Berserk Manga Review (Part 5): A Wind of Swords

Pointless little fun fact: my copy of the manga had a typo in the table of contents, calling this chapter ‘A Wind of Words’. Which is honestly almost just as fitting as the actual title. I don’t know if this is a common issue, and it isn’t a big deal. I just thought it was fun. Anyways, let’s talk about the actual story now.

It speaks to the strengths of the Golden Age saga that even a single chapter could have enough material for an analysis.

This chapter doesn’t have the Dragonslayer in it, but this is still a metal as fuck page to open the chapter on!

Three years have passed since Guts joined the Band of the Hawk. In that time, much has changed. Now joining in on the One Hundred Year War, the Band has quickly earned a name for itself among the Midland military, even earning a title for Griffith. But with that nobility comes new responsibilities and trials, for Griffith, Guts, and everyone else in the Band.

This chapter can be broken down into three simple parts. They are:

  • The battle
  • The aftermath
  • The ceremony

The battle doesn’t have all that much to talk about. It mostly serves to show us a more mature and powerful Guts as he single-handedly tackles a devastating enemy force. While it is cool, it is far from the most interesting or memorable battle in the Golden Age.

I just think he’s neat.

The aftermath mostly serves to reintroduce us to the various members of the Band and to show how things have changed. We get to see the more mature designs of each of the characters (which are my favorite character designs in the whole series; this Guts is the best one to me, with a close second going to his design in Lost Children), as well as their new places in the Band.

While most of the other members have stayed mostly the same, it’s clear that Guts has changed dramatically. When Casca yelled at him before, he just shrugged it off and called her a bitch. Now, he is visibly upset by it, so much so that it even startles Casca herself. Guts has come to truly care for the men under his command, as well as for the rest of the Hawks. But his instincts as a warrior still lead him to act rashly and endanger himself and those around him. It’s a nice bit of character growth, even if it is delivered in a way about as subtle as a hammer stroke.

Then there’s the ceremony. Upon first glance, it isn’t particularly meaningful. Griffith is given a title, there’s some comedy with the Band being a bunch of goofy bumpkins and offending nobles, and Guts is off somewhere else training. An important scene, but a relatively simple one.

There is one thing I love about this scene, though. It may be simple, but it perfectly displays the distance that still remains between Guts and the rest of the Hawks. Even three years later, Guts doesn’t feel that he truly belongs with them. It’s a subtle and clever way of setting up the major conflict that will become the center of the Golden Age’s later half.

Can I get a gallery of all the times Guts stares at his sword and contemplates his existence?

While this chapter doesn’t have the most dramatic swings of the story, it does have a fairy strong swing for the art. Up until now, Berserk’s art has been fairly 80’s manga. The first few chapters of Golden Age started to drift away from that, but some of the softness of it remained. Here, we see the art complete its first major metamorphosis.

And it. Looks. Goooooood.

I like this chapter a lot, but it is admittedly sparse on things to talk about. It’s mostly just a way to show how Guts and the other Hawks have grown in three years. It isn’t until the next little story arc that things of real substance begin to happen.

It’s also the first arc where the artwork goes from amazing to absolutely fucking insane. So I’m quite looking forward to that.

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