Review: Berserk of Gluttony, Vol. 2

Berserk of Gluttony

Originally Posted: March 2, 2021

Written by Isshiki Ichika with illustrations by fame. Released in English by Seven Seas Entertainment with a translation by Hengtee Lim.

“Myne’s words made it seem as if it was my choice, but her intense stare said, You don’t get a say in this, by the way. If you refuse, there’s still time for you to meet the same end as those bandits. […]
With that, Myne dropped immediately into a deep sleep beside me. The speed with which she fell asleep astounded me. I recalled something Greed had once said, that first-rate adventurers learned to rest whenever opportunity arose. If that was true, Myne was probably a couple levels above first-rate. If there was a speed-sleeping contest, she would win hands down.” – Fate, on his fateful (hah!) encounter with Myne on his travels to Galia.
If being able to sleep anywhere is a mark of a true adventurer, then I’m quite the veteran! Now with the party assembled, the two make their way toward Galia, where Fate will meet Roxy and Myne will redeem Fate’s favour. What sort of dark secrets lurk behind her sleeping face? And from where does she draw her inhuman strength?

(Warning: contains major spoilers for Vol. 1. Skip to the bottom for the spoiler-free summary and rating.)

Berserk of Gluttony, Vol. 2 is the following entry to an action-fantasy light novel series where stats and skills determine your social status and profession. This time around, Fate Graphite journeys towards Galia in hopes of defeating the Divine Dragon. However, on the way, he meets Myne – the mysterious axe-wielding girl – who says he owes her a favour after the events of Vol. 1. What will her repayment entail? And what new and familiar faces alike will Fate meet during his southbound adventures? There’s only one way to find out in this story of unlimited growth, sinful weaponry, and resolving past mistakes written by Isshiki Ichika and fantastically illustrated by fame.

Berserk of Gluttony, Vol. 2

Hey! It’s been a few months since my review of Berserk of Gluttony, Vol. 1, but I waited patiently for its sequel. The action was spectacular, and the hidden powers of Greed and Gluttony kept me interested. Thus, one could say I was a minor fan of the series. And after Fate’s decides to venture south towards Galia, a whole new world of possibilities opened up. So, how did it fare? Read on to learn more!
In this review, we’ll cover the expected foundations for a sequel alongside the action & adventure aspects of Vol. 2. We’ll be discussing the events of Vol. 1, so please be prepared for some spoilers. Hopefully, this will inform your decision on continuing with the series – or perhaps stir some discussion with me. And with that, let’s begin!

Of course, it has to be the first impressions to start. Berserk of Gluttony, Vol. 2‘s cover features Fate, Myne, and some beastly figure looming in the background. This shows us the important cast and foreshadows the big threat of this instalment. However, the brighter palette and mask-less Fate tell us of the lighter tone and lack of dual-persona present in Vol. 2.
Moving on, the length of Berserk of Gluttony, Vol. 2 sits at 71,000 words. This is quite long for a light novel (~50,000 words/volume) and 12,000 words longer than Vol. 1. This will give any reader a lot to chew on as they wait for Vol. 3. However, we’ll quickly find this is because Vol. 2 tries to fit a lot in between its covers.
Finally, let’s talk about the coloured-inserts. There are three that greet us at the front of the book: (1) a clean cover, (2) an action-shot of Fate and Myne battling an unknown foe (below, uncropped), and (3) a dazzling scene with Aaron and Fate charging up an attack (bottom). These illustrations showcase both the fantastical and the ‘cool’ that the novel hopes to evoke. And their quality and detail demonstrate fame’s skill as this series’ illustrator. Now with all that covered, let’s spring into the text!

As the logical continuation from the ending of Vol. 1, Vol. 2 starts with Fate jumping from caravan to caravan as he city-hops his way to the Galian border. The promise of protecting Roxy in Galia is what drives him forward through the increasingly harsh locations. On his way, Fate re-encounters Myne during a bandit ambush who, after effortlessly resolving the incident, informs Fate that he owes her for taking the blame from the ravine damage and will be travelling alongside him for the time being.
To be clear, these events don’t occur until after the first story involving Fate’s hometown (around 1/6th in), but that story has little to do with the overarching plot of Vol. 2. So, we’ll consider this to be the intended premise and setup.
Berserk of Gluttony, Vol. 2 starts well-intentioned with its furthering of the main story (e.g. the imminent battle with the Divine Dragon) and a unique volume-specific mystery (e.g. Myne joining Fate on his travels). These two factors had me excited to start. However, that was in hope of a directed story with a deeper exploration of the world between Seifort & Galia as well as understanding Myne.
About one-third of the way in, it was clear that Berserk of Gluttony, Vol. 2 decided to focus more on the travelling than on Fate or Myne. This leaves us with a directionless and empty plot. The reader is left to wonder at what their next adventure holds for an untold length of time – an odd choice to ditch the strong foundation of the setup.

Then within the unfilled, undirected premise, we find ourselves in a wandering plot. Without going into too many details, Vol. 2 presents a series of disconnected stories, each varying in narrative weight and encounter type. One deals with Fate’s birth village. Another explores a forgotten Seifort family. The very last explains Myne’s reason for seeking out Gluttony. All of these could produce a fleshed-out story on their own. It’s too bad Berserk of Gluttony, Vol. 2 has neither the length nor the focus to do any justice.
Each of the aforementioned stories has the potential for an emotionally-charged climax – in the form of a battle, of course. However, Berserk of Gluttony, Vol. 2 simply doesn’t give the time for the reader to process or to showcase the importance of each event. And the characters don’t feel changed after resolving such defining conflicts. This lack of impact and consequence leaves Vol. 2 feeling more empty than Vol. 1. Back in Seifort, it was clear that Fate’s actions were affecting the nearby adventurers (through the Lich persona) and the Hart servants (with the kobolds near the villa). Vol. 2 simply moves from scenario to scenario without preparing the reader for the battle or giving them the time to bask in the potentially world-changing events that follow. (An exception comes from the side-story at the end, but I don’t think it was executed well either.)
Understandably, Vol. 2 can be seen as a sort of transitional volume for the series – moving from Seifort to Galia. But most of the material is like filler, not pertaining at all to the conflict with the Divine Dragon. This leaves me wondering why Vol. 2 exists except to give a drawn-out improvement-montage for Fate and drop a few more hints for the sinfully-named abilities & weapons. So, in short, I’m not impressed with the content or quality of Vol. 2’s plot. Hopefully, we’ll finally get to the point of Roxy and Fate’s respective journeys in Vol. 3.

After the plot has filled the pages, let’s talk about the characters who act out the plot. Before we jump into any spotlights, let’s briefly mention the developments to our recurring cast – Fate and Roxy. There is little in the way of character development beyond the acquisition of new powers. With their relationship and mutual motivations being a central part of Vol. 1 (and presumably the whole series), it’s disappointing to see the lack thereof in Vol. 2. There are some instances where they think of each other, but they are few and far between.
Instead of ruminating on the old, let’s move on to a fresher(?) face – Myne! This Galian girl is aloof, money-/food-hungry, and full of wrath. As she is the mystery of Vol. 2, I won’t delve too much into her secrets; we’ll talk about her other effects instead. Her whimsical nature adds a sense of experience and indifference; it’s as if she’s bored of their physical encounters. This playful(?) attitude contrasts well with Fate’s normally serious tone. Her role as Fate’s adventuring senior is also good for his development. But the lack of focus on her story throughout Vol. 2 has me disappointed – over half of the length was dedicated to other plots. Hopefully, we’ll see more of Myne in the future as her presence adds fun dialogue, deeper overall world-building, and some potentially interesting plots.
After Myne, let’s talk about Aaron, the next most prominent character in Vol. 2. Despite my issues with the overarching plot basically ignoring Myne, Aaron’s story was a decent substitute. Aaron is an older gentleman who’s adept with the blade but with a tragic story. Like Myne, he also has an air of experience surrounding him, but his demeanour is far more friendly. Aaron serves as a complementary mentor to Fate and provides information on the world surrounding Seifort. All of these contributions make him an excellent addition to the cast. And his role as Fate’s sword-mentor adds a sentimentality when their story resolves.
Overall, the newer characters, Myne and Aaron, are well-designed for their roles in Fate’s development, world-building, and specific stories. However, the lack of focus on Myne, (relatively) short time spent with Aaron, and lack of character development for Fate & Roxy have me worried about future introductions. Will Berserk of Gluttony continue to squander the potential of their cast?

Finally, our last foundation discussion will be the world-building. As discussed at length in my previous review, world-building isn’t Berserk of Gluttony‘s focus. The foundations were rooted in the tropes of LitRPG and kept the Stats & Skills to an understandable level (read: to a minimum). However, some issues presented themselves in the form of a thin oppressive atmosphere. So, how does Vol. 2 expand on the elements found in Vol. 1?
To start, let’s talk about the monster types and skills. These two are fundamentally linked through Gluttony’s ability to acquire skills through killing monsters (not unlike a certain sword wielded by a cat-girl). And as the plot explores a variety of locales, Fate finds himself hunting a diverse set of creatures. This results in him collecting a large collection of skills, leaving the reader to do more mental gymnastics. And to keep things relevant, Berserk of Gluttony has to occasionally remind us of Fate’s skill list – an obtrusive detour during reading. Thus, this growth in monster types is a curse and a blessing. I love seeing Fate face new creatures, but I worry that his skill list will go the way of Reincarnated as a Sword. Greed’s ability to consume stats was a great idea; perhaps something similar is needed for Fate’s skills?
As the second element, let’s mention the pervasive oppression once more. One issue I had with Vol. 1 was the paper-thin atmosphere surrounding the way Holy Knights treat their subordinates. Vol. 2 maintains their stance that such issues exist and does better to showcase the effects. For example, a village is left to burn as they cannot afford to pay for an adventurer. However, as Fate grows in power, he’s less affected by it – and to an almost non-existent degree in Vol. 2. As such, Fate’s role in this issue is more akin to a ‘hero’ than a ‘champion’ (I will discuss the difference in a later ‘Reflections’). Suffice it to say that this pushes this element into the background as ‘something to fix’ rather than a core conflict in Fate’s everyday experience, furthering the weakness of this particular element.
Lastly, we’ll talk about the development of the sinfully-named elements. Much is still unknown about their origins, but it’s clear that there are others, people and weapons alike, and that they’ve been around for a long time. And perhaps there is some connection to the Divine Dragon. However, it seems Berserk of Gluttony is keen on slowly peeling back the veil on revelations surrounding them. This adds another overarching mystery that is sure to stir some interest, but the current pace may frustrate more impatient readers. For now, only time will tell if Isshiki Ichika will make good on their promise of something amazing hidden behind it all.
Overall, as before, I’m not impressed by the world-building in Berserk of Gluttony and, as more elements are added, my confidence wanes in a great execution in the future. But Isshiki Ichika has demonstrated some ingenuity in the past (namely with Greed’s stat-consumption), so it’s hard to definitively say what my expectations are going forward.

Now that we’re done with the foundations, let’s jump right into the action for the first aspect. In short, if you liked what you got in Vol. 1, then Vol. 2 has more of what you’re looking for. There’s a wide variety of monsters, locales, situations, and powers involved throughout Berserk of Gluttony, Vol. 2. The great selection hasn’t changed, but I find myself less impressed this time around. There are a few reasons for this change in opinion.
Firstly, any work is limited by the base on which it is built. Vol. 2’s wandering plot and cluttered world-building weigh down any potential found in the action. The weak build-up leaves the emotional impact lacking. The large collection of confusing skills (and interactions) creates a lot of mental juggling. And the endless power conveniences break the promise of avoiding ‘Deus ex Machina’s. These foundational issues create an uphill battle for the battles!
Secondly, the battles end far too quickly. And there aren’t many twists or swaying advantages; it’s mostly Fate & co. steam-rolling their way to victory with whatever new ability the plot says needs to be used. By contrast, the kobold fight had Fate using his environment, sacrificing his stats, and running away before he could confidently attain victory. This lack of an exciting ride leaves every encounter feeling hollow. The issue is further amplified by his overwhelmingly strong partners (Myne and Aaron).
The combination of these two factors has Berserk of Gluttony, Vol. 2 falling short of its predecessor. And as the action is the main reason I enjoyed Vol. 1, these flaws greatly hinder the overall enjoyment of Vol. 2.

As another relevant aspect, let’s discuss the adventuring-aspect of Berserk of Gluttony, Vol. 2. As the plot suggests, Fate spends a lot of time exploring different parts of the world between Seifort and Galia. There’s even one scene that’s reminiscent of Wandering Witch – one where nothing happens and is simply describing a town and its inevitable fate. These adventures undertaken by Fate give us a glimpse of life beyond the castle and time to explore Fate’s character.
In a previous review of mine, we discussed what makes a successful adventure: unique locales, narratively important stories, and character development. Berserk of Gluttony treats us to only the first in a conditional sense. None of the significant towns or cities feel particularly distinct from the setting of Vol. 1 (until Galia, of course). Only the monsters Fate encounters are unique enough to be considered a type of exploration. And as previously mentioned, the stories feel more like filler and don’t change Fate’s character in a meaningful manner. He’s still a bland protagonist by the end of Vol 2.
Like the action, these issues hold Berserk of Gluttony, Vol. 2 from evoking the amount of wonder Vol. 1 had garnered. Seifort and its surroundings were new and exciting for the first volume, but doubling the time with Vol. 2 only for things to stay the same feels like a complete waste of time. If the journey and the destination aren’t worth the adventure, then what was the point of it all?

Finally, let’s mention some additional details. In my previous review, I had mentioned some issues in the writing/translation – namely the broken sentences and the use of uncommon vocabulary. Vol. 2 didn’t have any notable occurrences of either, so the quality has improved in that regard. Otherwise, Berserk of Gluttony, Vol. 2 continues to offer the same things (e.g. limited first-person perspective) as it did in Vol. 1.
Last of the last is the art! I praised fame’s work in Vol. 1, and they’ve continued to impress in Vol. 2. The stunning visuals of the coloured-inserts and overall detail in the clothing and weaponry (see below) are astounding. And their plentiful black-and-white inserts (9 total) provide some great action shots and show-off the more unique monsters in Berserk of Gluttony.
In short, I’m confident in this author-illustrator duo’s ability to maintain a decent reading experience moving forward. And hopefully, we’ll see even more monsters and locales illustrated in the future!

Overall, Berserk of Gluttony, Vol. 2 is an underwhelming sequel to Vol. 1, whose action and powers had me excited for more. The decision to forgo the strong, directed premise and focus on a series of disconnected stories for the plot was a poor one. Then the lack of character development for Fate (and Roxy) is an issue given their relationship is central to their motivations. However, the additions of Myne and Aaron impressed me with their potential roles in the overarching narrative and world-building. But not all is well in the latter; the clutter generated from excess skills, paper-thin oppressive atmosphere, and slow developments regarding the sinfully-named abilities/weapons are significant flaws.
These issues in the foundations translate to weaker action and adventuring aspects found in Vol. 2. The battles are quick and riddled with conveniences/advantages in the form of new powers. Unique locales and meaningful character development are absent from the journeys. But with that said, the spectacular displays of abilities and the large variety of monsters are still around if you enjoyed those the first time around. It’s just that I’m not sure they alone can hold the interest of readers for much longer.
In summary, Berserk of Gluttony, Vol. 2 is a ‘maybe recommended’ – a drop in quality from Vol. 1. If you’re looking for more fantastical, spectacular action, then I would say continue reading on. However, the weaker character developments, cluttered world-building, and filler-like content have me worried for the future. And now, I’m not certain I’ll be continuing with this series – Vol. 3 might be its last chance. With that, see you all next time~!

Rating:
3.4 / 5 – Conditionally Recommended

Recommendation:
To readers of Berserk of Gluttony Vol. 1 looking for a larger text to chew on while they wait for the (hopefully) more exciting Galian adventures in Vol. 3.
To lovers of older gentlemen with a reputation for being the best sword-user in the land.


Hello! Thank you for taking the time to read my review (even if you scrolled straight to the bottom). I hope that you take home even a little of what I’ve written down. So, what’s your verdict on continuing the series…?

For this time’s extra blurb, let’s gush about Aaron, the new mentor character for Fate. He’s simply amazing. And who wouldn’t want a handsome, gentleman-expert showing you the ropes in a cool skill? Here’s to hoping we’ll see more of him in the future!

I’m 春華 or Haruka, aspiring novelist, light novel reviewer, and the recently titled “Effortlessly Effervescent Embodiment of Eloquence.” I’ve been exploring light novels for half-a-year now, so please bear with my hopefully-diminishing naiveté. You can follow my Twitter for updates on my reviews and writing progress. And if you want to talk about light novels with me and many others, consider joining our Discord here! Let’s all get along!

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