Berserk set the bar very high when it came to dark fantasy manga. Be it art or plot progression, Miura made sure that the standards in his work would be hard to scale. I mean, there is more depth in Guts character arc and his strained relationship with Griffith than the entire plot of an average shonen manga.
All of it made Berserk the best dark fantasy manga out there.
And due to that the thirst for reading a manga like Berserk is quite hard to satiate. As many readers of the magnum opus say, there is nothing quite like it.
Sure, Tokyo Ghoul and Dorohedoro might have the gore element, but it’s not just a question of gore and the art. The dark fantasy setting too plays an important role in shaping the reading experience, and that is often missing from the suggestions that are put out.
So, to overcome this, in this article, I have come up with some recommendations of the best dark fantasy manga that are similar to Berserk (which includes the medieval setting, sword fights, gore and ofcourse some in-depth exploration of mature themes).
Dark Fantasy manga similar to Berserk:
Note: All of the manga that I mention below do have similarities to Berserk in one way or another and they are something you’ll love reading if you are a fan of Berserk. However, understand that apart from the similarities, they are all unique in their own way, even if from the plot and setting they feel like a total rip-off.
So yeah, definitely give all of them a read if you can! Without further ado, let’s get started.
10. Ragna Crimson:
Ragna Crimson might seem like a cliched shounen manga at first look, but that opinion will quickly change once you are a couple of chapters in. Sure, it involves the main character getting an amazing power up, but what makes it different is that it comes with its downsides (Deku?).
Ragna Crimson basically follows the story of a dragon hunter, Ragna, who has set out to seek revenge against the dragons who killed his family.
A main character looking for revenge against larger than life beings? Check!
Yes, the story is set in a world where dragons co-exist with humans. However, co-exist would not be the right word to use, as the relationship between the two is fraught with tension and conflict.
In his journeys, Ragna is joined by a mysterious girl (boy?) named Crimson (also known as Elsie), who boasts having ties to the very dragon lords that the protagonist is after.
As our characters navigate through various battles and uncover some mysteries, the author, Daiki Kobayashi, effectively paints the picture of a complex and nuanced society using dragons.
The intertwining political tensions and power struggles give an additional dynamic to the plot.
Be it the complex worldbuilding or the dark, violent, and gritty tone, there are many aspects of Ragna Crimson that are similar to Berserk.
Along with the intense and sometimes gory battle scenes, the dark fantasy manga also explores several thought provoking themes, and raises questions about morality, justice, the cost of revenge and the extent that people might go to achieve them, essentially the human condition, adding depth and meaning to the story.
In addition to this, both Berserk and Ragna Crimson feature a flawed and sympathetic protagonist, whose quest for revenge gets complicated with the growing relationships around them.
9. Goblin Slayer:
Goblin Slayer is another dark fantasy manga that I often find in suggestions of manga similar to Berserk, thanks to it not being an isekai. However, its setting will scream isekai at you at every point.
Despite that, it makes to this list because of its violent and gore themes, especially at the start. Both these manga feature a main character who is on the quest of revenge. Read the light novel if you want a more immersive experience!
However, the object of revenge is not an otherworldly god-like being, instead they are puny goblins. And that forms the core of the story.
In Goblin Slayer’s defense, the goblins do come across as a very annoying bunch in the story.
To be honest, I am not a huge fan of Goblin Slayer, partly because it lacks the character development or depth seen in Berserk and the other dark fantasy manga that I’ll be mentioning in this list. The characters don’t even have proper names!!
The plot too is very generic. The only unique aspect of it? Goblins. Everything plot point which does not involve them is as good as non-existent.
Even so, Goblin Slayer makes for an interesting read (no kidding), as it gets creative with the gory ways you that our protag hunts down the goblins.
How is it similar to Berserk you ask me. Well, Goblin Slayer is a trashy isekai Berserk. There is no Guts-Griffith dynamic, or the intricate world-building or exceptional art. However, you will still find yourself flipping pages and moving to the next chapter.
I did, atleast. Which makes me suggest this manga.
Once again, I am not a huge fan, but still I leave the verdict to you!
Wolfsmund is a short manga (37 chapters) written and illustrated by Mitsuhisa Kuji, a former assistant to Kentaro Miura, the creator of Berserk. The manga is set in 13th century Switzerland and tells the story of a young man named Raiden, who is forced to become a mercenary in order to survive.
Let me get one fact straight, Wolfsmund is a historical manga, and doesn’t really fit the dark fantasy category. However, if you loved Berserk for the gore and the pain it portrays, then Wolfsmund is the perfect fit for you.
Wolfsmund delves into the early 14th century Swiss fight for independence, focusing on their battle against the ruthless bailiff Wolfram, who controls the treacherous Sankt Gotthard Pass.
Trust me when I say this, the author does not hold back when it comes to portraying the horrors of war and conflict. If you aren’t someone who can stomach cruelty much, then you better off not reading this.
Coming to the protagonists, unlike Guts, Raiden is not a revenge thirsty character. But then, he is someone who is deeply traumatized by the violence he has witnessed in his life. Both of them wield swords too, so yeah.
Since the manga is short, don’t expect too much of a character development. It can best be described as a good short read, with a lot of gore, set in a medieval world.
According to me Berserk has superior art to Wolfsmund, but then the latter is in no way disappointing. The impact that author Kuji shows in some scenes is just too good.
If you loved Berserk, you will definitely love Wolfsmund. It doesn’t feel like an ambitious ripoff (a feeling you might get while reading some other titles from this list) and can stand on its own.
Also, if you loved Wolfsmund, definitely give Vinland Saga a try!! Vinland Saga is epic, but it parts way from Berserk when it comes to the Farmland arc. It is arguable more indepth than most of the series we checkout here, so yeah, definitely read it.
7. Ubel Blatt:
Ubel Blatt is a dark fantasy manga by Etorouji Shiono (he’s got a lot of titles under his belt), and it is one of the first titles that is recommended when you are looking for a manga that is similar to Berserk.
Let me give you a fair warning though. Ubel Blatt is more like the ecchi off-spring on Berserk. And while you’ll find a good amount of gore and violence in the manga, it lacks the brooding darkness that is a constant companion in Berserk.
Yeah, Ubel Blatt can be light-hearted – at times. If none of these worry you, then you wouldn’t regret picking up this manga.
Coming to the plot, Ubel Blatt is set in a kingdom called Szaalanden and follows Koinzell, a half-human teenager who is on a quest for revenge, much like Guts from Berserk.
The Kingdom of Szaalanden had once sent fourteen lances (think of them as the nation’s best warriors) to the neighboring evil nation of Wischtech.
Out of the fourteen, seven returned victorious and were hailed as the seven heroes. However, four lances had betrayed their cause during the mission, and these four came to be known as the traitorous lances, who are now acting as antagonists.
Koinzell, pulled into the thick of the growing unrest and battles in Szaalanden, is hailed as the new hero who will save the nation from a looming calamity. However, our main guy has a secret that is connected to the lances and is related to why he is out for revenge.
Secrets aside, I felt that Ubel Blatt did a good job of building up the political intrigue in the initial chapters but then you might find that the story does get a bit rushed along with not so strong character arcs towards the end.
Despite that, it boasts solid art and it is worth a read if you have a Berserk sized hole in your heart.
Now Jigokuraku is not a manga that you’ll see recommended by a lot of people as being similar to Berserk. However, when I read it the first time, I felt that there were some things in the manga that were very similar to the late Kentaro Miura’s epic.
If I were to describe Jigokuraku: Hell’s Paradise’s plot in two words, it would be ‘survival fantasy’. It revolves around a group of death row criminals, accompanied by their executioners, who are sent on a mysterious island by the Shogunate in order to retrieve the elixir of life.
Among the criminals is Gabimaru the Hollow, a ninja of Iwagakure Village known for being cold and emotionless. However, he accepts the proposal because he wants to return to his wife who is waiting for him. Is he really emotionless then? However, the island proves to be something beyond their imagination.
Author Yuji Kaku’s art is surreal when it comes to depicting the island and its horrors. But then, all these horrors are hiding under the guise of pure beauty. The manga also has its fair share of religious & mythical motifs.
It’s as if the gates of hell opened in paradise (and hence the name probably). But then, why is this manga similar to Berserk? One of Gut’s standout traits is his resilience. He keeps fighting even after reaching his limits. I felt that Gabimaru displayed a similar trait when exposed to the horrors of this new island.
Along with the gore and a weirdly unsettling feeling, Jigokuraku is also a story of survival, fighting against larger than life beings, which is what Guts is doing in Berserk. So both these manga are similar in that sense too.
It has elements of fantasy. And it is dark. A perfect match?
Dororo is a dark fantasy manga written and illustrated by Osamu Tezuka. It was first published in 1967 and ran for 48 issues. It is the oldest manga featuring in my list, and is considered by many to have been an inspiration for Berserk.
That aside, in Dororo, Tezuka put down some narrative styles and plot progression elements, which are being followed even now.
The story of the manga follows Hyakkimaru, a young man who was born without limbs or facial features after his father made a deal with demons in exchange for power. Hyakkimaru sets out on a journey along with an orphaned thief named Dororo to reclaim his lost body parts by defeating the demons that took them.
Now Dororo boasts of a protagonist who is similar to Guts in a lot of ways. Not only is Hyakkimaru on a quest for exacting revenge, he is also a skilled fighter despite missing several body parts and is constantly fighting demons to get them back.
They both make us question humanity and what it means to be a human!
But then, modern manga readers might complain that they are not getting the same dark vibes as that of Berserk from Dororo. Trust me, that’s only because of the artstyle and the numerous jokes that Tezuka added in the story to lighten the mood.
You might be reminded of Mickey Mouse while reading Dororo, all thanks to the artstyle.
Beneath all that, Dororo embraces a lot of dark themes against the backdrop of a war-torn feudal Japan, the central among those being family conflicts, trauma, its after-effects and eventually acceptance.
If you loved Berserk, definitely give this manga a try. You might be put off by the artwork, but once you get used to it, the manga will pull you in like none other. Its biggest flaw? A rushed ending, and somewhere in between it feels a bit drawn out.
If you are looking for a manga that has the same level of amazing art like Berserk, then Bestiarius is the title you should check out. The manga has some MAGNIFICENT and DETAILED double spreads!!!
Bestiarius is rather short read with 54 chapters, however, in that short span author Masasumi Kakizaki is able to weave a brutal yet beautiful tale.
The manga’s plot is kinda unique and is set in the Roman Empire during the reign of Domitian, a tyrannical emperor who enjoys watching gladiators fight to the death. However, there are demi-humans, orcs and even wyverns in the mix, making it a perfect dark fantasy tale.
The story is episodic, with each part involving a different set of main characters. The only two characters common in each arc are the wyvern (dragon) Durandall and the gladiator he trained, Finn. Jumping from one story to another might come across as confusing at first, but it gets better down the line.
There is a lot of gore and amazing action sequences in the manga, however, this one’s also high on the emotional quotient. This was an intentional choice by the author, as he wanted to make a manga that would resonate with the shonen audiences!
I was able to form strong connections and sympathize with the other characters who came in, and that’s definitely a highlight of Kakizaki sensei’s storytelling.
In the end all these episodic arcs tie in together quite well. After all, the story being narrated is that of Finn and Durandall, like a slowly unveiling mystery.
Bestiarius is not a manga that you see recommended often. It is an underrated gem. However, it is something that you’ll enjoy reading a lot if you are a fan of Berserk. Also, I thought Finn looked a bit like Thorfinn.
Thanks to its depiction of extreme violence and dark themes, Bastard!! is a dark fantasy manga that has earned comparison to Berserk. However, it is not as well recognized or critically acclaimed as the latter.
Even so, upon reading, I found it quite engaging.
The plot follows Dark Schneider, a powerful and chaotic wizard sealed in the body of a 14 year old boy, Luche, by a priest. When the kingdom of Metallicana is threatened by monsters and evil entities, Schneider is unleashed by the daughter of the priest, Yoko, as a final resort.
Though he proves to be a handful, Schneider eventually agrees to help her out. But by doing so, he is pitted against his four former companions, who are now looking to resurrect Anthrasax, a God of Evil.
However, Schneider is hellbent on world domination himself, with Yoko being the only one who can control him to a certain extent.
While most of the other manga in this list have a protagonist that is vaguely similar to Guts, the protagonist of Bastard!!, Dark Schneider is nothing like him. He is arrogant, chaotic, highly unpredictable and brazen in a charismatic sorta way.
What are the similarities then? Well, it is the setting and the dark fantasy element which to me, felt like a direct call back to Miura’s magnum opus. That aside, the artstyle is very reminiscent of the early Berserk days and if you are someone who enjoyed that, then Bastard!! is right up your alley.
However, the biggest drawback of the manga is that it has been on a hiatus for a long time and the story won’t probably conclude anytime soon. Still, if you check this out, you might come out admiring the story (or hating it, depending on your likes).
Remember how I said Ubel Blatt is a manga that is often recommended as a manga that is very similar to Berserk? Well, Claymore is another manga which falls in the same category.
Created by Norihiro Yagi, it is set in a world where humans are threatened by monstrous creatures who feed on their flesh, called the Yoma. These monsters disguise themselves as humans and hunt their prey making it hard to identify them.
The only people who can sniff them out are an organization of female warriors known as the ‘Claymore’. These warriors possess superior strength, as they are part-yoma themselves.
The story unfolds as we follow the journey of a Claymore named Clare, who seeks revenge against the Yoma that killed her family. Along the way, she meets and befriends Raki, a young boy who becomes her companion.
Claymore stands out in this list because it is the only manga to have a female protag. However, other than that, she is very similar to Guts when it comes to the revenge section. The plot of Claymore is initially episodic, however it does get more coherent once we are familiar with the world building elements.
Do not expect Berserk level art from this, however Yagi definitely has delivered some great lines and double spreads.
There are also some underlying themes about struggling with one’s identity and losing sight of who you really are, which once again brings it closer to Berserk. Other than that, the gore and the medieval dark fantasy elements with sword wielding badass women, has helped the manga gain a cult following.
The manga is quite popular and if you haven’t read it already, you shouldn’t delay reading it any further, especially if you liked Berserk!
1. Blade of the Immortal:
Now, Blade of the Immortal is not a perfect fit for the dark fantasy genre in which Berserk belongs. There is also a visible difference in the art style of the two manga.
However, once you read them you’ll definitely feel that there is something similar about both these titles.
Blade of the Immortal not completely devoid of fantasy as the plot follows a Manji, a ronin who was cursed with immortality after a battle with the 800-year-old nun Yaobikuni. He vows to slay 1,000 evil people in order to break the curse and regain his mortality.
Soon after this, he encounters a 16-year-old Rin Asano who seeks Manji’s help in avenging the deaths of her parents who were murdered by the Ittō-ryū, a powerful sword school.
Much like Berserk, Blade of the Immortal too portrays a story of revenge and vengeance. But what makes it stand out from like, say Ubel Blatt, is the fact that it has put more focus on the characters and the philosophical themes.
Let’s say Blade of the Immortal holds up a mirror to humanity itself and tries to explore it in depth. IT GETS QUITE HEAVY. There is no good guy vs bad guy here, just actions and their consequences.
And because of all this the manga is quite heavy on the dialogues. It might put off some readers, however, if you are able to get past the initial chapters and wait for the main plot to kick in, the story becomes very rewarding.
Both Berserk and Blade of the Immortal can be summed up as sword fighting and action packed manga with lot of gore and mature content. But that’s only on the surface.
While these two look visibly different, there is a similar undercurrent to both of them in the themes they explore and that makes Blade of the Immortal a must read for fans who loved Berserk!!
Since you scrolled down to this point, allow me to give you a small bonus/
As I mentioned in the intro, I focused on the dark fantasy manga, which were very similar to Berserk in the article, which included the sword fighting, medieval settings and even the gore and mature themes explored.
However, there are some other titles which do not fit in this category, but still are quite good reads for a Berserk fan. Check them out below:
- Blaster Knuckle: A manga which many fans describe as a Berserk rip-off, with the main character fighting against demons for revenge. The major difference lies in the setting, as Blaster Knuckle’s story takes place in United States in the 19th century.
- Devilman: Go Nagai’s Devilman is a classic manga. It also shares some similarities with Berserk when it comes to the journey of its protagonist, who has to deal with betrayal and tragedies just like Berserk. Also, the world is infested with demons and the manga does take a dark turn after a certain point (I am trying to avoid spoilers as much as I can). Also, Miura was a huge fan of the series.
- Fire Punch: Agni, the main character of Fire Punch, is someone who comes very close to Guts when thinking from the POV of losing oneself in revenge. Also, it’s set in a sort-of post apocalyptic world with questionable morals. Both Berserk and Fire Punch are brutal and tragic. You should definitely give this one a try!
That’s all from me now. I hope you have a great time reading the manga I have suggested above and fill the Berserk shaped hole in your heart.