Berserk Manga Review (Part 24): The Eclipse

At long last, we have arrived. The most iconic sequence in all of Berserk. When people think of this manga, chances are, this is the very first thing they think of. And for good reason.

Today, we’re covering:

  • The Promised Time
  • Advent
  • The Inhuman Host
  • The Castle
  • Parting

Alas, we can’t cover it all in one article. There is way too much to talk about for that.

Oh, boy! A waking nightmare!

Trapped within a strange, distorted realm, the panicked Hawks try to get a grip of their bearings. But just as they finally begin to calm down, the God Hand appear before them, offering Griffith a place among them. The cost: the lives of all those who follow him. Are the supposed angels making a vain offer? Or will the White Hawk take to black?

If you read the Black Swordsman arc – as you should have, you heathen swine – then you’ll have been waiting for this moment. Knowing where Guts and Griffith end up – or at least, having an idea – adds a subtle sense of dread to the entire Golden Age. In every scene, there’s this nagging sense of grim curiosity; how do these two men, so young and amiable, become the pair of monsters snapping at each other’s throats that we met in the first few chapters?

Well now, we know.

This section does a masterful job of building the sense of horror and dread. We just saw how hard it was for Guts and the Hawks to kill a single Apostle in Wyald. Now, they’re surrounded on all sides by them, trapped in a hellish realm from which there can be no escape. All of this is captured with some of the most striking, grim, and terrifying artwork in the whole series.

What the actual fuck?! That’s so weird! It’s so cool! That’s fucking terrifying!

The introduction of each God Hand member is a fantastic example. Each one arrives in a way that can best be described as mind-bendingly horrifying. It gives our main antagonists so much personality without them needing to say so much as a word, and it lends to the feeling that this is all a bizarre nightmare.

But Guts, even now, doesn’t have a single shit to give. He looks them all dead in the eyes and tells them, in so many words, to fuck off. But he’s so far beneath them that they don’t even acknowledge him. Their eyes are focused sorely on Griffith.

And this is where the nightmare really begins. Separating Griffith from the others, the God Hand begin to manipulate him into joining them. They bombard him with nightmarish visions, ranging from the old crone who gave him the Behelit to the little boy who dreamed of being a knight, whom died fighting for Griffith’s dream. They essentially try to guilt Griffith into making the sacrifice, because if he doesn’t, then their deaths will have all been for nothing.

Yet their manipulation ultimately means nothing. The God Hand aren’t the ones who make up Griffith’s mind. It’s Guts.

Meeting the eyes of his only friend, Griffith realizes just how much Guts really means to him. Of all the countless enemies he’s slain and the allies he’s lost, he never once lost sight of his goal. Never. Guts was the only one to ever make Griffith lose sight of that goal. Only him.

So, Griffith makes his choice.

I sacrifice.

Two words. Simple words. Only half-spoken through his severed tongue. Yet they are enough to end any sympathy we had for this character. With those two words, he becomes one of the most loathsome bastards in the history of manga.

But, just like the Eclipse itself, the horror has only just begun.

Oh yeah, Puck showed up in this section. Pretty easy to forget all that, considering… you know. Everything else.

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