Alright, One Piece is done. Now we can focus all our manga efforts on Berserk! Happy day!
Having survived the fight against Nosferatu Zodd, Guts, Griffith, Casca, and the rest of the Hawks take some time to rest. Tensions between Guts and Casca are higher than ever, while Griffith’s political career is on the rise. However, that sudden rise has drawn the eyes of some powerful enemies upon him.
These two chapters are a whole lot of setup for events to come. We meet a ton of new characters that are going to play a huge role in the story, both in the short and long term. That said, this isn’t a boring slog of introductions. There are a ton of powerful moments packed in here!
Up to this point, Casca hasn’t exactly been the most likable character, at least towards Guts. It’s understandable why, he did murder two of her friends and nearly killed her back when they first met. But in these chapters, we get a glimpse at just how deep her hatred of our protagonist goes. On top of that, we get a few subtle hints as to the true reasons behind her feelings, which will be made clear in a few chapters time.
Also, she just full-on decks him in the face. Which is pretty dope.
Guts’ reaction to this is very interesting to me. He is clearly upset by Casca’s attitude towards him, so much so that he can’t get her out of his head. It’s a clear and accurate depiction of how someone with severe anxiety reacts to such behavior. The Band of the Hawk is the one place Guts has felt that he belongs, where he’s accepted, and Casca seems to want him to get the fuck away or to just die. Worst of all: he can’t figure out why. It would be enough to drive anyone crazy!
Meanwhile, Griffith is out making political moves. This is a small part of these chapters, but it is a massively important one. Griffith’s rise in the political world of Midland is going to be a big deal in the stories to come. Not just because it sets him against some powerful new enemies, but because it pushes him further away from the rest of the Hawks.
With the exception of Guts. Much to Casca’s chagrin.
This simple exchange seems so innocent and simple on the surface. But much of Griffith’s dialogue reveals just how dangerous the man really is. Not to mention mysterious. When he tells Guts that he keeps risking his life to protect him for no reason, is he telling the truth or simply trying to manipulate him? What exactly did he mean when he said gods and devils are the same thing? It’s an interesting exchange where you can see both how dangerously charming Griffith is, especially for Guts, and how potentially dangerous his mindset truly is.
But we can’t dwell on that! We’ve got to meet nobles, a princess, and a king! Though I doubt any of them will be important in any way.
There really isn’t much to say about this section. It’s a strong introduction to some major players of the story, particularly the king and princess Charlotte. It’s a strong introduction, but we won’t see any of their true depth or importance until much later in the narrative.
I do love Minister Faust, though. That tiny little toad man makes for an excellent early-story human antagonist. His design is excellent and he is delightfully conniving. He’s a smaller character in the narrative, but I absolutely love him.
What can I say? I love little goblin-looking men.
But none of that, none of it at all, compares to the final scene of this pair of chapters. That scene being Guts on the rooftop.
This scene seems small and somewhat unimportant. But it is a HUGE moment for Guts as a character and his relationship with Griffith. It’s a wonderful little scene that hurts like hell in retrospect.
Up to this point in the story, Guts has been painfully aware of his lack of purpose and his distance from the others in the Band of the Hawk. When compared to Griffith’s massive ambitions, he feels inadequate, like he’s wasted his life. So for him to hear that man, whom he admires and respects, say that he’d be willing to lay down his life for Guts for no reason at all changes something inside him. He may not know his own purpose, but he decides that he can dedicate himself to Griffith, at least for the time being.
Plus, it draws an interesting parallel between Guts and Casca. But we’ll cover that when the story does.
These two chapters are incredibly refreshing and impactful. There are no big action scenes or dramatic battles or giant demons. Just a whole bunch of character interactions and a whole shit ton of growth and development. They show off the true strengths of Berserk as a series: its characters.
On top of that, it sets up the next section of the story flawlessly. And hoo fuckin’ boy, am I excited to talk about that!