Author Topic: The purpose of the Apostles  (Read 1817 times)

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Offline ApostleBob

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The purpose of the Apostles
« on: January 25, 2012, 12:22:30 AM »
I've been a long time reader of Berserk, but something has always bugged me.  The IoE has spun causality for millennia in order to shape man's will for some grand design.   Perhaps it's Falconia.  But the IoE cannot interact with the world directly.  To guide the IoE's design, it creates the God Hand as middlemen, out of what I assume are exceptional human beings with incredibly strong will.  I assume this about them because Griffith was this way, and because the IoE is essentially fueled by and created by human will (not the strongest argument, but I think it fits thematically).  But even they are like shadows on the world, only able to influence small events, never to interfere (except after an incarnation such as Griffith).  With one exception:  They preside over the creation of apostles.  Only the apostles can exist on the material world up to now.  But to what end?

Everything the IoE seems to have done seems to be with the long term in mind, that much is pretty clear.  But the creation of powerful monsters as some sort of wish fulfillment program is perplexing.  Why are these humans granted great power and told to do what they want, instead of given a specific agenda.  Many, like Grunbeld, Locus, Rakshas, and Ganishka, were exceptional people before the transformation.  We can assume Zodd and Irving were as well.  But some, like the Count, Rosine, the Beheilit Apostle, and probably Wyald weren't exceptional at all.  Most of them are cruel and almost all of them are terrifying to normal people.

I have a couple theories but I wondered what the communities take on this is, as it's never explicitly stated in the manga.

My speculation:

Their purpose is dual in nature.

Their initial purpose is to create misery, suffering and uncertainty in the world.  They give into their own selfish desires and bully puny humans at their hearts content.  People pray for salvation.  After many generations this creates an environment in which the Hawk of Light is desired enough to manifest.  We can speculate that this was specifically the purpose of Ganishka: to create a grave enemy against humanity for Griffith to defeat, to solidify his status as a grand liberator.    

Their second purpose apparently is to become the army of the re-incarnated Griffith.  An invincible force that no army can stand before and who will be devoutly loyal to a God Hand member should he ever fall out of favor with the people.  This could have taken hundreds of years as the apostles appear to be unaffected by age, and we know at least Zodd is 300 years old.    

So what do you think?  Am I way off base?  Or are they just cool bad guys that Miura wanted to include  :iva:
« Last Edit: February 15, 2013, 09:40:05 PM by ApostleBob »

Offline Walter

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Re: The purpose of the Apostles
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2012, 01:51:28 AM »
When you start trying to decipher the grand scheme behind the God Hand and the Idea of Evil, you're venturing into unknown territory. For that reason, it's not the best material for speculation because there's little grounds to further any potential theory. On the bright side, I think the darkness of that long tunnel will come to an end soon.

Overall I don't think you're too far off base regarding the function of apostles. However, there are a number of things I wanted to clarify about your post.

But even they are like shadows on the world, only able to influence small events,
Quite the opposite, actually. They appear to be stealthily manipulating events of national and possibly global importance from behind the scenes. The key scenes for that are Slan visible during the orgy in Vol 18, and Conrad being formed by rats outside Wyndham, spreading plague. And those are just the instances we were shown. Skull Knight tells Guts in vol 18 that they can be found just behind the veil in any place of "concentrated negative human emotion." Just because we don't see them hurling boulders at armies doesn't mean they aren't influencing people.

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Everything the IoE seems to have done seems to be with the long term in mind, that much is pretty clear.  But the creation of powerful monsters as some sort of wish fulfillment program is perplexing.  Why are these humans granted great power and told to do what they want, instead of given a specific agenda.
Remember that the Idea of Evil manipulates nearly every circumstance in a human's life to serve its agenda. Apostles have a directive "do as you will," but their will has already been molded into a suitable form for the larger scheme. The apostle coda may as well be: "Do as you will (For all the good it will do you...)" Of course, humans aren't programmable like robots.  The count obviously goes against the role carved for him. But they can be placed in specific circumstances where the outcome is nearly inevitable. That's the method the IoE uses. For such a complex computation, I think apostles are probably useful as controlled variables.

As powerful beings granted near-immortality, they swing a heavier hammer of influence on the world than the average human. So it probably works favorably for the GH and the IoE that these same beings have their bodies bound to evil.

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Their initial purpose is to create misery, suffering and uncertainty in the world.  They give into their own selfish desires and bully puny humans at their hearts content.  People pray for salvation.  After many generations this creates an environment in which the Hawk of Light is desired enough to manifest.
I think apostles are a part of that, sure. But I think many other things contributed to the overall atmosphere of the world, which led them to collectively cry out for a savior. Most people don't even acknowledge that apostles exist, so the atmosphere clearly isn't just from some apostles terrorizing humans.  

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Their second purpose apparently is to become the army of the re-incarnated Griffith.  An invincible force that no army can stand before and who will be devoutly loyal to a God Hand member should he ever fall out of favor with the people.  This could have taken hundreds of years as the apostles appear to be unaffected by age, and we know at least Zodd is 300 years old.
Agreed, but I don't think we have to worry about Griffith falling out of favor at this point.  :griffnotevil:
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Offline ApostleBob

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Re: The purpose of the Apostles
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2012, 04:47:38 AM »
When you start trying to decipher the grand scheme behind the God Hand and the Idea of Evil, you're venturing into unknown territory. For that reason, it's not the best material for speculation because there's little grounds to further any potential theory.

I guess I was just trying to make the point that it seems like the IoE does have some end in mind to it's machinations.  What that is, whether it's Falconia, or something beyond, is yet to be seen.  But there does appear to be purpose to all the GHs manipulation and influence.  It's not just to keep a status quo.  I was just speculating as to what part the Apostles have in it.

Quite the opposite, actually. They appear to be stealthily manipulating events of national and possibly global importance from behind the scenes. The key scenes for that are Slan visible during the orgy in Vol 18, and Conrad being formed by rats outside Wyndham, spreading plague. And those are just the instances we were shown. Skull Knight tells Guts in vol 18 that they can be found just behind the veil in any place of "concentrated negative human emotion." Just because we don't see them hurling boulders at armies doesn't mean they aren't influencing people.

I think we're saying the same thing.  They can nudge and influence humanity, often with large results, but they cannot directly interfere with it's affairs except in extreme circumstances.  They are the man behind the curtain pulling the strings, but no one is aware.  For example, they would never appear out of thin air and strike down Ganishka for daring to oppose them.  They are more subtle, so much so that almost appears to an untrained eye that they don't exist.  Which is exactly what 99% of the Berserk world believe.

Apostles have a directive "do as you will," but their will has already been molded into a suitable form for the larger scheme. The apostle coda may as well be: "Do as you will (For all the good it will do you...)"

A great way to put it.  But other than Zodd, Wyald, Eggman and Ganishka, most of them seem to have little influence at all on world events.  They're either just assholes or exceptional soldiers.  But maybe that's enough.  :zodd:

Of course, humans aren't programmable like robots.  The count obviously goes against the role carved for him. But they can be placed in specific circumstances where the outcome is nearly inevitable. That's the method the IoE uses. For such a complex computation, I think apostles are probably useful as controlled variables.

Maybe it deserves a separate topic but I find it interesting that despite all the manipulation and precognition the IoE seems to have over the world, it makes it a big point that becoming an apostle (or a God Hand) is a choice.  A very coerced choice at their weakest state, to be sure, but still it is not forced.  A lot of emphasis is put on man having no control even over his own will, and that causality rules overall.   :void:

The implication is that free will is an illusion and that determinism is the rule of the day.  But why then does Miura offer choice at this critical stage?  He could have easily just had the sacrifice be automatic as Guts predicted in Vol 12.  And why show an exception like the Count early on in the story?  I have a suspicion that the strength of individual will can trump causality and collective desire.  Guts characteristic stubbornness in the face of impossibility and the dependence on apostle candidates to choose seem to point to this being Miura's end intention.  But hey that's me.   :slan:

As powerful beings granted near-immortality, they swing a heavier hammer of influence on the world than the average human. So it probably works favorably for the GH and the IoE that these same beings have their bodies bound to evil.

Agreed of course, but it's a little vague for my tastes.  I wonder if we'll ever get a more specific answer to this in the manga.  I doubt it.

Most people don't even acknowledge that apostles exist, so the atmosphere clearly isn't just from some apostles terrorizing humans.  

True, few even acknowledge the supernatural exists at all until recently.  But by climbing into these power positions, often through their apostle superiority (Koka, Count, Ganishka, Wyald), many of them have the ability to influence the population without revealing their true nature.  
« Last Edit: February 15, 2013, 10:04:58 PM by ApostleBob »

Offline Walter

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Re: The purpose of the Apostles
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2012, 05:43:41 AM »
Maybe it deserves a separate topic but I find it interesting that despite all the manipulation and precognition the IoE seems to have over the world, it makes it a big point that becoming an apostle (or a God Hand) is a choice.  A very coerced choice at their weakest state, to be sure, but still it is not forced.  A lot of emphasis is put on man having no control even over his own will, and that causality rules overall.   :void:

The implication is that free will is an illusion and that determinism is the rule of the day.  But why then does Miura offer choice at this critical stage?  He could have easily just had the sacrifice be automatic as Guts predicted in Vol 12.  And why and show an exception like the Count early on in the story?  I have a suspicion that the strength of individual will can trump causality and collective desire.  Guts characteristic stubbornness in the face of impossibility and the dependence on apostle candidates to choose seem to point to this being Miura's end intention.  But hey that's me.   :slan:

I think this is definitely new thread material here. I could write quite a bit on it... and I'm struggling with myself not to.

But in brief! No, it's not pure determinism. Humans always have a choice in the affairs of the God Hand. The count had a choice, Griffith had a choice. Guts has his own choice, but it's a bit different. Flora also tells Skull Knight that Guts and his company aren't bound to make the same choices that Flora and SK did, in their own time. Regardless, this isn't a phenomena limited to apostles. It's a dominant theme in the series. Despite the overbearing forces at work behind the scenes, human will can still triumph over those machinations.   

As to why? To be honest I feel a little out of my depth. Aaz might have more insight into this. But something that comes to mind is that the God Hand were once called the Guardian Angels of Desire, beings who are ruled by the god made by man. Perhaps human will has the capacity to override these things on a fundamental level.

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True, few even acknowledge the supernatural exists at all until recently.  But by climbing into these power positions, often through their apostle superiority (Koka, Count, Ganishka, Wyald), many of them have the ability to influence the population without revealing their true nature. 

Don't forget Balzac from the Dreamcast game!  :serpico:
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