10 Biggest Changes the Berserk Anime Made From the Manga: Include the absence of key supporting characters like Puck and the enigmatic Skull Knight

Tran Hanh
-
June 11, 2024

Creator Kentaro Miura leaves a legacy through his Berserk manga, with the original 1997 anime adaptation still regarded as a cult classic. The source material is acclaimed as one of the best fantasy series in the medium, and while the TV anime keeps the broad strokes of the early story arcs intact, it makes clear concessions.

Not all of this is surprising considering how intense and shocking portions of the manga are. However, some omissions were made so animation studio OLM could tell this story in the 25-episode mandate. The most notable changes 1997’s Berserk anime made from the manga include the absence of key supporting characters like Puck and the enigmatic Skull Knight.

10Puck Was Absent Entirely From the Original Anime

Guts and Puck in Berserk; Guts with a sword on his shoulder and Puck flying.
Guts holds the Dragonslayer while Puck stands on his shoulder in Berserk
Puck the elf looks to the side in the 2016 Berserk anime.
Puck hugs the Behelit in Berserk.
Guts and Puck in Berserk; Guts with a sword on his shoulder and Puck flying.
Guts holds the Dragonslayer while Puck stands on his shoulder in Berserk
Puck the elf looks to the side in the 2016 Berserk anime.
Puck hugs the Behelit in Berserk.
Kind:Pisky Elf
First Appearance in the Manga:Episode 1 – “Black Swordsman”
First Anime Appearance:Berserk: The Golden Age Arc II – The Battle for Doldrey (2012 anime movie; animated by Studio 4°C)

Kentaro Miura’s Berserk is beloved, thanks in major part to the beautiful, intense, and detailed panels that grace each page.

Though he occasionally leans too hard into comic relief, Puck is one of Berserk‘s most likable supporting characters. Formerly an elf citizen of the Flower Storm Monarch’s realm of Elfhelm, he meets and joins Guts early in his quest during the Black Swordsman Arc of the manga.

This is the first story arc of Kentaro Miura’s manga and the starting point of OLM’s Berserk, but Puck is noticeably absent for the entire series. The endearing elf is a welcome — and even necessary — contrast to Guts’ aggressive and brooding nature in the story’s early points but this continuity omits his existence as part of the 25-episode mandate. He would, however, appear in the 2012 anime movie The Golden Age Arc II – The Battle for Doldrey.

9The Black Swordsman Arc Reduces The Count’s Role

The slug-like apostle known as The Count in manga art from Berserk.
Kind:Human (formerly), Apostle
First Appearance in the Manga:Episode 3 – “Guardian Angels of Desire (1)”
Cameo Anime Appearances:Episodes 22 and 25 of Berserk (1997 TV anime series)

Overall, the 1997 Berserk anime series spent less time on the Black Swordsman Arc due to time constraints, which led to cutting out an early villain. On his vengeful quest to slay whatever demonic entities he comes across until he can get revenge on Griffith for his betrayal, Guts encounters a nobleman who’s sacrificed his humanity to become an apostle.

Known as “The Count,” the corrupted politician spreads misery to his subjects in return for his power, but the ’97 series replaces his role with the apostle dubbed the “Snake Lord.” The latter also features in the manga but sees his role expanded in the original TV anime. The Count’s role here was cut, but the character wasn’t removed entirely, as he cameos in episodes 22 and 25.

8Wyald Was Removed From the Golden Age Arc

Wyald catches Guts' blade with his chin in Berserk.
Kind:Human (formerly), Apostle
First Appearance in the Manga:Episode 58 – “Flower of the Royal Palace of Stone”

Whereas some antagonists get reduced roles in the ’97 Berserk anime, others, like Wyald, are omitted completely. In the manga, Wyald is one of many apostles using their demonic forms and strengths to spread terror in return for sacrificing something precious to the God Hand. Besides being an old man before becoming an apostle, not much else is known about Wyald’s origins.

Wyald leads an abhorrently violent army of convict knights employed by the Kingdom of Midland. The apostle Nosferatu Zodd kills Wyald not long before the Eclipse, but the latter’s storyline is replaced in the anime. It’s likely the least surprising omission, as Wyald and his army’s wanton crimes against humanity are a tough sell for a TV adaptation.

7Wyald’s Army Was Replaced by a Human Band of Mercenaries

Anime episode: Episode 21, “Confession”

The Band of the Hawk celebrating Guts' return in the Berserk 1997 anime.

Griffith, Schrieke, Casca and Guts from Berserk.

Kentaro Miura’s dark fantasy series, Berserk, contains just as many powerful quotes as it does brutal battle scenes.

Though the demon apostle Wyald was cut from the Berserk anime, the events from Vol. 11 of the manga were retooled and condensed for the adaptation. This stage of the plot revolves around Guts, Casca, and the remaining members of the Band of the Hawk trying to escape Midland with a gravely wounded Griffith.

After making advances on the Princess of the Midland, the King violently turns on Griffith and tortures him for a year in the dungeons. Instead of Wyald’s Black Dog Knights chasing Guts and co. for the bounty on their heads, OLM replaces them with a simpler human band of mercenaries. Like other narrative elements adapted for the anime, this plot device is also abridged to fit within the 25-episode run.

6The Skull Knight Was Absent From the Climactic Eclipse

Skull Knight from Berserk as he swings his sword.
The Skull Knight atop his spectral horse and aiming his sword over Femto.
The Skull Knight and Guts in Berserk manga key art.
The Skull Knight meets Guts in Elfhelm in Berserk.

Skull Knight from Berserk as he swings his sword.
The Skull Knight atop his spectral horse and aiming his sword over Femto.
The Skull Knight and Guts in Berserk manga key art.
The Skull Knight meets Guts in Elfhelm in Berserk.
Kind:Undead
First Appearance in the Manga:Episode 1 – “Black Swordsman”
First Anime Appearance:Berserk: The Golden Age Arc III – The Advent (2013 anime movie; animated by Studio 4°C)

Comprises are understandable whenever a story is adapted from one medium to another. Studio OLM did a solid job telling a more abridged version of the Black Swordsman and Golden Age arcs. However, the Skull Knight’s absence from OLM’s Berserk anime series is sorely felt.

The undead knight is the sworn enemy of demon-kind, first appearing in the Berserk manga to rescue Guts and Casca from the Eclipse’s horrors. The Skull Knight has a fascinating and mysterious connection to the lore of Berserk‘s world, namely with its supernatural realms and interpretation of fate. The Skull Knight would make his anime debut in the 2013 movie The Golden Age Arc III – The Advent.

5Guts Kills an Apostle in the Manga Before the Snake Lord

Guts preparing to kill an apostle using his repeater crossbow in Berserk.
Kind:Human (formerly), Apostle
First Appearance in the Manga:Episode 1 – “Black Swordsman”

The most substantive portion of the Black Swordsman Arc starts with the apostle known as the Snake Lord. But while he’s still an antagonist in the ’97 anime and even sees his role fleshed out, the manga begins with Guts fighting a different demon. In the manga’s cold open, Guts is with a woman by a campfire who reveals herself to be a grotesque apostle.

Thinking she seduced the Black Swordsman into a trap, Guts turns the tables on her and kills her using his repeater crossbow. It was Berserk‘s instantly shocking way of introducing the world and setting the tone for the series. This scene is removed from the anime, but this unnamed apostle makes a cameo appearance during the Eclipse.

4More Overtly Violent Scenes Were Toned Down

Guts swings the Dragon Slayer in Berserk (1997) key art.
Guts cuts through enemy soldiers in Berserk (1997).
Griffith leads the cavalry charge in Berserk (1997).
Guts wields his sword in Berserk (1997) key art with a collage of the main cast in the background.
Guts swings the Dragon Slayer in Berserk (1997) key art.
Guts cuts through enemy soldiers in Berserk (1997).
Griffith leads the cavalry charge in Berserk (1997).
Guts wields his sword in Berserk (1997) key art with a collage of the main cast in the background.

Vinland Saga is one of the best ongoing manga and anime, and these are some of the greatest panels from the series.

In broader aspects of the show, it’s also expected that Berserk‘s action sequences would be toned down to some degree from the manga. Miura’s manga is equally well-known for its brutal combat scenes, given the protagonist’s dynamic with the bleak world around him. Guts and his traveling party are constantly faced with daunting demonic entities.

Even with the ’97 anime not reaching the introduction of Guts’ Berserker Armor, the character regularly performs superhuman-like feats with his Dragon Slayer sword to defeat them. OLM’s adaptation is intense, but several of the most visceral action scenes from the manga are edited down to heavy blood splatters instead of outright maiming.

3Silat and the Bakiraka Clan From the Golden Age Arc

Silat of the Bakiraka Clan preparing to stab Guts in Berserk.
Kind:Human
First Appearance in the Manga:Episode 55 – “A Way Through”
First Anime Appearance:Berserk: The Golden Age Arc III – The Advent (2013 anime movie; animated by Studio 4°C)

The Kushan Empire becomes a major antagonistic player during the apostle Emperor Ganishka’s onslaught of Midland much later in Berserk. However, the Bakiraka Clan appears much earlier and poses a unique threat to Guts and his allies. Once a warrior clan serving the Kushan Royal Family, the Bakiraka Clan — now led by Silat — was excommunicated from their homeland and became assassins-for-hire.

This led to being hired by Midland’s King and head of the country’s royal family, attempting to assassinate Gut, Casca, Judeau, and Pippin from escaping with Princess Charlotte and a severely injured Griffith. This encounter paves the way for the debut of the clan’s leader, Silat, but both roles were removed from Berserk‘s anime adaptation. The clan would later debut in Studio 4°C’s anime movie trilogy.

2Parts of Guts’ Traumatizing Past Were Cut Out

Panels showing Gambino talking to Donovan in Berserk.
Kind:Human
First Appearance in the Manga:Episode 9 – “Golden Age (1)”
First Anime Appearance:Berserk: The Golden Age Arc I – The Egg of the King (2012 anime movie; animated by Studio 4°C)

From Demon Slayer and Naruto to Akira and Slam Dunk, the best manga of all time continue to captivate new and seasoned readers.

Elements of Guts’ harrowing origins were removed from the anime. There’s no secret to how grim and unjust Berserk‘s world is in any version of the story. The same applies to the main and supporting cast’s experiences, with Guts having suffered one of the most grueling childhoods.

After the Gambino takes in an orphaned Guts, he trains him to be a mercenary, later selling him out for a night to the even more reprehensible Donovan. This is among the many contributing experiences that form Guts into the cold, antisocial, and vengeful antihero seen during the Black Swordsman Arc. While it’s not quite as egregious as what Wyald is depicted as doing in the manga, it’s also not surprising that Donovan was entirely cut out.

1The Hawk’s Fight For Midland is Expanded Upon

Guts dueling with General Boscogn in the 1997 Berserk anime.
Key Characters:Griffith, Guts, Casca, General Boscogn
General Boscogn’s First Manga Appearance:Episode 22 – “Bonfire of Dreams”

A significant portion of the manga’s Golden Age Arc sees Griffith, Guts, Casca, and the rest of the Band of the Hawk gain renown as a mercenary outfit. They accomplish this by being contracted by the Kingdom of Midland to help win its Hundred-Year War against the neighboring Tudor Empire.

Berserk‘s ’97 anime series expands on this storyline in certain areas, including an anime-original battle sequence and fleshing out General Boscogn’s role in the war. The new battle saw Griffith lead the Band of the Hawk in a battle to overtake a key castle to add more context behind Midland gaining the upper hand against Tudor. General Boscogn, the leader of Tudor’s most prestigious army, is shown challenging Griffith’s otherwise ingenious battle tactics.

Review : 4/28
Thank you for your review 😘
star
star
star
star
star