6: Berserk: The Golden Age Arc I - The Egg of the King
Synopsis: Without giving away any spoilers, this first of a three part series is about a loner named Guts who travels throughout a European like land fighting on behalf of different kingdoms in an era of state consolidation and centralization. On his travels he battles Griffith, the leader of a mercenary army. Guts and Griffith join the Kingdom of Midlands to help fight for unification. Eventually in one of their struggles, they must fight a demon that upon seeing a neckless (a neckless that I will not spoil the point of) on Griffiths neck, tells him that their future is full of despair and doom. Griffith becomes more power thirsty and his plans to take control include assassinations, marrying the princess of Midlands and creating his own kingdom. When Guts becomes aware of Griffiths' venal nature, the story takes a powerful turn for the unexpected.
Why it`s on the list: The character, Guts, is the organizing principle of this film and the primary reason to watch it. Guts is deeply disturbed, both because of his past and because of own insecurities. He is profoundly alienated and limited in his capacity to form and maintain enduring relationships. The mercenary army provides his only source of solidarity and sense of belonging and, even then, he remains lost in his own isolation. In its dialogue, animation and music, Guts embodies the lost samurai in search of a world that will never really satisfy him and a connectivity that he, by virtue of his very existence, can never have. The battle scenes are troubling because of the violence they show, but they do remind us of the romance of the Arthurian legends. Large battles are beautifully animated with everybody doing something either in the foreground or the background. With beautiful animation and disturbing characters who each have their own personal or political narrative, this first film in the series is a must watch.