Author Topic: The relevance of Berserk's opening scene  (Read 582 times)

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Offline seasnipper

The relevance of Berserk's opening scene
« on: January 03, 2019, 07:30:48 AM »
I spend most of my Berserk-related time in Discord and have noticed a certain issue come up pretty often- the irrelevancy and "out of character"-ness of the opening scene of Berserk in which Guts is shown having sex with an apostle before destroying it.  After reading through the a recent thread on here I decided there were a few points I wanted to address on this issue in relation to Guts's characterization: the importance of the interplay between sex and violence in Berserk and Miura's foresight.

The relationship between sex and violence in Berserk is always an important indicator of Guts's present state, and how the theme of sex is currently interacting with Berserk's concurrent atmosphere.  Sex and violence coincide for Guts, to varying degrees at different times.  This is, in my opinion, a result of the original trauma of his childhood rape at the hands of Donovan.  The first instance of physical intimacy he experiences since the death of Shizu/Shisu and his first sexual experience is an act of violation, subjugation, aggression, and betrayal.  From this point, sex and violence are "married" in Berserk, and we can see the repercussions on Guts mental state and ability to socialize with the repetitive rejection of contact throughout the beginning Golden Age Arc.

The next major shift in the relationship between sex and violence for Guts we see is during his sexual encounter with Casca.  What starts off as a positive and egalitarian encounter morphs into a brief episode of violence after Guts's childhood trauma is triggered, re-establishing the marriage of sex and violence as Guts chokes Casca in a frenzied attempt to submit the weakness and vulnerability of his childhood self.  However, Guts is "brought down" from this and is able to reconcile the pain and fear associated with sexual vulnerability by sharing it with Casca, and physical affection ensues.  This bounce-back demonstrates that some kind of healing has been permitted in the divorce between sex and violence with openness, understanding, and the allowance of a sort of solidarity from a loved one.

The Eclipse obviously undermines this very shortly after.  All of the previous associations between sex and violence resurface to the extreme with the slaughter of the Band of the Falcon and the rape of Casca by Griffith/Femto.  I believe this is the point that people fail to take into consideration when deeming the Guts/apostle sex scene out of character following the Golden Age- that this event basically entails the regression of all Guts's "progress" in forming relationships and finding external fulfillment and meaning, and the forceful re-marriage of sex and violence in the conjoined act of sex and murder.  In feeding his own darkness and pain in pursuing vengeance on apostles while abandoning the equally traumatized Casca, he prevents the necessary process of "healing" through sharing and negotiating pain that we have observed to be at least incidentally successful. 

So, while the opening scene is Berserk may seem jarring and dissonant, especially with the next iteration of Guts growth seen during the Golden Age, it ties in completely comprehensibly with the thematic evolution of the sex/violence dichotomy and is equally reflective of Guts's insular, isolated, and self-serving outlook exaggerated throughout Black Swordsman.
In addition, showing that the resultant trauma of the Eclipse remarries sex and violence is consistent with Guts's later sexual assault of amnesiac Casca and its conjoined fantasy of rape and murder.  The scene therefore serves as a relevant precursor when viewed chronologically which makes the lapse thematically understandable in a greater context. 

The follow up argument to this line of thinking is usually that Miura did not plan that all in advance, so it is not actually as important.  However, to my understanding, the majority of content in BS and a notable amount of content throughout the rest of Berserk was and has not been intensively incorporated in accordance with future planning.  But does that discount the symbolic importance of the Demon Child in the beginning of the story, and its later connection to Guts's and Casca's relationship which was, according to Miura, not planned?  Does this make the acquisition of the Beherit dismissible or Theresia's impact negligible?  Obviously not.  Cherry-picking, what we do and don't deem relevant to Berserk on the basis on Miura's foresight only caters to our own favored interpretation of Berserk and bears no significance to the media itself.  Being able to weave together preexisting elements should be a basis of admiration (or criticism, depending on the level of success) for Miura's storytelling and not a shallow argument for trying to mold a story towards a personal ideal.

I hope this is appropriate and readable!  Still learning to reckon with the forum setup.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2019, 10:16:47 AM by seasnipper »

Offline Aazealh

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Re: The relevance of Berserk's opening scene
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2019, 09:45:13 AM »
Excellent post, seasnipper! It does a great job of decomposing Guts' journey in dealing with his sexual trauma, something not enough readers seem to pay mind to.

One thing I've said several times in the past is that this scene should be viewed as Guts' darkest hour. His lowest point. People ought to remember his state of mind at the time: he was on a self-destructive quest of revenge. His objective wasn't to emerge unscathed. He would employ any means necessary to kill an apostle and self-preservation wasn't a concern (nor was self-respect). This matters in many ways, including because this is something a part of him, the "Beast of Darkness", still longs for in volume 40.

That's why he used himself as bait to take the monster out and "did whatever he had to" in the process. And like you said, this scene can be related to his hatred of being touched at the time (a return of the symptoms of his childhood trauma), which means to me it can be seen as being as self-destructive as his use of the Berserk's armor. It's an utter disregard for himself within his quest for revenge, and beyond that, it's a mark of self-hatred and self-harm. All of this being of course a consequence of his trauma from the Eclipse.

I also think it's really no coincidence at all that this occurs right before he meets Puck. While he's ever overlooked, Puck played a vital role in Guts' life: he was the one friend who stuck around and steered him, ever so slightly, back towards the right path. With humor, morals, practical concerns and a positive outlook among other things. So this scene can also be viewed as a glimpse of the path Guts might have followed had he never met Puck. A path that would have ended with his death.

The follow up argument to this line of thinking is usually that Miura did not plan that all in advance, so it is not actually as important.  However, to my understanding, the majority of content in BS and a notable amount of content throughout the rest of Berserk was and has not been intensively incorporated in accordance with future planning.

There's a couple points I want to make about this. The first one is that Miura is pathologically humble, and while he's said numerous times he doesn't plan things all that far ahead, he's also revealed and shown that he does plan some things really quite far ahead, and I'm talking 10+ volumes here. So when reading his comments, people need to keep his cultural background in mind, as well as his personality. He's really not one for boasting about his abilities and achievements.

The second point is that I don't think it's a valid argument to say Miura hadn't fully formed Guts' character during the Black Swordsman arc, and that therefore his behavior in it can be discounted. It certainly would have been impossible for any author to plan hundreds of episodes' worth of content before even starting to draw a series, but the key components of Berserk were already done at that time. To tie back to what I said earlier, characters evolve in Berserk, and Guts himself has changed a lot over time. That's part of what makes the series so great. But the Black Swordsman was his starting point, and will forever be the core of his character. And that includes some unsavory moments.

Shizu/Shisu

Just so you know, the way it's spelled in Japanese (シス) means it cannot possibly be "Shizu". It could be "Shisu" or "Sis", but no "Z" sound.

Offline seasnipper

Re: The relevance of Berserk's opening scene
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2019, 10:59:10 AM »

That's why he used himself as bait to take the monster out and "did whatever he had to" in the process. And like you said, this scene can be related to his hatred of being touched at the time (a return of the symptoms of his childhood trauma), which means to me it can be seen as being as self-destructive as his use of the Berserk's armor. It's an utter disregard for himself within his quest for revenge, and beyond that, it's a mark of self-hatred and self-harm. All of this being of course a consequence of his trauma from the Eclipse.


Personally, I wouldn't say "utter disregard for himself" as his quest for vengeance is ultimately self centered, fulfilling a personal need for satisfaction of destructive urges, even if that includes self destruction.  I do agree, however, that the self hatred and self harm are veiled but persistent-they really come to light in his final exchange with Theresia.

The irony of his use of the physically destructive Berserker armor coupled with a conscious intention to survive compared against his attitude during Black Swordsman is a nice inverted development as well, even if they both fall under the umbrella of self-destructive behavior.  One could probably make an argument that all of Guts's development thus far falls under the umbrella of self-destructive behavior, and its rather his degree of isolation (whether hes letting others share his incentives and struggles, and whether those incentives are internally or externally directed) and drive to persevere which mark his psychological evolution within that.



The second point is that I don't think it's a valid argument to say Miura hadn't fully formed Guts' character during the Black Swordsman arc, and that therefore his behavior in it can be discounted.


Not sure if you're reiterating or you misunderstood me, but I was attempting to argue against the mislead idea that Guts's behavior during BS or any element of the arc can or should be discounted.

Offline Aazealh

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Re: The relevance of Berserk's opening scene
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2019, 11:27:22 AM »
Personally, I wouldn't say "utter disregard for himself" as his quest for vengeance is ultimately self centered

Sure, I meant that in the sense of "his well-being", not as if it was an altruistic pursuit.

The irony of his use of the physically destructive Berserker armor coupled with a conscious intention to survive compared against his attitude during Black Swordsman is a nice inverted development as well, even if they both fall under the umbrella of self-destructive behavior.

Yep!

One could probably make an argument that all of Guts's development thus far falls under the umbrella of self-destructive behavior

I think that's a bit extreme. I would say that his desire to protect and restore Casca has led him in another direction, even though he's still got issues.

Not sure if you're reiterating or you misunderstood me, but I was attempting to argue against the mislead idea that Guts's behavior during BS or any element of the arc can or should be discounted.

Ah, I was adding to you said; I agree with the points you made.

Offline Walter

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Re: The relevance of Berserk's opening scene
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2019, 01:36:28 PM »
First off, thanks for making a dedicated thread. It pains me to weigh in on such things by way of derailment.

I think Berserk readers can generally accept that Guts often puts himself in perilous circumstances in order to turn the table on his opponents. He walks the razor's edge of danger, taking the hit so he can deliver a bigger hit and end the fight. It's the first thing that Griffith admired about Guts. It's a characteristic of Guts' fighting style that is embodied by the Berserk Armor. And simply put, it's also how I process the very first scene in the manga.

The stumbling block for many readers seems to be that sex is off limits because Guts has emotional baggage with physical intimacy, regardless of his motives. By such reasoning, an axe blow to the helmet is no big deal, but getting nekkid with a lady is out of bounds. Well, what Guts did was not "intimate" in any way. It was a fucking trap -- literally. This is a man who, as Aaz already said, was in his darkest, most depraved state of mind. He was also at that time driven to torture apostles and assert his "inferior" humanity over their "superior" apostle forms as a savory treat before killing them. This exact scenario plays out with all three apostles in the Black Swordsman Arc. Killing them isn't enough. Guts taunts and tortures them before their deaths.

Having sex with the female apostle, knowing she was an apostle, was Guts' way of asserting dominance over her. He played into her trap, and then demonstrated that she was in his trap all along. The experience was probably painful for him for the sensation in the brand alone. But if that exchange made him uncomfortable at all, it was clearly a price well worth paying for Guts.

Offline seasnipper

Re: The relevance of Berserk's opening scene
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2019, 08:47:01 PM »
First off, thanks for making a dedicated thread. It pains me to weigh in on such things by way of derailment.

The stumbling block for many readers seems to be that sex is off limits because Guts has emotional baggage with physical intimacy, regardless of his motives. By such reasoning, an axe blow to the helmet is no big deal, but getting nekkid with a lady is out of bounds. Well, what Guts did was not "intimate" in any way. It was a fucking trap -- literally. This is a man who, as Aaz already said, was in his darkest, most depraved state of mind. He was also at that time driven to torture apostles and assert his "inferior" humanity over their "superior" apostle forms as a savory treat before killing them. This exact scenario plays out with all three apostles in the Black Swordsman Arc. Killing them isn't enough. Guts taunts and tortures them before their deaths.

Having sex with the female apostle, knowing she was an apostle, was Guts' way of asserting dominance over her. He played into her trap, and then demonstrated that she was in his trap all along. The experience was probably painful for him for the sensation in the brand alone. But if that exchange made him uncomfortable at all, it was clearly a price well worth paying for Guts.

Guts's relationship with vulnerability or "intimacy" in sex is pretty clearly laid out in the choking scene with Casca where it's shown that he has a mutual coping strategy and deep rooted fear at assuming the position of abuser.  It only makes sense that the way he is able to engage sexually, especially when he's at rock bottom, is to act out this impulse, having sex be an infliction of dominance to assert his own humanity over their state of being.  It's not an expression of sexuality or desire but of a base urge of the violence of complete subjugation.  It's certainly not "getting nekkid with a lady" that would be likely to trigger Guts's trauma, but engaging to point he has to relinquish a blindly superior position and engage with the other in acknowledgement of their equality and humanity.  But that just essentially a reiteration of what you've said.

Continuing looking at the idea of sex as an act of violence in Berserk , what's always confused me more than the Guts/Apostle sex scene is the details of his assault of amnesiac Casca.  It makes sense thematically, but I still don't quite know what to make of the thoughts running through his head at the time, specifically, wanting to imitate what Griffith had done to her.  If you look at it through the lens of filling the role of aggressor/controller, you come out with a pissing contest between Guts and Griffith at the expense of Casca's mind and body.  If you look at it as a warped attempt to regain sexual closeness with Casca, you're discounting the fact that what defined his relationship and sexual encounter was its egalitarian nature and mutual vulnerability, and the drive to maim and subordinate does not align with regaining what was lost.  If you look at it as self harm, you're basically saying that rape is not first and foremost an atrocity committed against another human being and that the trauma of a victim is secondary to the internal regret of the perpetrator.  I'd like to hear other people's thoughts on the matter.

Offline Aazealh

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Re: The relevance of Berserk's opening scene
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2019, 09:49:25 PM »
It only makes sense that the way he is able to engage sexually, especially when he's at rock bottom, is to act out this impulse, having sex be an infliction of dominance to assert his own humanity over their state of being.

I have to disagree with how you describe this specific encounter with the apostle, especially in response to what Walter said. Guts wasn't looking to have sex for pleasure in this case, he was entrapping a monster that preys on its victims through promiscuity. He lured her by pretending to take the bait. It can't be compared to a normal sexual encounter. The way Guts "asserts dominance" in the scene is by turning her expectations around when he reveals she's the one who's been trapped and kills her (essentially giving her a taste of her own medicine).

It makes sense thematically, but I still don't quite know what to make of the thoughts running through his head at the time, specifically, wanting to imitate what Griffith had done to her.

It's not that complicated. At that point Guts is exhausted and emotionally fragile. He comes into the clearing to rescue Casca, but sees her naked with a sword in her hand, having slain her assailants. Fierce and warrior-like, just like the Casca of old, the one he longs for. She lunges at him, he disarms her and pins her down. And at that moment, he snaps and kisses her. Why? Because he's sexually frustrated, in addition to everything else. He loves her, he wants her, she's right here naked under him... and so he gives in to his impulses. Then, as he kisses her down, the Beast of Darkess urges him to go further than that, so he bites her and when she screams he snaps out of it.

As you can see there are two distinct aspects to his behavior: warped sexual desire for Casca and self-centered destructiveness (with the Beast of Darkness saying he must lose everything). Casca is his light, so the dark part of his psyche that longs for self-destruction wants her out of the picture.

Offline Bleac

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Re: The relevance of Berserk's opening scene
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2019, 09:57:08 PM »
Interesting post, seasnipper. You made some perceptive points and as a consequence brought to light more food for thought for why this scene isn't irrelevant and shouldn't be considered as such by members of the community.

That's why he used himself as bait to take the monster out and "did whatever he had to" in the process.

Having sex with the female apostle, knowing she was an apostle, was Guts' way of asserting dominance over her. He played into her trap, and then demonstrated that she was in his trap all along. The experience was probably painful for him for the sensation in the brand alone. But if that exchange made him uncomfortable at all, it was clearly a price well worth paying for Guts.

I think Walter nailed this one better.

The way I personally interpret this scene is very similar: Guts could've easily taken that female apostle out without going through all the trouble of allowing her to "seduce" him so he could get and edge (that is without any doubt, because we see him straight forwardly engaging way more dangerous opponents in the same and immediate following episodes). The only reason I think he went along with her scheme, despite it being a painful and unpleasant experience was due to his vindictive state of mind. As Walter said, just cutting her down wouldn't be enough, he wanted to humiliate her by beating her at her own game.

This is a bit of speculation on my part, but I also like to think of this scene as Guts' way of taking revenge for Corcas, because even though he wasn't right there when it happened during the Eclipse, he probably realized what went down after he'd seen the aftermath. I like to imagine that the reason he went out of his way was to make extra sure those bastards die a horrible death, just like his companions did.

The fact that later on, Miura decided to include the female apostle from the begging in the Eclipse and have her murder one of the Band members also kind of enforces my belief. It's possible that he might have seen a good opportunity to give more context to that initial scene, and make it something more than just a violent and depraved manifestation of Guts' psyche and vengefulness at the time (which still stands well enough on its own regardless).

The irony of his use of the physically destructive Berserker armor coupled with a conscious intention to survive compared against his attitude during Black Swordsman is a nice inverted development as well, even if they both fall under the umbrella of self-destructive behavior.

In retrospect, I wouldn't be surprised if the introduction of the Berserker Armor were carefully considered by Miura in rapport to Guts' emotional and mental development. If the Guts we see in the Black Swordsman Arc (or other early post-Eclipse arc) had had access to the armor it would've likely caused his death; instead, the armor was introduced at a time when Guts had more emotional stability, responsibility for lives other than his own and new companions capable of preventing him from going over the edge.

... I still don't quite know what to make of the thoughts running through his head at the time, specifically, wanting to imitate what Griffith had done to her.

I don't think the intention was to imitate what Griffith had done. The mention of Griffith in that inner monologue was probably used as a parallel to indicate what Guts would come to be like if he went through with it.

If you look at it through the lens of filling the role of aggressor/controller, you come out with a pissing contest between Guts and Griffith at the expense of Casca's mind and body.

I find it incredibly difficult to even begin to imagine a pissing contest between Guts and Griffith taking place there, so I will firmly say that wasn't what happened.

I'd like to hear other people's thoughts on the matter.

I'm inclined to believe it could have been something as simple as pent up frustration on Guts' part, a moment of weakness and emotional instability, combined with some aspects of the inherent violence that is associated with sexuality for Guts, along the lines of what your initial post was addressing.

As you can see there are two distinct aspects to his behavior: warped sexual desire for Casca and self-centered destructiveness (with the Beast of Darkness saying he must lose everything). Casca is his light, so the dark part of his psyche that longs for self-destruction wants her out of the picture.

Also a fair point.

Offline Aazealh

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Re: The relevance of Berserk's opening scene
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2019, 10:16:11 PM »
I think Walter nailed this one better. The way I personally interpret this scene is very similar: Guts could've easily taken that female apostle out without going through all the trouble of allowing her to "seduce" him so he could get and edge (that is without any doubt, because we see him straight forwardly engaging way more dangerous opponents in the same and immediate following episodes).

Well I don't disagree with the idea that Guts enjoyed humiliating the apostles (see my post above yours), however I think you assume too much here. What makes you think this apostle would have been willing to just fight it out? She was clearly not a warrior, she preyed on humans through seduction and deception. If she felt Guts was out to get her, she might have just fled and hid, and for all we know she might have been really good at it.

Offline seasnipper

Re: The relevance of Berserk's opening scene
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2019, 11:00:10 PM »

The way I personally interpret this scene is very similar: Guts could've easily taken that female apostle out without going through all the trouble of allowing her to "seduce" him so he could get and edge (that is without any doubt, because we see him straight forwardly engaging way more dangerous opponents in the same and immediate following episodes). The only reason I think he went along with her scheme, despite it being a painful and unpleasant experience was due to his vindictive state of mind. As Walter said, just cutting her down wouldn't be enough, he wanted to humiliate her by beating her at her own game.

 

I have to disagree with how you describe this specific encounter with the apostle, especially in response to what Walter said. Guts wasn't looking to have sex for pleasure in this case, he was entrapping a monster that preys on its victims through promiscuity. He lured her by pretending to take the bait. It can't be compared to a normal sexual encounter. The way Guts "asserts dominance" in the scene is by turning her expectations around when he reveals she's the one who's been trapped and kills her (essentially giving her a taste of her own medicine).

Clearly he did not engage with the Apostle out sexual desire, and I do not remember stating this in any way shape or form.  And certainly I believe it was intended to maliciously subvert and destroy the apostle-Guts has never had a problem simply using brute force so I would find it hard to believe he would, after finding the apostle, choose to kill it via its own means for any reason except vindication.  However, it still is physically an act of sex, if not desire or sexuality, so analyzing the progression of intermarriage of sex and violence in relation to Guts still fully applies.  The point I was trying to make is that when violence and sex become false equivalents in Berserk, the sexual aspect ceases to bear any semblance to human connection or mutual intimacy, and is not what "sex" is often used as a stand-in device for.  Also: there really aren't any "normal" sexual encounters in Berserk.  All are relevant.  Violently asserting dominance is not an act of sexuality but of control and in this case, vengeance, in a sexual context.




I don't think the intention was to imitate what Griffith had done. The mention of Griffith in that inner monologue was probably used as a parallel to indicate what Guts would come to be like if he went through with it.


The BoD tells him to rape Casca just like Griffith did, which is an urge to imitate.  However, if anything, that only supports the parallel that Miura is illustrating for us that you have mentioned.  The recognition of the parallel and the consequences of Guts submitting to evil is what's important here though, and probably less so the semantics of imitation.




I find it incredibly difficult to even begin to imagine a pissing contest between Guts and Griffith taking place there, so I will firmly say that wasn't what happened.


Certainly not a pleasant notion, no.  I would not like to attribute Casca's second assault to simply another dispute between Guts and Griffith either, especially as that's already done enough with the first (Griffith/Femto's rape).



I'm inclined to believe it could have been something as simple as pent up frustration on Guts' part, a moment of weakness and emotional instability, combined with some aspects of the inherent violence that is associated with sexuality for Guts, along the lines of what your initial post was addressing.


 

It's not that complicated. At that point Guts is exhausted and emotionally fragile. He comes into the clearing to rescue Casca, but sees her naked with a sword in her hand, having slain her assailants. Fierce and warrior-like, just like the Casca of old, the one he longs for. She lunges at him, he disarms her and pins her down. And at that moment, he snaps and kisses her. Why? Because he's sexually frustrated, in addition to everything else. He loves her, he wants her, she's right here naked under him... and so he gives in to his impulses. Then, as he kisses her down, the Beast of Darkess urges him to go further than that, so he bites her and when she screams he snaps out of it.


I will admit to getting lost in my own sauce on this one, ha.  I remember the first time I read through Berserk I saw the scene where Casca briefly regains some semblance of her former self as incredibly hopeful, and I was expecting that kind of break to reappear again.  The next time I read Berserk, I realized her assault at Guts's hands immediately after likely destroyed that possibility. 

Offline Rodericus

Re: The relevance of Berserk's opening scene
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2019, 11:26:07 PM »
If she felt Guts was out to get her, she might have just fled and hid, and for all we know she might have been really good at it.

Very much inclined to agree here. As seen from her Eclipse scene with Corkus, she's actually the most human-looking out of all the apostles. The human form Female Apostle's complete absence of beastly features or some sort of bodily deformations (a dead giveaway of all typical apostles even in their  untransformed state) would most definitely allow her to blend in with the human crowd and remain hidden in plain sight. In turn, simultaneously making it easy for her to find prey and making her a hard target to catch. Definitely a highly unusual apostle, in that regard.

Offline seasnipper

Re: The relevance of Berserk's opening scene
« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2019, 12:00:57 AM »
Well I don't disagree with the idea that Guts enjoyed humiliating the apostles (see my post above yours), however I think you assume too much here. What makes you think this apostle would have been willing to just fight it out? She was clearly not a warrior, she preyed on humans through seduction and deception. If she felt Guts was out to get her, she might have just fled and hid, and for all we know she might have been really good at it.
Very much inclined to agree here. As seen from her Eclipse scene with Corkus, she's actually the most human-looking out of all the apostles. The human form Female Apostle's complete absence of beastly features or some sort of bodily deformations (a dead giveaway of all typical apostles even in their  untransformed state) would most definitely allow her to blend in with the human crowd and remain hidden in plain sight. In turn, simultaneously making it easy for her to find prey and making her a hard target to catch. Definitely a highly unusual apostle, in that regard.

I don't mean to be rude, but Guts had to have a means of sensing and tracking her similar  to his pursuit of the other apostles...I don't think he just stripped, whipped his dick out and said come and get it.  If he was able to locate her and recognize her as an apostle to have sex with her then he had the option of pursuing other means.  We can safely regard his method of "attack" as a conscious, vindictive and subversive choice, even if it was possibly strategic as well.  In any case, we should be dealing primarily with the content that we are given and not speculation surrounding the circumstances that could maybe have caused them.

Offline Bleac

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Re: The relevance of Berserk's opening scene
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2019, 12:46:06 AM »
Well I don't disagree with the idea that Guts enjoyed humiliating the apostles (see my post above yours), however I think you assume too much here. What makes you think this apostle would have been willing to just fight it out? She was clearly not a warrior, she preyed on humans through seduction and deception. If she felt Guts was out to get her, she might have just fled and hid, and for all we know she might have been really good at it.

It's true that these are mostly assumptions. Despite that, what I wanted to say is - if his objective were to simply kill her, he wouldn't need to go that far to achieve it (the opposite of what I thought you meant in your comment - I might've misunderstood). I believe he went through all of that for the very specific reason of killing her in a way that would make her "taste her own medicine", as you said, and not because he had no other methods of killing her other than letting himself fall in the trap.

I don't mean to be rude, but Guts had to have a means of sensing and tracking her similar  to his pursuit of the other apostles...

Guts is a skilled warrior, but there are limits to everything. I don't know if he would've been able to track her down through the wood during the night, had she successfully got away from him. I am willing to bet though, that he would've been more than capable of killing her before she got a chance to escape, had he wanted to.

In any case, we should be dealing primarily with the content that we are given and not speculation surrounding the circumstances that could maybe have caused them.

Yes, this has derailed quite a bit. Many things could have happened leading to that situation, perhaps it's better to just leave it at that.

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Re: The relevance of Berserk's opening scene
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2019, 03:17:28 AM »
Well the scene was kind of weird to me since I watche'd the orginal anime before reading the Manga and was not expecting Guts to just go at it with a random person that's turns out to be a monster.I understand this is guts at his lowest it just gives off the wrong vibe though I understand I have no say on whether or not I like it since I'm not writing it.
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Offline Aazealh

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Re: The relevance of Berserk's opening scene
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2019, 10:07:14 AM »
I don't mean to be rude, but Guts had to have a means of sensing and tracking her similar to his pursuit of the other apostles...I don't think he just stripped, whipped his dick out and said come and get it. If he was able to locate her and recognize her as an apostle to have sex with her then he had the option of pursuing other means.

You're not being rude, you're just not considering the wider picture. Guts can feel apostles with his Brand, that's not a secret. He can't track them from far away with accuracy though. And he's hounded every night by specters who trigger his Brand as well.

So had this apostle decided to avoid him, nothing guarantees he could have still killed her. Guts is nothing if not practical, and while what I previously said regarding his subversion of her own preying technique still applies, it doesn't preclude the fact that baiting her like that was his best chance at killing her.

You say he didn't just strip and wait for her, but I bet you, from her characterization in the story, that he's not the one who approached her alone in the woods. She came to him, thinking to kill him using her usual tactics. He used that against her.

I believe he went through all of that for the very specific reason of killing her in a way that would make her "taste her own medicine", as you said, and not because he had no other methods of killing her other than letting himself fall in the trap.

Well, like I said above, I don't think these are mutually exclusive. A variety of factors are at play in the scene and they reinforce each other, not take away from one another.

If we push the reasoning to the extreme, it comes down to "did he need to stick it in, or was that close enough already?". I'll humor it since we got that far with one last aspect we haven't mentioned yet: Guts was more vulnerable then than he becomes later on. No Puck, no magic healing, no slip-ups allowed. One bad hit and it's over. So the effect of surprise, especially in a close-quarter fight when you're naked and disarmed, is absolutely key. More so when you don't know what your enemy can do.

But again, this isn't a repudiation of what's already been said. It's simply another thing to consider for that encounter, a supplementary reason for him to make the choice he did.

Clearly he did not engage with the Apostle out sexual desire, and I do not remember stating this in any way shape or form.

No offense intended but the part I quoted from your post kind of gave me that impression. See below.

However, it still is physically an act of sex, if not desire or sexuality, so analyzing the progression of intermarriage of sex and violence in relation to Guts still fully applies.

Here's the thing though: Guts laying out a trap for that apostle is fundamentally different in nature from, say, his first time with Casca, or his rape by Donovan. For a general thematic overview of the relation between sex and violence in the series, bundling all these together works well enough. But if you start trying to explain Guts' behavior in this specific scene as if he was acting on an urge for sexual violence, it comes across as extremely misleading. He isn't brutally pounding her while pulling her hair, nor is he raping her: he's pretending to be an unwitting victim in order to kill a monster before it kills him. And note that he does wait right until he's about to die to make his move, which effectively makes it an act of self-defense.

The point I was trying to make is that when violence and sex become false equivalents in Berserk, the sexual aspect ceases to bear any semblance to human connection or mutual intimacy, and is not what "sex" is often used as a stand-in device for. Also: there really aren't any "normal" sexual encounters in Berserk.

I would say that Guts and Casca's lovemaking is a genuine case of human connection and mutual intimacy. Sure, it doesn't start great, but it quickly progresses and even allows Guts to heal a bit.

The BoD tells him to rape Casca just like Griffith did

It doesn't tell him to rape her but to tear her apart. Beyond the (already ongoing) sexual violence, its intent is for her to die (as the pictures show), so that Guts would "lose everything" and focus again on a single-minded, self-destructive quest for revenge.

Offline seasnipper

Re: The relevance of Berserk's opening scene
« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2019, 07:05:00 PM »

No offense intended but the part I quoted from your post kind of gave me that impression. See below.


Grammatical mistake on my part, should have been "while not," not "if not."  My bad.


Here's the thing though: Guts laying out a trap for that apostle is fundamentally different in nature from, say, his first time with Casca, or his rape by Donovan. For a general thematic overview of the relation between sex and violence in the series, bundling all these together works well enough. But if you start trying to explain Guts' behavior in this specific scene as if he was acting on an urge for sexual violence, it comes across as extremely misleading. He isn't brutally pounding her while pulling her hair, nor is he raping her: he's pretending to be an unwitting victim in order to kill a monster before it kills him. And note that he does wait right until he's about to die to make his move, which effectively makes it an act of self-defense.


While it is not an act of rape, it is still an act of sexual violence (in the most literal sense) for both parties, in that both are attempting to exploit sex in order to commit violence.  Also, the "self-defense" interpretation is pretty obsolete: both parties came in as aggressors, despite any pretenses, so I wouldn't say either was put in the position of victim from which they were defending themselves.  Also, on the point of this scene being "fundamentally different" in regards to other sexual encounters Guts has in Berserk: Yes, just as all instances of "sex" in Berserk are very different, and deal with the relationship between sex and violence in different ways, which makes them interesting to synthesize and analyze in-depth. 


I would say that Guts and Casca's lovemaking is a genuine case of human connection and mutual intimacy. Sure, it doesn't start great, but it quickly progresses and even allows Guts to heal a bit.


Yes it is, and very importantly so.   My meaning is that in this analysis or my responses when I use the word "sex" by itself I am not using it in a way that does not include a conventional connotation of desire or  intimacy besides the sense of "closely physically proximal."  I was clarifying my usage of the word, not saying all sex in Berserk is devoid of human connection or real intimacy.  By no "normal" sexual encounters I meant that that healthy and consensual sexual encounters in Berserk aren't a baseline, and that every sex scene in Berserk has been thematically distinctive in its dynamics. 


It doesn't tell him to rape her but to tear her apart. Beyond the (already ongoing) sexual violence, its intent is for her to die (as the pictures show), so that Guts would "lose everything" and focus again on a single-minded, self-destructive quest for revenge.


"Tear her apart" obviously carries two meanings in that context, both of which are in use during that scene.

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Re: The relevance of Berserk's opening scene
« Reply #16 on: January 05, 2019, 09:11:03 PM »
While it is not an act of rape, it is still an act of sexual violence (in the most literal sense) for both parties, in that both are attempting to exploit sex in order to commit violence. [...] Also, on the point of this scene being "fundamentally different" in regards to other sexual encounters Guts has in Berserk: Yes, just as all instances of "sex" in Berserk are very different, and deal with the relationship between sex and violence in different ways

Honestly this response feels disingenuous. I think my point stands.

I was clarifying my usage of the word, not saying all sex in Berserk is devoid of human connection or real intimacy.  By no "normal" sexual encounters I meant that that healthy and consensual sexual encounters in Berserk aren't a baseline, and that every sex scene in Berserk has been thematically distinctive in its dynamics.

I see. That wasn't immediately clear to me from your previous post, so thanks for clarifying further.

"Tear her apart" obviously carries two meanings in that context, both of which are in use during that scene.

That wasn't a literal quote, I was just paraphrasing. The exact line is "tear her to pieces" (Dark Horse translated it as "rip her to shreds", which is also proper). The meaning is unequivocal in Japanese and does not mean "to rape".

Offline seasnipper

Re: The relevance of Berserk's opening scene
« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2019, 06:02:49 AM »
Honestly this response feels disingenuous. I think my point stands.

 You are free to disagree with it to any extent, but my response is not disingenuous.

That wasn't a literal quote, I was just paraphrasing. The exact line is "tear her to pieces" (Dark Horse translated it as "rip her to shreds", which is also proper). The meaning is unequivocal in Japanese and does not mean "to rape".
I do not know Japanese, so I will have to take your word for it.