Yes, you read that right. We’re covering the entirety of volume 11 today. Anything and everything focusing on Wyald, we’re getting through all at once. This includes:
- Devil Dogs 1-4
- Roar of the Wild Beast
- Forest of Tragedy
- Mortal Combat 1-2
- Armor to the Heart
- The Flying One
- The Immortal Once Again
Why, you ask? Simple: this is my least favorite part in all of Berserk. Of the whole series, I actively dread having to reread these chapters. That, and I want to reach the next segment of the story as quickly as possible.
If you know literally anything about Berserk, you know why.
After escaping from Windham and the Bakiraka, Guts and the rest of the Hawks make to reunite with the others with Griffith safely in their grasp. However, they’ve got one last problem to deal with: the Black Dog Knights, Midland’s most brutal and savage legion. At their head is Wyald, a demon akin to Nosferatu Zodd! With an unstoppable monster on their tails, can Guts and the Hawks survive?
Let’s get it out of the way: I hate Wyald. Berserk is supposed to be dark and brutal, but he takes it all to a cartoonish extreme. Which is a bit problematic, considering his… pension, we’ll call it, for – there’s no gentle way of saying this – sexually assaulting women. Dude is so over the top that the manga even censors his dialogue.
Now, in fairness: he is very effective at raising the tension. We see the Hawks employ all manner of strategies that leave corpses of the regular Black Dogs. Yet Wyald blasts through it all with glee. He truly feels unstoppable, which only makes his final showdown with Guts all the better.
Speaking of which: Guts VS Wyald is actually a really sick fight. We get a strong character moment, as Guts confronts his lingering fears of Zodd and defends Casca, and the fight itself is just really cool to read. Clever and interesting strategies, brutal gore, it’s got it all!
Now, before we move on, there’s another issue I need to address with this section: Casca. Throughout the rest of the series, she’s been a rock. A badass who takes no shit and can keep up with the best of them. It’s easy to see why Guts fell for her; she’s one of the coolest female characters in the history of manga!
But what does this section do with her? It makes her a damsel in distress. She’s constantly crying and freaking out over Guts getting hurt. When Wyald gets a hold of her, she’s quickly stripped naked and needs to be saved. I get that Casca isn’t a monster like Guts and she can’t fight Apostles, but fucking come on! That’s no excuse to completely strip her – pun intended – of agency!
Again, however, to be fair: this ties in really well with Griffith’s reactions throughout this section. He is watching all of the interactions between Guts and Casca like… well, like a hawk. All in inscrutable silence and a difficult to read expression. Is he jealous of their new romance? Angry? Sad? Or is he plotting something as a means for revenge? It’s very interpretive and I really like that.
It’s a little less interpretive if you know what happens next, though.
Finally, let’s talk about the finale of this section. We get a really sweet yet sad scene of Guts and Griffith in the carriage. Seeing Guts genuinely trying to be kind to Griffith, helping him into his armor and seeing Griffith struggle and fail to hold his sword is honestly heartbreaking.
But then, of course, Wyald interrupts them. However, I can’t really complain this time. Mainly because Zodd shows up to finally kill him. And Nosferatu Zodd is always a win.
As a whole, I still really don’t like this section. It has a lot of strong points that keep me from just skipping it entirely, but Wyald himself still ruins it for me. For all he adds to the narrative, he’s just too much. Honestly, I can’t really blame all of the anime adaptations for skipping him.
Although, for some god damn reason, he’s still in the Berserk Musou game. Fuck, he was playable!