5 out of 5
Though featuring the tail end of the Chuder battle – during which Zodd’s interaction is much more mysterious than in the original anime, making me wonder if I would have understood it here (or if we’re meant to understand it) without the pre-context of the show – volume 8 is much moreso focused on that battle’s aftermath: The Band of the Hawk’s promotion at court, and Guts’ followup on his plans to depart once victory was achieved. Miura kicked Berserk off as a bloody fantasy tale, and we’ve seen our share of epic battles since. But the chapters collected here are essentially full-on period piece drama, presented in amazingly lush panels and with some fantastic camera-placement choices that are just so far beyond what you normally find in manga that you can’t help but pause and appreciate the page or scene. And it’s hardly sparing story, which has some wonderfully subtle exchanges during a celebratory ball, character-enriching conversations prior to Guts’ departure, and what’s essentially a battle of the minds during the climactic scene.
The storytelling is what stands out here, and I can only imagine reading along with this at the time of publication and having no doubts that you were reading a exemplary piece of work.