Manga always provided us with great stories, one of which is definitely Berserk. This dark-fantasy medieval manga series gave us one of the coolest yet most shocking stories in years. Its special releases are conducted every few years, making fans strive for more cool Berserk stories. However, we got bad news last year that the great author of Berserk, Kentarō Miura passed away. His work inspired many great projects in various fictional media, like video games, and he is still hailed as one of the best manga authors.
Berserk follows the story of Guts, a tragic lone swordsman, and Griffith, a leader of a mercenary group called Band of the Falcon. Their journey is conducted in numerous story arcs that have been released every few years. Besides complex and great characters, Berserk’s world-building is unique and immerses the reader instantly. In this article, we will present you with the manga reading order of Berserk and if you are interested in this topic, stay with us until the end of the article.
Berserk series reading order (at a glance)
Even though the Berserk series has one of the longest runs today, it has only five huge story arcs released in hiatuses (large time intervals) every few years. All five story arcs include forty-one volumes of the manga. In the next list, we will provide you with the reading order by release date:
- Black Swordsman Arc (1990-1991)
- Golden Age Arc (1991-1997)
- Conviction Arc (1997-2001)
- Millenium Falcon Arc (2001-2010)
- Fantasia Arc (2010-)
However, Miura was always unique in his storytelling. From the beginning of his work, Berserk used a narrative technique called “in media’s res,” or a narrative piece that opens in the middle of the plot. However, since jumping from one story arc to another for the storyline to be strictly chronological doesn’t make sense, we will respect Miura’s decision to release the series in this way. In the end, Berserk is the best when you don’t know what to expect in the next chapter or volume.
Berserk series reading order (by release date)
1. Black Swordsman Arc (1990-1991)
The first story arc of this manga series is Black Swordsman Arc. It follows a brooding, lonely swordsman who kills mysterious monsters and thugs on his journey. In this arc, the readers meet Guts, a Black Swordsman. He arrives in the town of Koka and kills everyone in sight. Of course, that catches the eye of the bloodthirsty Snake Lord, who reveals himself as a monstrous apostle, an inhuman demonkind that serves members of the God Hand.
Guts encounters his fearsome enemy, a member of the God Hand and a demon, Femto, which awakens Black Swordsman’s immense hate. Guts eventually kill Snake Lord and later encounters another apostle named The Count, which he blackmails using his daughter. Guts comes out of the fight, upset and disturbed, despite trying to fool everyone around him.
2. Golden Age Arc (1991-1997)
Berserk’s most notable story arc is the Golden Age Arc and the most adaptable part of the manga by a long shot. Readers learn about Guts’ youth and his life before becoming a Black Swordsman. Of course, this is where the notable mercenary group Band of Falcons and their leader Griffith appear in the flesh and where Guts seemingly finds his home after a tough childhood. However, Golden Age Arc is marked by one of the most shocking and interesting mystical events in manga history – the Eclipse.
Guts’ life worsens, pushing him further towards darkness and revenge.
3. Conviction Arc (1997-2001)
After the readers saw one of the tensest story arcs in years, we got a follow-up story arc that chronologically follows after Black Swordsman Arc. Guts defeat more apostles, gets captured by Holy Iron Chain Knights, and encounters some important people from his past. Guts literally fight demons in the nighttime, which prevents him from sleeping, and one man makes a comeback at the worst possible time.
This storyline sees Guts getting jaded even more and finds it harder to fight his inner darkness.
4. Millenium Falcon Arc (2001-2010)
After Conviction Arc, we got the longest story arc to date – Millenium Falcon Arc. Guts’ old friend, now a foe, reincarnated Griffith continues his quest to rule the world while Guts gets new allies on his journey.
New threats are in front of Guts and his new crew, and while there are many obstacles a young but jaded warrior needs to go through, an unusual ally helps Guts with a new piece of gear that will help him in future goals, but it comes with horrible consequences.
5. Fantasia Arc (2010-)
Last but not least, the current story arc is called Fantasia Arc, and it follows the major happenings of the previous arc, Great Roar of the Astral World, caused by Griffith. Guts and crew travel the world to seek help from an elf in Elfhelm to restore Casca’s sanity, and Griffith once again proves why he is the most selfish person in Berserk.
Fantasia Arc brought epic moments in Berserk, and we can finally see how Guts’ darkness is getting worse by the day while Griffith plots to put everything under his control.
Do you need to read the Berserk series in order?
There are two ways to read Berserk – chronologically and by release date. We previously mentioned the “in media’s res” narrative technique Miura used for his stories, which prompted some fans to dismiss the release date reading order and do one volume and then another.
That technique is good; however, some readers don’t understand that there was a reason why Miura structured Berserk like that. The way Guts is presented to a reader is effective, especially during the end of Black Swordsman, but when we find out what happened in Guts’ past that made him so jaded in Golden Age Arc, the shock is unavoidable.
There is a reason why the community discussed that particular part of Berserk so much – it was so controversial and simultaneously fascinating that it became the most adapted storyline.
Will Berserk manga continue?
After the sad passing of the creator Kentaro Miura, one of the biggest questions was the continuation of this great manga series. Despite some people saying Berserk will never be completed, some hope came in the form of an announcement in June of 2022.
The announcement was conducted on Twitter by Hakusensha and Kouji Mori, who later explained that Miura told him how he wanted the series to end before he passed. Mori is the only person who knows Berserk’s ending. He promised to make and release manga chapters that Miura has designed and created and won’t make any changes himself. Mori will stay true to Miura’s vision and promise the fans that he will eventually finish the Berserk story, for which they will need time.
The best possible news for the fans, but even if Berserk is never complete, its stories will stay as one of the best manga runs of all time, which proved multiple times that only a few pieces of fictional media could rival this magnificent story. Until the new content, we will indulge in the Berserk story once again.