In its final season, Game of Thrones tried to subvert expectations. It kind of forgot about character development. But more than 20 years ago, Berserk got its villain right.
Game of Thrones finished airing more than a year ago. Many have decided to forget about it than remember the travesty that was the final season. Why did the dragons die? Why did Dany transform so suddenly?
Above all, why did the people of Winterfell hide in the crypts during an Ice Zombie apocalypse?
One thing that helps answer these questions is to compare it to an anime series called Berserk. It is a dark fantasy series, based on the manga by Kentaro Miura, that started its run in the late 1990s.
In a lot of ways, Berserk is similar to Game of Thrones. It is set in a medieval era with protagonists trying to grapple with their ambitions, lust, morality, and duties. It has relentless violence, both physical and sexual.
But above all, both have characters who are deeply flawed, who want the world in their grasp, and who collapse into madness when their dreams crumble into dust.
A despised group of psychics search the galaxy for a place they could call home, while being persecuted by humans. Along the journey, the different motives of the protagonists clash, creating a truly spectacular story.
There’s something about moral ambiguity that is deeply disturbing but strangely enchanting. If the classic myths like the Ramayana talk about the struggle between good and evil, our modern epics like Game of Thrones talk about the struggle between…well, people. This grey versus grey morality, rather than black versus white morality, forms the bedrock of many fantastic anime, such as Tokyo Ghoul, Berserk, or Legend of the Galactic Heroes.
And then, there is Toward the Terra.
Toward the Terra (2007) is based on a late 1970s science fiction comic written by Keiko Takemiya, which in turn is inspired by a sci fi novel written in 1940 called Slan, written by A.E. van Vogt.
The series starts in way that is very familiar, nearly cliched. A 14-year old school boy named Jomy discovers that he is a Mu, a race of mutants with psychic powers. But in this dystopian society ruled by artificial intelligence, the Mu’s existence is kept a secret. What’s worse, once kids pass the age of 14, they have to take a test, and they are killed if the test shows any signs of them being a Mu. In the past, there were even genocides against the Mu.
Nearly killed himself by the humans, Jomy is rescued by other Mu who are in hiding…