Here we are. The calm before the storm. Today, we’re covering:
- Requiem of the Wind
- The Warriors of Twilight
- Back Alley Boy
The Band of the Hawk has successfully escaped from Midland. However, now they must face the grim reality that Griffith cannot lead them anymore. It seems the Band is about to breath its last. But fate has other plans for them.
Somber is the best way to describe these chapters. Up to now, we’ve seen the Hawks at their highest and their lowest. Seeing them at the end of the road, with no other options left but to go their separate ways, is a blow to the gut.
For me, the most powerful part of this sequence is actually the environment in which it takes place. A wide open field, not a tree in sight, with a perfectly clear sky. We’ve seen the Hawks in many such locations, fighting many battles. But now, they’re completely alone. No one left to fight, and no fight left to give even if there was. It’s an odd blend of beautiful and sad.
And that’s before we get to the actual characters!
These chapters really hit Guts – and therefor me – where it hurts. Faced with the end of the Hawks, the one true family he ever had, he finally realizes that leaving was a mistake. But that realization comes too late. I think that’s something everyone can relate to; all of us come to a point in our lives where we have to make an important decision about our futures. I’m sure a good number of us have come to regret it in the same way.
But wait! The heartbreak train isn’t over yet! Because Casca, seeing just how frail and helpless Griffith truly is, comes to a heartbreaking decision. She can’t leave with Guts as he had promised she would. In response, Guts decides to stay as well, but she shoots the idea down. Their relationship, the only pure display of love and affection we’ve seen in the entire series, is already at an end.
Also: something is clearly wrong with Casca. Before the break up, there’s a short scene of her own her own, sitting on the ground and uncomfortably clutching her stomach. Upon first reading, it’s pretty confusing as to what’s going on. But upon reflection, it’s a subtle bit of foreshadowing for a heartbreaking twist soon to come.
Oh yeah, and Griffith tried to violate her. It could be interpreted that he was just trying to come onto her. But given what we know about Griffith’s… how do I put this lightly… sexual approaches, let’s say… I have my doubts about that interpretation.
Speaking of whom: Griffith is going through some shit right now. Of all the Hawks, the death of the Band strikes him the hardest. In his weakened state, he begins to hallucinate. Driven into a frenzy of delusion, Griffith takes the reigns of the wagon and rushes off, with Guts, Casca, and the rest of the Hawks following his heels. He has no real destination, hell, he probably can’t even see where he’s going. All he can see is the castle. The one fixation that led him to where he is in the first place. Desperate to reach it, he keeps going.
Until once again, reality crashes the party. Or in this case: his wagon. Griffith falls into a shallow lake, breaking his arm. Falling unconscious, he dreams of the future that could very well be in front of him. A calm, ordinary, peaceful future, shared with Casca and their son…
…whom is named Guts. Even in his fantasies, Griffith is obsessed with him. Or maybe he realizes that Casca would never love him the same way she loves Guts. After all, Griffith can’t talk anymore; he wouldn’t be able to name the child. Casca would have had to.
Interpret that as you will. Whatever the case, Griffith seems somewhat content with that future.
It’s here, upon his awakening, that he finally cracks. Laughing like a madman, he finds the nearest, sharpest branch and goes to kill himself.
But then it appears.
Everything gets real creepy. Mysterious naked figures appear in the lake, silhouettes appearing seemingly out of thin air with malicious smiles on their faces, looking more like monsters than people. The long foreshadowed eclipse darkens the sky. It’s a striking, dread-inducing image.
Then the Behelit activates. Screaming and shedding tears of blood, it transports everyone to a hellscape of… faces. The sky is faces, the ground is faces, everything is faces. It’s a genuinely chilling, even disturbing, image. The first horror of many to come.
The Eclipse has officially begun.
I love this section of the story. The somber heartbreak, the creeping dread, it’s masterfully executed. On top of that, we get some of the best artwork in the whole series, hitting us with some truly chilling panels and images. This is what peak manga writing looks like.
And now, we dive into one of the darkest, most disturbing sequences in the history of fiction. Boy, are we gonna have fun next week.