Does the 97 anime tell a reasonably complete and rounded-off story?
It ends on the cliffhanger of all cliffhangers. It's a reasonably good way to get invested in the story, though! You can also seek out the fan-edit Berserk Redux
, which combines footage from the 97 anime and the movie trilogy to convey as much of the story in animation as possible. For the most part, it's a well done as something using two sources so visually disparate could be.
I prefer reading physical books, and this is just too big at 37 volumes and continuing
Could see if you can get it through the library? Not sure how it works over in the UK, but in the US they started carrying manga some years back, and if a volume wasn't at my local library it could typically be ordered from another one.
It's an absurd weapon, so having it make an absurd noise when it connects pleases me. Given the nature of the setting I find it entirely plausible that the blacksmith who created it unwittingly imbued it with a bit of spirit magic (which would explain how it could be used as a weapon in the first place), and the clang might be a side effect of such magic.
The Dragonslayer doesn't have any magical properties to start with, but it has been gradually gaining them from being used repeatedly on supernatural beings. Granted, I don't think the sound designers had that in mind when they picked the "clang"... Anyway, more power to you. I find it so obnoxious that it ruins immersion even more than the CG doll faces. The Berserk subreddit doesn't seem to appreciate it much, either (take a drink every time you seem a mocking mention of "clang"...). I consider it a failure in sound design since it draws so much attention to itself, when the goal of effects artists should be invisibility.
I do not like being left hanging, so probably not on the manga.
If you're watching the anime (which is basically an ad for the manga), you're going to be left hanging anyway.
There are 37 volumes of manga available, so that's plenty of story to enjoy at this time, while still giving you multiple opportunities to stop before you reach the end of what's available. There's even the chance you'll need to step back for a while and take a prolonged break partway through; this is what happened to me.