Are y’all prepared for the best battle scene in the Golden Age? Cause it’s finally time to talk about the Hundred Man fight!
With the enemy closing in on them, Guts and Casca have no choice but to move. Unfortunately, the pair soon find themselves surrounded by a hundred mercenaries, led by the man who put them in this situation: Adon. Faced against impossible odds, will Guts be able to protect Casca and live to tell the tale?
I love the changes between Guts and Casca’s relationship we see at the beginning of this segment. Now that Guts fully understands why Casca hates him so much, he stops viciously insulting her to playfully nudging her. As these chapters progress, Casca begins to see just how far Guts is willing to go to protect her, realizing that he isn’t the selfish brute she assumed him to be. After seeing them snapping at each other in every scene they share, watching them become actual friends is incredibly satisfying.
Even the action serves to highlight their characters. While Guts is a brute whose attacks leave death and devastation in their wake, Casca moves with speed and precision, killing them with minimum movement. On top of that, the action in these chapters is some of the best in the Golden Age; the artwork and panel structure are perfect, each one flowing smoothly into the next, making it incredibly easy to follow.
Plus, it’s just cute to see them fighting back-to-back. Guts and Casca are the ultimate manga power couple.
Unfortunately, this section kinda dips when the two are separated. Remember: Casca is still sick because of her period (whether this is good female representation or not, I have no authority to say), so she is quickly pinned down and nearly raped (a friendly reminder that Berserk is Berserk). I get it, she’s sick so she isn’t in top form. But it’s a little disappointing that she doesn’t rescue herself and that she needs to be saved yet again. That, and it’s the start of a rather unfortunate trend for Casca scenes in the Golden Age. Just let Casca be badass!
But Judeau showing up for the save is pretty cool too. We stan Judeau in this house. If anyone deserved more page time, it’s him.
Meanwhile, Guts is still fucking dudes up. And it’s as awesome as it sounds. We even get to see the first hints of Black Swordsman Guts, with a brief panel of his face blacked out and one white eye! You can tell that this is the fight that pushes Guts beyond the realms of ordinary men.
What I really love about this is that it isn’t an absolute curb-stomp. Guts takes a lot of damage in this fight, and you can tell that he feels how much each wound hurts. Yet for every injury he takes, he kills at least five men in retribution. It goes to make Guts’ victory all the more amazing; he may not be invincible, but he certainly is unstoppable!
Of course, said victory has consequences. He’s so wounded by the end that the camp surgeons tell him to drop out of the war. To which Guts eloquently responds with a simple, “Screw you!” A true poet, our protagonist.
Remember a few paragraphs ago, when I said Judeau needed more time in the spotlight? Well, we actually get just that, as Judeau gives Casca a bag of elf dust that he got from a traveling band of performers. If you’ll recall, Puck mentioned having traveled with performers before meeting Guts all the way back in the first chapter, meaning that Judeau and Puck actually used to travel together! It’s a fun little callback that goes to flesh out Judeau’s backstory. Plus, it plays well into the series’ overarching themes of destiny; even long before they met, Puck was saving Guts’ life.
Even if it is a bit convenient that Judeau just so happened to have magic healing medicine, but whatever.
Overall, I really love this section of Berserk. We get some amazing character development for both Guts and Casca and a badass fight to go along with it! It doesn’t do everything perfectly, but it’s still one of the strongest scenes in the Golden Age!
And it all builds towards my favorite scene in all of fiction: the Bonfire of Dreams!