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10 Dark and Mature Manga for Fans of Berserk

Tired of waiting for a new Berserk chapter to come out amidst its constant hiatuses? Looking for a dark and gritty manga to read? You won’t find another manga series exactly like Berserk, but fortunately there are a few good alternatives with familiar themes, stories, and characters. Here’s a list of 10 similar manga to read while you wait for the new chapter.

Vagabond

vagabond manga volume 1 coverGenres: Action, Adventure, Drama, Historical

I have to start off the list by recommending Vagabond. It’s a fantastically realistic, but epic retelling of a story about a reckless samurai whose sole goal in life is to be “Invincible Under the Heavens.” Perhaps one of the most beautifully drawn and carefully crafted story there is, Vagabond stands at the peak of all manga series. Like Berserk, one of the first things you’ll notice is the gorgeous art. There are only a handful of series drawn with such detail and realism, it really makes the fight scenes that much more intense and the world-building that much more believable. There’s also a considerable amount of focus on character development. The protagonists from both manga do get stronger, but it’s more of a mental journey than a physical one.

Similarities:

– Mature protagonist and extensive focus on character development
– Beautifully detailed art that highlights intense action scenes, believable characters, and realistic settings
– Epic and gritty story with tons of world-building
– Lots of deaths, gore, and violence. People die if they are killed
– Main character doesn’t always win

Differences

– Set in 16th century Japan with almost no fantasy elements
– Not as dark, tragic, or disturbing as Berserk
– Love interest/romance doesn’t play a big part in the story
– Not a story of revenge

Kingdom

kingdom manga volume 1 coverGenres: Action, Drama, Historical, Military

Set during the Warring States period in China, Kingdom effortlessly blends history, politics, and military into an epic action-packed drama that rivals even Berserk in terms of world-building and character development. It’s a mature and grounded manga that follows Shin’s story to becoming one of China’s greatest generals, a very realistic and emotional journey featuring deaths, redemptions, loyalty, and ambition. Kingdom is an incredible manga that is both physically and emotionally intense. It’s always highly rated by those that have read it, but unfortunate not many have.

Similarities:

– Mature protagonist and extensive focus on character development
– Beautifully detailed art that highlights intense action scenes, believable characters, and realistic settings
– Realistically brutal depiction of the horrors of war and battle, including disturbing themes such as rape, plunder, and murder
– Emphasis on world-building and character development
– Features military combat and political intrigue

Differences

– Set during the Warring States period in China with no fantasy elements
– Much younger protagonist
– More focus on strategies and mind games rather than hack and slash
– Historically based story that focuses on the political and power struggle between different states
– Not a story of revenge. The main goal of the protagonist is to become a great general
– Not as dark, tragic, or disturbing as Berserk, but do visit dark themes of war at times

Vinland Saga

vinland saga volume 1 coverGenres: Action, Adventure, Drama, Historical

One of the most beautifully drawn and realistically depicted tale of love, betrayal, revenge, and redemption, this epic action adventure has the same depth of story and character development as Berserk. Set in 11th century Europe during the age of vikings, Vinland Saga illustrates a brutal era full of political conflicts and innocent bloodshed. The story follows a battle-hardened boy named Thorfinn and his violent quest for revenge against the man that killed his father.

Similarities:

– Beautifully detailed art that highlights intense action, realistic characters, and believable world-building
– Extremely dark and mature story that captures an epic tale of revenge, love, and redemption
– Realistically brutal depiction of the horrors of war and battle, including disturbing themes such as rape, plunder, and murder
– Emphasis on realistic world and character development
– Includes military battles and political intrigue

Differences

– Historically inspired story with minimal fantasy
– Fights are realistic, with little to no fantasy elements
– Currently no focus on romance/love interest for protagonist
– Current story is much more comedic and light in tone

Wolfsmund

wolfsmund volume 1 manga coverAlternate Names: Wolf’s Mouth: Wolfsmund, Ookami no Kuchi
Genres: Action, Drama, Historical

On top of being in a similar medieval European-inspired setting, Wolfsmund offers the same dark and uncomfortable themes as Berserk. Set in the alps during the 14th century, the story follows a band of rebels as they try to pass and overcome a heavily guarded fortress that’s ruled by a sadistic tyrant. It’s an extremely dark tale full of tragic deaths, excess gore, and disturbing violence.

Similarities:

– Mature characters and story with a focus on revenge
– Set in a harsh and gritty medieval European-inspired world
– Mostly a tragedy with an excess of death, gore, nudity, and violence. People die if they are killed
– Realistically brutal depiction of the horrors of war and battle with incredibly disturbing and uncomfortable themes such as sexual violence and mutilation
– Main characters belongs to a band of rebels struggling against a seemingly unbeatable antagonist
– Includes military battles and political intrigue

Differences

– Historically inspired story with little to no fantasy elements
– Extremely short story with minimal world-building and character development
– No focus on romance

Claymore

claymore volume 1 manga coverGenres: Action, Adventure, Supernatural, Fantasy

Set in a dark and unforgiving medieval fantasy world with demons and monsters, Claymore is probably the closest series to Berserk in terms of characters, story, and setting. In this world, humans live in constant fear of man-eating creatures, and Clare is one of the only few individuals capable of killing these monsters. Armed with a gigantic sword and superhuman strength, the half-human half-demon protagonist embarks on a quest for vengeance.

Similarities:

– Mature and strong protagonist with a focus on revenge
– Set in a harsh and gritty medieval European-inspired world with dark fantasy elements
– Incredibly violent and gory with uncomfortable themes and imagery
– Beautifully detailed art that highlights intense action scenes and disturbing character designs
– Human protagonist fights against horrific demons and monsters

Differences

– A smaller cast of main characters
– Less focus on environmental art
– Overall a lighter story and world than Berserk
– Not much romance development

Shin Angyo Onshi

shin angyo onshi manga volume 2 coverAlternative Names: Blade of the Phantom Master, Phantom Master: Dark Hero from Ruined Empire
Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Historical, Supernatural

If you love the dynamic characters and stories of Berserk, then you’ll definitely enjoy this series. Like Berserk, Shin Angyo Onshi features a mature story with realistic characters who make believable choices and mistakes. It’s a really enjoyable dark fantasy with a good blend of character development and intense action.

Similarities:

– Set in a harsh and gritty world with dark fantasy elements
– Incredibly violent and gory
– Beautifully detailed art that highlights intense action scenes and realistic environments
– Human protagonist chasing after a god-like antagonist

Differences

– Carefree protagonist who acts immature at times
– Story is much lighter in tone, and there’s plenty of comedy
– No romance
– Setting is inspired by both old Asian and medieval European times

Ubel Blatt

ubel blatt manga volume 0 coverAlternative Names: Evil Blade, Übel Blatt
Genres: Action, Adventure, Ecchi, Fantasy

20 years ago, the Emperor of Szaalanden sent 14 of their best people to stop a seemingly unstoppable invasion. They were successful, but of the 14, only 7 came back alive. The 7 survivors were named heroes, and the empire enjoyed a period of peace and prosperity. However 20 years later, a mysterious young man with unparalleled swordsmanship appears in the empire and vows to kill all 7 of the heroes. Ubel Blatt is great if you are looking a dark medieval fantasy manga full of betrayal and revenge. It shares a lot of themes and traits with Berserk, often times introducing characters and story elements that are similar in tone.

Similarities:

– Set in a harsh and gritty medieval European-inspired world with dark fantasy elements
– Betrayal and revenge are the main themes of the story
– Incredibly violent, gory, and sexualized
– Backstabbing antagonists who are now revered as saviors
– Includes military battles and political intrigue

Differences

– Quite a bit of the manga is backstory
– Some characters don’t stay dead
– Story is lighter in tone and not as tragic

Devilman

devilman manga volume 1 coverAlternative Names: Devilman: The Classic Collection
Genres: Action, Drama, Horror, Fantasy, Supernatural, Psychological

One of the most influential works in the 20th century, Devilman depicts a chaotic world controlled by violence and power. Although the art is a bit dated, the story still served as an inspiration for many popular series such as Berserk and Evangelion. If you read a bit of the original manga you’ll see why; the extreme sexual violence, explicit carnage, and raw emotions are able to highlight the realistic horrors of war, and the resulting complex turmoil within its characters.

Similarities:

– Set in a harsh and gritty world with dark fantasy elements
– Incredibly violent, tragic, and gory with extremely disturbing themes and imagery
– Protagonist has to fight monsters by turning into one himself
– Story has romance

Differences

– Somewhat outdated art and character design
– Set in 20th century Japan
– Very expressive characters, art, and story

Blade of the Immortal

blade of the immortal manga volume 1 coverAlternative Names: Mugen no Juunin, Inhabitant of Infinity
Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama, Historical, Supernatural

Tired of his immortality, a cursed samurai named Manji seeks to regain his mortality by killing 100 evil men for every good one he’s killed. During his quest, he meets a girl named Rin who’s on her own quest for revenge against the people that murdered her family. Having been reminded of his sister, Manji decides to travel with her. Together, they embark on a long and winding journey.

Similarities:

– Extensive focus on character development
– Beautifully detailed art that highlights intense action scenes
– Lots of death, gore, and violence.
– Story has a focus on revenge and the consequences that come with it

Differences

– Protagonist is more carefree
– Set in Feudal Japan with low fantasy elements
– Not as dark, tragic, or disturbing as Berserk
– No romance
– No military battles

Blaster Knuckle

blaster knuckle manga volume 1 coverGenres: Action, Fantasy, Historical, Horror, Supernatural

Blaster Knuckle is basically Berserk set in the 1880s with the Black Swordsman being actually black. It’s a tragic story about a man’s quest for revenge against the ones that killed his father. Although it has similar themes and a familiar protagonist, Blaster Knuckle doesn’t have the same depth of story progression or character development as Berserk. But nevertheless, it’s still an enjoyable ride throughout.

Similarities:

– Set in a harsh and gritty world with dark fantasy elements such as demons
– Human protagonist fighting against humans and man-eating monsters alike
– Mature and hardened protagonist with a focus on revenge
– Incredibly violent and gory

Differences

– More focus on action rather than world-building
– Takes place during the 1880s
– No Romance
– No military battles or political intrigue
Tags : Similar Manga List
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