Author Topic: The Berserk Universe  (Read 2627 times)

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Offline CrimsonBehelit216

The Berserk Universe
« on: September 17, 2014, 04:45:14 AM »
Hey everyone! I had some questions about the berserk universe that has been puzzling me for ages, and would appreciate any answer you give me to at least gain a better insight. I took a look at the berserk universe diagram in the encyclopedia that's on skullknight.net, but I am still confused about some things.

1). What exactly is the astral world? Is it metaphysical in nature, or does it actually have substance? Does it have some kind of relationship or interaction with the mortal/corporeal world, or is it that it exists as an entirely separate world that borders the physical one.

2). If the mortal or corporeal world is inhabited by physical forms, then what about the creatures that reside in the astral world, don't they have physical forms too? The astral creatures encountered by Guts and company all seem to have physical bodies since they bleed and get torn up just like any normal body would, but I get the hint that the author of Berserk has made a distinction between these creatures and normal physical bodies that inhabit the mortal world. Is it just because they entered the mortal world that they have the appearance of a physical form? Can someone please explain to me the distinction the author has conceptualized here if there even is one? Also, when I am talking about astral creatures, i'm not referring to the dead souls that haunt Guts because of his brand, but those creatures like the elves and the trolls.

3). On the aforementioned diagram, a sub-description is placed on each layer, and they are, from top to bottom: Form, Concept, Object, and Image. Can someone explain in detail what this all means in relation to the structure of the berserk universe?

4). Why is the astral world also called "The Land of the Dead" when in the berserk universe diagram, the ideal world seems to be the place where dead souls go? Do all human souls permeate through each layer upon death, only to finally arrive in the ideal world/vortex or is it possible for some dead souls to live in the astral world?

5). What exactly is evil in the berserk universe anyway? It seems in Berserk that evil is not just a concept, but also an actual "substance", as the latter context is shown to be detected by Guts' brand, and harnessed by the apostles and god-hand. Is it just some "energy/mana" given off from "evil" dead souls or is it related to something more specific?

6). Just what the heck is the ideal world anyway and what role does it play in relation to the astral world? In what way does the ideal world influence the astral world to begin with? What really confuses me is that the ideal world seems to be the most important world as it is said in the diagram to have the power to influence all worlds, but on the other hand, the astral world seems it would have precedence over the ideal one, being that the latter is created by the collective human mind, and the former possibly exists separately from subconscious creation. Can someone please explain the nature of the ideal world and its relationship with the rest of the berserk universe?

I look forward to all of your responses and hopefully ill gain a better understanding of my favorite manga!

Offline Aazealh

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Re: The Berserk Universe
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2014, 01:55:18 PM »
Hey there!

I took a look at the berserk universe diagram in the encyclopedia that's on skullknight.net, but I am still confused about some things.

Well that was your first mistake. :slan: That diagram is really old and it's not accurate. You should ignore it.

What exactly is the astral world? Is it metaphysical in nature, or does it actually have substance? Does it have some kind of relationship or interaction with the mortal/corporeal world, or is it that it exists as an entirely separate world that borders the physical one.

The astral world isn't homogeneous. It's composed of layers, from shallowest to deepest. Near the "surface" (don't take this literally, it's just an analogy), astral entities can have tangible forms and are more relatable from a corporeal point of view, but the deeper you go, the harder it is to retain those and the more otherworldly the world and creatures become. To illustrate the difference you could oppose trolls, which are humanoid monsters, to a being like the Blaze Wheel. The trolls are lesser creatures, and they're closer to the corporeal world. One additional complexity is that within the astral world there are territories, certains places that have a particular Od and that attract related beings. The Qliphoth is one such place.

The astral world and the corporeal world are almost completely disconnected from one another when Berserk's story starts. You only have a few astral beings left in the corporeal world (like Puck). Now, there's a specific case that should be mentioned here: the interstice between worlds. There are beings who exist both in the corporeal and astral worlds. Branded people (like Guts and Casca) are among these. So are apostles. It means that their corporeal bodies can interact with astral beings who dwell in the shallower parts of the astral world. For branded people, that usually means being harassed by malevolent beings. Anyway, currently the corporeal and astral worlds are very closely connected after what happened with Ganishka. We do not have precise details on the extent of that connexion.

Also, when I am talking about astral creatures, i'm not referring to the dead souls that haunt Guts because of his brand, but those creatures like the elves and the trolls.

But the specters that harass Guts every night are astral entities.

Why is the astral world also called "The Land of the Dead" when in the berserk universe diagram, the ideal world seems to be the place where dead souls go? Do all human souls permeate through each layer upon death, only to finally arrive in the ideal world/vortex or is it possible for some dead souls to live in the astral world?

Let me again stress the fact you should disregard that diagram. Anyway, when people die, their astral self leaves their body and travels through the astral world until they eventually join the great ocean of souls that exists at the bottom. Some refuse to go through with the journey and remain in the shallow parts of the astral world. These eventually become what I mentioned above, the specters that come after Guts at night.

Side note: in that great ocean of souls, there is a massive whirlpool. It concentrates all of the evil souls in the entire world. That is what we refer to as the Vortex of Souls.

What exactly is evil in the berserk universe anyway? It seems in Berserk that evil is not just a concept, but also an actual "substance", as the latter context is shown to be detected by Guts' brand, and harnessed by the apostles and god-hand.

The Japanese word used in Berserk doesn't just mean "evil" as a moral concept, but also "magic". So yes, it is a power that can be harnessed.

Just what the heck is the ideal world anyway and what role does it play in relation to the astral world? In what way does the ideal world influence the astral world to begin with?

The concept of the ideal world originally comes from Plato (the Greek philosopher). Looking it up to you should help you understand things better. In short, it posits that everything in the real world is an imperfect image derived from a perfect one in an ideal world. In that world, there is a single tree, that perfectly embodies what a tree is. All trees in the real world are flawed imitation of that one flawless example.

For us it's mostly relevant in relation to the Idea of Evil, an entity that was subconsciously created by mankind and that acts as a kind of God. That entity is the embodiment of the dark side of mankind's collective consciousness. It dwells in the abyss that lies at the bottom of the Vortex of Souls. From there it manipulates the world through the principle of causality.

Offline Walter

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Re: The Berserk Universe
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2014, 02:20:28 PM »
I don't blame you for being confused. I made the diagram back in about 2003 to help people visualize what was at the time a new concept to Berserk: multiple layers of the world. It was never meant to be as comprehensive as it tries to be though. I was far too ambitious with it. I've thought of better designs later, but never implemented them (one that emphasizes depth, not merely distance).

To better understanding things, I'd recommend forgetting about the diagram and re-reading what Schierke and Flora say in episodes 201-202 (Astral World and Magic Stone in Vol 24). These scenes are the basis for everything in the diagram, and comprise perhaps the most significant world-building explanation in the whole series.

1). What exactly is the astral world? Is it metaphysical in nature, or does it actually have substance? Does it have some kind of relationship or interaction with the mortal/corporeal world, or is it that it exists as an entirely separate world that borders the physical one.

They occupy the same space, only in different dimensions and with different properties. Magic users can project an astral form (called a luminous body in Berserk) to see and interact with the astral world. Flora explains this in Ep 201 and Schierke goes into some more detail on it with Farnese in Vol 29 (ep 250, Vandimion). Schierke's perception is also heightened as a magic user and can detect differences in Od (spiritual auras). Coincidentally, Guts' brand also serves as an astral antennae for these kinds of phenomena.

Quote
2). If the mortal or corporeal world is inhabited by physical forms, then what about the creatures that reside in the astral world, don't they have physical forms too? The astral creatures encountered by Guts and company all seem to have physical bodies since they bleed and get torn up just like any normal body would, but I get the hint that the author of Berserk has made a distinction between these creatures and normal physical bodies that inhabit the mortal world. Is it just because they entered the mortal world that they have the appearance of a physical form? Can someone please explain to me the distinction the author has conceptualized here if there even is one? Also, when I am talking about astral creatures, i'm not referring to the dead souls that haunt Guts because of his brand, but those creatures like the elves and the trolls.

Easiest way to answer:



Quote
3). On the aforementioned diagram, a sub-description is placed on each layer, and they are, from top to bottom: Form, Concept, Object, and Image. Can someone explain in detail what this all means in relation to the structure of the berserk universe?

It's just a flawed way to contextualize the properties of each layer, from superficial in the Physical World to core idea in the Ideal World. Keep in mind that the Ideal World is based on Plato's Theory of Forms.

Quote
4). Why is the astral world also called "The Land of the Dead" when in the berserk universe diagram, the ideal world seems to be the place where dead souls go? Do all human souls permeate through each layer upon death, only to finally arrive in the ideal world/vortex or is it possible for some dead souls to live in the astral world?

I don't have 100% faith in that translation, but without pulling strings, it's so-named because of the ghosts that transiently inhabit it. Beyond that, we don't have a ton of information on the afterlife in Berserk, other than those souls that are bound to the Vortex. So answering the question to the extent that you'd like just isn't possible right now.

Quote
5). What exactly is evil in the berserk universe anyway? It seems in Berserk that evil is not just a concept, but also an actual "substance", as the latter context is shown to be detected by Guts' brand, and harnessed by the apostles and god-hand. Is it just some "energy/mana" given off from "evil" dead souls or is it related to something more specific?

It's a good question. It's not a substance. The easiest way to describe it right now is evil magic, I think. It's a power that the God Hand and the Apostles utilize, and appears to flow from the Vortex of Souls (we see Femto being created from it in the noncanonical Episode 83)

Quote
6). Just what the heck is the ideal world anyway and what role does it play in relation to the astral world? In what way does the ideal world influence the astral world to begin with? What really confuses me is that the ideal world seems to be the most important world as it is said in the diagram to have the power to influence all worlds, but on the other hand, the astral world seems it would have precedence over the ideal one, being that the latter is created by the collective human mind, and the former possibly exists separately from subconscious creation. Can someone please explain the nature of the ideal world and its relationship with the rest of the berserk universe?

For starters, the Ideal World is the one we know the least about. But I'd say it's the most important one, in that it houses some of the biggest and most powerful beings in the series.
Hope that helps... These are some big questions that don't all have readily available explanations.
:femto: :slan: :ubik:

Offline Jaze1618

Re: The Berserk Universe
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2014, 02:50:25 PM »
Quote
I made the diagram back in about 2003 to help people visualize what was at the time a new concept to Berserk: multiple layers of the world. It was never meant to be as comprehensive as it tries to be though. I was far too ambitious with it. I've thought of better designs later, but never implemented them (one that emphasizes depth, not merely distance).

To better understanding things, I'd recommend forgetting about the diagram and re-reading what Schierke and Flora say in episodes 201-202 (Astral World and Magic Stone in Vol 24). These scenes are the basis for everything in the diagram, and comprise perhaps the most significant world-building explanation in the whole series.

If you were up for it, this would serve as a fine caveat to add to the diagram on the site.

Offline Aazealh

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Re: The Berserk Universe
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2014, 02:52:27 PM »
If you were up for it, this would serve as a fine caveat to add to the diagram on the site.

It'd be better to just take it down.

Offline CrimsonBehelit216

Re: The Berserk Universe
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2014, 05:11:07 PM »
The astral world isn't homogeneous. It's composed of layers, from shallowest to deepest. Near the "surface" (don't take this literally, it's just an analogy), astral entities can have tangible forms and are more relatable from a corporeal point of view, but the deeper you go, the harder it is to retain those and the more otherworldly the world and creatures become. To illustrate the difference you could oppose trolls, which are humanoid monsters, to a being like the Blaze Wheel. The trolls are lesser creatures, and they're closer to the corporeal world. One additional complexity is that within the astral world there are territories, certains places that have a particular Od and that attract related beings. The Qliphoth is one such place.

The astral world and the corporeal world are almost completely disconnected from one another when Berserk's story starts. You only have a few astral beings left in the corporeal world (like Puck). Now, there's a specific case that should be mentioned here: the interstice between worlds. There are beings who exist both in the corporeal and astral worlds. Branded people (like Guts and Casca) are among these. So are apostles. It means that their corporeal bodies can interact with astral beings who dwell in the shallower parts of the astral world. For branded people, that usually means being harassed by malevolent beings. Anyway, currently the corporeal and astral worlds are very closely connected after what happened with Ganishka. We do not have precise details on the extent of that connexion.

They occupy the same space, only in different dimensions and with different properties. Magic users can project an astral form (called a luminous body in Berserk) to see and interact with the astral world. Flora explains this in Ep 201 and Schierke goes into some more detail on it with Farnese in Vol 29 (ep 250, Vandimion). Schierke's perception is also heightened as a magic user and can detect differences in Od (spiritual auras). Coincidentally, Guts' brand also serves as an astral antennae for these kinds of phenomena.

Thank you Walter and Aazealh for your responses. I now have a better understanding of the Berserk Universe. On the topic of the astral world, from what you're saying, in a figurative sense the astral world, in terms of how you described it as being composed of layers, isn't just a flat land but more like an ocean, and the deeper you swim the more strange things get while in a sense the closer you are to the surface the more it resembles the corporeal realm. It makes me appreciate Berserk even more. It goes without saying that Kentaro Miura has poured his heart and soul into Berserk. Not only is the art beautifully drawn, but the world he has visualized is richly imagined. His talent as a visual storyteller is paralleled by few to none.

Let me again stress the fact you should disregard that diagram. Anyway, when people die, their astral self leaves their body and travels through the astral world until they eventually join the great ocean of souls that exists at the bottom. Some refuse to go through with the journey and remain in the shallow parts of the astral world. These eventually become what I mentioned above, the specters that come after Guts at night.

Side note: in that great ocean of souls, there is a massive whirlpool. It concentrates all of the evil souls in the entire world. That is what we refer to as the Vortex of Souls.

I had another question about this. What are the conditions for a soul to gravitate towards the vortex of souls? Is it simply the house for evil souls, or are there other conditions, like for example, can a soul also have intense grief without doing too many evil deeds to find its way in the vortex? Basically, negative thoughts and actions in general. Also, is the vortex where those cursed by the brand are doomed to go after they die regardless of their past deeds?


I don't blame you for being confused. I made the diagram back in about 2003 to help people visualize what was at the time a new concept to Berserk: multiple layers of the world. It was never meant to be as comprehensive as it tries to be though. I was far too ambitious with it. I've thought of better designs later, but never implemented them (one that emphasizes depth, not merely distance).

I liked the diagram, It's a cool concept even though it may be inaccurate as you said. I would love to see these other designs you have thought of.  :ubik:

It'd be better to just take it down.

I don't feel it should be taken down, but maybe a disclaimer added to it.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2014, 05:27:45 PM by CrimsonBehelit216 »

Offline Aazealh

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Re: The Berserk Universe
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2014, 05:32:05 PM »
I had another question about this. What are the conditions for a soul to gravitate towards the vortex of souls? Is it simply the house for evil souls, or are there other conditions, like for example, can a soul also have intense grief without doing too many evil deeds to find its way in the vortex? Basically, negative thoughts and actions in general.

Karma. And yeah, I'd say negative thoughts and actions probably do count. See the case of Vargas.

Also, is the vortex where those cursed by the brand are doomed to go after they die regardless of their past deeds?

Yes.