Author Topic: Ganishka as a parallel character  (Read 1749 times)

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Offline JRGoldman

Ganishka as a parallel character
« on: December 12, 2015, 02:19:37 AM »
So this is my first big post here, so please be gentle. I'm doing another read through of Berserk, and I had some thoughts about character parallels that I haven't seen brought up nearly as often as some others.

I think one of the most interesting pieces of Berserk lore is the idea that causality is a spiral and not a circle. Because of this, we get subtle differences, and we as readers get to bear witness to many of the potential outcomes of the various roles within this ongoing universal story. We are told at points that Guts and Griffith both share characteristics with Skull Knight (and thus King Gaiseric, assuming that they are one and the same) which is an idea that is inherently fascinating as it makes every moment seem important and organic. Gaiseric's rise mirrors that of Griffith, but his life after the fall of his city seems to be more closely tied with the path that was thrust upon Guts.

I'm sure I'm not bringing anything new to the table by recanting this for everyone here, but I'd like to present a potential third parallel character to Gaiseric that I don't see discussed nearly as often (or at all, although forgive me if I have missed a thread. I am new to this board and community). I think that Miura presented Ganishka as yet another layer and potential outcome for the Gaiseric fable. I believe that Ganishka gives us a glimpse of what Gaeseric would have been had he been chosen as an apostle and continued to rule his kingdom.

There are so many theories as to how Void, Skull Knight, and the fall of Gaiseric's empire tie together, and I don't want to spend time recanting all of them because it would just be more baseless speculation on my part. That being said, I think Miura presents these tales and clues as potential foreshadowing for ways that destiny could call to the characters of this generation. Ganishka is a seemingly aberrant apostle in that he fights against the Godhand and cares only for his empire in the physical world. If we accept the idea that Ganishka is a potential parallel to Gaiseric and thus Griffith, perhaps this could show that Griffith may end up placing Falconia above his fellow Godhand members?

One of the things that makes Berserk so great is how subtle Miura is in the clues he leaves for the reader. I'm excited to see where the story goes, but I wanted to try and write a post that highlights Ganishka as one of these potential clues, as he seems to be sometimes looked upon as just an adversary or plot point, rather than tied in to the overall universe in a meaningful way.

I know this forum has posters who are much more knowledgeable about Berserk than I, so please feel free to poke holes in this, or steer me towards other speculative ideas that might tie in to this in some way.

Offline Aazealh

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Re: Ganishka as a parallel character
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2015, 01:32:21 PM »
Hello JRGoldman,

I think one of the most interesting pieces of Berserk lore is the idea that causality is a spiral and not a circle. Because of this, we get subtle differences, and we as readers get to bear witness to many of the potential outcomes of the various roles within this ongoing universal story. We are told at points that Guts and Griffith both share characteristics with Skull Knight (and thus King Gaiseric, assuming that they are one and the same) which is an idea that is inherently fascinating as it makes every moment seem important and organic. Gaiseric's rise mirrors that of Griffith, but his life after the fall of his city seems to be more closely tied with the path that was thrust upon Guts.

I think you've kind of written your paragraph backwards here, meaning that the parallels between Gaiseric's story and the modern era are one of the things that most interests you, and more specifically the fact his character's path resembles both Guts and Griffith in some ways. Everything else in your post is secondary to this. The whole "causality is a spiral" bit from Flora can inform our reflection on the issue, but we don't need it to realize the parallels that exist.

I've written long posts about this many years ago, but they're easy to sum up. Griffith's rise to power seems similar to that of Gaiseric (although remember that we don't know any details about Gaiseric aside from an unreliable, expeditive tale of his ascension), but the Skull Knight has been wronged by the God Hand and has been helping Guts in his quest against them (I wouldn't say Griffith shares characteristics with the Skull Knight, nor are we ever told that). That's about it for the general picture, although you could add that the Skull Knight seems associated with elves (like Guts), was once friends with a witch (like Guts), and led Guts to wear the Berserk's armor, something he once wore himself.

Now, what I think matters here is to remember in what order these things happened, because that helps us understand why they're sort of happening again but differently.

The tale of Gaiseric is that of a fearsome warrior who through his sheer might and charisma managed to defeat and unite every human group he became across. He created a huge empire that spanned the continent and had a giant capital city erected in its center. Then he was suddenly vanquished by a supernatural power and his city was destroyed. The last key element: it seems whoever caused his downfall is related to the God Hand. And it could very well be that a former acquaintance of his was at the root of it.

This is where the "spiral" aspect is interesting. Griffith's rise to power as a human is hardly comparable to Gaiseric's in terms of scope, although the "appearing out of nowhere" bit fits. And it was only made possible so that his downfall would push him over the edge and make him sacrifice. As a member of the God Hand however, the broad strokes of his unstoppable success perfectly mirror that of Gaiseric. Meanwhile, Guts' story as the friend who was sacrificed but still lives and hopes to get revenge closely mirror what we know of the Skull Knight, who has been trying to get at the God Hand for what we assume is a thousand years. There is a neat inversion in the order of events and in between who sacrificed who.

The takeaway is that the Idea of Evil might have used Gaiseric's life as a template for Griffith's ascension, inspiring itself from a past it destroyed to create its own, amplified and accelerated version of the events. For what purpose, we have yet to see. I suspect that it has to do with having absolute control over the fate of the entirety of mankind, and that it may involve a plan to rid the world of other supernatural influences.

I'm sure I'm not bringing anything new to the table by recanting this for everyone here, but I'd like to present a potential third parallel character to Gaiseric that I don't see discussed nearly as often (or at all, although forgive me if I have missed a thread. I am new to this board and community). I think that Miura presented Ganishka as yet another layer and potential outcome for the Gaiseric fable. I believe that Ganishka gives us a glimpse of what Gaeseric would have been had he been chosen as an apostle and continued to rule his kingdom.

Eh, honestly I don't think there is much to this. Emperor Ganishka and Emperor Gaiseric are only similar in that they were both emperors. The only other possible similarity is one that's tied to what I said above: they both opposed the God Hand. But one presumably did it of his own will (if Gaiseric actually opposed them and didn't just fall prey to them), while the other was a pawn all along.

Ganishka is a seemingly aberrant apostle in that he fights against the Godhand and cares only for his empire in the physical world. If we accept the idea that Ganishka is a potential parallel to Gaiseric and thus Griffith, perhaps this could show that Griffith may end up placing Falconia above his fellow Godhand members?

Nah, there's a critical oversight on your part here: Ganishka was always set up to fail. See, we talk of causality, but it's just a principle of the world. What actually matters is who uses causality to shape the world into what they want. That being is the Idea of Evil. It's the master of the God Hand and the one that orchestrates everything that goes on in the human world. Now, let's think about something for a minute: what did Ganishka accomplish? And how?

Well, Ganishka was a paranoid and powerful man who became an apostle. He then proceeded to consolidate his power, before coming to invade Midland once he received the oracle that predicted the coming of Femto into the world. And he just so happened to invade Midland at a time where the country was in shambles, due in part to the hunt for Griffith (ironic) but also because of various catastrophes (that we know were all the God Hand's doing). Perfect timing.

Often, people will say that he provided a foe for Griffith to defeat, allowing him to further gain the hearts and minds of the people, but in truth that doesn't matter much. What matters is he was made so desperate by Griffith (who confronted him effortlessly, as one who wields inherent sway over all apostles, but let him retreat for a final battle) that he resorted to a reckless procedure in a last ditch effort to obtain the power he'd need to face his opponent. That did not help him defeat Griffith in the least, but it did accomplish something tremendous: bring up so much evil power into the world that when he was cut in half, the wave that was spilled over the globe achieved the merger of the astral and physical worlds.

That created Fantasia, a new world in which magical creatures freely cohabit with humans. That also replaced Wyndham with Falconia, which is really just Gaiseric's old capital city with a new coat of paint (and tacky falcon imagery all over it). How ironic, given that the Skull Knight was manipulated into splitting Ganishka open in the first place, with the sword he'd spent years (maybe decades or centuries) crafting specifically to kill the God Hand. I guess using beherits, who are intimately tied to the Idea of Evil, wasn't a good idea. Anyway, it did all that, great but you know what else? It brought Void, Slan, Ubik and Conrad into the world along with everything else. Something which, going by what we know (Femto's incarnation was a "once in a thousand years" event), is excessively difficult to achieve.

So I know I've taken my time with this, but the conclusion is simple: Femto is a member of the God Hand. His kindred helped him come into the corporeal world as their vanguard. Then he helped them come into the world as well. And Ganishka was the key instrument with which he did it. So, as far as we know, everything's going according to (the Idea of Evil's) plan. And there's no reason for Griffith to suddenly start fighting against his peers.

Offline JRGoldman

Re: Ganishka as a parallel character
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2015, 01:04:29 AM »
Thank you for the response! I appreciate it, I really do. I think you made a lot of the areas in which I was leaping to a conclusion clear, and given me a better understanding of how you view Berserk, and the thought that you have clearly put in to the story and where it may go from here. I'm sure I'll have other crack pot theories that you will helpfully steer me away from, haha!

As an aside, do you know if there is significance to so many major characters having names that start with G? Guts, Griffith, Ganishka, Gaiseric and a couple more minor ones like Godot. It seems disproportionate. Do names starting with that sound have a particular symbolism in Japanese culture, or for Miura? This is a bit of a departure from the orginal topic, but I didn't think it warranted its own thread.


Offline Aazealh

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Re: Ganishka as a parallel character
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2015, 07:02:14 AM »
Thank you for the response! I appreciate it, I really do.

You're welcome!

As an aside, do you know if there is significance to so many major characters having names that start with G? Guts, Griffith, Ganishka, Gaiseric and a couple more minor ones like Godot. It seems disproportionate. Do names starting with that sound have a particular symbolism in Japanese culture, or for Miura?

Ehhh, probably not. Miura formed Guts' name like that because he wanted it to sound a specific way, and to feel sort of Germanic. Other than that, I don't believe Miura ever commented on the names. I guess it may have been that he chose Griffith's name to also start that way for the sake of a "G vs G" thing, but that'd really be the extent of it in my opinion. Besides, Gaiseric and Ganishka's names both come from historical figures. Although he did change "Kanishka" to "Ganishka", so... Who knows.