Anti-clichés in Berserk

puella

Berserk forever
I was thinking recently about the many unconventional things in Berserk, and especially character developments or relationships I didn't expect.

For example, when Rickert survived, because he was unable to go with the Band of the Falcon, I wondered why he was chosen to be a survivor. Because he's too young to be devoured by apostles? But Miura showed the death of several kids in the manga. So I didn't think it could be a reason.
Later, we got to see why his survival matters, even though he's not even a warrior. To help in the fight against Griffith by creating incredible weapons and tools! Basically, I think in the future he'd be a key asset to those who'll defeat against Griffith.
And of course, we saw him slap Griffith in front of everybody! :rickert:

Then there's Erika and Daiba... Who could have ever thought the two would meet! They even go well together! From him levitating to learning about his knee pain, how she helped him, and to see him turn from evil sorcerer to grumpy but good-hearted grampa...

As for Danan, I had conceived ten thousand images of the sovereign of the elves, but none of them matched her at all. A typical housewife style, "obachan" in Japanese as Puck called her. Who likes to offer food, to help people and she's like a mother who should take care of many bothering kids. Since her first appearance, everything about her makes me reflect on how elaborately Miura created her character.

To me, all of these are good examples of anti-clichés in Berserk, but I know there's many more. I want to hear other examples from you guys!
 
I love how, unlike most other stories, the bad guys here, as a whole, genuinely don't give a fuck about our hero. They don't plot against him or try to thwart him, but let him struggle on without a care. He's beneath their notice. I love that about Berserk.

I love how Godot isn't the stereotypical regretful blacksmith, upset that he made weapons of killing. Man is happy supplying our hero with man killing, or in this case beast killing, goodies, as well as good advice not to lose himself in the fighting. He has some damn good speeches.

Also, the elves. They're not dignified, angelic beings ala the Lord of the Rings, nor oppressed fugitives ala the Witcher, for example. They're cheeky little shits, with a knack for trolling. But they're also good hearted. I adore them.
 

Aazealh

Administrator
Staff member
Well as a big fan I want to say everything in Berserk is eligible. :guts: But as far as characters who develop in surprising ways... There's a lot but Farnese is probably the biggest example. She starts off as the neurotic and barely competent leader of a group of antagonists for Guts, but who are essentially misguided and also aren't much of a threat. That's already a premise that in my experience is never really seen elsewhere. Then she slowly but surely turns into a neutral character, then evolves into an ally and eventually a true and essential companion. Her character arc, albeit unfortunately incomplete, should be taught in storytelling classes.

And to speak of something simple that I myself didn't expect, Rakshas' apostle form comes to mind. Many people spent years wondering what was under that cloak, when in the end it was just the cloak all along. It feels obvious when you see it, and yet no one could predict it. This is true of all of Griffith's new lieutenants, as they each have very unique apostle forms, but because it was the last to be revealed, Rakshas' is the one that sticks out to me. I see it as a good example of the hard limit there is to predicting even simple things in a series like Berserk.
 
The first thing that comes to my mind is that while Guts at first seems like your standard masculine hero used in the fantasy genre (Conan being the obvious prototype that most writers take some influence from), we soon find out about his tragic childhood. I think that the sexual assault he suffered breaks the "masculine hero" trope through the thoughtful examination of sexual trauma we see though the series. I would be very interested to see the reaction of the typical fantasy readers back in the time it was published. Maybe they felt that it was a taboo issue based on the common presentation of these types of masculine main heroes? The sad truth is that it seems that in the real world there's also a stigma sometimes if a male is a victim of sexual assault. I remember that while I was reading impressions of the manga by first time readers in some other forums, a user called Guts a "fag" and was infuriated because of the Donovan incident, and his reaction was genuine. I couldn't believe my eyes. I can't understand how someone would react like that reading this scene. I was shocked by that specific comment, and ashamed as a human being, but above all, I was angry. If someone would say something like that for a fictional character in a fictional setting, what would he say in the real world about someone who was abused?

That subversion of "extreme masculinity" becomes an excellent examination of trauma and sexual behaviour in the "Wounds" episodes. While with another similar masculine character we'd expect to see him have sex with a female and things being normal, in Berserk, Miura writes some of the most thoughtful, poignant and emotional material in fiction based on this sensitive topic, at least from what I've seen.
 
The first thing that comes to my mind is that while Guts at first seems like your standard masculine hero used in the fantasy genre (Conan being the obvious prototype that most writers take some influence from), we soon find out about his tragic childhood. I think that the sexual assault he suffered breaks the "masculine hero" trope through the thoughtful examination of sexual trauma we see though the series. I would be very interested to see the reaction of the typical fantasy readers back in the time it was published. Maybe they felt that it was a taboo issue based on the common presentation of these types of masculine main heroes? The sad truth is that it seems that in the real world there's also a stigma sometimes if a male is a victim of sexual assault. I remember that while I was reading impressions of the manga by first time readers in some other forums, a user called Guts a "fag" and was infuriated because of the Donovan incident, and his reaction was genuine. I couldn't believe my eyes. I can't understand how someone would react like that reading this scene. I was shocked by that specific comment, and ashamed as a human being, but above all, I was angry. If someone would say something like that for a fictional character in a fictional setting, what would he say in the real world about someone who was abused?

That subversion of "extreme masculinity" becomes an excellent examination of trauma and sexual behaviour in the "Wounds" episodes. While with another similar masculine character we'd expect to see him have sex with a female and things being normal, in Berserk, Miura writes some of the most thoughtful, poignant and emotional material in fiction based on this sensitive topic, at least from what I've seen.
This is a great write up on what makes Guts so special. To add to this, starting Berserk you would expect it to be a revenge story; Guts against the god that Griffith becomes. But no, he chooses a path that you wouldn't necessarily expect to lead to an adventure: Helping Casca heal, and to help others. Still, with Miura's amazing writing, Berserk has still ended up being a legendary manga that will stand the test of time. That's the ultimate anti-cliché to me: Going against the generic revenge plot for a story that is entirely nuanced and thought provoking.
 
For me, it's also seeing how a secondary character like Zodd is introduced and what he does in the story. I may not know many other dark fantasy epics, but upon his introduction I would have expected him being one "great opponent" Guts would defeat not too long after in his journey in becoming stronger, among other Apostles killed. I could have never imagined how he'd come in support of Griffith's journey towards the Eclipse (in the battle of Doldrey helping Guts and later in killing Wyald), not to mention the interactions with Guts after the Eclipse and the unique bond with SK we still know so little about. He's grown to be from a potentially random, disposable secondary villain to a truly endearing, effectively supportive character in the grand scheme of things and whose interactions are always exciting to see, whose long-term arc is impossible to predict. Witnessing Zodd and Guts teaming up to defeat Ganishka's fog form was something I never expected to see when he was introduced in the story.

I'm also hugely impressed by Berserk transforming from a Medieval fantasy, to horror-tinted dark fantasy and later into fantasy epic in some massive world-changing events but without ever losing its core themes and keeping up with the quality.
I feel like the way Miura wrote the characters, the world is so brilliant yet perfectly natural that its anti-clichés became roadmaps for good storytelling, maybe in a way becoming good "tropes" themselves, to which I always compare the newer media I experience.
 
Off the top of my head, I distinctly remember a scene in volume 2 immediately leaving a strong impression on me. When Vargas was about to be killed, I had expected Guts to intervene. That is what you would expect from the hero of the story. Now obviously Guts isn't your conventional hero, which is expressed from the very opening of the series, but he still showed cracks in his tough guy facade so I thought it wasn't out of the question for him to help Vargas, especially with Puck expecting him to do so. When I realized Guts was not going to do anything, I was surprised.
 
It’s mostly already been said but I never would’ve thought Farnese, Serpico and Azan would join Guts for the long haul. They just seemed like mildly competent bad guys that stalled Guts when they were first introduced. I like being wrong about stuff like that.
 
Guts crying after the conversation with Theresia felt like a punch in the stomach for me
8i4x28xtph431.png
 
Top Bottom