Author Topic: Giants and the world of Berserk  (Read 4927 times)

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Offline ApostleBob

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Giants and the world of Berserk
« on: January 26, 2015, 02:44:52 AM »
Another random observation about the world of berserk.  It's set in a fantasy world to be sure, yet the populace that makes the majority of it up (with small exception) seems to behave as if it isn't.  By this I mean that they seem incredulous whenever they do stumble upon the supernatural such as Apostles, trolls, elves, or ghosts.  It's kind of a hidden world, until fantasia occurs.  There are some small exceptions with Puck, but for the most part, people react as if this stuff was just out of a fairy tale, such as Casca when Judeau gives her elf dust. 

Strangely though, giant size humans seem to be the norm.  In some cases this just may be an exaggerated art style, such as the cases of Zondark, Bazuso, and Samson.  But when the New Band of the Hawk show up, Grunbeld and his squad are clearly over 12 feet tall, and the small flashback for him implies that this was the case even before he gained apostlehood.  Maybe I'm just stating the obvious, but does that not seem a little strange?  I can get that the "demon soldiers" led by Zodd, Locus, and Rakshas seem weird and somewhat beastly, but I always figured the humans they're liberating just thought they were a group of odd barbarians. 12 foot giants that beat down War elephants is another thing.       

So I guess in the world of Berserk, giant people are a rare but known thing?  Any other exceptions that jump to mind.

Offline slothqueen

Re: Giants and the world of Berserk
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2015, 11:42:20 AM »
I think that Miura portrayed fantasy quasi-medieval times quite rightly in case of involving fantasy elements into it. He created world medieval people believed to live in - not clearly fable-like, but huge and mysterious for a man who knows only his town and neighborhood. It's not D&D, where presence of elves, dwarfs and magic items is as obvious, as presence of beetroots on your field - it's world of unproven phenomenons, some of which people explained to be caused by magic, evil spirits, fate - but those explanations were still just conjectures, which adapted better (and became local legend which people believed in) or worse (and ended up as fables). In actual medieval times people didn't believe in magic or monsters uncritically - they knew, for example, that tales about boogeyman and elves were created to discipline children, but - on the other hand - believed that old hag from nearby forest was a witch and could cast curses.

I can see situation, in which people in Midland tell to each other: "Far, far away, there is a land where giants live" - and saying that, they think "Midland is normal, but I believe that distant lands are different, full of magic and phenomenons unknown for me". In real world those people would be rather unsatisfied with the reality  :slan:, though in Berserk it actually turns out truth - far, far away there was a country ruled by Grunbeld, populated by giants. Same thing with Puck - itinerant jugglers were taken by normal medieval person like magicians a bit, so presence of an elf among them also fits perfectly - so as presence of a monkey (unknown, exotic creature normal man never saw before) or talking parrot.

To illustrate whole thing better, recall when Farnese told about thin layer of the world. People in Berserk didn't believe in whole fantasy stuff for sure, but they felt that there is something out there, hidden from their gaze; in darkness, distant lands, deep under the see. They had feeling about that part of world, but didn't want to confront it - so it stayed in the field of legends.

I'm aware of vagueness of this post, but I hope that you'll get what I meant.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2015, 01:04:04 PM by slothqueen »

Offline Delta Phi

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Re: Giants and the world of Berserk
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2015, 01:35:15 PM »
It's a pretty interesting topic. I have never thought about it before. In the case of Enoch village, I think it's rather apparent that a lot of people, especially those living close to more magical areas, were at one time aware of fairies, like you said, Bob.

In episode 200, Morgan explains that since those creatures hadn't been seen in a very long time, and since no one had proof of their existence, that they had faded into legend (until of course the trolls showed up). Of course, the isolation of Enoch village or the Misty Valley probably allows a closer connection to magic (and magic sightings) than a populated city like Vritannis. We also know that not everyone can inherently see creatures in deeper layers of the world, so even though elves may be present, they may not have been perceivable by everyone, but it's safe to assume that nearly everyone is aware of these types of legends.

If I had to justify why people aren't as surprised by giants like Grunbeld, I'd probably rely on their being more easily relateable than say a dragon or trolls. These giant people are just that (on the surface): large humans. It may be shocking to see someone that size, sure, but it's definitely low on the weirdness spectrum. There may also be an unwritten awareness of these giant humans in the story as well. Certainly Zodd and Grunbeld's reputations precede them, and I'm sure stories about them included their size, so when people finally see them in person it's no real surprise that the stories were true.

Offline Aazealh

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Re: Giants and the world of Berserk
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2015, 06:45:27 PM »
It's set in a fantasy world to be sure, yet the populace that makes the majority of it up (with small exception) seems to behave as if it isn't.  By this I mean that they seem incredulous whenever they do stumble upon the supernatural such as Apostles, trolls, elves, or ghosts.  It's kind of a hidden world, until fantasia occurs.  There are some small exceptions with Puck, but for the most part, people react as if this stuff was just out of a fairy tale, such as Casca when Judeau gives her elf dust.

When Berserk starts the setting is that of a world in which magic has almost disappeared. It's a setting that's really not unheard of in the fantasy genre in general, but I don't think it's as pronounced as you're making it out to be. Characters aren't used to seeing the supernatural everyday, but they certainly accept it as possible for the most part. All of this is even explained in detail in the story, how city-dwellers have a harder time with it because of their purely human environment compared to rural people, etc. In that regard, I'm really not sure we can talk of the "majority" of people in Berserk's world. For example, Casca's reaction when Judo gives her Puck's powder isn't astonishment or anything like that. She's surprised but accepts what he tells her without question and proceeds to go treat Guts.

Strangely though, giant size humans seem to be the norm.  In some cases this just may be an exaggerated art style, such as the cases of Zondark, Bazuso, and Samson.  But when the New Band of the Hawk show up, Grunbeld and his squad are clearly over 12 feet tall, and the small flashback for him implies that this was the case even before he gained apostlehood.

Some people are very tall, and that can include Pippin as well as Zondark or the others you cited. That is part of the world. Others are very small, like the member of the Bakiraka who poisoned Charlotte with a dart by mistake in volume 10. Grunbeld (and his men) are a special case because they're apostles. Yes, from what we know of his former life (little to nothing), he was said to have been very tall as a man as well. And I'm sure he was, but likely not quite as much as he is now. Finally, I do think people are quite impressed when they see him and his men in battle (as seen for example in volume 22 or 23).

Offline Walter

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Re: Giants and the world of Berserk
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2015, 07:52:39 PM »
I don't think Grunbeld's height necessitates a special race of tall people. After he became an apostle, his height is extraordinary, but that doesn't mean when he was a human he was the same height. I doubt Zodd looked exactly like he did as a human, for example.

:femto: :slan: :ubik:

Offline ApostleBob

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Re: Giants and the world of Berserk
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2015, 08:43:55 PM »
I don't think Grunbeld's height necessitates a special race of tall people. After he became an apostle, his height is extraordinary, but that doesn't mean when he was a human he was the same height. I doubt Zodd looked exactly like he did as a human, for example.

I don't disagree that the apostles look drastically different from their former human selves.  In almost all cases they look somewhat beastly, but human enough to pass in society as a weird looking human.  However, when Mule and Sonia are talking with him in the forest, I believe there's a flashback image of him as a knight in which he is still huge as a human knight. 

http://imgur.com/NJTsImU

However, even if he was an Apostle at the time, the point is that the human Hawks and those they liberate don't seem to shocked or horrified by 12 foot tall "people" that follow Griffith.  It's as if this not an unheard of thing.  Compare this to how they react when the apostles transform while fighting the Ganishka spawn.

Some people are very tall, and that can include Pippin as well as Zondark or the others you cited. That is part of the world. Others are very small, like the member of the Bakiraka who poisoned Charlotte with a dart by mistake in volume 10. Grunbeld (and his men) are a special case because they're apostles. Yes, from what we know of his former life (little to nothing), he was said to have been very tall as a man as well. And I'm sure he was, but likely not quite as much as he is now. Finally, I do think people are quite impressed when they see him and his men in battle (as seen for example in volume 22 or 23).

Good points, especially on the small Bakiraka.  And I agree that they're impressed with going to battle with what are clearly giants. 

http://imgur.com/a/TnGVP

But do you think that the Hawks thought that they were going into battle alongside monsters?  Or just weird humans. Or that they were willing to overlook the obvious strangeness of their allies so long as they were winning?

Offline Aazealh

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Re: Giants and the world of Berserk
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2015, 10:30:19 PM »
I believe there's a flashback image of him as a knight in which he is still huge as a human knight.

That's an illustration to the tale Mule is recounting more than a flashback.

However, even if he was an Apostle at the time, the point is that the human Hawks and those they liberate don't seem to shocked or horrified by 12 foot tall "people" that follow Griffith.

Actually, like I said, people do seem pretty shocked when they first see him. But like with everything else, they'd get used to it. Especially those familiar with his tale.

But do you think that the Hawks thought that they were going into battle alongside monsters?  Or just weird humans. Or that they were willing to overlook the obvious strangeness of their allies so long as they were winning?

From what we're shown, most humans instinctively know something isn't right about apostles. That even includes Locus, who passes as a human better than the majority of them. So yes, I think the humans knew something was off with the apostles (they called them "Demon Soldiers" for a reason...), and they just overlooked it because they mostly stayed out of sight and were under Griffith's orders. That also helped them accept things more readily during the final battle against Ganishka, even though seeing the full extent of it was hard to bear. Note that the separation between the two groups continues even to this day, in Falconia.

Offline ApostleBob

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Re: Giants and the world of Berserk
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2015, 03:25:21 PM »
That's an illustration to the tale Mule is recounting more than a flashback.

I never took it that way.  I always took these illustrations of tales as a form of reliable flashback for the reader, such as that of Locus, Zodd, Gaeseric and the previous owner of the berserker armor.  I suppose it can be viewed that way, but then doesn't that call into question these other instances?

Actually, like I said, people do seem pretty shocked when they first see him. But like with everything else, they'd get used to it. Especially those familiar with his tale.

Fair enough, they are usually in awe, but they don't really view them as monsters, just exceptional people. 

From what we're shown, most humans instinctively know something isn't right about apostles. That even includes Locus, who passes as a human better than the majority of them. So yes, I think the humans knew something was off with the apostles (they called them "Demon Soldiers" for a reason...), and they just overlooked it because they mostly stayed out of sight and were under Griffith's orders. That also helped them accept things more readily during the final battle against Ganishka, even though seeing the full extent of it was hard to bear. Note that the separation between the two groups continues even to this day, in Falconia.

Good points.  The introduction with Mule really drives this home.  I'd always thought that the people always rationalize this unease about the apostles as long as they are their allies and out of sight.  They don't acknowledge them as quite monsters, but perhaps as barbaric or deformed people that are vicious.  A good example of the old saying, "you may like the taste, but you don't want to know how the sausage gets made." 

Offline Walter

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Re: Giants and the world of Berserk
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2015, 04:05:53 PM »
I never took it that way.  I always took these illustrations of tales as a form of reliable flashback for the reader, such as that of Locus, Zodd, Gaeseric and the previous owner of the berserker armor.  I suppose it can be viewed that way, but then doesn't that call into question these other instances?

Aaz is just picking on your word choice,  because it's really not a flashback. Mule is conjuring an image based on how the story was described. But it's true that some details are authoritative, and couldn't have been created _just_ by Mule, namely the dragon evident on Grunbeld's shield, his warhammer, and his armor design. These are all consistent with Grunbeld, even though he and Mule  never met.

But, how reliable do you think the vision of the 4/5 angels was in Volume 10? Anyway, I was a little surprised you would use that panel as a basis for how tall he was, since a) the translation you included was terribad (it's even missing a verb), and b) there's not a reliable scale with which we can say his height was as tall as his apostle form. Was he a really tall guy, or was he a part of a never-before-mentioned race of super tall human-like creatures?

Quote
Fair enough, they are usually in awe, but they don't really view them as monsters, just exceptional people. 

Exceptional people who strike fear into people when they speak to them  :carcus:
:femto: :slan: :ubik:

Offline ApostleBob

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Re: Giants and the world of Berserk
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2015, 04:29:10 PM »
But, how reliable do you think the vision of the 4/5 angels was in Volume 10?

That's a Good point. Yet we often take the depiction of Gaeseric as what he actually looked like as a warlord.  I guess it's a little less concrete.  Not that it changes much.


Anyway, I was a little surprised you would use that panel as a basis for how tall he was, since a) the translation you included was terribad (it's even missing a verb), and b) there's not a reliable scale with which we can say his height was as tall as his apostle form. Was he a really tall guy, or was he a part of a never-before-mentioned race of super tall human-like creatures

Ignore the translation, its awful.  A scan is the best and quickest I had available away from home, and it was intended for the visuals.  Note the size of the bodies at his feet.  They appear to show him as approximately the same size here.  Anyway I'm not saying he was a creature, just that in the world of berserk that very large people and very small people exist as a rare, but not unheard of occurance.  Again also look at Zondark, Bazuso, Samson, Pippin, the Bakiraka, etc.  Grunbeld seems to be the peak of this.


Exceptional people who strike fear into people when they speak to them  :carcus:
[/quote]

Fair enough.  Again, this was intended to be a fun topic that I hadn't seen explored on the Forum before.

Offline Walter

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Re: Giants and the world of Berserk
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2015, 05:36:25 PM »
Anyway I'm not saying he was a creature, just that in the world of berserk that very large people and very small people exist as a rare, but not unheard of occurance.

Okay, then we're in agreement. I don't think that's something readers have trouble understanding though. Is it?

Fair enough.  Again, this was intended to be a fun topic that I hadn't seen explored on the Forum before.

Sure, and that's how I worded my initial reply. I don't think it's been brought up before because I don't think his height is something that needs further explanation.
:femto: :slan: :ubik:

Offline ApostleBob

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Re: Giants and the world of Berserk
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2015, 05:55:24 PM »
I don't think that's something readers have trouble understanding though. Is it?

Understanding?  No.  It just jumped out at me during a re-read that in the world of Berserk, which is pretty close to a "real world" setting, (aside from a hidden supernatural backdrop), that giant people seemed like a norm, even from early on.  Just an observation really.

We're all pretty much in agreement.

Offline Aazealh

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Re: Giants and the world of Berserk
« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2015, 05:58:43 PM »
I never took it that way.  I always took these illustrations of tales as a form of reliable flashback for the reader, such as that of Locus, Zodd, Gaeseric and the previous owner of the berserker armor.  I suppose it can be viewed that way, but then doesn't that call into question these other instances?

I think you should change that perception then. Those panels are pretty clearly meant to me as imagery for the tales that are recounted each time, as evidenced by the way they're drawn (shaded details) and the fact they're accompanied by the tale. In each case they're strongly informed by what the characters know/are talking about, and are also single panels in all cases except for Gaiseric. Not all of these instances have the same context either.

In Locus and Grunbeld's case, it takes place inside Mule's mind pretty much. The Berserk's armor one is clearly just an illustration of what Schierke tells the others, and one that might not conform to the way the former wearer of the armor actually died (it was probably not by standing alone bleeding in all directions). Yet Miura added a little detail there in the form of the specific shape of the sword he wielded. About Zodd, I'm not sure what you mean. There are no such panels for him. Finally, for Gaiseric, it's again clearly an illustration of the tale being told, and like Walter said, I wouldn't put my money down on the visual depiction of how his reign ended for example.

The point I'm making here is that some details in there might be right, some might not. But I don't think we can't view them as 100% reliable. They're tales, both in textual and visual form.

Fair enough, they are usually in awe, but they don't really view them as monsters, just exceptional people.

Interestingly enough, do you know where the word "monster" comes from? The Latin word "monstranum", which means "something that is shown". Historically, that designated people that were, as you would put it, "exceptional". Different from the norm (usually because of deformities).

Offline ApostleBob

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Re: Giants and the world of Berserk
« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2015, 06:54:31 PM »
About Zodd, I'm not sure what you mean. There are no such panels for him.

I was referring to this set of images.  http://imgur.com/GNCesBD

Interestingly enough, do you know where the word "monster" comes from? The Latin word "monstranum", which means "something that is shown". Historically, that designated people that were, as you would put it, "exceptional". Different from the norm (usually because of deformities).

That is kinda cool.

Offline Aazealh

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Re: Giants and the world of Berserk
« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2015, 07:08:09 PM »
I was referring to this set of images.  http://imgur.com/GNCesBD

Oh, that panel. Well again, this is not a flashback but an illustration of the legend Rickert is telling Pippin about. And while the few details of him we see are accurate (note that the contrary would have been a bit odd since he appears soon after), we aren't actually shown much. His face is in shadows, etc.

A proper flashback is the scene between Guts and Griffith we see in volume 3, or Zodd remembering what Sonia told him in episode 277, or even Guts remembering his time with Chich as a boy.

Offline ApostleBob

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Re: Giants and the world of Berserk
« Reply #15 on: January 27, 2015, 08:56:48 PM »
A proper flashback is the scene between Guts and Griffith we see in volume 3, or Zodd remembering what Sonia told him in episode 277, or even Guts remembering his time with Chich as a boy.

Or the one between Serpico and Farnese

Offline Aazealh

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Re: Giants and the world of Berserk
« Reply #16 on: January 27, 2015, 10:30:04 PM »
Or the one between Serpico and Farnese

Well, yeah, or the Golden Age arc in its entirety. :slan:

Offline ApostleBob

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Re: Giants and the world of Berserk
« Reply #17 on: January 27, 2015, 11:59:00 PM »
Well, yeah, or the Golden Age arc in its entirety. :slan:

Too true  :serpico: