the text. The most likely explanation is that the author, Miura, chose to create a new word by indicating a separate pronunciation in the Japanese text; however, I didn’t see a need for the new term since traditional fantasy terms were used for other beings. The characters also use the term “od” to describe the flow of energy throughout the body. I suspect that it is roughly equivalent to chi, so I’m not sure why a new word was used except that it seems a little more unique.
Berserk really excels with the detailed artwork in this volume, and the color inserts at the beginning of the volume are breathtaking. While Miura definitely uses screen tones heavily, he prefers to focus on types that mimic pencil or pen lines, which enhances many of the full-page spreads. At the same time, I sometimes was confused at where to look on some pages, because the monsters or scenes were so elaborate; however, each page was a feast for my eyes, and I appreciated the amount of work put into the art.
Overall, Berserk Volume 37 shouldn’t be anyone’s introduction to this particular universe, but it should be satisfying to fans of the series. I enjoyed it quite a bit despite my critiques, and I’m pleasantly surprised that the series is still popular in the US.
4 Massive Sea Battles out of 5