Berserk Manga Review (Part 9): Departure for the Front + Engagement

*Quick note: in my last Berserk review, I accidentally included the chapter ‘Precious Thing’ along with the four ‘Assassin’ chapters. ‘Precious Thing’ is the chapter where Griffith delivers his speech about friendship to Charlotte. I have retroactively changed the title of that review to reflect this, but for the sake of transparency and clarity, I thought I’d let you know. With that said, let’s get into these two chapters.*

We’ll be covering two chapters in this Berserk review. Partly because not a whole lot happens in ‘Departure for the Front’. Partly because I want to get to the ‘Casca’ chapters as quickly as possible.

Now rested and recovered (and with two members of the royal house assassinated), the Band of the Hawk ride out to battle once more. Charlotte’s crush on Griffith is developing further, which sets the eyes of the Queen on the leader of the Hawks. Meanwhile, Casca finds herself struggling, and Guts, haunted by Griffith’s words on friendship, is in the beginnings of an existential crisis.

Look at the little toad. Such misplaced confidence. Poor bastard…

As stated earlier: ‘Departure for the Front’ is a somewhat uneventful chapter. It’s entirely setup, preparing us for the political clash Griffith will be a part of in events to come. Not that it doesn’t have its highlights; Griffith’s stare-down on Minister Foss is downright chilling; seeing Griffith shut down this conniving little goblin without so much as a word is the perfect showcase of how truly dangerous he is as a character.

And I do love that a good chunk of this chapter is told from Casca’s perspective. It’s the first time she steps up into the role of a perspective character, and it’s rather interestingly done. Instead of focusing on her, it focuses more on Griffith and Charlotte. We get to see just how bothered by their budding relationship she is, all without her saying a word about it. It’s a nice bit of setup for her arc, which will take center stage in the next few chapters.

Oh, and then we meet the queen. Not a lot to say there, aside from that she’s a character that exists.

Now, onto the next chapter: Engagement. Again, not a lot to say here. Most of the chapter is dedicated to the battle itself. It’s a whole lot of people on a whole lot of horses doing a whole lot of fighting.

Narratively speaking, this chapter is entirely from the point of view of Casca. Even before the battle starts, she is visibly struggling. I won’t go into why until the manga gets there in the next section. Just know that it, along with this whole section, is related to her gender.

After a few pages of fighting, we meet our antagonist for this little chunk of the story: Adon, leader of the Blue Whale Ultra Heavy Armored Fierce Assault Annihilation Knight Corp. Of all the baddies the Hawks face in the Golden Age, Adon is among my least favorite. He’s an effective enemy, don’t get me wrong; he’s a sexist pig with a big ego. But his ridiculous overly-long names for attacks and military units feel a bit too silly for this section of the story.

Although I do love that Guts just cuts him off whenever he tries to say one out loud. But that’s mostly for the next chapter.

Speaking of which: Guts. After being mostly absent for this small stretch of the story (he had one page in ‘Departure for the Front’ at the end, but that’s it), he steps back into the limelight. And I love how Miura drew his face in these scenes. The crazed, almost desperate look in Guts’ eyes. Right now, all he wants to do is fight and forget. It feels like we’re seeing the first hints of the Guts we knew back in the Black Swordsman arc appearing in him.

If a man looks at you like that, you need to run the fuck away as quick as you can.

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