Berserk > Character Cove

The Beast & Dog/Wolf Themes in Berserk

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buttonmasher:
I did not start this thread.

There's a lot of subtext with Gambino's dog concerning Guts relationship to Gambino.  Guts first real fight against hopeless odds is against a pack of wolves immediately after being cast out of Gambino's camp.  Casca later calls him a mad dog or something approximating that.  Guts leaves the Falcons to find his own path instead of being Griffith's loyal dog of war (my interpretation given the context).  Most recently we see Guts represented as a dog dragging Casca's coffin in her dream.

I'm not a great writer so I would stumble through a more elaborate explanation, but I'll try if this isn't convincing.  These are the ones that have stuck out to me, I'd have to go look for more examples, but it seems fitting that Guts' "spirit animal" is the canine. 

Walter:

--- Quote from: buttonmasher on September 28, 2017, 01:04:49 PM ---There's a lot of subtext with Gambino's dog concerning Guts relationship to Gambino.
--- End quote ---

There's a lot of subtext for a dog that's in 3 pages of the manga?


--- Quote ---Guts first real fight against hopeless odds is against a pack of wolves immediately after being cast out of Gambino's camp.
--- End quote ---

And how would that have informed the Beast of Darkness' form? "Those wolves almost killed me, so I'll become like them?"


--- Quote ---Casca later calls him a mad dog or something approximating that.
--- End quote ---

That's a pretty common figure of speech. She wasn't being insightful about Guts' bestial mental persona (something that wouldn't manifest until years later). So I'm not sure what that has to do with the Beast of Darkness.


--- Quote ---  Guts leaves the Falcons to find his own path instead of being Griffith's loyal dog of war (my interpretation given the context).
--- End quote ---

Come on, now ... Guts uses his teeth in combat a lot. Is that another "dog theme" ?


--- Quote ---Most recently we see Guts represented as a dog dragging Casca's coffin in her dream.
--- End quote ---

Mmhm, that's Casca's perception of Guts. What does that have to do with the Beast of Darkness, in relation to what we were discussing before?


--- Quote ---it seems fitting that Guts' "spirit animal" is the canine.

--- End quote ---

Well it's certainly not like any dog or wolf I've ever seen. It has four legs and a tail, that much I'll agree with. But equating the Beast with a "dog" or "wolf" is a misnomer. It's called a beast for a reason. It's an exaggerated, monstrous creature meant to emphasize Guts' straying from humanity and becoming more beast than man. It's a thematic representation -- Guts as a lone, ravenous animal -- not something that was assembled in bits and pieces from Guts' experiences with canines.  Furthermore, if Miura wanted the association to be 100% canine, he'd have called it the 闇の犬.

buttonmasher:
I had a feeling this would be the response.  I'm taking the 30,000 ft view of the series in a thematic and archetypal way.  I am not just listing pages with dogs on them and saying, "Wow, there sure are a lot of dogs around here, must be important."  I didn't mean for each example to be interpreted in a vacuum in the most literal sense but rather look at how all of these scenes interact to paint a picture of the beast.

Gambino treats Guts like a dog, even going so far as to call him runt and pup.  I mention Gambino's dog because he has more regard for the dog than he does for Guts.  The fight with the wolves happens immediately after Guts is cast out from Gambino's camp.  This fight with the wolves echoes the events from Gambino's camp and literally shows Guts as the "other" not belonging to the pack, perhaps as a dog among wolves, fighting for his life to escape.  It is not a 1:1 symmetry but look at it as an archetypal story and as Guts is slaying those wolves, he is slaying his entire life up until that point.  Guts has been made to feel like a dog, he never decided to emulate them.  He has been raised like a dog, one only useful as a tool.  Continuing with the dog analogy, Guts remained loyal to Gambino right up until it was a life or death decision.

When Casca calls Guts a dog, he got quite upset.  Who do you think he was reminded of when Casca called him a dog?  We can argue about Guts' feelings toward Casca here, but that was painful coming form Casca.  I understand its a common figure of speech BUT we have context so this is more meaningful than just some random insult.  Guts' whole life has been traumatic, not just the eclipse!  The emotional damage giving rise to the beast does not start with the eclipse, and Casca is pointing out the fact that there is something off in the way that Guts fights and thus lives.

Thematically, Guts can be represented by a dog just as easily as Griffith is by the falcon.  Griffith has the eye of the falcon, he sees everything.  His ambition matches his vision and he is a regal, beautiful, and deadly.  The falcon soars alone.  Guts is the dog with no pack.  He's been abused, betrayed and now only understands life in terms of survival.  Griffith earns Guts' trust but uses him as a weapon.  When asked to become an assassin, Guts takes up the job without question because he is loyal and trusts that Griffith sees the way forward (eye of the falcon).  When he overhears Griffith talking about a man worthy of his friendship, Guts realizes that the two of them are living in different worlds (Falcon Vs. Dog).  For these reasons I say Guts was FIGURATIVELY Griffith's loyal dog of war.  War hounds were literally used in real wars same way Guts would engage the enemy.  Guts could never be Griffith's equal (in terms of vision and ambition) until Griffith lost his wings and was forced to crawl in the dirt.  The falcon had seen too much to be pitied by something so lowly as the dog.  Even at the eclipse Guts is trying to rescue Griffith, loyal until he had no choice but to acknowledge betrayal.   

Casca sees Guts as a dog in her dream because that's how Guts has unconsciously lived. She didn't create the image of the dog after careful deliberation, but rather that is the image her mind was able to most easily use to represent him because that's who he is!

As far as the beast not looking like a dog...Come on!  Crop the head off of any picture and asked a friend what animal they are looking at and see what they say.  It's obviously not a literal dog because when has Miura ever not been creative in creature design?  Can we at least agree on 90% canine appearance?  We agree on what the beast represents 100%.  I'm only trying to point out that it isn't a coincidence that it looks like a....DOG   :beast: :ganishka:

Walter:

--- Quote from: buttonmasher on September 29, 2017, 07:51:59 PM ---I am not just listing pages with dogs on them and saying, "Wow, there sure are a lot of dogs around here, must be important." 
--- End quote ---

I'm really not trying to be rude, but that is what it sounds like to me still.


--- Quote ---Gambino treats Guts like a dog, even going so far as to call him runt and pup.  I mention Gambino's dog because he has more regard for the dog than he does for Guts.
--- End quote ---

Well, until he hits it in the face  :void: That scene is far more revealing for Gambino than Guts, so I think it's being misconstrued as Dog Evidence #0001. It shows that Gambino lashes out at boys and dogs alike for acting in terms that he would understand as needy. And that causes him anguish, because both Guts and that random dog are pulling for a part of him that he can't give, because he's a broken man with nothing to give.

In any case, that dog does not seem to leave an impression on Guts in any way at all, and I really think you're reading way too much into it.


--- Quote ---The fight with the wolves happens immediately after Guts is cast out from Gambino's camp.  This fight with the wolves echoes the events from Gambino's camp and literally shows Guts as the "other" not belonging to the pack

--- End quote ---

That's a cool insight, but I don't see how it relates back to the Beast of Darkness at all. Trying to draw a pattern for the Beast prior to the Eclipse is a slippery slope into obscurity. You can craft such theories as a way to describe Guts' state of mind, but the Beast began after the Eclipse, specifically because it represents the Eclipse's trauma, and his appetite for revenge.


--- Quote ---It is not a 1:1 symmetry but look at it as an archetypal story and as Guts is slaying those wolves, he is slaying his entire life up until that point.
--- End quote ---

I think you're embellishing with your attempts at symbolism.  In that scene, Guts was fighting for survival, even though his will to live had nearly been broken.  That's a key part of his character, so it's not like the wolves are there for no reason at all other than to provide an animal memory that will later be tapped by his subconscious when it comes calling in Volume 16.


--- Quote ---When Casca calls Guts a dog, he got quite upset. Who do you think he was reminded of when Casca called him a dog? 
--- End quote ---

Yes, he was upset because she was questioning his bond with the group -- not because he's offended at trash talk. That's the entire point of the scene, and where the discussion goes with Griffith after Casca leaves. It's about Guts actually having changed within the group over the years, a notion which Casca rejects because of her complex over Guts' reckless role in the group. NONE of that has to do with actual animals!


--- Quote ---I understand its a common figure of speech BUT we have context
--- End quote ---

Context which you have manufactured in this thread, not substantive context as presented in the pages of the story.


--- Quote ---The emotional damage giving rise to the beast does not start with the eclipse
--- End quote ---

I fundamentally disagree. Guts was a tortured person before the Eclipse, but the Beast specifically represents Guts' trauma, and his appetite for revenge because of the Eclipse.


--- Quote ---Thematically, Guts can be represented by a dog just as easily as Griffith is by the falcon. 
--- End quote ---

Guts as a low, trudging figure and Griffith as a soaring falcon is a natural comparison, one made by Miura himself. No argument. That does not make the Beast of Darkness a dog.


--- Quote ---As far as the beast not looking like a dog...Come on!  Crop the head off of any picture and asked a friend what animal they are looking at and see what they say.  It's obviously not a literal dog because when has Miura ever not been creative in creature design?
--- End quote ---

I don't need to cut off parts of the beast's body to accurately call it what it is. It is a fictional being, it does not need to 100% align with real-world animals. It has canine parts, and it also has monstrous parts, thus it is not a dog OR a wolf. Relegating it to either is misconstruing what it truly represents.


--- Quote ---We agree on what the beast represents 100%.
--- End quote ---

It actually seems that we don't.

buttonmasher:

--- Quote from: Walter on September 30, 2017, 12:55:18 AM ---I'm really not trying to be rude, but that is what it sounds like to me still.

--- End quote ---
Great.


--- Quote ---Well, until he hits it in the face  :void: That scene is far more revealing for Gambino than Guts, so I think its purpose is being misconstrued. It shows that Gambino lashes out at boys and dogs alike (hitting both also causes him anguish, but that's another story), both for acting in terms that he would understand as needy. They're both pulling for a part of him that he can't give, because he's got nothing to give. In any case, that dog does not seem to leave an impression on Guts in any way at all, and I really think you're reading way too much into it.

--- End quote ---

The dog was kicked.  Guts was sold, raped, and nearly murdered.  Yeah, he feels bad about kicking the dog but I wouldn't say its the same ballpark.  It may not have left an impression on Guts but it leaves an impression on the reader - Gambino is a real son of a bitch who treats his kid worse than his dog.


--- Quote ---That's a cool insight, but I don't see how it relates back to the Beast of Darkness at all. Trying to draw a pattern for the Beast prior to the Eclipse is a slippery slope into obscurity. You can craft such theories as a way to describe Guts' state of mind, but the Beast began after the Eclipse, specifically because it represents the Eclipse's trauma, and his appetite for revenge.
--- End quote ---

Guts is broken after the eclipse but why can't the early traumas of his life be the fractures along which his mind breaks?  Why does it have to be all or nothing?  We both know why the beast appears so why are we splitting hairs here? 


--- Quote ---In that scene, Guts was fighting for survival, even though his will to live had nearly been broken. That's pretty much it. I think you're embellishing with your attempts at symbolism.
--- End quote ---

The scenes literally happen back to back and I find it hard to believe there is no symbolic connection.  Guts was fighting for survival, even though his will to live had nearly been broken when he fled the camp, so why the redundant wolf fight?


--- Quote ---Yes, he was upset because she was questioning his bond with the group -- not because he's offended at trash talk. That's the entire point of the scene, and where the discussion goes with Griffith after Casca leaves. It's about Guts actually having changed within the group over the years, a notion which Casca rejects because of her complex over Guts' reckless role in the group. NONE of that has to do with actual animals!
--- End quote ---

--- Quote ---Context which you have manufactured in this thread, not substantive context as presented in the pages of the story.

--- End quote ---

Why are you so quick to decide the context?  The Golden Age is an epic flashback, why can't this be significant?  It stuck out to me as the reader.  Yes, Guts is mad because she is questioning him BUT can you not see how calling him a dog might be a sore spot for him?  Does he need a line of exposition about "I really hate being called a dog" for it to be significant?  Miura is detail oriented, maybe I'm wrong but maybe he wrote that on purpose if for no other reason than to put the images of Guts and a dog(beast) into the reader's minds. 

Femto looks like a demonic bird creature.  Surely we can agree on that?  Makes perfect sense given all we know about Griffith.  I'm trying to tell you there is an analogue for why the beast and the armor look the way they do.  Do you think Miura would arbitrarily pick a design for his main character just because it looks cool with zero back story?  Why can't you see this canine aspect of Guts when the point has been driven home in Casca's dream?


To be clear, I've never said the beast is an actual dog!  I've only said it sure as hell looks like one to me and I don't think that's an accident.  I was just trying to connect the dots on what seems to be a theme.  Anyway, I would humbly ask you what, if anything, inspired the look of the beast.?

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