When it comes to the 46 anime starting up in the coming weeks, one stands out from all the others. That anime is Berserk.

Berserk is an ultraviolent medieval fantasy. The opening episode in the original 90s anime follows the mysterious Black Swordsman, a one-eyed man with an artificial arm who carries a giant sword. He comes to a town and defeats its man-eating ruler who turns into a snake-like eldritch abomination over the course of their battle.

However, from that point on, the story becomes a flashback showing how the Black Swordsman–a.k.a. Guts–came to be. In contrast to the first episode, the vast majority of the series is a low fantasy about wars between humans and focuses on the relationships Guts builds from his childhood to adulthood. In fact, while the original anime ends showing how Guts lost both his arm and his eye, we never again see him as the Black Swordsman past the opening episode.

The new Berserk series (premiering early next month) is set to continue the story by showing the early days of Guts as the Black Swordsman as he begins his constant battle against the monsters that hunt him, even as he hunts them in return.

As a long-time reader of the manga, I confess that this is actually my favorite arc of the story, as it focuses on how much darker the world has become after the events of the first anime. It expounds greatly upon the influence of the church on the world and shows just what kind of man Guts becomes when he strives to live alone on nothing but his undying rage. The arc is also easily the most disturbing of the entire story so far, with ultraviolence to match.

That said, I also have to admit that I typically dislike ultra-violence in what I read and watch. it often gives me nightmares. Yet, even with my aversion to that major aspect of the material, Berserk is the only manga that I have been constantly up to date on for nearly a decade and a half. It is simply that compelling of a story, and finally getting to see new material–in particular, this material–animated makes it an easy pick for my most anticipated summer anime.

Runners Up:
Danganronpa 3 (both series)
Mob Psycho 100
Taboo Tattoo
Tales of Zestiria the X

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