Place a series in a crapsack medieval world, give it a protagonist who grew up as a child soldier with a backstory that makes Fai D. Flourite's childhood look happy and well-adjusted, and slap in some demons and lots of blood, gore, and psychological scarring to go around.  (TRIGGER WARNING for rape, violence, sexual situations, child sexual abuse, and general unpleasantness.)

That's pretty much Berserk in a nutshell.

Berserk fallows the story of Guts, a mercenary branded with the mark of a sacrifice, as he kicks demon ass and chews bubblegum (Note:  By the time the manga starts, he is out of bubblegum).  The first three volumes serve as an introduction to Guts' character and the setting, before launching into a flashback for the next eleven volumes that detail Guts' backstory, giving us some context as to who and why he is the person he is today.  The chapters following that come back to the present...and I can't really comment on them because I haven't read them yet.

This is seinen manga at its finest.  It's got a flawed, sympathetic complex, and interesting protagonist who really needs a hug (and reminds me an awful lot of a certain other swordsman from a shounen series), an awesome female character, and plenty of trauma, drama, and action to go around.  To give more detail than that, I think, would ruin the finely-crafted masterpiece that is this series--and, again, I haven't read the entire thing, so When I come across more I'll probably blog my opinions on it as well.  If you've got a hunk of time to kill and nothing to do, definitely check this out.

This series is a dick.  It will plunge its heart into your chest and rip it out a la Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

And I'm loving every minute of it so far.

(ETA to add trigger warning and to, erm, amend my initial assessment of Guts.  ...Let's just say that I can understand why he is the way he is, he curbstomps Fai in the Most Traumatic Backstory EVER department and hits me right in my woobie!feels, and how said backstory leads him to do some of the things he does...

But with all that said, he's still a dick.)
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