For the sake of expediency, we’re going to start covering more chapters in these reviews. Mostly because this is the point in the story where we get more individual chapters rather than multi-parters. Today, we’ll be covering:
- Skeleton Knight
- Start of the Everlasting Night
- The Fallen Hawk
- Demise of a Dream
That may not sound like a lot, but these chapters are all fairly dense. So this might take a hot minute.
Skeleton Knight is one of the biggest chapters we’ve covered so far. Here, we get to see the fallout of the Morning Departure chapters from Guts’ perspective. We see him try to justify his own actions to himself while grappling with the regrets of leaving his friends behind. It’s a powerful scene that I feel goes a long way in making Guts feel truly relatable; having moved to a different state just a few months ago, essentially doing what Guts is in this scene, it hits me personally harder now than it ever has.
But no time to dwell on that! We finally get to meet a fan-favorite character: Skull Knight!
This dude makes one hell of a first impression! After a masterfully done horror scene, and one of the coolest panels in the Golden Age, he starts spewing cryptic prophecies before just vanishing in a literal puff of smoke. It’s awesome; it lets you know the supernatural elements are coming back with a vengeance and it creates a cool mystery that’ll continue to grow throughout the entire run of Berserk. I love this scene!
And now we come to one of the darkest and most uncomfortable scenes in the Golden Age. One that I won’t be able to show you guys. Because… you know. Sex.
The final few pages of Skeleton Knight build up to the events of Start of the Everlasting Night masterfully. Charlotte is drawn as being very cutesy and innocent, the very image of a sheltered princess. On the other hand, you can immediately tell that something is wrong with Griffith; his charisma is still there, but his eyes are hollow and sightless. It immediately puts you on edge, creating the sense that something very wrong is about to happen.
Then there’s the sex scene itself. This is, by far, one of the most uncomfortable scenes I’ve ever read. There is no intimacy, no romance, it’s a purely physical event. Griffith is taking advantage of Charlotte, using her as an outlet to make himself feel better about losing Guts. But it doesn’t work.
Unless you count ‘completely burning his dream to the ground’ as a success.
The Fallen Hawk and Demise of a Dream are where things get really gross. Not because of the torture; compared to the horrors that await, Griffith getting slapped around is downright cute. Rather, it’s the character development given to the king of Midland. Development that I’d really rather not talk about that leads into one of the most disgusting attempted rape scenes in a series full of similar attempted rape scenes.
Does it fulfill its aim of being absolutely fucking horrifying? Yes. Does it do a good job at turning the king into a villain? Absolutely. Can I get through reading it without my skin crawling? Nope. Never.
But the misery train doesn’t stop there. Because we haven’t even touched on Casca yet! After several panels of her being lonely and miserable, what does she get? Brought ought to a field to be executed with the rest of the Hawks!
Honestly, there’s not a whole lot to talk about in this last action scene. Sure, seeing the Band of the Hawk get betrayed is a big event in the story, and Pippin suddenly shouting is one of my favorite moments in this section. But it doesn’t have all that much impact when you realize that none of our major characters die here. A lot of them get hurt, sure, but the only casualties are the nameless jobbers. Even Gaston got out alive!
Yes, I know what comes later. But my point still stands.
So that’s where we’re at. Griffith is being mercilessly tortured, Casca and the rest of the Hawks are being murdered, and Guts is getting creepy prophecies from a spooky scary skeleton. After rising higher than any of them thought possible, our heroes have officially plunged lower than ever.
But hey! On the bright side: things can’t possibly get any worse, right?