Casca and Farnese: Parallels of Illusion

This might shock you, but Berserk is a fairly dark story. It’s a brutal world where bad things tend to happen to just about everyone. You name it, it happens, no matter how fucked up it is.

And women really don’t have it easy. Which is probably why these two are… well, the way they are.

Casca and Farnese make for an interesting duo. Upon first glance, the two couldn’t be any more different. Casca was cool, collected, and determined, whereas Farnese was reckless and sadistic and… well, crazy, for lack of a better word. Hell, even their designs are at odds. Yet, as they both travel with Guts in the later arcs of the series, the two become as close as sisters.

What is it about these two? Why do they work so well as a duo?

Well, that comes down to two other characters: Guts and Griffith. Kinda like everything in this series.

Casca was saved by Griffith at a young age. Afterwards, she started to live in a fantasy. She thought herself Griffith’s sword and shoved aside the facts of reality that said she could never be with him the way she wanted. She believed Griffith was a god, incapable of failure, and that she could be his weapon if not his woman.

Meanwhile, Farnese created similar illusions around herself in response to her own traumatic childhood. She became sadistic, cruel, and devoted herself entirely to the church. As Casca chose to be Griffith’s sword, Farnese became a weapon for her religion, blindly devout and cruel.

Enter: Guts. Breaker of illusions and he who defies fate, here to give you an ice-cold serving of reality. Trust me, most people in Berserk need it.

When Guts joined the Band of the Hawk, he more or less systematically destroyed Casca’s illusions. She was forced to face the reality that he was what Griffith wanted, not her, though she couldn’t understand why. Eventually, that lead her to question Griffith’s seemingly divine nature, as well as her own role beside him.

Farnese was much the same. When Guts came along, her worldview was expanded dramatically, practically by force. Demons, elves, magic, she was exposed to all of it all at once. And surprise! The church she devoted her whole life to was run by a man-eating demon and all of her cruel actions were completely misguided. To top it all off, the church itself is completely destroyed, leaving her with nothing left in a metaphorical and literal sense.

Both girls had similar reactions to these revelations. Casca reconsidered her place in the world and decided her true place was beside Guts. Farnese, meanwhile, had no idea what she was going to do next or where her place in the world was, so she decided to follow Guts in order to find out.

This is where the two characters meet. At this point in the story, Casca has been reduced to a husk of her former self. Not only that, but Guts had recently snapped and assaulted Casca, further traumatizing her. When Farnese runs into Guts again, with Serpico in tow, the Black Swordsman is in desperate need of help. Not just in fighting demons, but in keeping Casca calm and safe.

Thus began one of the best sister-like dynamics in manga history. Casca almost immediately latches onto Farnese, and the two quickly became nigh inseparable. Even later on, when Casca is restored to her former self, the two share an incredibly genuine and powerful friendship. Because deep down, whether they both realize it or not, they’ve both had more or less the same experiences in life.

I love the dynamic between these two. Two warriors, struggling with their illusions of themselves and the world. They add an incredible layer to the group we get later on in Berserk.

People love to recall the Band of the Hawk and the Golden Age. But I think everything we get afterwards deserves as much love. Perhaps even more.

If only they had a decent anime adaptation to help that…

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