How Berserk’s Bad Reboot Soured Anime Fans on CG Animation

Anime is usually highly regarded for its animation and detailed art styles. However, sometimes this art-quality goes down the hill tremendously once CGI is involved. Likely due to its infrequent use in anime, CGI is usually notoriously low in quality when it shows up in most series. It can likewise be a sign of a cheap, altogether low effort production when it's used to animate the entire series.

Perhaps no recent show is a better example of this than the 2016 version of Berserk. This second anime adaptation of the revered manga combined 2D and 3D animation, but the low quality of the latter quickly made what should have been an instant classic into a laughing stock. Here's how CGI made 2016's Berserk into a self-parody.

The CGI throughout the Berserk reboot is sadly hilariously stilted and stiff, be it characters in motion or simple scenes where they exchange dialogue. The main character, Guts, is animated so that his closed eye looks shut in a constant state of constipated aggression, while his mouth movements are so basic they're Muppet-like.

Perhaps the most infamous example has his walking away from a group of people while talking, as you can see above. Not only has his mouth animation been compared to South Park, but his "walking" more so resembles him being literally scooted out of the frame bit by bit. Later releases of the series would slightly improve the animation for this scene in particular, but the damage to the show's reputation had already been done.

The animation's constant switching from more traditional cel-shading to CGI is never fluid, with the poor quality of the CGI making it even more jarring. Said animation would fit right in with an early PlayStation 2 era game, but not in the nostalgic sort of way. This makes even the action sequences godawful, with what should be fast-paced fights ending up slow, clunky and anything but exciting.

Other examples of how horrendous the animation can include a scene in which a monster grabs another creature by the head before transforming its arm into a claw and crushing said head. The scene is almost painfully comical, especially since it's part of such a serious series. The animation would likely have looked bad in an early CGI series, like Reboot, or at least would not have aged well... like Reboot. With it being part of a show from 2016, though, even the best writing and voice acting couldn't have saved it.

Unfortunately for 2016's Berserk, the rest of the show isn't particularly up to snuff, either. As previously mentioned, the action is boring at best and laughable at worst because of how moribund the animation quality is. Likewise, the pacing is all over the place, feeling at times more like a random collection of scenes from the manga than a cohesive story. Even the voice acting, which is fine, is hampered by being paired with such an awful looking show. Some of the scenes involving more traditional animation, such as when the characters are walking under a bridge, also have strained and unnatural movement.

Fans and professional critics alike have been largely mixed on the series as a whole, with the animation being one of the main points of complaint. Many have noted how even the show's best moments can't be fully appreciated due to just how ugly everything is. The 2016 Berserk's release was also at a time of similarly cheap-looking anime releases proliferating streaming services.

This era at the dawn of more CGI in anime has created a negative zeitgeist around CGI in anime, making it an unpardonable sin, with most who see it, unfortunately, rejecting it altogether.