Author Topic: In-depth Berserk Analysis (Part 1)  (Read 3784 times)

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Offline Sado

In-depth Berserk Analysis (Part 1)
« on: September 08, 2016, 06:15:35 PM »
“So long as I have my sword to fight with, I’m sure to survive. Year after year I prove it to be true. Before joining the Falcons I always survived, no matter the odds, no matter how hopeless a losing battle [...] In truth, I don’t believe that’s any way to live one’s life. I’ve been fighting in battles for as long as I can remember. The mercenary leader who raised me taught me nothing except how to wield a sword. I’ve never had anything except my sword.

I don’t want to die.

For me that is the only reason I keep fighting. There is nothing to save myself for or give myself to. I fight because I know nothing else. Once, I was willing to do just that, to commit myself to fighting, and let anyone else find the reason for me.”

Guts, Season 1, Episode 14.

Berserk is the chief argument for considering Kentaro Miura one of the best mangakas of all time. Everything from its themes, its awe-inspiring art and its gripping characters is a master class in the art of storytelling. I have been a fan of Berserk since the anime came out back in the 90s and have considered it one of the best told tales of all time ever since. The purpose of this analysis is at once an attempt to explore its many rich characters and themes, and a tribute to a work of art that remains deeply compelling, rousing, heart-wrenching and relevant to the human condition despite being an on-going work since 1989.

The focal point of Miura’s epic tale is The Black Swordsman, Guts. A cursed ex-mercenary forever doomed to an endless battle against demonic monsters, he is one of the greatest examples of a Byronic hero. Complex and conflicted, as sympathetic as he is inspiring, Guts is the fulcrum on which virtually all the main themes and motifs of Berserk are balanced on. What struck me, while writing this analysis, was how I did not need to separately talk about Guts as a character because everything theme, every motif, every idea central to the story had to pass through him. In the end, dissecting Berserk as a whole becomes a deep character study of its main character.


Guts: At First Glance

One of Miura’s greatest accomplishments as a visual storyteller is how he makes Guts so nuanced and magnetic through design alone, and how we get a sense of the major themes and motifs of Berserk simply through Guts’ appearance alone.

Naturally, the immediate thing that grabs our attention is Guts’ enormous sword, the Dragon Slayer. Bigger than the man himself, the blade represents Guts’ titanic strength and skill in wielding it. Yet its size also speaks of an immense burden that Guts carries, which is a major theme in Berserk. The fact that the sword is too large for there to be a sheath adds a sense of exposure, of vulnerability as it is susceptible to rust, cracks, the elements and other harmful effects—an idea that is touched upon in Volume 17 when the blacksmith Godo compares Guts himself to a sword without a sheath, always at the risk of being broken.

The closed eye with his rugged-yet-boyish face exudes a sense of vulnerability, another theme in Berserk. The fact that he can see out of his non-dominant eye, so to speak, adds to this. The closed eye also conveys a sense of the un-seen, a secret or mystery that only he is aware of. Like the Norse God, Odin, it speaks of secret knowledge or power that is at once dangerous yet alluring. More importantly, like Spike Speigel’s prosthetic eye which he said could only see the past, we get a sense that Guts is stuck in a moment in time, a constant reminder of a trauma or injustice that he must relive every day but which also propels him onwards—obviously the Eclipse. His being blind in one eye also serves as a symbolic blindness: perhaps there is something that he failed to see, an unconscious flaw in his character or choices, which continues to cause him pain.

Another sense of mystery comes from his cape which more often than not he swaddles himself in. The cape serves as a triple metaphor: mystery as that which is concealed, vulnerability in the tattered fabric of his cape, and lastly as a shroud that serves as a reminder of the perils of his journey—and perhaps, his eventual fate in the manga.

Like the gigantic sword, Guts’ armor symbolizes immense dangers and the burdens he carries. Yet again it also suggests a sense of vulnerability, especially an emotional one. As Godo explains in Volume 17, hatred is the place where a man goes when he can’t look sorrow in the eye. It is a line that hits particularly close to home when it comes to Guts. Aside from Griffith, Guts is the most armored character in the cast. This is all the more glaring in the New Party where he is the only armor-clad warrior. To this end, the armor is an extension of Guts’ burdens as well as his growing vulnerability. This idea is bolstered by the fact that as the story progresses, Guts’ armor begins to cover more and more of him, with a basic armor at the start of the series where he’s operating with relatively little in terms of burden; then a heavier, more plated armor when he sets out to find and protect Casca; and lastly, the Berserker armor which covers him completely. Interesting enough, the thicker his armor gets, the more his health and general well-being plummets, culminating with his pronounced weight loss and heavily-scarred body underneath the Berserker armor.

Guts’ heavily scarred face and body evoke our sympathy and speak of his great sacrifices in battle. His prosthetic arm, though a potent equalizer in combat, is a handicap that evokes our sympathy. In literature amputations imply trauma, pain, loss and even betrayal or a great injustice. Think of Captain Ahab who viewed his lost leg as the single greatest injustice that he had to avenge at all costs. Guts and Ahab parallel each other in this regard: they charge headlong against insurmountable odds, illicit a sense of respect and fear, are an embodiment of human will whilst their antagonists embody nature, god and the implacable tides of Fate. Interestingly, like the whale, Griffith’s color scheme is also white and like the whale, Griffith (particularly as Femto) operates outside of the realm of morality and logic. Griffith in his mind is no more guilty for the Eclipse than Moby Dick was for chewing off Ahab’s leg.

Much has been said of Guts’ bestial appearance, particularly his pointed ears and pronounced canines. They instill a sense of rabid carnality. These are of course portents of the Beast of Darkness that resides in his psyche, constantly goading him into give in to his hatred and become what the title of the series implies: a berserker. But when paired with his jagged hair, his ears and canine make him look more weathered, like a stray animal in neglect. When it is revealed how Guts was raised by Gambino like some unwanted mutt and how Guts chased after him his whole life like a stray dog, we again must sympathize with Guts. The scar on the bridge of his nose also plays into this idea of him being some kind of a stray dog. As such, one has to acknowledge the numerous canid motif when it comes to Guts: the Beast of Darkness is designed as a black dog; his Berserker Armor’s helm is shaped like wolf’s head; Guts spends his life as a dog-of-war; he’s compared to or flat out called a dog by Casca, Gambino and others; his lone wolf persona; and as previously stated even his pointed ears and longer canines. Lastly Guts is extremely loyal and protective, even at the cost of his own well-being when coupled with his bestial appearance is akin to a guard dog.

As the Black Swordsman, his color scheme is also important. The color black has been employed to convey or explore a great number of themes in literature. The obvious connotation is “death” of which there is no shortage in Guts’ life. Danger, harm, grief, foreboding omens, evil—these are all ideas often symbolized through the color black. Guts after all has been marked with the Brand of Sacrifice, a curse that seals his fate as an offering to demons who hunger for his flesh and shadow him until the very last drop of his blood has been consumed. Like Kenshiro from Fist of the Northstar and his ominous presence as “where ever Hokuto arrives, chaos follows,” Guts too is a harbinger of death and destruction. Guts has warned people as early as Volume 1 not to associate with him if they want to live, going on to explain to Jill that if she follows him her life will be “nothing but a battlefield.” In that respect, his color scheme is highly appropriate.

That said, the color black is also associated with strength, mystery, elegance, and most importantly it is used to give an impression of depth. Out of this, I’ve already spoken about the sense of mystery the surrounds Guts. Strength, of course, is integral to Guts’ characterization. His strength of character and his resolve are arguably his most defining traits.

Elegance might not be the first word one uses to describe Guts. Yet there is a kind of raw beauty in the sheer brutality of his fighting style. As the great Rocky Marciano once said, “why waltz with a guy for 15 rounds when you can finish him off in one?” But Guts’ elegance isn’t limited to just his swordsmanship. There is a moment in Volume 17 where Farnese watches Guts catching his breath after an entire night of slaughtering demonic creatures. The scene is of particular gravity because Farnese loathes Guts as a heretic at this point, yet can’t help be moved at the sight of Guts panting like a wild animal under the morning sky. This moment encapsulates the kind of primal elegance that Guts possesses not unlike the tiger in William Blake’s famous poem, “The Tyger.” Guts’ elegance is in his animal vitality, his ferocity, the desperation of his struggle and the lack of reason or logic in his suffering. If anything, it is this carnal aesthetic that draws many of the female characters in the manga to him, from Farnese (who arguably began to fall in love with him at this point) to even the Godhand, Slan. Even Griffith can be said to be drawn to Guts because of their diametrically opposed natures: Griffith represents angelic beauty, restrain, intellect and logic while Guts’ embodies ruggedness, a feral nature, intuition and instincts.

Depth is of particular significance when it comes to Guts. It is his depth that truly make him such complex, multi-facetted and unforgettable a character. In a genre where so many protagonists are one-dimensional, angst-ridden bundles of cliché, Guts is a truly fleshed out character that deserves a PhD level-thesis to fully explore him. It is this very depth as a character that inspired me to dedicate this essay to the Black Swordsman and to Miura’s magnum opus in general.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2016, 01:47:05 PM by Sado »

Online N7Paladin

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Re: In-depth Berserk Analysis (Part 1)
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2016, 02:25:46 AM »
Its nice to see you're still putting effort into this, don't worry about karma on the internet. It looks like you've improved since you've started on this, I wish I had more time on hand so I could put together a better reply. But keep working at it man, there's always ways to improve. I hope you're taking everyone's constructive criticism here and applying that to your work, because there are some incredibly knowledgeable people here.

Offline favole

Re: In-depth Berserk Analysis (Part 1)
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2016, 09:00:55 AM »
I don't know yet whether I'll have things to say, but could you maybe put spaces between your paragraphs? It will make it easier to read for me.

Offline Sado

Re: In-depth Berserk Analysis (Part 1)
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2016, 01:51:07 PM »
Quote
Its nice to see you're still putting effort into this, don't worry about karma on the internet. It looks like you've improved since you've started on this, I wish I had more time on hand so I could put together a better reply. But keep working at it man, there's always ways to improve. I hope you're taking everyone's constructive criticism here and applying that to your work, because there are some incredibly knowledgeable people here.

Thanks for your encouraging words :)
I get that I must've rubbed people the wrong way but I never intended to do that. I'm still incorporating the feedback I've gotten from here and other place. This stuff is still a work in progress as Berserk is such a complex work of art that I don't think even 50 pages will be enough to fully appreciate it. This is just my way of paying respect to something that has been integral to my life for the last 20 years.

Quote
I don't know yet whether I'll have things to say, but could you maybe put spaces between your paragraphs? It will make it easier to read for me.
Is it better now? :)

Offline DANGERDOOOOM

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Re: In-depth Berserk Analysis (Part 1)
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2016, 02:15:33 PM »
Wow, what a post. Since this was mostly all about Guts, what else are you trying to focus on in the future?

His being blind in one eye also serves as a symbolic blindness: perhaps there is something that he failed to see, an unconscious flaw in his character or choices, which continues to cause him pain.

I don't believe this is any sort of symbolism or something he 'failed' to see. It was really just Guts not being able to look away from the crazy situation he got thrown into. He cared too much for Casca, far too much to just simply look away and ignore her being raped by someone he equally cared for, in a way. It's not in Guts' nature to ignore such a horrific scene. He witnessed Griffith's betrayal and actions, and lived for it to be forever burned in his missing eye  :beast:

Interesting choice of outside references you brought up throughout this analysis. You seem to have put a lot of effort into this.

Offline Sado

Re: In-depth Berserk Analysis (Part 1)
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2016, 07:29:19 PM »
Quote
Wow, what a post. Since this was mostly all about Guts, what else are you trying to focus on in the future?
Thanks buddy :)
I'm going to be talking about some of the main themes about the manga and analyzing the characters and their relationship with Guts.

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I don't believe this is any sort of symbolism or something he 'failed' to see. It was really just Guts not being able to look away from the crazy situation he got thrown into. He cared too much for Casca, far too much to just simply look away and ignore her being raped by someone he equally cared for, in a way. It's not in Guts' nature to ignore such a horrific scene. He witnessed Griffith's betrayal and actions, and lived for it to be forever burned in his missing eye  :beast:
That's an interesting way of looking at it.
The reason I talked about as a "symbolic blindness" is because Guts has failed to see the importance of people in his life until it's too late. It's something that he himself has lamented. In that regard, he is "blind" to how important people are to him.
That's what I was going for anyway.

Quote
Interesting choice of outside references you brought up throughout this analysis. You seem to have put a lot of effort into this.
I appreciate it :)

Offline hearTes

Re: In-depth Berserk Analysis (Part 1)
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2016, 07:03:17 AM »
While I do not completely agree with your analysis of Farnese, I wholeheartedly agree with what you've written here.  :guts:

Offline Sado

Berserk: An in-depth Analysis (Part 2)
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2016, 05:04:30 AM »
This part of the analysis focuses on the main themes of Berserk. First up, "Man Vs. Monster"

**********************************

Man vs. Monster, Part I

“He who turns himself into a beast gives up the pain of being a man.”
~Samuel Johnson

“I rather fight for my life than live it. When I took my first life I was only a child without any idea of what I was doing. Yet since that time, I’ve learnt nothing more, only refining the art of slaughter so that I may live […] And then I met “him,” the man who made me challenge what I held true and made me need his respect.”
Guts, Season 1, Episode 19.

One of the main narrative thrusts of Berserk is the tension between Guts the Berserker vs. Guts the Protector. The Black Swordsman has been outright called a monster by enemy soldiers and even apostles like Rosine. Prior to reuniting with Casa during the Tower of Conviction arc, as his battle prowess and bloodlust grew, his connection to humanity becomes that much more tenuous. The overarching narrative from the Black Swordsman arc up until the Tower of Conviction arc has been who the true monster is: Guts or the apostles that he hunts.

Though this theme is first highlighted in Volume 14’s chapter “He Who Hunts Dragons”, it had been hinted as early as Volume 1. After all, in the very first scene of the manga, Guts employs sex to lure the Temptress Apostle into killing range, in a case of hunter becoming the hunted. In his battle against the Snake Apostle, he uses the latter’s overconfidence against him. As the apostle lay dying, Guts continues torturing him, shooting arrow after arrow into his face and torso, relishing in the creature’s pleas for mercy as the flaming debris consumes it. We get our first glimpse at the man vs. monster dichotomy and how muddled the line between them truly is.

The most telling examples are his encounter with the Count Apostle and Rosine.

Guts and the Count Apostle not only engage in one of the best battles in the entire manga but also create a very compelling narrative between man and monster. Throughout the Black Swordsman arc we witness the Count struggling to win the affection of his daughter, Theresa. Even as his cruelty and sadism grows, he continues to hide his monstrous nature from her and remains a devoted father. The more he tries to win her over, however, the more she withdraws in fear. Guts in the mean time is also having trouble holding on to his humanity. With his growing disregard for morality and collateral damage, whatever is human in Guts reflects only in his interactions with Puck. What is fascinating is how similar Guts is to Gambino following the Eclipse. Like his late father, he treats everyone with either haughty abrasiveness or cold disinterest. Not only does this shed light on Gambino as perhaps a good man reduced to doing terrible things because of personal tragedies, but it also sheds light on Guts’ own immorality, where like Gambino, he’s willing to let his hatred and anger govern everything.

As the story progresses, Theresa’s constant rejections chip away at the Count’s monstrous veneer revealing his all too human yearning for love. Not only does this foreshadow Casca’s relationship with Guts after the Eclipse (as discussed above) but it serves as the bed rock for the Man vs. Monster theme that veins throughout the entire manga.

When Guts and the Count do collide, the latter quickly gains the upper-hand, leaving Guts a battered mess. At the last second though, Guts uses Theresa as a human shield to stop the Count dead in his tracks. Thematically, this scene shows a human employing a monstrous gamble to slay a monster rendered all too human. Blasting the apostle with his hidden canon, Guts then cleaves his head off in a desperate sword swing. Like a true inhuman monster, however, the Count is not dead while Guts, even in victory, is rendered a heap of blood and shattered bones.

Then, all too quickly, the monster-human dynamic is inverted as Guts proceeds to utterly maim the apostle with a knife despite Puck’s pleas, the Count begging for mercy and Theresa’s traumatized screams. The Count’s agony eventually triggers his Beherit, summoning the Godhand, in effect, hinting at who the true monsters really are. As both Guts and the Count lay motionless and bloodied, the Godhand ask him to sacrifice his most beloved object in the world: Theresa. In his greatest show of humanity, the Count refuses to sacrifice his daughter even in the face of his mortality and his realm of chaos before his very eyes.

With the Count dead and literally dragged to hell, it is Guts’ turn to show us the blurred line between man and monster. As the traumatized Theresa wishes for death and wanting to go back to the room where she had been sheltered for so many years, Guts tosses her his knife and suggests she kill herself. As she tries to slit her own wrists, she nearly falls to her death through a collapsed floor. Guts uses his sword to save her in the process instilling the all-too precious life lesson: if one is to live then he must bleed. As Guts walks away, Theresa swears vengeance for everything the Black Swordsman has wrought. Though Guts feigns indifference, when Puck catches up to him, we see him with tears in his eyes, perhaps, shaken at how much of a monster he has become.

The Lost Children arc is where the difference between man and monster is virtually impossible to tell. Not only is this the arc where the Beast of Darkness is born but it is the closest Guts comes to losing his own humanity prior to donning the Berserker armor. Rosine, despite her status as an apostle, comes across as more human than Guts. She remains a devoted friend to Jill, clearly loves her brood of insect-like children and is the closest we get to a life-giving, nurturing presence in the whole arc. Misty Valley, though dangerous, is still beautiful and a haven for Rosine and her children. Most importantly, Rosine’s actions were a result of a childish innocence and an inability to truly understand the implications of her actions—somewhat reminiscent of Griffith in his childish disposition and the true dangers of his dream.

Where Rosine spends the arc finding the human buried inside her, Guts spends the entire arc actively trying to bury his humanity, becoming more and more monstrous. He operates as purely nihilistic force of destruction, a non-partisan image of all-consuming hatred and death. Every time he appears, chaos follows and towards the end, Misty Valley is left in flames, Rosine’s brood is obliterated and all her life-giving cocoons are destroyed.

In the most telling scene, Guts lets Jill get surrounded by fire to bait Rosine into rescuing her and dropping her guard. His trap works as Rosine braves the flames to save her childhood friend. Catching her off-guard, he impales her with his massive sword, wounding the girl fatally as she was committing her most human act. Much like the Count, Guts uses her remaining humanity against her, arguably becoming the true monster of the arc.

Chronologically, however, that Guts is perhaps the true monster of the story was hinted during the Golden Age itself. After assassinating Julius, Guts is spotted by someone in the door. In the heat of the moment, Guts impales the witness only to be horrified when it turns out to Julius’ young son, Adonis. Mortified, he can only watch as the little boy dies before his eyes. With soldiers hot on his heels, Guts escapes into the sewers but has a nasty fall and loses consciousness.

In the nightmare that follows, he is sparring with Gambino as a child, remembering how hard he struggled to gain his father’s approval. As the two continue sparring, Zodd looms over them both, beheading Gambino in a single swipe. Guts charges the monster but is impaled and killed. Zodd then clutches his face which turns out to Guts’ face as an adult ending the nightmare.

The dream sequence is a layer-cake of symbolisms and parallels. Firstly, Gambino and Guts’ sparring was reminiscent of Julius and Adonis’ sparring—which itself mirrored Gambino and Guts’ harsh training regime. Julius was every bit the callous father and mentor that Guts’ late father. Furthermore, Guts had just slain both father and son for Griffith’s sake, despite the perils of the mission and how taxing it proved to be, mentally and physically. Guts essentially “gave all I had” for Griffith’s approval just as he once exerted himself for Gambino’s approval. When we consider how much Guts had just put himself through to do Griffith’s bidding only to then hear him talk about how no one in the Falcons is truly his friend i.e. his equal, it harkens back to Guts’ childhood with Gambino. Once again, he finds himself pushing himself to his limits for a man who doesn’t view him as he wants to be viewed. As such, it sheds light on how Guts’ decision to take matters into his own hands and become his equal is essentially him needing Griffith’s approval. After all, up until the events of the Eclipse, Griffith was the man Guts respected more than anyone else and was the person who had helped him rediscover self-respect and dignity as a man after a lifetime of being considered as good as “three pieces of silver.”

Furthermore, Zodd beheads Gambino much the same way that Guts would slice his father’s neck open. In fact, in his nightmares, Gambino is depicted ripping his own head off on two separate occasions. Zodd impaling Guts mirrors how the latter had just impaled Adonis. Julius’ son embodied Guts’ own childhood by being groomed far too early for a difficult life and “never knowing his father’s love even once in his life.” In slaying Adonis, Guts symbolically murdered his own childhood, his own innocence, making him a monster. Considering how distraught he looked following this nightmare, it seems that this fact was not lost on Guts.

Most of all, Zodd possessing Guts’ face not only establishes how Guts is indeed becoming a monster, foreshadowing his actions as the Black Swordsman, but it deepens his parallels with his most formidable foe, Zodd.

The first time the two cross paths, Guts was hardly a match even against Zodd’s human form, getting rag-dolled throughout their encounter. He even notices how it was merely the thickness of his sword that allowed him to survive as long as he had since a normal sword would have been shattered. Yet, years later as the Black Swordsman, he matches Zodd in his human form blow-for-blow, even over-powering the latter into assuming his apostle form.

Once Guts dons the Berserker armor, this theme reaches its height. Now capable of fighting past his human limitations, Guts is a force to be reckoned with. But there is a major caveat: even as it augments him physically, the armor also gives full reign to the Beast of Darkness within his psyche. Curtailing his moral restraints, the armor taps into the same rage and hatred that birthed the Beast of Darkness in the first place. Thus, when under the control of the armor, Guts is not only a monster in body but also one in mind. Every time he uses the armor, it not only taxes him physically but causes his grip over the Beast of Darkness to slip that much more. In Volume 33, in one of the darkest prophecies in the manga, as Guts’ body and senses continue to deteriorate, the Beast of Darkness speaks to him. Though wrapped in chains, it appears stronger and larger than ever before, offering a simple threat: that not only will all his companions suffer a fate similar to the Eclipse soon but that the Beast will consume his mind entirely.

Griffith, too, is central to this theme as despite his cherubic beauty he is perhaps the greatest monster of the series due to his selfishness and megalomania. As such, this theme will continue in Griffith’s analysis.

~Sado22

Offline Sado

Berserk: An In-Depth Analysis (Part 3)
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2016, 05:28:00 PM »
Vulnerability, Part I


“I don’t think we’ll see each other again. It’s better than getting all weepy, for sure. But when you’re running towards a goal like that, you’ll let something pass by, unnoticed, again. Whether you live or die, you never get your way.”
Godo, Season 2, Episode 4

One of the most dominant themes of the manga is the complicated duality of vulnerability and relationships. That is, the more we grow close to people, the more they gain the power to hurt us and alter the course of our life. How people then choose to react to this duality is what makes them human or monstrous. The apostles, after all, were once people who chose to give up their humanity at the most vulnerable moment in their lives. Yet no one signifies this theme of vulnerability better than Guts, and as I will explore later, Griffith.

As discussed earlier, many aspects of Guts’ design convey a sense of vulnerability. From his scarred frame, his amputated arm, his tattered cape to his missing eye, all of these design elements speak of a sense of loss, of suffering and pain. Unsurprisingly, the more we learn of his life, the more we understand why he radiates such an aura.

After a lifetime of hardships and turmoil, Guts has grown into a very caged person who keeps others at arm’s length. Not only has he endured crushing betrayals from the two most important people in his life i.e. Gambino and Griffith, but he is also a rape survivor. Above all, everyone he cares about and considers friends have perished before his very eyes, leaving him traumatized. If anything, the Guts we meet during the Black Swordsman arc and Lost Children arc is akin to a person suffering from severe PTSD, showcasing the gamut of the kind of physiological symptoms of PTSD:

•   Bursts of anger were common in these two arcs, and even later arcs. In fact, enraged was Guts’ default setting throughout the first three volumes.
•   Nightmares, flashbacks and vivid memories were prevalent in these volumes and even in later volumes, suggesting that Guts has not fully recovered from the events of the Eclipse.
•   Feeling numb/emotionally cut off was also a major theme in these arcs where Guts repeatedly suppressed his humanity in order to combat monsters
•   Staying on-guard at all times is a consistent aspect of Guts’ personality even before the Eclipse but was at its highest during the volumes detailing his life immediately after the Eclipse. A great example of his “caginess” is the fact that Guts did not fully warm up to Puck until Volume 16.
•   Self-harm or violence is pretty self-explanatory. Though Guts is not as prone to self-harm as Griffith (explored later), during the Black Swordsman arc he was shown tearing into his flesh and licking his own blood in delirium.

One of the greatest tragedies of Guts’ life is that he was recovering from childhood PTSD when the Eclipse transpired. His first true traumatic experience was being raped by Donovan at the age of nine. Not only that, but he would learn that he was sold to Donovan by his own father, Gambino. It would become a memory that would haunt him on numerous occasions in his life, making him lash out violently whenever he was touched even as an adult and even result in nightmares. It nearly even ruined his only positive sexual experience, with Casca.

Yet it was Gambino’s actions that were the real cause of trauma for the boy. Not only was he sold to a pedophile by his own father but it was for a mere three pieces of silver (recalling the proverbial thirty pieces of silver). For one, it was a harrowing betrayal of a father and mentor. Above all, and most damningly, Guts’ entire life rested on Gambino’s approval like some winsome puppy. That such a man would think of him as worth three pieces of silver was a devastating and timeless blow to Guts’ sense of self-worth.

Adding to his trauma, merely two years later, Guts accidentally killed Gambino in self-defense. Slaying his own “father” would become the greatest source of sorrow and remorse in his life, leaving him paralyzed in despair. He would suffer numerous nightmares centered on this night, leaving him withdrawn, emotionally numb and prone to bursts of anger for the rest of his life.

By the time he met Griffith and joined the Falcons, Guts was deeply entrenched in this PTSD. It would take the next three years of friendship, comradery, confidants and love for him to truly embark on his journey to shed the traumas of his childhood. By the end of his time with the Falcons, he was considerably less cagey, more engaging and candid with friends and generally happy—or at least the closest thing there is to it for someone like Guts.

Above all, the positive impact Griffith had on Guts’ life cannot be understated. Considering the lifelong damage Gambino’s words and actions had wrought on Guts’ soul, it helps illuminate why Guts was so puzzled and flattered by the fact that someone like Griffith respected him and considered him “worth bleeding for.” It was Griffith’s friendship, his comradery and his admiration that allowed Guts to finally respect himself, not as a warrior but as a human being—making the former’s betrayal during the Eclipse so much more heart-wrenching.

To make matters worse, the Eclipse was a retread of his previous traumas: the way Guts was held down and forced to watch Griffith/Femto rape Casca was akin to how Donovan pinned down and raped him (more on this during Griffith’s analysis); and being betrayed by the man whose approval he craved so much was exactly like Gambino.

The second aspect of vulnerability is how inevitable it is for humans. To live is to feel pain, Miura seems to suggest throughout his magnum opus. After all, not only is one opening himself or herself up to pain by being in a relationship but not doing so also leaves us susceptible. One of Guts’ consistent character lapses is recognizing the importance of what’s really important to him only after it has already slipped through his fingers. After spending so many years recovering from past trauma, he rarely allows anyone to come close to him, particularly after the events of the Eclipse where being close to him is an invitation to death. Yet keeping everyone at arms’ length has also caused him to ignore the value of people in his life.

Guts laments this fact on two occasions: once upon returning to the Band of Falcons and then when he returns to Godo’s home to find Casca missing. As Godo notices, this even applied to when Guts heads off to find Casca with such abandon that he didn’t even realize that this was the last time he was seeing the old man. This ties in to the symbolic blindness I spoke of earlier, where Guts is “blind” to some aspect of his life or surroundings that continues to cause him pain. That he’s always too late in understanding the importance of certain people in his life is a great indicator of this symbolic blindness.

Curiously, after his encounter with Slan in which his armor was ripped off and he was severely wounded, it would mark the first time Guts notices what’s important to him while it is still with him: his new comrades. I spoke earlier about armors and their sense of vulnerability, which lends more poignancy to this moment. It is only in his most vulnerable state (without his armor) that Guts can let his guard down enough to acknowledge how special his new comrades are to him. That this was immediately after the moment where Guts was utterly at Slan’s mercy, was severely wounded and even needed rescuing by Skull Knight reinforces this idea even more.

To be continued in Part 3

~Sado22

Offline Walter

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Re: Berserk: An In-Depth Analysis (Part 1)
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2016, 07:24:34 PM »
Before I get started, I wanted to commend you on the length of these posts and the ambition of this undertaking. Honestly, while I have many thoughts about Berserk and what makes it amazing, I simply don't have the tenacity or time to embark on such an analysis (and at the end of the day, let's face it, Miura will always be the best at explaining his story). But I am the kind of person who thinks that if you are going to do such a project, then there's no reason for it not to be as accurate and complete as possible. So please keep that in mind with most of my comments below, as I would hope others would debunk my posts if I had such similarly lofty ambitions of analyzing the entire series.

Guts, Season 1, Episode 14.

I'm assuming you mean the 1997 series, but that never had seasons. It's just got 25 episodes.

In the end, dissecting Berserk as a whole becomes a deep character study of its main character.

Can't the same be said of most literature?

Naturally, the immediate thing that grabs our attention is Guts’ enormous sword, the Dragon Slayer. Bigger than the man himself, the blade represents Guts’ titanic strength and skill in wielding it. Yet its size also speaks of an immense burden that Guts carries, which is a major theme in Berserk.

The Dragon Slayer being large is a direct result of him hunting large, powerful enemies. Just like his goal of slaying apostles, wielding the Dragon Slayer is something no man should be able to do.

There's a trend throughout your posts where you need a reality check. You get so caught up in esoteric musings that you ignore or fail to acknowledge the clear intent of the author. As a result, most of the time your analysis doesn't come across as authoritative. Because even when you make good observations, they're weighed down by lofty or inflated conclusions about their significance.

The fact that the sword is too large for there to be a sheath adds a sense of exposure, of vulnerability as it is susceptible to rust, cracks, the elements and other harmful effects—an idea that is touched upon in Volume 17 when the blacksmith Godo compares Guts himself to a sword without a sheath, always at the risk of being broken.

You can call it exposure and vulnerability, but the focus of that scene is that Guts doesn't take care of the sword, or himself, because he's singularly focused on his revenge, and it's killing him.

Like the Norse God, Odin, it speaks of secret knowledge or power that is at once dangerous yet alluring.

I often see these two compared, but this particular stance is quite a reach. Odin sacrificed his eye to gain knowledge, and thus power -- it was a bargain. Guts had his eye taken from him in a moment of weakness, and what knowledge or power did he gain? His power comes from his own skill and determination. Two guys with missing eyes alone doesn't establish a connection.

we get a sense that Guts is stuck in a moment in time, a constant reminder of a trauma or injustice that he must relive every day but which also propels him onwards—obviously the Eclipse.

We don't get a sense of it -- it's what Guts says himself.

Another sense of mystery comes from his cape which more often than not he swaddles himself in. The cape serves as a triple metaphor: mystery as that which is concealed, vulnerability in the tattered fabric of his cape, and lastly as a shroud that serves as a reminder of the perils of his journey—and perhaps, his eventual fate in the manga.

In such an analysis, why would you not also mention the actual reason he chose to cloth himself in black? It's because he's seeking out apostles in dark places, and so must also clothe himself in darkness. And there's also literary value in that, of course, which Miura has amply capitalized on. Miura has done all the work for you in terms of explaining the design choice, but you've ignored it in favor of your own thoughts. Which version is more important?

Aside from Griffith, Guts is the most armored character in the cast

The Skull Knight is nothing but armor.

This is all the more glaring in the New Party where he is the only armor-clad warrior. To this end, the armor is an extension of Guts’ burdens as well as his growing vulnerability.

You're not characterizing his usage of armor properly here. Guts wears armor, but it's minimal compared to most of the enemies he goes up against. Throughout most of the series, he wears relatively lightweight, customized armor, with many of the pieces stripped out to make it more versatile, suiting his fighting style. And while the Berserk's Armor covers him more completely than anything else he's worn, it's not all-encompassing, or plate mail. He's not a walking tank with armor weighing him down.

Interesting enough, the thicker his armor gets, the more his health and general well-being plummets

I'm not sure how you developed a trend with that. He's upgraded his armor a number of times throughout the series, but what you're saying here happens only after he acquires Berserk's Armor, and of course it's intentional.

Interestingly, like the whale, Griffith’s color scheme is also white and like the whale, Griffith (particularly as Femto) operates outside of the realm of morality and logic. Griffith in his mind is no more guilty for the Eclipse than Moby Dick was for chewing off Ahab’s leg.

I think you're getting carried away trying to tie Berserk to unrelated works of literature. Griffith/Femto acts with logic -- it's just that he has transcended humanity.

Referencing Melville, Blake, Byron and other literary giants makes it seem like rather than genuinely establishing a connection between them and Berserk, you're trying to validate your own writing via literary credentialing.

Much has been said of Guts’ bestial appearance, particularly his pointed ears and pronounced canines.

Are you aware just how many characters in Berserk have pointed ears? They include: Gaston, Zodd, Griffith, Corcas, Gambino, Donovan, and the list goes. It's a stylistic choice by Miura for many characters, with no common thread.

The scar on the bridge of his nose also plays into this idea of him being some kind of a stray dog.

Is there something about the bridges of dogs noses that I don't know about...?

As such, one has to acknowledge the numerous canid motif when it comes to Guts: the Beast of Darkness is designed as a black dog; his Berserker Armor’s helm is shaped like wolf’s head; Guts spends his life as a dog-of-war; he’s compared to or flat out called a dog by Casca, Gambino and others; his lone wolf persona; and as previously stated even his pointed ears and longer canines. Lastly Guts is extremely loyal and protective, even at the cost of his own well-being when coupled with his bestial appearance is akin to a guard dog.

I think fans often get caught up trying to explicitly connect Guts with dogs, perhaps in a rush to come to a conclusion about Miura's intentions. The truth behind such things is not that explicit. Many of the things you've listed above are Miura emphasizing animalistic tendencies -- those that distinguish beasts from humans, which is why it makes sense that the Beast of Darkness is so named. This also works as a throughline for Guts' personal development. He's sought to overcome those animalistic tendencies and have companionship his whole life, despite the hardships he's faced. But none of that means he's explicitly connected to dogs.

As for the design of the Beast of Darkness, yes it has some canine features (four legs, a tail, the rest are amalgamations). Its overall design does not resemble any dog I've seen, and it is never called a dog anywhere in the series. It is referred to as a beast. If Miura had wanted to draw such connections he could have called it the Dog of Darkness, instead of the more abstract Beast.

That said, the color black is also associated with strength, mystery, elegance, and most importantly it is used to give an impression of depth. Out of this, I’ve already spoken about the sense of mystery the surrounds Guts. Strength, of course, is integral to Guts’ characterization. His strength of character and his resolve are arguably his most defining traits.

Again, Miura has explicitly addressed why Guts wears black. He's gone as far as linking the literal and thematic repercussions of Guts enveloping himself in darkness.

Depth is of particular significance when it comes to Guts. It is his depth that truly make him such complex, multi-facetted and unforgettable a character.

His depth makes him deep?
:femto: :slan: :ubik:

Offline Walter

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Re: In-depth Berserk Analysis (Part 3)
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2016, 02:11:00 AM »
Godo, Season 2, Episode 4

The 2016 animation of Berserk is not "season 2." To be accurate, you should simply refer to it as "Berserk (2016)"

As discussed earlier, many aspects of Guts’ design convey a sense of vulnerability. From his scarred frame, his amputated arm, his tattered cape to his missing eye, all of these design elements speak of a sense of loss, of suffering and pain.

Well that's one way to look at it. But when I see a huge, muscular guy covered with scars and a false metal arm, I don't think: How vulnerable he is! I think: What a tough guy!

suggesting that Guts has not fully recovered from the events of the Eclipse.

That is a huge understatement. Does this even require "suggestion"?

A great example of his “caginess” is the fact that Guts did not fully warm up to Puck until Volume 16.

I will grant you that "fully warm up" is a vague term, but I believe you're minimizing the development between the two during the interim period of Black Swordsman and Lost Children. It's a testament to how Guts has already changed that when we see Guts again in Lost Children, he still has Puck with him. But if you're merely referring to the point when they cease their rollercoaster relationship, then sure.

Though Guts is not as prone to self-harm as Griffith (explored later), during the Black Swordsman arc he was shown tearing into his flesh

Both characters do that. Why is one more prone than the other? I think it muddles your point if you're going to reserve such an explanation for a separate post/thread.

Not only was he sold to a pedophile by his own father

For clarity, Gambino is not Guts' father. He is his father-figure.

That such a man would think of him as worth three pieces of silver was a devastating and timeless blow to Guts’ sense of self-worth.

Quantifying the sex slavery like you're doing here is a pretty disturbing train of thought, and I don't think that's your intent (or is it?). Would it have been less of a blow to Guts if he were sold to the tune of 300 pieces of silver? How about 3,000? It certainly underscores the depravity of the whole ordeal, but I don't think that specific evaluation is what Guts takes away from this terrible experience. It's that Gambino sold him — period.

As Godo notices, this even applied to when Guts heads off to find Casca with such abandon that he didn’t even realize that this was the last time he was seeing the old man. This ties in to the symbolic blindness I spoke of earlier, where Guts is “blind” to some aspect of his life or surroundings that continues to cause him pain. That he’s always too late in understanding the importance of certain people in his life is a great indicator of this symbolic blindness.

I get what you're trying to say here, but you're making a bit of a false equivalency. Guts failing to issue a formal goodbye to Godot isn't in league with his other relationship failings as a result of the aforementioned "blindness." Taking the time to give that goodbye would not have been as life-changing for Guts as it would  for him to have acknowledged the friends he already had with the Falcons before he departed.
:femto: :slan: :ubik:

Offline Sado

Re: In-depth Berserk Analysis (Part 1)
« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2016, 12:55:46 PM »
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Before I get started, I wanted to commend you on the length of these posts and the ambition of this undertaking. Honestly, while I have many thoughts about Berserk and what makes it amazing, I simply don't have the tenacity or time to embark on such an analysis (and at the end of the day, let's face it, Miura will always be the best at explaining his story). But I am the kind of person who thinks that if you are going to do such a project, then there's no reason for it not to be as accurate and complete as possible. So please keep that in mind with most of my comments below, as I would hope others would debunk my posts if I had such similarly lofty ambitions of analyzing the entire series.
Thank you, Walter. I appreciate your feedback and the time you've taken to post this reply. I'm pretty techno-retarded sometimes so I think i ended up PM'ing you the reply to your other comment instead of posting it there. Don't even know how that happened.
I will contend your point about "Miura will always be the best at explaining his story". While it has its place in the analysis, we can't simply just leave it at that. Why analyse anything then if all you can do is call the writer/author and say "hey, what did you mean here?"
Death of the author. Once you put your work out there, it's no longer in your hands how people choose to read your work.

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he Dragon Slayer being large is a direct result of him hunting large, powerful enemies. Just like his goal of slaying apostles, wielding the Dragon Slayer is something no man should be able to do.
There's a trend throughout your posts where you need a reality check. You get so caught up in esoteric musings that you ignore or fail to acknowledge the clear intent of the author. As a result, most of the time your analysis doesn't come across as authoritative. Because even when you make good observations, they're weighed down by lofty or inflated conclusions about their significance.

You can call it exposure and vulnerability, but the focus of that scene is that Guts doesn't take care of the sword, or himself, because he's singularly focused on his revenge, and it's killing him.

I often see these two compared, but this particular stance is quite a reach. Odin sacrificed his eye to gain knowledge, and thus power -- it was a bargain. Guts had his eye taken from him in a moment of weakness, and what knowledge or power did he gain? His power comes from his own skill and determination. Two guys with missing eyes alone doesn't establish a connection.

We don't get a sense of it -- it's what Guts says himself.

In such an analysis, why would you not also mention the actual reason he chose to cloth himself in black? It's because he's seeking out apostles in dark places, and so must also clothe himself in darkness. And there's also literary value in that, of course, which Miura has amply capitalized on. Miura has done all the work for you in terms of explaining the design choice, but you've ignored it in favor of your own thoughts. Which version is more important?
This part of the essay focuses on Guts "at a first glance". This is without knowing the story or his journey so far. I think that's the point you've consistently missed throughout your reply here.
I've read many mangaka/comic book writer's interviews and an ex-friend's dad is an actual comic book writer. Designing a character is as complex process a process as writing one. The most important thing about designing a character is what the reader will think when they first see him or her. What aspects of the character will catch the eye and what emotions that first few seconds of looking at the character will convey. Many times, artists design a character and then the story is written to explain those design choices.

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The Skull Knight is nothing but armor.
I meant human character but yeah, I get what you mean.

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You're not characterizing his usage of armor properly here. Guts wears armor, but it's minimal compared to most of the enemies he goes up against. Throughout most of the series, he wears relatively lightweight, customized armor, with many of the pieces stripped out to make it more versatile, suiting his fighting style. And while the Berserk's Armor covers him more completely than anything else he's worn, it's not all-encompassing, or plate mail. He's not a walking tank with armor weighing him down.
I'm not sure how you developed a trend with that. He's upgraded his armor a number of times throughout the series, but what you're saying here happens only after he acquires Berserk's Armor, and of course it's intentional.
The idea is that armor conveys a sense of vulnerability. AFter all, if you weren't susceptible to damage, why would you even wear armor, right? That's the point I'm trying to make. Of course his armor is versatile and designed to suit his fighting style but it's still a suite of armor which gains more and more pieces as the manga grows--coinciding with the perils of the fights he engages in and the damage he takes in them. Compare the damage he took when fighting the Count (in his lightest armor) to the damage he took when he fought Rosine (much thicker armor, bleeding out and passing out) to the kind of damage he takes from Slan (even thicker armor, his most grievous wound since the Eclipse, him passing out and severely weakened) and finally how utterly wrecked he gets the moment he puts on the Berserker armor (his heaviest armor, practically unconscious for days on end and passing out from the pain). As I said in Part III, it's no coincidence (to my mind) that Guts realizes the value of people that are important to him while they're still there when he's completely without armor altogether.

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I think you're getting carried away trying to tie Berserk to unrelated works of literature. Griffith/Femto acts with logic -- it's just that he has transcended humanity.
I think you missed my point.

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Referencing Melville, Blake, Byron and other literary giants makes it seem like rather than genuinely establishing a connection between them and Berserk, you're trying to validate your own writing via literary credentialing.
You're entitled to your opinion. That's all I'll say to this.

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Are you aware just how many characters in Berserk have pointed ears? They include: Gaston, Zodd, Griffith, Corcas, Gambino, Donovan, and the list goes. It's a stylistic choice by Miura for many characters, with no common thread.
Yes. And how many of the human characters you mentioned here have pronounced canines? Or some of the other things I mentioned?

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Is there something about the bridges of dogs noses that I don't know about...?
stray dogs and dogs in neglect is something I say often in that part of the analysis.

https://www.google.com/search?q=stray+dog+scars&biw=1360&bih=511&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiO1OWWxpbPAhUC9IMKHRC8AlIQ_AUICCgB

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-I think fans often get caught up trying to explicitly connect Guts with dogs, perhaps in a rush to come to a conclusion about Miura's intentions. The truth behind such things is not that explicit. Many of the things you've listed above are Miura emphasizing animalistic tendencies -- those that distinguish beasts from humans, which is why it makes sense that the Beast of Darkness is so named. This also works as a throughline for Guts' personal development. He's sought to overcome those animalistic tendencies and have companionship his whole life, despite the hardships he's faced. But none of that means he's explicitly connected to dogs.

-As for the design of the Beast of Darkness, yes it has some canine features (four legs, a tail, the rest are amalgamations). Its overall design does not resemble any dog I've seen, and it is never called a dog anywhere in the series. It is referred to as a beast. If Miura had wanted to draw such connections he could have called it the Dog of Darkness, instead of the more abstract Beast.

-Again, Miura has explicitly addressed why Guts wears black. He's gone as far as linking the literal and thematic repercussions of Guts enveloping himself in darkness.
Again, what I said earlier. This is an analysis of Guts' design alone at a first glance. Not his life story.

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His depth makes him deep?
:ubik:

Offline Walter

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Re: In-depth Berserk Analysis (Part 1)
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2016, 12:09:37 AM »
Between your comment about "death of the author" and your ex-friend's dad having authoritative information about what it takes to make a comic book character, what I've taken away from the bulk of your reply is that pretty much anything goes when it comes to analysis. Scrutiny holds no place here. As it meets the qualifications of "it floated into my brain," it's legitimized. Well, I think if you aren't concerned with your analysis connecting with the actual facts or how the elements have been characterized by the author in the story, then you're merely indulging in your own fiction. And in the process, you're not only leading yourself astray, you're doing the same for anyone who chooses to read your posts.

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This part of the essay focuses on Guts "at a first glance". This is without knowing the story or his journey so far. I think that's the point you've consistently missed throughout your reply here.

Where does the "first glance" thing end, then? Because you mention the Beast of Darkness, which is introduced in Volume 16. Surely by then, readers will have upgraded their awareness of the series' other elements. At what point are these observations afforded any scrutiny beyond the protection of "first glance"?

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Designing a character is as complex process a process as writing one. The most important thing about designing a character is what the reader will think when they first see him or her.

What does that have to do with Odin and Guts? Why is that suddenly more valid because it's within the trappings of "at first glance"?

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Yes. And how many of the human characters you mentioned here have pronounced canines? Or some of the other things I mentioned?

You mentioned the ears, and I called you out on how prevalent they are elsewhere in the series. I could do a dentition study of the other characters, but I think it's pretty unnecessary.

Compare the damage he took when fighting the Count (in his lightest armor) to the damage he took when he fought Rosine (much thicker armor, bleeding out and passing out)

Actually, Guts wears the same armor in those two fights. It's his Black Swordsman-era armor. It doesn't get an upgrade until after he visits Godot's place in Vol 17, and the armor upgrade isn't THAT significant. Anyway the damage he sustained between those fights wasn't dramatically different. The big difference in terms of Guts' condition afterwards had nothing to do with armor. Immediately after Rochine's fight, he didn't have Puck's elf dust handy, which is why he was in terrible shape. Not so with the Count. Puck was right there to heal him up.


:femto: :slan: :ubik:

Offline Sado

Re: In-depth Berserk Analysis (Part 1)
« Reply #13 on: September 18, 2016, 05:36:51 AM »
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Between your comment about "death of the author" and your ex-friend's dad having authoritative information about what it takes to make a comic book character, what I've taken away from the bulk of your reply is that pretty much anything goes when it comes to analysis.
Scrutiny holds no place here. As it meets the qualifications of "it floated into my brain," it's legitimized. Well, I think if you aren't concerned with your analysis connecting with the actual facts or how the elements have been characterized by the author in the story, then you're merely indulging in your own fiction. And in the process, you're not only leading yourself astray, you're doing the same for anyone who chooses to read your posts.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Death_of_the_Author

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Where does the "first glance" thing end, then? Because you mention the Beast of Darkness, which is introduced in Volume 16. Surely by then, readers will have upgraded their awareness of the series' other elements. At what point are these observations afforded any scrutiny beyond the protection of "first glance"?
Yes, I did mention the BOD. Instead of focusing on that, why not notice why I'm mentioning the BOD and what the context of it is?

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What does that have to do with Odin and Guts? Why is that suddenly more valid because it's within the trappings of "at first glance"?
I explain that in the essay.

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You mentioned the ears, and I called you out on how prevalent they are elsewhere in the series. I could do a dentition study of the other characters, but I think it's pretty unnecessary.
1. I didn't only mention pointy ears though. Don't oversimplify what i say.
2. Analysis is very much like hunting for patterns. I see sharp teeth, pointed ears, his canid shaped armor helm, his inner beast (which looks like canid to pretty much everyone but you) and add in the fact that other characters have called him a dog on many occasions--and I see a pattern. So do many other people.

Here's TV tropes talking about it:
"Animal Motifs: Canids. He gets compared to them in several ways at different points in the story:
-On the night that Gambino tried to kill Guts, he compared him to a puppy that had started following him unbidden, and said that the one who killed Sys couldn't be raised to be loyal like a dog. That same night, Guts was nearly killed by but fought off a pack of wolves, implying some kind of spiritual connection with them (or if you interpret it differently, the fact that he would struggle against the wolf-like or feral side of his personality).
-As a 15 year old mercenary, just before Griffith took him into the Band of the Hawk, he was like a lone wolf who refused to answer to anybody or let anyone get close to him.
-A rabid dog, according to Casca, back when they would bicker in their younger years;
-A Hell Hound, according to the form of his Enemy Within;
-A wolf for his lupine-ish features, his wolf-like armor and his wolfish personality and attitude, since he relates to his companions quite the same way a wolf leader relates to its pack;
-A regular guard dog due to his unswerving loyalty and protectiveness towards his lover and the ones he considers a part of his "pack"."
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Characters/BerserkGuts

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Actually, Guts wears the same armor in those two fights. It's his Black Swordsman-era armor.
Not really. There was actual knee, hip and foot armor on in the Lost Children arc. There was also considerably more leather around the legs and groin area.

Black Swordman armor: http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/berserk/images/7/7f/Blackswordsman_v1.png/revision/latest?cb=20140716185429

Lost children armor: http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/berserk/images/2/28/Leather_improvements.png/revision/latest?cb=20120517170011

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Anyway the damage he sustained between those fights wasn't dramatically different. The big difference in terms of Guts' condition afterwards had nothing to do with armor. Immediately after Rochine's fight, he didn't have Puck's elf dust handy, which is why he was in terrible shape. Not so with the Count. Puck was right there to heal him up.
He was in bad shape in both fights, yes. The count bashed him around badly.
But Rosine impaled his hand, HIS FACE, ran over him once or twice at what was supersonic speed iirc, severe burns from the fire, and in then end of it he literally fell from the sky. Plus he had already fought the insect "familiars" and her brood.
Very dramatically different.

Offline Walter

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Re: In-depth Berserk Analysis (Part 1)
« Reply #14 on: September 18, 2016, 10:27:04 AM »
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Death_of_the_Author

I'm familiar with it, and I reject that perspective as I already explained. Understanding authorial intent is important for anyone actually trying to understand the series. Go find a Ulysses manga, or something more open to abstract interpretation, and apply your talents there if this is so important to you. Miura's storytelling is contingent on people understanding what's happening and why, and not assuming his characters are dogs.

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I explain that in the essay.

And I explained how it had no bearing based on how you chose to link the two (to sacrifice and power).

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Here's TV tropes talking about it:

Are you serious with this? TV Tropes? I guess this could be considered an extension of "death of the author" in which anyone's opinions are equally valid, even if they aren't using proper sources. Everything you listed below is garbage-quality analysis written by readers armed with scanlations (the same mistake you made in your first posts here). I will grant you that someone on TV Tropes wrote a lot about dogs and wolves here, but none of it has any bearing on the story.

Guts has a "spiritual connection" with wolves because they tried to kill him and he killed them instead? Why?

It ascribes "lone wolf" with no reference to the text (He was alone, that's all).

"Hell hound" is a completely made up term, that has been in use less frequently thanks to us correcting people about it both here and elsewhere. Its name is the Beast of Darkness.

Comparing Guts and his party to a wolf pack is COMPLETELY INSANE. Do I really need to explain why this is stupid? They are companions. They aren't a wolf pack just because Guts has sharp teeth and Casca mouthed off to him about being reckless 5 years ago.

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Not really. There was actual knee, hip and foot armor on in the Lost Children arc. There was also considerably more leather around the legs and groin area.

Granted I overlooked the addition of leg armor. I fail to see how that would provide such a dramatic difference in the fights you mention to establish the theme you're trying to set up here. The relationship you're referencing: That once Guts acquired his most armored state, he becomes more vulnerable as a result of it, is an explicit feature of the Berserk's armor, and that's when the concept is introduced. Trying to effectively determine his HP after each apostle fight like you're doing below is a fool's errand.

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He was in bad shape in both fights, yes. The count bashed him around badly.
But Rosine impaled his hand, HIS FACE, ran over him once or twice at what was supersonic speed iirc, severe burns from the fire, and in then end of it he literally fell from the sky. Plus he had already fought the insect "familiars" and her brood.
Very dramatically different.

They're only dramatically different if you're trying to validate your original opinion. I already explained why Guts is in worse shape after Rochine's fight, and it doesn't have anything to do with his face or his fall. In both cases, he'd have been dead without Puck's help.
:femto: :slan: :ubik:

Offline Sado

Re: In-depth Berserk Analysis (Part 1)
« Reply #15 on: September 18, 2016, 02:11:56 PM »
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I'm familiar with it, and I reject that perspective as I already explained. Understanding authorial intent is important for anyone actually trying to understand the series. Go find a Ulysses manga, or something more open to abstract interpretation, and apply your talents there if this is so important to you. Miura's storytelling is contingent on people understanding what's happening and why, and not assuming his characters are dogs.
Then your approach to stories is very limited. I've read & written stories where people have interpreted them in ways that had not even occurred to the author. You're putting way too much faith in the author's intent without realizing how spontaneous and raw the creative process is. Books are timeless because author intent is not the end-all-be-all of how it is read by others. As I said, what would be the point of interpretation if all that matters is figuring out what the author intended?
It has its place, don't get me wrong. Of course, understanding what the author is going for is important as well. But it is not as important and crucial in understanding a piece of work as you seem to think it is.

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Are you serious with this? TV Tropes? I guess this could be considered an extension of "death of the author" in which anyone's opinions are equally valid, even if they aren't using proper sources. Everything you listed below is garbage-quality analysis written by readers armed with scanlations (the same mistake you made in your first posts here). I will grant you that someone on TV Tropes wrote a lot about dogs and wolves here, but none of it has any bearing on the story.
my point is that there are other people who see the canid motif. The fact that you don't (or refuse to) is simply a matter of interpretation.
also, what's wrong with using TV Tropes? how is their opinion or interpretation any more or any less valid than what anyone says on this website or what I say? or, dare i say, even you?

Also, some points:
1. Even in the days of the the BoH, Guts was a true introvert, very content in spending time by himself and ruminating. So the part about "lone wolf" makes perfect sense.
2. they explain the "spiritual connection". Granted, I don't see it that way either but they do explain it.
3. hell hound is the name of the trope (you could just look at the link I'm posting. I'm doing it for a reason)
4. the stuff about the pack is not insane. they're talking about his nature as a guard dog. dogs are protective of their closed one because in their mind they are part of the pack. that's how dogs operate. that's the idea they're exploring in the canid motifs of the character, which, again, makes perfect sense. And they don't say "wolf pack".

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Granted I overlooked the addition of leg armor. I fail to see how that would provide such a dramatic difference in the fights you mention to establish the theme you're trying to set up here. The relationship you're referencing: That once Guts acquired his most armored state, he becomes more vulnerable as a result of it, is an explicit feature of the Berserk's armor, and that's when the concept is introduced. Trying to effectively determine his HP after each apostle fight like you're doing below is a fool's errand.
Yeah and my point was, that as the story progress he becomes more and more armored. Not whether it was effective or even worth it.
the second part of that is, that even though he gets armor upgrades the battles he's involved with become more and more dangerous. His health and well-being, as a result, start to plummet. One proof of that is how scarred he gets as the story progresses (which I already explain are a sign of vulnerability, hence, the more scars he gets the more vulnerable he is). There's a sequence to everything that I mention.

The trend was/is that as his armor grows, the battles he fights become more dangerous. He even lampshades this when he talks about how he would've been screwed had he not gotten an armor upgrade when he's fighting the goat apostle. the berserker armor is pretty much this "theme" in spades.
And I'm not determining his HP. I was refuting your point about there being much dramatic difference in the damage he got in his battle with the Count and Rosine.

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They're only dramatically different if you're trying to validate your original opinion. I already explained why Guts is in worse shape after Rochine's fight, and it doesn't have anything to do with his face or his fall. In both cases, he'd have been dead without Puck's help.
He's in worse shape because, as I listed everything, he gets wrecked way worse by her than he did by the Count.
But let's just consider how, after the Count fight, Guts had enough strength to pick up his sword and climb up the stairs and attack Femto. Notice also how, even after that, the only thing he asks Puck to heal is his hand/fingers (not the rest of him). He was still able to walk away once the Godhand leave.
Yet, after the Rosine fight, he just collapses and was shown to be literally bleeding out of his armor. Considering that it was when he's older and an even better warrior than before and you get a true sense of how taxing the battle was when he collapses after it.

The one stubbornly trying to validate his opinion is you.

~Sado22

Offline Sado

Berserk: An In-Depth Analysis (Part 4)
« Reply #16 on: September 20, 2016, 04:22:44 PM »
Fatherhood

“She isn’t my real daughter. She was an orphan who lost her family in the war. I only knew how to deal with iron, but she made me into a pretty decent human being.”

Godo, Berserk 2016, Episode 4

Fatherhood is a theme that I find very few people talking about when it comes to Berserk. For a child, a father is typically the source of a child’s sense of security and identity. The absence of a father-figure has been known to cause long-term effects on a child’s sense of worth, guilt, their emotional stability and their sense of identity. Moreover father-less children are more likely to be victimized and manipulated, have trouble in relationships and are known to create a domineering persona to mask their inner turmoil. Virtually all of these traits are prevalent in Guts and in the world of Berserk in general.

With no mother figure in his life and arguably one of the worst father-figures in literature, Guts is a product of, amongst other things, terrible parenting. Gambino was a bullying, cruel, abusive, withholding, guilt-tripping father to him, damning the poor child to forever seek and need his approval. Of the numerous horrendous things that have happened to Guts, Gambino remained his greatest oppressor until the Eclipse as Guts was still very much under his thumb. Through all that has happened to him, Guts’ remorse over killing Gambino is monumental.

Throughout the Golden Age, in his most vulnerable moments—his first defeat to Griffith, murdering Julius and Adonis, and having sex with Casca—Guts was rendered helpless by his guilt over Gambino’s death. To get an idea of the kind of damage Gambino has done to him, we should notice how Guts views killing Gambino as one of his most heinous acts. For a man whose body count is in the thousands, that Guts’ greatest remorse is killing a man in self-defense as a child provides a glimpse into his inner turmoil and Gambino’s long reach.

Julius and Adonis parallel Gambino and Guts’ relationship: a crusty, battle-hardened man with his own demons utterly destroying the self-worth and innocence of an impressionable boy. Both Julius and Gambino do hint at a soupcon of humanity but the damage they have done is everlasting. Charlotte’s father, though seemingly kind, is in fact an incestuous ephebophile who molests his own daughter. Jill also suffers from an abusive, shaming father.

In this world of terrible fathers, there is only one good father-figure: Guts (Godo is implied to be a good father to Erica but we hardly see the two together which is why I’m not including him. The Count Apostle too surprises us by being a gentle father but given the fact that he locked Theresia in a room, murdered her mother and is generally a heartless sadist isn’t winning him any father of the year awards).

Children need a father who is a constant guide, who is available, protective and supportive. While only in his early 20s, Guts’ hardships and sacrifices make him more akin to a man in his 40s, worldly and wise beyond his years, qualifying him as a splendid father-figure to his entourage of children and teenagers. Miura conveys this idea by having Guts always walk behind his New Party, a testament to his nuanced and subtle approach to visual storytelling. Although the de facto leader of the group, Guts is almost always depicted as either walking behind them, or amongst them, like an ever-present, ever-vigilant father protecting his flock.

Another aspect of the New Party that sheds light on Guts being a splendid father-figure to his comrades is if we compare them to Griffith presiding over the Band of Falcons. In the original Band of Falcons, all members had their respective flaws that held them back from chasing their own dreams. Corkus was a once a leader of thieves who joined Griffith as a sure-fire way towards wealth and status. Pippin was an uncharismatic brute of a man. Judeau was a jack-of-all-trades who excelled at no particular task and decided to follow a man who did. Casca was a woman who had no other goal in life but to define herself through her association with Griffith. Guts, when it was all said and done, was just a man who wanted to fight and relied on Griffith to provide a reason. On top of that, he had been defeated by Griffith in combat and been forced to join against his own will. While they were all proud members of the Falcons, their deep-seated issues remained unresolved and left them dependant on Griffith. That is, their individuality and personal growth was compromised in order to continue being “a feather in Griffith’s wing.”

In the New Party, first and foremost, not only does everyone join out of their own volition but they stay because they choose to. Where Griffith employed charisma, force and material prospects to enlist members in his quest for a kingdom, Guts offers little pomp and circumstance. He makes no promises, demands no favors and inspires through his actions alone. He also makes no airs about being their leader, deferring many of the important decisions to Schierke and Roderick. In fact, Guts is very careful about not stepping on anyone’s toes, showcasing an ego kept in-check and refusing to challenge anyone’s status—unlike Griffith whose ego grew exponentially throughout the Golden Age to the point where Guts deciding to leave the Falcons to live on his own terms was considered a personal affront. Compare Griffith’s reaction to Guts leaving to Guts reaction when he found out Farnese had (briefly) left the group. If anything, the Black Swordsman is highly mindful of everyone’s status in his group, encouraging them all to find their own role in the group. Unlike Griffith who had smothered his followers’ individuality, Guts has indirectly or directly provided an environment where they can tackle their own short-comings.

To that end, Guts has helped everyone regain something they had lost. Farnese, for instance, was a cruel, sadistic religious zealot who, once her faith shattered, had little direction. She had been inspired by Guts to not only shed her religious zeal but to reinvent herself as a more compassionate person. In the New Party, she gains a life-changing task in not only caring for Casca but learning to become a witch, people the old Farnese would have burnt at the stake in a heartbeat. Serpico, too, has found what he was looking for in seeing Farnese happy and surrounded by people who care for her. Though he has his reservations regarding Farnese’s feelings for Guts, even he has marvelled at how much she has changed as a person. Isidore was an orphan, a petty thief whose goal is to become a powerful knight. He lacked a family, a home and a mentor and found all three in Guts and the New Party. Schierke not only lost her mother-figure but also the protective cocoon of her former life as a witch-apprentice in a secluded forest. She had little exposure to the outside world and its many complexities, leaving her confused and conflicted about her place in the New Party. Guts gently guides her into her new life, advises her on how to handle her emotions and is fiercely protective of her—essentially becoming a surrogate parent to her since Flora’s passing. As such, the main difference between the Band of Hawks and the New Party is that Guts seems to have ensured that it is nothing like a mercenary army but a family of individuals.

To further explore the theme of fatherhood, let’s examine Guts’ relationship with Isidore. While Gambino was mercurial, harsh and cruel, Guts’ training of Isidore is strict but also supportive, imparting practical advice and helpful pointers. Above all, he bolsters Isidore’s confidence and self-worth by acknowledging him as a trusted member of the party. During his fight with the Goat apostle and later in the troll’s nest, Guts was very vocal about his faith in Isidore’s ability, entrusting him with protecting Casca and Farnese. The impact this had on Isidore’s confidence was obvious.

Moreover, after slaying the Goat apostle Guts rendezvous with Isidore only to find out that Casca had been captured by Farnese’ soldiers. The boy explains to Guts what had happened off-camera and apologizes. In a fit of rage and frustration, Guts grabs the boy by the collar but relents immediately when he notices him tearing up. It is a telling a moment of Guts’ past as a son and his future as a father. Good parenting is often more about omitting the horrible aspects of our own childhood so that history may not repeat itself. Most of all, it is about putting our children’s emotional and physical wellbeing before anything else. Had this been Gambino, Isidore would have been berated and beaten mercilessly. Guts, however, knew the boy was innocent—the same way he himself was innocent when being blamed for Shisu and Gambino’s misfortune—and restrained himself. In doing so, he refrained himself from repeating history by putting the boy’s feelings before his own exasperation at losing Casca yet again.

Another great example of being a positive father-figure to Isidore is how Guts advises him to use his size to his advantage and carry a smaller sword i.e. create his own fighting style. This is important because Gambino taunted Guts into using a sword bigger than him, which in turn becomes symbolic of Guts’ burdens in life and the “adulthood” that is forced onto him. For Gambino, Guts’ stature was a disadvantage, a handicap. In being forced to use a bigger sword, it in turn made Guts view his own childhood as a liability and something to quickly overcome.

With Isidore, Guts not only encourages the boy to use his size as an advantage but makes sure childhood isn’t viewed as a handicap by Isidore. Most importantly, in encouraging Isidore to use a smaller sword, Guts is helping the boy retain a modicum of childhood. A good father, after all, doesn’t want his child to carry more burdens than he or she needs to whilst encouraging him to live his or her own life. A subdued but poignant reminder of this is when Isidore tries to steal the Dragon Slayer. Guts picks up the enormous blade, places it over his shoulder—reminiscent of Gambino’s mannerisms when he told Guts that he doesn’t have kiddy sword—and says, “this isn’t a toy for kids.” When the boy insists that he wants to follow in his footsteps Guts’ response is peculiar: he doesn’t discourage the boy or chide him but asks, simply, if he has every spilled blood. Isidore’s rebuttal is simply that this is his choice, which makes Guts smile and agree.

Guts and Schierke’s dynamic further explores the themes of fatherhood, this time from the perspective of father-daughter. Schierke grew up in a world devoid of male figures. The ones who were there were either irrelevant or negative. Guts and his party would mark the first time Schierke deals with the male world, running the gamut with an annoying brat in Isidore, a gentleman in Serpico and a battle-hardened alpha-male in Guts. Whilst initially uncomfortable around Guts, Schierke finds him alluring and eventually is won over by his constant availability, his gentleness, worldliness and above all that he’s a good man—things all daughters should get from their fathers. In that sense, her “crush” on Guts is simply an aspect of their father-daughter dynamic. Aside from fatherhood, both Guts and Schierke reflect an old-soul feeling: both are far older than their years and carry a certain gravity to them, upholding more responsibility without sharing their burdens with anyone. The moment where Schierke breaks down after Flora’s death was a poignant scene because they’re both guilty of bottling up their feelings.
We must also realize that at this point, Guts is a father to Casca. In her regressed state Casca is a helpless infant whose safety relies entirely upon Guts, and later, the New Party. When first protecting her following the Tower of Conviction arc, we see Guts truly struggle for the first time. He buckles under the pressures and responsibility placed on his shoulders. This too is a testament to fatherhood where many a great men feel suffocated and helpless by the sheer scale of the task because it isn’t simply about getting through a day but about creating a secure future. In his recourse to the New Party, we see a task that even a warrior like Guts couldn’t shoulder alone.

The only time Guts harkens to his own father, is when confronting the Demon Fetus, responding violently every time it appears. Though originally Casca and Guts’ unborn child, Griffith’s rape of Casca graphed on a demonic nature to it, causing it to be born prematurely and grotesquely deformed. While the creature is perhaps the biggest victim of the Eclipse, in Guts’ mind it is the living embodiment of how Griffith destroyed everything sacred to Guts and Casca. Another glaring aspect of the Demon Fetus is that its right eye is also closed due to its deformity (which in itself is similar to how Shisu looked when she succumbed to the plague). It is here that Guts is very much like his father. Worth noticing also is the fact that Guts’ reaction to the Demon Fetus assuages over the course of the series (in turn a reflection to Guts slowly reclaiming his humanity following the Eclipse). He even expresses parental concern over the Demon Fetus following the events of the Tower of Conviction arc, wondering if it is was out there on its own. It was a stark contrast to his earlier reaction to the creature. What’s more, this change of heart coincides with the arrival of the Moon Child.

While the nature of the Moon Child remains the biggest mystery in Berserk, one thing is indubitable: he is Casca and Guts’ son. What I find fascinating is that Guts’ clearly holds paternal feelings towards the boy but remains hesitant. The Moon Child himself appears uncertain in front of Guts, clearly more at ease with Casca than his father. There are plenty of shots of the two staring at each other curiously until the boy turns back to Casca in hurry. Is it perhaps due to how, for the first few years of his life (as the Demon Fetus), Guts was so hostile to him? I’m reminded of how lion cubs spend the first few weeks with their mothers before being carefully introduced to the male lion, who both mesmerizes and terrifies them. Ultimately though, the Moon Child is Guts’ salvation from himself, a beacon to him even in the midst of the churning rage and violence of the Berserker armor. On more than one occasion, the Moon Child brought Guts back from the brink of completely losing himself to the Berserker armor and during Guts’ battle with the sea god he guided his father towards the surface.
In this the theme of fatherhood comes full circle: our children are a way for us to save ourselves from our greatest demons. When all the pollution of the world, when all its mayhem and clamor traps us in its whorls, it is our children and our love for them that can help us find our way out. They help us prioritize and re-examine our lives, to understand what is truly important in life.

~Sado22

Offline the immortal bob

Re: Berserk: An In-Depth Analysis (Part 4)
« Reply #17 on: September 20, 2016, 07:37:27 PM »
I did just realize that Guts post eclipse is essentially playing a father figure.  And thusly we often see him through the eyes of his troupe.  Isidro, Schierke, and to an extent Farnese.  One thing that is interesting if how Guts is constantly thrown into relationships where he is taught the value of companionship only to have that value spurn him, through relationships like Gambino and the band of the hawk.  One thing i like is that since finding Puck he hasn't lost a team mate, and he was able to make the individual philsophical statements in real world action that i feel keeps him safer in terms of where he stands with his own demon, and break the pattern of fearing companinon ship.  Because in reality that is a difficult theme.  That can leave any human scared, and Guts is followed around by literal demons who prey on that fear, as well as a inner  :beast: that can manifest itself.  While being in a spirtual situation that just barely makes sense for him without that fire, that seems to be both a positive and a negative incarnation, existing in both.  He is the struggler, who needs to forego the desire of vengeance to pursue healing, but is required to harness the  :beast: in his journey.  He is split down to categorical paths, and now that we see elfhelm and the flower storm if cascas return to conciousness is through a land of dreams,  how is she going to have to deal with the same contradictory struggle.