There’s currently a push from fans of the bloody manga/anime Berserk to have the producer Adi Shankar take on Berserk for Netflix. Shankar recently made a name for himself in the anime world with his recent work bringing a stylishly reimagined Castlevania to Netflix and current mission to bring an animated Devil May Cry to the platform. The recent trio of films and the anime series revival that ran from 2016-2017 left many people dreaming of a fresh take on the Kentaro Muira’s dark material.
Berserk tells the tale of Guts, a skilled swordsman in a medieval world plagued by war and demons. Eventually, he rises to become one of the most elite mercenaries in the world before becoming branded for sacrifice by a group of powerful demons. The brand marks Guts for death and draws demons to his location, constantly forcing him into combat and causing problems for those close to him. The manga began in 1989 and continues to run on-and-off to this day. It received a very popular anime adaptation in 1997 that created a wide following of die-hard anime fans clamoring for more Berserk.
In a Twitter exchange spotted by ComicBook, Shankar responded to a poll about characters named Guts in anime with, “I think we already know my answer to this. #notanothergoldenagearc” Fans pieced this together with a quote from Forbes, where Shankar expressed interest in adapting Berserk specifically saying, "Berserk needs to come back. If someone reputable gets me the rights I’ll bring it back in that 2D hand-drawn vibe and make is closer to the manga, because the hyper-detailed beauty of Kentaro Miura’s artwork in the manga is the true masterpiece.” These two statements have anime fans running rampant with excited speculation over what a Netflix-Shankar Berserk could look like.
Two things about his comments excited fans of Berserk. First, Shankar’s reference to “The Golden Age Arc” stands as a repudiation of the three films. Though the story of the original Muira’s manga remained intact, the rough, 3D visual stylings of the film distracted many fans from the story being told. Audience reaction was mixed at best. Shankar's statements also carry with them the desire to adapt other story arcs from a manga that has run for almost three decades. The 2016-2017 anime adaptation ran into similar visual problems to the films with audiences and critics alike being put off by the sub-par 3D animation despite the series' narrative strengths. To fans of Berserk, the promise of Shankar applying as much love and care to Berserk as he did to Castlevania’s two season run falls like welcome rain on a parched desert.
Perhaps one of the biggest narrative issues with skipping "The Golden Age Arc" comes from it being the origin story of Berserk. The arc tells how Guts became such a skilled mercenary, sets up his complicated relationship with his enemy Griffith, and explains his desire to protect poor Casca. However, Shankar responded to someone bringing up the seeming necessity of Gut’s origin story with “#Flashbacks for #context.” This would definitely be a way of skipping over that particular story arc in favor of a lesser known arc, though some fans feel that a new version of the arc could be a great way to bring in new fans if done right.
With Netflix currently attempting a large expansion into anime streaming, the acquisition of Berserk could be possible. It becomes even more likely with a vocal fan base and an influential producer willing to make it happen should the opportunity arise. Seeing Berserk finally be adapted in a style more comparable to the manga would frankly be amazing not just for anime fans but anyone interested in dark fantasy.