Berserk Manga Review (Part 20): Sparks From a Sword Tip – Festival’s Eve

And now we come to the portion of Berserk that I honestly don’t care for. Not to say it’s bad; some of the scenes we’re going to discuss today is amazing! It’s just that it kinda drags and it’s sandwiched between some of Berserk’s best stuff.

Anyways, here are the chapters we’re covering this time.

  • Sparks From a Sword Tip
  • Infiltrating Windham 1-2
  • Festival’s Eve 1-2

With Guts once again among their ranks, the Hawks move to execute their plan to rescue Griffith. In doing so, they make contact with a surprising contact. Meanwhile, Rickert finds himself face-to-face with a living nightmare.

I have mixed feelings on ‘Sparks From a Sword Tip.’ In it, Guts tells Casca what he was up to during the year he was away from the Hawks. Which makes me wonder why we didn’t just see that before he came back. If everything concerning Guts’ training was shown earlier, before the chapter ‘Arms Tournament,’ then it would’ve done the pacing a lot of good.

Though it does introduce one of my favorite Berserk characters: Godo. Practically every word out of his mouth is either gruff and cool or genuinely thought provoking. On top of that, he’s layered with mystery; just who is this old blacksmith? Where did he come from? It’s a mystery that only gets deeper and more interesting with each appearance he makes and each line he speaks. Not to mention that he’s just a cool looking character!

His mentorship role to Guts is such a fascinating addition to the story. Godo doesn’t teach Guts about how to fight better or how to deal with demons or anything like that. Rather, he acts as a teacher for the young warrior, helping him work through his existential crisis. He’s an emotional mentor rather than a physical one.

Also, Erica. She’s okay. Of all the characters in Berserk, she sure is one of them.

Aside from that, as well as some really wholesome moments between Guts and Casca, that’s about it for ‘Sparks From a Sword Tip.’ That, as well as some really strong artwork and cool imagery. Overall, a very solid chapter.

Hey, doesn’t that look familiar?

Man, the snake lord is a lot bigger than I remember him being.

‘Infiltrating Windham’ gets off to an incredibly interesting start. In its first few pages, we see a flashback from Griffith’s perspective, giving us our first hints at his origins. That alone would have been satisfying enough, but then we get to have a deep-dive into Griffith’s current inner conflict, that being his feelings towards Guts and his life-long dream.

It’s an inverted version of the scene Guts had in the last chapter, where he figured out what he wanted out of life. Only where Guts had finally found clarity, Griffith is plagued by uncertainty. Whereas Guts was out in the open, bathed in light and surrounded by beauty, Griffith is alone in the dark, naked an severely hurt. Similar imagery is used, only everything in Griffith’s scene is dark and disturbing.

And then some really freaky shit happens. Yeah, in case it weren’t obvious from the giant snake man that the supernatural elements of the story were returning with a vengeance, Griffith’s bizarre vision of the little flesh dudes and his first kinda-meeting with the God Hand should dispel all doubt.

I love this sequence! It’s so weird and creative and creepy! The odd corridor hidden behind the brick wall, through which all the silhouettes of the God Hand watch Griffith, is such a terrifying and fascinating visual! Not to mention how it immediately sets everyone on edge, even if they hadn’t read the Black Swordsman arc; whether you know who these guys are or not, it’s pretty obvious that they are bad news.

Unfortunately, I really start to lose interest with the rest of these two chapters. It’s a whole lot of characters walking and talking and arguing and not a whole lot of actual substance occurs. It isn’t bad by any means, it’s just kind of dull.

That’s not to say there isn’t stuff I like. I love the twist that Charlotte was the Hawks’ informant, which leads to her taking a more active role in the story. Plus, her maid makes for a fun comic relief character, adding just enough levity to the events without breaking the tension.

Fucking hell, they’re so cute!

I really enjoy all the new banter between Guts and Casca. Their relationship has changed in a massive way and you can feel it in how they interact, with Guts taking on a more protective edge and Casca having to tell him off. The two argue, they bicker, they make jokes, and they’re there for each other in a way no one else in the group can be. It’s sweet.

This continues on into the first few pages of ‘Festival’s Eve,’ wherein the two have a short but substantial fight with each other. As much as they have come to love and depend on each other, both Guts and Casca are still dragged down by their feelings towards Griffith. Once again, Griffith is the main force acting to drive the two apart.

Which I am only just now realizing is foreshadowing for the entire rest of the fucking series. God damn, Miura!

Interesting as this conflict is, however, it can’t hold a candle to the rest of these chapters. Here, we get our first scenes told from Rickert’s perspective! And what do we get? One of the most terrifying horror sequences in all of Berserk! Fun times!

Jokes aside, it is insane how masterfully done the horror is in this sequence. The environment is drawn as if the entire thing is a black void, broken up only by the fading embers of campfires. We see a body dangling upside down in the air, the monstrous form devouring it slowly emerging into the limited light in a terrifying full-page spread. As if that weren’t bad enough, we then meet a series of horrifying bug monsters who had compounded the corpses of Rickert’s friends into a ball! It’s genuinely more scary than 90% of the horror films I’ve watched!

And then, just when it seems that Rickert is totally screwed, he appears.


In case you still didn’t think that Skull Knight was the coolest fucking character ever, this scene should dispel all doubt. He’s surrounded by eldritch horrors straight out of nightmares, and what does he do? Tell them to fuck off! And they do!

And then he leaves a teenage boy alone in the dark surrounded by the corpses of his friends to have a mental breakdown. Man, I always forget that Skull Knight is kind of an asshole.

As a whole, I really enjoy this batch of chapters. They’ve got their issues, but it’s nowhere near as bad as it’s going to get pretty soon. Incredibly strong narrative and character moments, the reintroduction of the supernatural horror elements, some incredibly striking artwork and visuals, these chapters have got everything that makes Berserk amazing! It’s just that the cracks of this part of the story are beginning to show.

Still, they’re only just beginning. It’s only when a certain character shows up that they really start to show.

If you know anything about Berserk, you probably know who I’m talking about.

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