Author Topic: The Beast & Dog/Wolf Themes in Berserk  (Read 794 times)

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Offline buttonmasher

The Beast & Dog/Wolf Themes in Berserk
« on: September 28, 2017, 01:04:49 PM »
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. 
« Last Edit: September 30, 2017, 02:26:58 AM by buttonmasher »

Offline Walter

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Re: The Beast & Dog/Wolf Themes in Berserk
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2017, 04:07:10 PM »
There's a lot of subtext with Gambino's dog concerning Guts relationship to Gambino.

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

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

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

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Casca later calls him a mad dog or something approximating that.

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.

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

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

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

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?

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

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.
:femto: :slan: :ubik:

Offline buttonmasher

Re: The Beast & Dog/Wolf Themes in Berserk
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2017, 07:51:59 PM »
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:

Offline Walter

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Re: The Beast & Dog/Wolf Themes in Berserk
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2017, 12:55:18 AM »
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'm really not trying to be rude, but that is what it sounds like to me still.

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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.

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.

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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

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.

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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.

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.

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

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!

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I understand its a common figure of speech BUT we have context

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

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The emotional damage giving rise to the beast does not start with the eclipse

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.

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

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.

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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?

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.

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We agree on what the beast represents 100%.

It actually seems that we don't.
:femto: :slan: :ubik:

Offline buttonmasher

Re: The Beast & Dog/Wolf Themes in Berserk
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2017, 02:22:40 AM »
I'm really not trying to be rude, but that is what it sounds like to me still.
Great.

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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.

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.

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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.

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? 

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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.

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?

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

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.?
« Last Edit: September 30, 2017, 02:39:45 AM by buttonmasher »

Offline Bellstrom

Re: The Beast & Dog/Wolf Themes in Berserk
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2017, 06:36:05 AM »
Sorry, what "dog/wolf themes" ?

I found a lot of dog/wolf connections in volume 4 after looking for a specific moment:
  • Gambino plays with his dog and tells Guts to bring it some meat, and then he kicks it. This parallels the way he raised Guts, cycling between care and abuse.
  • The mercenaries make fun of his actions, which triggers his attempt to kill Guts. They even call him "big bad Gambino," referencing the "big bad wolf".
  • During the fight, Gambino says Guts "followed [him] around like some lonely puppy."
  • After escaping the camp, Guts fights off a pack of wolves.
  • The knight who pays Guts for killing Bazuso tells him to "go and die like a dog on some battlefield then" after Guts rejects his offer to become a squire.
  • In Guts' dream sequence after fighting Griffith, Shisu is combined with Gambino's dog, symbolically making Guts a dog's (adoptive) child. (A literal son of a bitch, maybe?)
  • At the end of the volume, the enemy guard says, "Not even any forest wolves on a night like this..." The Band of the Hawk appear from the woods immediately after.

Then, of course, there's the classic "You're just a mad dog!" line in the next volume.

Obviously, a lot of these could easily just be quirks of the DH translations and might not be present in the original Japanese. I'm not convinced Miura intentionally put all of these in for the sake of the theme, either.

Offline Aazealh

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Re: The Beast & Dog/Wolf Themes in Berserk
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2017, 06:03:14 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."

That's actually exactly what you did. Taking the 30,000 ft view? Please, what a joke. :schierke:

Lest we forget how this thread started, you said this:

the form of the beast has been foreshadowed throughout the series with the dog/wolf themes so it isn't exactly out of left field.

And then you listed things like the fact Gambino had a dog at some point (absolutely irrelevant to the Beast of Darkness), the fact Guts once fought wolves (absolutely irrelevant to the Beast of Darkness), or that Casca once called him a mad dog, which is a common figure of speech and does not foreshadow the emergence of the Beast of Darkness. Hell, the obvious take here should be that it refers to the whole "berserk" idea, but whatever.

No matter how you try to twist it, these isolated incidents don't form a pattern (or a theme) and they don't foreshadow anything regarding the Beast of Darkness. The Beast of Darkness is the manifestation of Guts' trauma during and after the Eclipse. That is repeatedly made clear throughout the manga by the feelings the Beast represents, by the occasions during which it manifests itself, and by its conversations with Guts inside his mind.

Last but not least, the form of the Beast of Darkness isn't that of a dog or wolf. It's a fictional creature, hence the designation of "beast" the author chose for it. Its form changes at will depending on the situation, but it's never that of a real animal. And it's not meant to be. So, has it been depicted with canine-like properties before? Yes. It's been very dog-like. But is it actually a dog? No. Is it meant to represent a dog? No. Is it Guts' "spirit animal"? No.

What's sad to me is that under the pretense of looking for deeper meaning, of analyzing the series in a "thematic and archetypal way", you're actually trying to dumb it down. To simplify it so that Griffith = bird, Guts = dog. And that's all to justify your original misconception that the Beast of Darkness was foreshadowed by Gambino's dog.

Offline buttonmasher

Re: The Beast & Dog/Wolf Themes in Berserk
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2017, 07:51:26 PM »
Jeez, I get it - you hate this idea.  I'm not trying to dumb anything down, I'm trying to point something out that seemed rather obvious to me.  I chose examples off the top of my head and said I could look for more and the thread proceeded from there.  This wasn't meant to be deep analysis or earth quaking revelation but instead pointing out what seemed to be a motif.  How does equating these characters with animal aspects dumb the series down?  I made the comparison to Femto out of frustration.  That's just one layer, one idea, one way of looking at it.  That's why I said I was taking the 30,000 ft view.

Just PLEASE consider this for a moment. - although you think the idea of Gambino's dog having anything to do with the beast is just completely hilarious, are there really no valid points being made in my entire argument?  If you think it's all 100% bullshit then that's fine, we disagree.  I'm not 100% right but I may not be 100% wrong.  The beast is a part of Guts and the way he looks should reflect that.  I'm sorry my idea saddens you but the good news is I'm done with this thread. 

Offline Walter

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Re: The Beast & Dog/Wolf Themes in Berserk
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2017, 02:19:50 AM »
Just PLEASE consider this for a moment. - although you think the idea of Gambino's dog having anything to do with the beast is just completely hilarious, are there really no valid points being made in my entire argument?  If you think it's all 100% bullshit then that's fine, we disagree.  I'm not 100% right but I may not be 100% wrong.  The beast is a part of Guts and the way he looks should reflect that.

I think you're positing that throughout childhood, Guts subconsciously cultivated a self-image related to dogs that was then distorted after the Eclipse to become the Beast of Darkness.  I can see how that may sound convincing to some. But examine any scene where Guts and dogs are involved, and the connection loses grounding. You're searching for tangible traces of the Beast in Guts' past, which you believe influenced the form it ultimately takes. But I don't think such a thing exists, and it does not need to exist.

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Anyway, I would humbly ask you what, if anything, inspired the look of the beast.?

I think it's pretty simple. The Beast took that form with those specific features because of what that design evokes about that aspect of Guts. Miura probably chose an animal because it's supposed to represent Guts with his human bonds severed. And because Berserk is a story told in a visual medium, he can do cool shit like portray these violent aspects of Guts as a primal, salivating beast, single-minded in his ravenous thirst for revenge. What form would such a thing take? As it happens, it walks on all fours, has a low existence, drools, and has many sharp teeth -- features related with canines. That doesn't lend extra credence to any scene in Berserk with dogs. These features wordlessly convey what Miura is telling us about this dark side of Guts. It's a simple, effective and versatile design, and it doesn't require anyone to thumb through older volumes to understand the REAL meaning.
:femto: :slan: :ubik:

Offline Aazealh

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Re: The Beast & Dog/Wolf Themes in Berserk
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2017, 07:29:33 AM »
Jeez, I get it - you hate this idea.  I'm not trying to dumb anything down, I'm trying to point something out that seemed rather obvious to me.  I chose examples off the top of my head and said I could look for more and the thread proceeded from there.

No hatred here, it's just that what you propose doesn't have merit. There's no big mystery regarding why/how the Beast of Darkness came to be. It's explained when it first shows up. The specters tease Guts about the fact he just killed dozens of children, even though they weren't human anymore. The specters do that because they can sense this same guilt within Guts' mind, so they know it rings true. Then they call to his relentless quest for revenge against Griffith, and to what he's become (a lonely man who just lives to kill and who will eventually turn into a monster). This is developed and reinforced in the subsequent appearances of the Beast of Darkness, so that today we have a very clear understanding of what it is and the drive it represents within Guts' mind. And all those explanations directly from the manga simply contradict your argument.

Also, you say you chose examples off the top of your head, but those are really all the examples there are. Had Guts' childhood been rife with dog-related incidents that had formed a motif and informed his future self, I'd be the first to say so. But it's simply not the case. There are just a few isolated events in his childhood that are never shown or hinted to bear any weight when it comes to the Beast of Darkness. They each have clear meanings in their specific context and don't relate to each other at all, and have never been referenced beyond that either. Miura could have chosen to have call backs to specific events from Guts' past if he meant to draw a connection between the Beast and them, but he didn't. Or rather, he did, but they're about the Eclipse and Guts' life as the Black Swordsman.

Just PLEASE consider this for a moment.

Well here's the thing: I have considered it each time it's been mentioned over the past 15 years. You're not the first to say "Casca called Guts a mad dog once [when she was scolding him about what she perceived as his reckless behavior and lack of consideration of his comrades], that must be the genesis of the Beast of Darkness!". But it wasn't true then and it's not true now.

Now let me give you a gift: it's possible to argue there is a dog theme in Berserk regarding Guts. The two solid things you could mention are the Beast of Darkness' dog-like appearances and the fact Guts is represented by a dog in Casca's nightmare in the current episodes of the story. This is admittedly pretty weak for a theme, but at least it has some ground to stand on. However it doesn't change the inception of the Beast of Darkness, which was your original point.

although you think the idea of Gambino's dog having anything to do with the beast is just completely hilarious, are there really no valid points being made in my entire argument?  If you think it's all 100% bullshit then that's fine, we disagree.  I'm not 100% right but I may not be 100% wrong.

I think the idea that Gambino's dog informed the creation of the Beast of Darkness is 100% bullshit, yes. In fact I find it so ridiculous that I once served Walter with a similar theory to make fun of people who said Casca calling Guts a mad dog was foreshadowing for the Beast of Darkness.

It revolves around this panel:



As you can clearly see, Gambino's madness, what drove him to become increasingly aggressive and eventually to attack Guts, was caused by that small dog which followed him. But was it really just a dog...? From what we know of the Beast of Darkness, we can deduce that this parasitic spirit grows over time, feeding upon the deaths its host provokes. When Guts killed Gambino, the parasite was transferred, and it nested inside him, staying dormant for years. Then it emerged in volume 16, and is now eating away at this mind! I hope you don't find this convincing, because it's obviously pure bullshit. But I think it shows well how the most far-fetched idea can be made to seem plausible.

Offline Griffith

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Re: The Beast & Dog/Wolf Themes in Berserk
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2017, 07:36:58 AM »
This debate sure has gotten dogmatic, huh boy?



My two cents is that the Beast obviously, though not exclusively, plays on the appearance of dogs and wolves (duh, right? well I said "obviously"), which can have a number of general meanings, like it being almost the proverbial "beast" and the one with the closest relation to man as a friend and foe, as well as ones specific to Guts (uh, he's encountered some dogs before and been called a dog on at least one occasion =). So, I don't think there's any harm in paying attention to such imagery throughout the series, even if that's all it is. It could potentially be allusury or subtextual (even retroactively), but it's not the text, and trying to codify it is where it falls apart because if Miura wanted it to be connected to Gambino's dog or something Guts would simply make that connection (and perhaps he will). In any case, given the appearances of the Beast as well as the lack of information we have connecting it to much else in particular, it's a little silly to furiously debate whether or not it looks like or is in fact a dog and how significant that is. I mean, look at all these pictures (and the one above), and I can't believe there aren't any already in a thread discussing the appearance of the Beast, and tell me what it all means:


 
 

Uh, yeah, it looks like a dog, but also definitely not (and the meaning and function of its appearance seems more related to representing how wild and dangerous or relatively "domesticated" the beast is behaving than anything else to do with dogs in the series). Frankly, I'm still more interested in how it manifests externally in its first appearance yet is part of Guts' psyche (did those ghosts in volume 16 read his mind or Incept him? =).

Next debate: is Skull Knight a skeleton or is that even a real skull, and are the skulls in the series a reference to him!? :SK:
« Last Edit: October 01, 2017, 06:11:31 PM by Griffith »

Offline Aazealh

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Re: The Beast & Dog/Wolf Themes in Berserk
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2017, 08:08:07 AM »
the meaning and function of its appearance seems more related to representing how wild and dangerous or relatively "domesticated" the beast is behaving than anything else to do with dogs

Indeed, the big question with the beast to this day is whether or not it can be tamed. Can Guts keep this side of him under control (a proposition made especially tricky by the Berserk's armor)?

Frankly, I'm still more interested in how it manifests externally in its first appearance yet is part of Guts' psyche (did those ghosts in volume 16 read his mind or Incept him? =).

Now that's a good question. I think they were reading his mind. We know they can do that and it would uncharacteristic for them to be able to implant a thought within his mind (they're not that powerful). Regardless, it's interesting that Miura chose to introduce the character through these guys.

Next debate: is Skull Knight a skeleton or is that even a real skull, and are the skulls in the series a reference to him!? :SK:

The keen observer will immediately know that it is a helmet, for it has rivets. :badbone:

Offline Berserker Armor

Re: The Beast & Dog/Wolf Themes in Berserk
« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2017, 05:00:05 PM »
So, to try and gain some insight into the Beast of Darkness, I think it's worthwhile to examine the concept of the namesake of the actual story.

Berserk

Berserks (or Berserkers) were old Nordic warriors who fought in a trance-like state of fury, unphased by anything in battle and killing anything in their paths.

"they went without coats of mail, and acted like mad dogs and wolves" (Snorri Sturluson. Heimskringla: History of the Kings of Norway. trans. Lee M. Hollander. Austin: Univ.of Texas Press. 1964. p.10)

"Men saw that a great bear went before King Hrolf's men, keeping always near the king. He slew more men with his forepaws than any five of the king's champions. Blades and weapons glanced off him, and he brought down both men and horses in King Hjorvard's forces, and everything which came in his path he crushed to death with his teeth, so that panic and terror swept through King Hjorvard's army..." (Gwyn Jones. Eirik the Red and Other Icelandic Sagas. NY: Oxford Univ. Press. 1961. p. 313).

" While this fury lasted they were afraid of nothing, but when it left them they were so powerless that they did not have half of their strength, and were as feeble as if they had just come out of bed from a sickness. This fury lasted about one day"

Sources also refer to this phenomenon as the hamingja ("spirit" or "soul") or fylgja ("spirit form") of the berserker, which may appear in animal form in dreams or in visions, as well as in reality.

Also possibly related to the Nordic influence of Berserk is the mythical beast, Fenrir, which was a monstrous wolf whom even the Norse gods feared (Sound familiar? Guts wishes to challenge the God Hand)

In the end, I consider the Beast of Darkness to be a wolf. If it resembles anything, it's a wolf, and it's safe to assume that Miura drew inspiration from at least one of these Nordic concepts.

As for Casca's dream - Dog Guts shouldnt be anything "spiritual" as it is nothing more than within the confines of Casca's mind. Casca has called Guts a mad dog before, but I found it interesting that Guts was depicted as a hound-like breed. Hounds are the quintessential hunting dog, relentless just like Guts.


Offline Griffith

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Re: The Beast & Dog/Wolf Themes in Berserk
« Reply #13 on: October 01, 2017, 07:12:02 PM »
Indeed, the big question with the beast to this day is whether or not it can be tamed. Can Guts keep this side of him under control (a proposition made especially tricky by the Berserk's armor)?

My initial reaction was a big negatory but that's not actually what we've seen as it did, albeit ominously, come to something of a truce with Guts for a while with the promise to go wild later (clever beast =).

Now that's a good question. I think they were reading his mind. We know they can do that and it would uncharacteristic for them to be able to implant a thought within his mind (they're not that powerful). Regardless, it's interesting that Miura chose to introduce the character through these guys.

Well, that also touches on the production side of the question: did Miura plan it from the start or was it just a cool concept he introduced there and liked so much he brought it back and continued to run with it until it became something of a defining character(istic)? I think that evil personification was an easier way for him to display, and separate, Guts' dark side after Lost Children so he didn't have to go back and forth dirtying and redeeming him to maintain such a complicated balance, while also making it easier to show that struggle with a tangeable adversary.

The keen observer will immediately know that it is a helmet, for it has rivets. :badbone:

A geunine bone helmet made from his own skull!? :isidro: :troll:
« Last Edit: October 01, 2017, 08:51:45 PM by Griffith »

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Re: The Beast & Dog/Wolf Themes in Berserk
« Reply #14 on: October 01, 2017, 07:17:09 PM »
Berserks (or Berserkers) were old Nordic warriors who fought in a trance-like state of fury, unphased by anything in battle and killing anything in their paths.

I don't doubt this comes out of a good intention but I'm pretty sure everyone here is familiar with the concept of berserkers. That aside I find it odd that you bolded the quote about wolves and not the one about the bear, given that the word "berserk" is derived from "bear" and there is another word specific to wolf-related warriors: ˙lfhÚ­nar (which I believe is what your quote about "warriors like mad dogs or wolves" refers to).

Also possibly related to the Nordic influence of Berserk is the mythical beast, Fenrir, which was a monstrous wolf whom even the Norse gods feared (Sound familiar? Guts wishes to challenge the God Hand)

I think that's completely far-fetched and I don't see how it relates to Berserk in any way. Also the God Hand does not fear Guts at all.

In the end, I consider the Beast of Darkness to be a wolf. If it resembles anything, it's a wolf, and it's safe to assume that Miura drew inspiration from at least one of these Nordic concepts.

It doesn't actually resemble a wolf, though. Even in the panels where it exhibits the most canine-like features it's more dog-like than wolf-like. Anyway, I repeat myself, but Miura chose to call it a beast and not something more specific for a reason. Dog, wolf, bear, boar, whatever. It's meant to be a fictional creature, not a specific real life animal. It shifts forms each time we see it in the manga (see Griff's post). Also, to say Miura drew inspiration from the concept of berserks when he called his manga Berserk feels beyond obvious, but I don't see how this relates to your wolf comment.

Sources also refer to this phenomenon as the hamingja ("spirit" or "soul") or fylgja ("spirit form") of the berserker [...]
As for Casca's dream - Dog Guts shouldnt be anything "spiritual" as it is nothing more than within the confines of Casca's mind.

There is also nothing spiritual about the Beast of Darkness, as it is a personification of a part of Guts' psyche. It is not a spirit (and certainly not Guts' soul), merely a storytelling device created to depict the psychological conflict within Guts' mind.

Casca has called Guts a mad dog before, but I found it interesting that Guts was depicted as a hound-like breed. Hounds are the quintessential hunting dog, relentless just like Guts.

That is, among other things, because those two events are unrelated. The figure of speech Casca used in volume 5 did not inform the representation of Guts in her mind in volume 39.

Offline Berserker Armor

Re: The Beast & Dog/Wolf Themes in Berserk
« Reply #15 on: October 01, 2017, 08:06:30 PM »
I don't doubt this comes out of a good intention but I'm pretty sure everyone here is familiar with the concept of berserkers. That aside I find it odd that you bolded the quote about wolves and not the one about the bear, given that the word "berserk" is derived from "bear" and there is another word specific to wolf-related warriors: ˙lfhÚ­nar (which I believe is what your quote about "warriors like mad dogs or wolves" refers to).

I figured users here would know about the concept of berserkers. I just  did not want to assume and that's why I wrote a little about them as a preface for my premises. Wasn't trying to be condescending or anything.

"Berserk" is indeed probably derived from "bear" but that doesnt mean that berserkers of antiquity were limited to the "bear form"

"The earliest surviving reference to the term "berserker" is in HaraldskvŠ­i, a skaldic poem composed by Thˇrbi÷rn Hornklofi in the late 9th century in honor of King Harald Fairhair, as ulfhe­nar ("men clad in wolf skins"). This translation from the HaraldskvŠ­i saga describes Harald's berserkers:

    I'll ask of the berserks, you tasters of blood,

    Those intrepid heroes, how are they treated,
    Those who wade out into battle?
    Wolf-skinned they are called. In battle
    They bear bloody shields.
    Red with blood are their spears when they come to fight.
    They form a closed group.
    The prince in his wisdom puts trust in such men
    Who hack through enemy shields."

(https://infogalactic.com/info/Berserker)

Much of the poetry and mythos of that time relate berserker to bear, wolf, beast, what have you.  The bottom line is that wolf was commonly associated with berserkergang. If the Beast of Darkness looked more like a bear I'd say it was the bear but it looks like the wolf.

I think that's completely far-fetched and I don't see how it relates to Berserk in any way. Also the God Hand does not fear Guts at all.

I never said that the God Hand fears Guts. I just said that Guts opposes the God Hand like Fenrir does.

Fair enough though. the whole Fenrir thing is more of a stretch anyway. That was just nothing more than my speculation on a potential inspiration to Miura. Something I found interesting.

It doesn't actually resemble a wolf, though. Even in the panels where it exhibits the most canine-like features it's more dog-like than wolf-like. Anyway, I repeat myself, but Miura chose to call it a beast and not something more specific for a reason. Dog, wolf, bear, boar, whatever. It's meant to be a fictional creature, not a specific real life animal. It shifts forms each time we see it in the manga (see Griff's post). Also, to say Miura drew inspiration from the concept of berserks when he called his manga Berserk feels beyond obvious, but I don't see how this relates to your wolf comment.

It looks like a fantastical monstrous wolf to me. Somewhere on the range of wolf to feral canine at the very least.

It's heavily implied that the beast is of canine origin. One of the chapters involving the beast of darkness is titled "The Howl from the Darkness"

In terms of animal noises, howling is pretty much exclusive to wolves and dogs. That, combined with the appearance of the beast, really suggests that it's some kind of wolf (or dog).

There is also nothing spiritual about the Beast of Darkness, as it is a personification of a part of Guts' psyche. It is not a spirit (and certainly not Guts' soul), merely a storytelling device created to depict the psychological conflict within Guts' mind.

That is, among other things, because those two events are unrelated. The figure of speech Casca used in volume 5 did not inform the representation of Guts in her mind in volume 39.

I agree with the part about the beast not being an actual distinct spirit, but part of Guts' psyche. I guess I wasn't clear about that.

About Casca's dream, Guts being a dog should have some significance. We can only speculate. However, like I said, I think the choice of Guts being what looks like some type of hound is interesting.


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Re: The Beast & Dog/Wolf Themes in Berserk
« Reply #16 on: October 01, 2017, 10:15:31 PM »
"Berserk" is indeed probably derived from "bear" but that doesnt mean that berserkers of antiquity were limited to the "bear form"

Yeah, I'm aware. What I meant is that you shouldn't interpret references through a confirmation bias.

I never said that the God Hand fears Guts. I just said that Guts opposes the God Hand like Fenrir does.

I really don't think there's any relevant parallel to be drawn between Fenrir and Guts.

It looks like a fantastical monstrous wolf to me.

I guess that was your real point to begin with, and that's fine. But that's really just your opinion. For reference, here are actual wolves in Berserk:



I don't think the Beast of Darkness looks like that. And it doesn't have to, because it's not a wolf. It's a fictional beast. If it were a wolf, it'd be called "The Wolf of Darkness". Which isn't to say it doesn't have some canine traits. It sure does. But it's not an actual dog or wolf or any other animal. And it's not meant to represent a specific animal either, it's meant to represent the darkness within Guts. That's why it's called the Beast of Darkness. My feelings about the Beast's design are mostly summed up by Griffith's post above, which I encourage you to read.

It's heavily implied that the beast is of canine origin. One of the chapters involving the beast of darkness is titled "The Howl from the Darkness"

In terms of animal noises, howling is pretty much exclusive to wolves and dogs. That, combined with the appearance of the beast, really suggests that it's some kind of wolf (or dog).

The Beast of Darkness' origin is Guts' trauma during the Eclipse and its aftermath (his life as the Black Swordsman). As for the title of episode 290, it uses the word "咆哮", which can be translated as "yell; roar; howl". We translated it as "Roar from the Darkness" here. Either way, it's not the definitive proof you're looking for, especially since it occurs 17 volumes after the Beast's introduction.

About Casca's dream, Guts being a dog should have some significance. We can only speculate. However, like I said, I think the choice of Guts being what looks like some type of hound is interesting.

I don't see how this has anything to do with what I said, which is: the figure of speech Casca used in volume 5 did not inform the representation of Guts in her mind in volume 39.

Offline Berserker Armor

Re: The Beast & Dog/Wolf Themes in Berserk
« Reply #17 on: October 02, 2017, 08:59:39 AM »
Yeah, I'm aware. What I meant is that you shouldn't interpret references through a confirmation bias.

There is no confirmation bias. Everything Miura has put in Berserk is open to personal interpretation unless he has spoken/written on the matter, himself.




And it doesn't have to, because it's not a wolf. It's a fictional beast. If it were a wolf, it'd be called "The Wolf of Darkness".

There is zero evidence suggesting that Miura wouldve called it the "Wolf of Darkness" if he wanted it to be a wolf. "Wolf" and "beast" are not mutually exclusive to each other. Something can be both a wolf and a beast at the same time.

I understand that it doesnt look like a realistic wolf, but rather a highly stylized, fantastical wolf. Same way Griffith doesnt look like the falcons you see in nature lol. Maybe I'll instead use "lupine" like the Berserk fan wiki does.

Which isn't to say it doesn't have some canine traits. It sure does.

To me this is a big understatement. To me its base is canine, rather than it merely importing some canine traits.

But it's not an actual dog or wolf or any other animal. And it's not meant to represent a specific animal either, it's meant to represent the darkness within Guts. That's why it's called the Beast of Darkness. My feelings about the Beast's design are mostly summed up by Griffith's post above, which I encourage you to read.

I read Griffith's post. But I still disagree with your opinion that the Beast of Darkness is not canine. I agree it represents the darkness within Guts. That, however, does not preclude it from looking like a monstrous wolf/feral dog.

As for the title of episode 290, it uses the word "咆哮", which can be translated as "yell; roar; howl". We translated it as "Roar from the Darkness" here. Either way, it's not the definitive proof you're looking for, especially since it occurs 17 volumes after the Beast's introduction.

I am almost certain that the Dark Horse translation translates it as "howl."  The Dark Horse translation is the official translation.

As for definitive proof - there is none to my knowledge. There is no proof at all on whether the Beast of Darkness is or isnt a dog/wolf.

The only thing we can do is speculate.

Based on the appearance, the namesake, and the official use of "howl" it's evident to me that the beast is a lupine beast.

don't see how this has anything to do with what I said, which is: the figure of speech Casca used in volume 5 did not inform the representation of Guts in her mind in volume 39.

Seeing how this topic was about dog themes in Berserk, I thought it was interesting.

Guts is specifically constructed as a dog in Casca's mind. Miura sat down at a blank piece of paper or whatever he draws on and and decided to meticulously draw Guts as a dog.

Casca has related Guts to a dog at least twice during the Golden Age arc. The first instance being the mad dog instance. The second being after they had sex and Casca told him to go die like a dog.

On what basis can you say with such certainty that the speech Casca used did not inform the representation of Guts in her mind?

At the very least, there does seem to be a motif of Guts and canines. Casca calls him a dog on at least two occasions, Gambino calls him lonely puppy and feral dog, the Beast of Darkness in Guts' mind is suggested to be a canine beast, the Berserker Armor has a lupine design when Guts loses his mind (there is even a volume cover showing Berserker Guts sitting like a wolf in front of a full moon), Guts has pointy ears and pronounced canine teeth, and ultimately Miura straight up decided to portray Guts as a dog in Casca's dream.


Offline Aazealh

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Re: The Beast & Dog/Wolf Themes in Berserk
« Reply #18 on: October 02, 2017, 09:45:59 AM »
There is no confirmation bias. Everything Miura has put in Berserk is open to personal interpretation unless he has spoken/written on the matter, himself.

The confirmation bias is on your part, when you look at something in an attempt to prove what you already believe. And no, not everything is open to personal interpretation in the story. In fact there are a lot of things in Berserk that are very clearly established.

There is zero evidence suggesting that Miura wouldve called it the "Wolf of Darkness" if he wanted it to be a wolf. "Wolf" and "beast" are not mutually exclusive to each other. Something can be both a wolf and a beast at the same time.

You seem to be mistaken regarding where the burden of proof lies. The Beast of Darkness clearly does not anatomically represent a wolf. It is also not referred to as such in the story. The one who claims it is meant to represent a specific animal (you) is the one who has to demonstrate what he asserts.

Same way Griffith doesnt look like the falcons you see in nature lol.

Griffith is a human being. "The White Falcon" was his nickname on the battlefield. This is a terrible comparison.

To me this is a big understatement. To me its base is canine, rather than it merely importing some canine traits.

I'm not quite sure where the difference lies or why it should matter. The point is it's not a straight-up wolf, which is what you were saying.

I read Griffith's post. But I still disagree with your opinion that the Beast of Darkness is not canine.

You insisted the Beast of Darkness is meant to specifically depict a wolf. Not a vaguely dog-like entity whose form changes at will, you insisted on a wolf. I merely pointed out to you that it's not the case. Whether you agree or disagree doesn't really matter.

I am almost certain that the Dark Horse translation translates it as "howl."  The Dark Horse translation is the official translation.

Dark Horse's translation is not word of law on anything. It's often inaccurate, sometimes spectacularly so.

On what basis can you say with such certainty that the speech Casca used did not inform the representation of Guts in her mind?

Because there is literally no evidence it is the case, and if the author meant for it to be connected, he would have made it clear. Because it doesn't make sense in the context of the story. Because to think a one time use of a derogatory figure of speech formed the basis for the positive depiction of the character in a way that is the total opposite of said figure of speech is ridiculous. And so on.

At the very least, there does seem to be a motif of Guts and canines. Casca calls him a dog on at least two occasions, Gambino calls him lonely puppy and feral dog, the Beast of Darkness in Guts' mind is suggested to be a canine beast, the Berserker Armor has a lupine design when Guts loses his mind (there is even a volume cover showing Berserker Guts sitting like a wolf in front of a full moon), Guts has pointy ears and pronounced canine teeth, and ultimately Miura straight up decided to portray Guts as a dog in Casca's dream.

See what I said about confirmation bias. That people used common insults or expressions featuring the word "dog" in them doesn't form a motif. Guts' ears and teeth are also not meant to represent a wolf either, and it's pretty funny you'd say so. As for the Berserk's armor, its helmet has taken on the form of the Beast of Darkness. Out of everything you list here, the actual solid dog references are the ones I mentioned to buttonmasher before you even posted in this thread.

This whole argument is curious because I don't think there is much disagreement here, but you're trying to make things more definite, more clear than they actually are, and you're using flimsy evidence to do so.

Offline buttonmasher

Re: The Beast & Dog/Wolf Themes in Berserk
« Reply #19 on: October 02, 2017, 03:44:31 PM »
Quote
Out of everything you list here, the actual solid dog references are the ones I mentioned to buttonmasher before you even posted in this thread.

To be clear, I made those points in my 2nd post in this thread.

Quote
I think you're positing that throughout childhood, Guts subconsciously cultivated a self-image related to dogs that was then distorted after the Eclipse to become the Beast of Darkness.  I can see how that may sound convincing to some. But examine any scene where Guts and dogs are involved, and the connection loses grounding. You're searching for tangible traces of the Beast in Guts' past, which you believe influenced the form it ultimately takes. But I don't think such a thing exists, and it does not need to exist.

This smartly condenses my point exactly.  Although you don't agree, I am very happy to see that you do completely understand the case I was making.

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Re: The Beast & Dog/Wolf Themes in Berserk
« Reply #20 on: October 02, 2017, 05:11:26 PM »
This smartly condenses my point exactly.  Although you don't agree, I am very happy to see that you do completely understand the case I was making.

What's this? A happy ending in a heated thread like this? Inconceivable!  :ganishka:
:femto: :slan: :ubik:

Offline Berserker Armor

Re: The Beast & Dog/Wolf Themes in Berserk
« Reply #21 on: October 02, 2017, 10:46:40 PM »
The confirmation bias is on your part, when you look at something in an attempt to prove what you already believe. And no, not everything is open to personal interpretation in the story. In fact there are a lot of things in Berserk that are very clearly established.

The things that are clearly established are those that were written about (whether in the manga or outside the manga) or spoken about by Miura, himself. Nothing more, nothing less.

Miura does not say or explicitly spell out anywhere that the Beast is not a wolf.

You seem to be mistaken regarding where the burden of proof lies. The Beast of Darkness clearly does not anatomically represent a wolf. It is also not referred to as such in the story. The one who claims it is meant to represent a specific animal (you) is the one who has to demonstrate what he asserts.

The burden of proof lies just as much with you and your claim than it does with me and my claim.

Your claim is a positive one. You are saying with absolute certainty that the Beast is not a wolf despite the fact that there is simply nothing explicitly stated on the matter.

You are right that the Beast of Darkness is a beast. I, too, know that the Beast of Darkness is a beast. The point I'm making is that The Beast of Darkness has the potential to be a beast and a wolf (a wolf is nothing more than a type of beast). Just like it has the potential to be a beast and [definitely] not a wolf (your claim).

The bottom line is that we are both free to interpret Miura's imagery the way we see fit. That is the beauty of narrative analysis. Until Miura explicitly defines the beast as something it is (or is not) then it's pointless to try to prove each other right or wrong - burden of proof is irrelevant until it is spelled out for us by the creator as gospel of the narrative.

All we can do is support our hypotheses with evidence (evidence is distinct from proof)....aka give our own takes on the matter.  Literary devices are often left up to the reader to discover and interpret. Some may catch on, some may not. 

By the way, it's obviously not a wolf like the one you'd find in nature. I noted it looks like a monstrous, stylized, fantastical wolf. If it brings clarity to the discussion, I'll call it a lupine beast instead of a wolf.


I'm not quite sure where the difference lies or why it should matter. The point is it's not a straight-up wolf, which is what you were saying.

You insisted the Beast of Darkness is meant to specifically depict a wolf. Not a vaguely dog-like entity whose form changes at will, you insisted on a wolf. I merely pointed out to you that it's not the case. Whether you agree or disagree doesn't really matter.

I simply believe that the beast is a lupine animal.  I just went with "wolf' initially because I didnt think things would get taxidermic...my position is that it is a lupine beast or a canine beast (feral dog of some sort) at the very least. I do not insist that it has been proven it was a wolf. I just look at the evidence in front of me and will interpret it as a wolf. I do acknowledge the fact that defining the beast any further than beast, including saying that it is not a wolf, is pure hypothesis. But hypotheses can differ in terms of supporting evidence and interpretation.

Dark Horse's translation is not word of law on anything. It's often inaccurate, sometimes spectacularly so.

It's literally the official translation though. It's virtually canon. The translation is obviously not inaccurate in this case, in any case. You, yourself, acknowledged that the original japanese words do translate to "howl" among other things. The fact that they, the translators and editors who meticulously work on the English Berserk, chose "howl" over "roar" or something else speaks volumes on the matter.

Because there is literally no evidence it is the case, and if the author meant for it to be connected, he would have made it clear. Because it doesn't make sense in the context of the story. Because to think a one time use of a derogatory figure of speech formed the basis for the positive depiction of the character in a way that is the total opposite of said figure of speech is ridiculous. And so on.

With all due respect, who are you to say that if Miura wanted something to be some way, he would have done it in the way you are claiming? Both you and I are just readers, and, like I said before, until Miura spells something out for us in an interview, letter to a fan, or the manga itself, there is no way to make absolute claims about his work without being able to read his mind or something.


See what I said about confirmation bias. That people used common insults or expressions featuring the word "dog" in them doesn't form a motif. Guts' ears and teeth are also not meant to represent a wolf either, and it's pretty funny you'd say so. As for the Berserk's armor, its helmet has taken on the form of the Beast of Darkness. Out of everything you list here, the actual solid dog references are the ones I mentioned to buttonmasher before you even posted in this thread.

This whole argument is curious because I don't think there is much disagreement here, but you're trying to make things more definite, more clear than they actually are, and you're using flimsy evidence to do so.

After I read this part of your response, we might be misunderstanding each other.

I, by no means, believe that it can be said that the Beast of Darkness is proven with absolute certainty to be a wolf/canine-beast. It is nothing more than my interpretation of the narrative...which I see as heavily implying such.

What I am contesting, though, is your claim that it can be said with certainty that the Beast is not a wolf/lupine beast. I am also contesting the idea that it can be said with certainty that there is no "dog" motif like I or buttonmasher described.

Basically - there are aspects of Berserk, just like in virtually all narratives from all kinds of mediums, that can be interpreted in different ways based on what is given to us.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2017, 12:18:15 AM by Berserker Armor »