In the fantasy world of Berserk, it does everything possible to live up to its title. It is dark, gritty, and violent. Guts, the main protagonist, is the only one capable of stopping all threats in the kingdom(s) both human and ethereal alike. All he needs is his Dragon Slayer (a giant sword that equals his great size), a few knives, and his prosthetic arm cannon to get the job done. Though he is a more than capable one-man army, he has the support of Puck, Isidoro, Serpico, Farnese, and Schierke to protect the innocent from the dangers they encounter. Now equipped with the Berserker armor, Guts is quadruple the killing machine he already was. But the armor comes at a great price as it could cost him his sanity and his body. Can he stop the God Hand before it’s too late? Can he cure Casca, his true love of her catatonic condition?
Upon uploading of this list, Berserk is still in publication (and has been for nearly 30 years) so readers have yet to know the answers to these questions. In the meantime, what other mangas out there can fans read that share some of the same charms as Berserk? What can equal its violence, dark story, and captivating characters? Well, we got some recommendations for you to check out!
Similar Manga to Berserk
- Author: Takehiko Inoue
- Genre: Action, Adventure, Samurai, Historical, Drama, Seinen
- Volumes: 37
- Publication Dates: Mar 23, 1999 – May 21, 2015
Some of you Japanese history buffs or those into the martial arts are likely aware of the legendary warrior, Miyamoto Musashi, and may have read the novel Musashi by Eiji Yoshizawa. But what if you took that story and made it into a manga? Then that’s what you get with Vagabond.
Like Berserk, this manga is about the stories of two swordsmen who have been trained as far back as they could remember in the way of their arts. While Guts mostly fights for survival, Musashi fights for honor and glory. At times, they will fight if they are requested to solve a problem only they can handle. The art styles are both very sketchy with the use of ink in terms of putting details into clothing. The fights can be bloody but not to the severity of Berserk. Both Musashi and Guts may see themselves on lone wolves but both have packs they can run with if they truly accept it in their hearts. In addition, they also have rivals they wish to defeat. Guts wants to put an end to Griffith while Musashi has his legendary rivalry with fellow swordsman, Sasaki Kojiro.
2. Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin)
- Author: Hajime Isayama
- Genre: Action, Fantasy, Super Power, Supernatural, Mystery, Drama, Horror, Shounen
- Volumes: 21 (as of Dec 2016)
- Publication Dates: Sept 9, 2009 - Present
Over a hundred year prior to the beginning of the story, ferocious giants known as Titans, mysteriously appeared and started attacking humanity. In order to protect them from this threat, the rest of the world built three layers of walls. Thankfully, this plan worked within that timeframe until all of a sudden, a Titan that was big and bad enough to break through the first wall changed all that. In the midst of the chaos, Eren Yeager sees his mother devoured by a Titan. As a combination of vengeance and wanting to see the outside world, Eren joins the military academy with two of his best friends, Mikasa Ackerman and Armin Arlert. Though they were given the privilege to protect the main palace and have the full protection of its greatest walls upon their graduation, they turn the privilege down in order to join the front lines and face the Titans.
Both Berserk and Attack on Titan have many internal and external similarities. Beyond the violent action sequences and fighting monsters, what they both share themes of who the true enemies may be. It is undeniable that combating monsters is going to be very scary, but what can be more frightening than our fellow humans? Not only do the heroes of both series face monsters, but their own kind who are motivated by their own selfishness. And in both series, the results of the threats are a reaction to the sins of mankind. So are the monsters that we face our enemy? Or are we our own worst enemy for creating this threat, to begin with, regardless of the intentions? What happens when higher powers within a government do nothing to protect the unfortunate and instead exploit them? The fact these two mangas explore those very questions is what makes it a great recommendation to fans.
3. Vinland Saga
- Author: Makoto Yukimura
- Genre: Action, Adventure, Historical, Drama, Seinen
- Volumes: 18 (as of August 2016)
- Publication Dates: July 15, 2005 - Present
In this manga world of Vikings in 11th century Europe, Thorfinn vows to become a warrior after his father dies at the hand of another Viking warrior, Askeladd. Until he can seek his revenge, he decides to hone his skills on the battlefield to prepare himself as Askeladd’s lackey. However, Askeladd receives word that the British have allegedly kidnapped the prince of Denmark and decides to use it to change the course of history for his own gain.
Despite the very different settings, in terms of archetypes, Vinland Saga and Berserk share numerous similarities. Both Thorfinn and Guts have been fighting as far back as they can remember, and their experience makes up for a bulk of their training. Both characters wish to kill the generals of the armies they belong to for personal reasons but along the way, their stops on their journeys require them to help the innocent in order to ultimately the world. Both series are extremely violent in their detail and show the dark side of humanity through war motivated by economic and/or religious reasons. So if you want something with a very unique point of view on European with a Japanese artistic feel, this is the manga to check out.
Any Manga Like Berserk ?
- Volumes: 27
- Publication Dates: May 6, 2001 – Oct 4, 2014
- Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Horror, Shounen
- Author: Norihiro Yagi
In a fantasy island world, humans are hunted by demons called Youma that can shapeshift into anything. And this is a situation that comes down to fighting fight fire with fire. In order to combat them, an Illuminati group known as The Organization creates their own female army known as Claymores (who also use the same dark energy as the Youma) in reference to the claymore swords they wield in battle.
The series is virtually almost like Berserk in every way though Claymore’s art style feels a little softer. A crazy world where the only way to defeat the enemy is to fight them at their level. Compared to Clare, Guts may be human but thanks to his training, experience, and his power up with the Berserker armor, he is as scary as the monsters he faces. Last, this series also explores various ideas of fate. Are both Guts and Clare destined to exclusively do what they are doing? Or can they be in control of the directions of their lives? Or could it be both?
5. Violence Jack
- Author: Go Nagai
- Action, Drama, Ecchi, Fantasy, Psychological, Sci-Fi
- Volumes: 18
- Publication Dates: Jul 1973 – Mar 1990
Upon the end of the Devilman manga, Satan has emerged triumphant in their battle. But feeling shame for killing his best friend, Ryo, the true identity of Satan and the best friend of Devilman/Akira, sacrifices himself to atone for his sins. As a result, the world is in shambles and only a giant demon who is referred to as the Slum King is not only judge, jury, and executioner, he is also the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. This is now a world where only men with the biggest muscles and not the biggest brains have all the power. But who is the only one capable of standing up to the Slum King? It is another giant of a man named Jack who carries a knife.
Though this series is a sequel to Devilman, (even with its ending) Violence Jack does a great job of telling its own story with its own characters in a way where readers don’t have to read Devilman as a prerequisite. Some of you readers are probably aware that the anime version is considered one of the worst of all time but don’t let that deceive you into thinking the manga suffers the same fate. The manga tells a very elaborate story and does a great job of developing Jack from apathetic to the collateral damage he causes to doing everything he can to make sure women and children are not harmed.
Like Berserk, the events that lead into Violence Jack shares some loose similarities to the eclipse at the end of the Golden Age arc. It creates a world of insanity where the innocent have no shelter, and the heroes can equal the monsters they face and their methods of victory are not the prettiest. Not only do they fight external demons, but must confront their internal ones. So if you want another manga with balls to the wall action with excessive violence but with a captivating story, Violence Jack is the manga for you (and you can forget about the anime).
6. Fist of the North Star (Hokuto no Ken)
- Author: Buronson (story), Tetsuo Hara (art)
- Genre: Action, Martial Arts, Sci-Fi, Drama, Shounen
- Volumes: 27
- Publication Dates: Sept 13, 1983 – Jul 26, 1988
In the year 199X, the world is devastated by nuclear war and all hope is gone. There are no more cities, stable industries, economies, and governments. The law of this new world is only the strong survive and rule. Gangs in large numbers terrorize the innocent and they live in fear. So who is the only man that can bring justice in this world gone wrong? It is the present master of the Hokuto Shinken martial art, Kenshiro. And what does Hokuto Shinken do? It allows Kenshiro to make his opponents explode by implementing his techniques at the right pressure points. Not only is he out to save the world but to reclaim his true love, Yuria.
What better manga can we not recommend more than Fist of the North Star? They both take place in a post-Apocalyptic setting and follow the traveling warrior motif seeking vengeance and redemption. In terms of art style, they are rough, sketchy, and very heavy on the ink in terms of shadowing and detail. Both series are equally violent but express it in different ways. Berserk is more slice and dice while Fist of the North Star is more about the explosiveness.
Guts and Kenshiro represent old school masculinity in their own ways that also make them distinct. While Guts is straight up rough and never shows any vulnerability, Kenshiro at times is never afraid to shed tears and popularized man tears whenever he would lose a friend or be unable to protect someone. Guts is more of a brawler who lives by the code of "do or die", while Kenshiro is a martial artist who personalizes the codes of a traditional martial artist. Though his brother Raoh wasn’t really the nicest guy in the world, Kenshiro still acknowledges him not only as his brother but also as a true warrior in their last moments together. So if you’re looking for something more based around martial arts and a unique sense of masculinity, Fist of the North Star is the series you have been looking for.
The tale of the traveling warrior seeking new challenges, finding new friends, seeking revenge and/or redemption, and crushing foes have all been done for years. It can be expressed through a knight’s tale, a soldier’s tour of duty, or as a martial artist’s quest. The fact that there are many ways to express these archetypes is what keeps it fresh. With the distinct creativity of anime and manga, it brings in other twists, qualities, and a sense of something distinct to captivate our interests.
Through these stories, readers can see these characters grow, wonder if their journeys have any purpose, or if it will never end. Many of these stories are exploring a huge world but are also internal journeys to self-discovery. Not only do they encounter unpredictable dangers, but create unbreakable bonds with the new friends they meet.
Characters like Guts may come across as the loneliest people in the world. They can take care of themselves just fine but what’s the point of protecting people if you don’t have anyone to care for? Is living a lonely life truly a great reward? That is what Berserk and these other titles do a great job of ultimately answering.