Berserk is a no-holds-barred series created by Kentaro Miura that features elaborate art, an absorbing story full of carnage and sacrifice, and a protagonist, Guts, who is one of the most brutal and unrelenting characters in all of manga. It's a series that’s been a force in the industry for a little over 30 years and one that's held the mantle of my favorite manga since the day I read it. While Berserk is more so a dark fantasy, its pages are full of so much horror that it landed a spot on my top horror manga of all-time list.
It's a masterpiece through and through and I highly recommend the series, but what's the best way to collect it? As it currently stands, Berserk has been released with English translation in singles and the Berserk Deluxe Editions.
How many volumes of Berserk do they collect?
The singles were first released in collaboration with DMP. The DMP/Dark Horse paperbacks are out of print and they only released through Volume 37. Dark Horse took over releasing the series individually after that point, and currently, they have released 41 volumes with English translation. The Berserk Deluxe Editions collect 3 volumes in 1. With the most recently released being Deluxe Edition 12, which collects volumes 34-36.
Berserk Deluxe Editions and Singles Compared
The Dark Horse Deluxe Editions are the largest format of Berserk to be released so far and they are 7x10 inches while the individual paperbacks, both the DMP and Dark Horse releases, are around 5.1x7.2 inches.
The Deluxe Editions retail for $49.99 USD, but I’ve seen them hit as low as $30 from time to time on sites like Amazon. The individual paperbacks, however, vary depending on the release. The Dark Horse paperbacks are $14.99 a piece at retail. The DMP paperbacks, however, are out of print and I’ve seen them go for $600 or more for the set, Volumes 1-37, on sites like eBay.
Each volume is around $2.66 USD more expensive when you collect them in the Deluxe Editions at retail, even less when you get them on sale, but they are hardcover, have a sewn-binding, and are in a larger format, so I think they are well-priced for what you get.
Design and Quality
The individual paperbacks feature the original artwork by Kentaro Miura and have glossy covers. The Berserk logo is at the top of each cover and on the spine as well along with a leather-like pattern. They have a nice look to them and look good both on and off the shelf. I also love being able to see all of the individual artwork on the covers.
At first I thought the only difference design-wise between the Dark Horse paperbacks and the DMP paperbacks were their spines, but the artwork on the covers is colored differently as well.
The Deluxe Editions are hardcover and are wrapped in black pleather. I really love the texture of them. The brand of sacrifice is embossed in the center of the editions and the Berserk lettering pops out against the dark background with its metallic red color.
All of the text on the Deluxe Editions is foiled, including what’s on the spine. I’ve heard some people mention that the foiled text is prone to scratching. This is something that has never personally happened to me before, though. I can see them potentially arriving this way from a warehouse depending on how they were stored and handled, but you also want to make sure that your volumes aren’t stored next to one another too tightly. When you take out the volumes and put them back, they could rub against one another, which could scratch the text if they are packed too tightly.
The Deluxe Editions are also the only edition with a sewn-binding, which is super nice, and it also helps with readability, which I’ll get into later on. They really do have a premium feel and they are beautiful editions.
Translation and Sound Effects
No differences to report in terms of the translation when reading them side by side. The sound effects, however, were translated in the Deluxe Editions whereas they weren’t in the paperbacks. They added little translation notes above or next to the original hand-drawn sound effects on the pages.
Next I want to talk about readability and whether or not these editions have any issues with gutter loss.
Because of their sewn-binding, I noticed less gutter loss in the Deluxe Editions than the singles and you can see this more in the larger panels. Despite their thickness, the artwork is obstructed less by the gutter in the Deluxe Editions.
The Deluxe Editions are larger and heavier though, so if you want something that’s more portable, you may prefer the individual volumes. That being said, the Deluxe Editions are much easier to read than something like the Attack on Titan Colossal Editions, which I also reviewed, because they are hardcover and have a sewn-binding.
When reading them side by side, I also noticed that the text was easier to read in the Deluxe Editions thanks to their larger format. Berserk can be quite text heavy. Not only is there dialogue happening between two or multiple characters at once in one panel, but there’s inner dialogue or little sly comments, typically seen with Puck, happening as well.
That being said, the text in some areas is quite small in the singles and I really had to put them up to my face to read some of them. With the larger format, the text in the Deluxe Editions is much easier to read and everything felt like it had more room to breathe also.
The artwork is less cropped all-around in the Deluxe Editions than it is in the paperbacks. Both vertically and horizontally, you can see more of the artwork in the Deluxe Editions than you can in the individuals.
The Dark Horse Deluxe Editions are printed on white paper that has a matte finish, whereas the individuals are printed on a slightly off-white paper that has an eggshell-like texture to it. Because of the type of paper that the Deluxe Editions are printed on, the contrast is sharper and the blacks are deeper. The shadows are a bit too dark than they should be in some areas in the paperbacks in comparison to the Deluxe Editions.
Kentaro Miura is my favorite manga artist. The level of meticulousness and attention-to-detail; You can just tell that every panel was drawn with love and care, the commitment and the work he put into Berserk is something that you notice the minute you look at his panels. Whether it be his highly detailed landscapes, backgrounds and settings or the outfits and portraits of the characters, the way he conveys movement or emotion, whether we are in the thick of battle, riding with the Band of the Hawk, at a ball with nobles, traversing a landscape, whatever it may be, the way that Kentaro Miura not only develops a story, but pulls you into it through his art is incredible.
In the Deluxe Editions, you can see all of the line weights, textures, and details he added a lot more than you could in the paperbacks thanks to the larger format and the higher print quality. His artwork has a presence and is larger than life, but it is made up of a lot of tiny details, textures, varying line weights. You can see all of these in even greater detail in the Deluxe Editions. Kentaro Miura’s artwork is the type that, while beautiful to witness in any format, really benefits from a larger format release.
Out of all the publishers who print manga, Dark Horse is one of the best when it comes to print quality, whether it be in their hardcover formats like the Deluxe Editions or their standard paperback releases. You can’t really go wrong either way depending on what you prefer, because you are going to get a high-quality printing, but the Deluxe Editions have the best page and print quality overall.
Each Deluxe Edition comes with full color art galleries at the end that include all of the cover art of each volume that is compiled within that specific edition. In Deluxe Editions 8 and 9, they also included the full-color fold-out posters at the beginning of the volumes, and I couldn’t be happier that they did. 8 includes the fold out posters that were also included in the front of paperbacks 22-24 and 9 includes the fold out posters that were also included in the front of paperbacks 25–27.
These full-color fold-out posters were first added in paperback 22 and they were included in every volume after. So, the remaining Deluxe Editions should include the fold-out posters that are in the individual paperbacks they collect.
Final Verdict: What's the best way to collect Berserk?
Now that we’ve gone over everything and compared the different Berserk manga editions, I want to quickly sum everything up.
The Deluxe Editions have the highest print quality, the artwork is the least cropped in these editions, the sound effects are translated on the pages, the artwork looks even more incredible in this larger format, and they are high quality, beautiful editions.
I do also enjoy the individual paperbacks and really love the artwork on their covers. They are also the cheapest way to collect Berserk at retail—the Dark Horse paperbacks that is—but they aren't as high in terms of print quality as the Deluxe Editions, have more issues with gutter loss, and the sound effects aren’t translated on the page.
I personally prefer the spines of the DMP paperbacks, but they only collect up through volume 37, so if you are someone who wants the same spine for all 41, you will want to get the Dark Horse paperbacks.
Personally, I prefer the Berserk Deluxe Editions. I just can’t deny the way Kentaro Miura’s art looks in them. Their print quality is top-notch and the text is easier to read in this format too, especially in those more dialogue heavy moments of the series. On top of all that, they are a premium format with an incredible design.
That being said, while I think they are the best edition of Berserk, I still love the paperbacks and I enjoy looking at all of the individual covers.
If you'd like an all-around as well as inside look of each edition, check out my review on YouTube below!
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Every Berserk Manga Edition Compared
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