Episode 361 (July 22)

Aazealh

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I wonder if SK is obliquely referring to an impending Junction of Time (DH calls this "temporal junction points"). Particularly in light of the other end of that sentence (stay alert), it seems like SK is clued into danger nearby or in due time. Easy guess is Griffith/Boy's arrival, but maybe it's not so incidental as that. Too bad they were interrupted by Ged. :shrug:
That would be the logical assumption, although I guess it depends on what constitutes a junction of times (in terms of scale and impact) as opposed to a "simple" convergence of causality to influence an outcome. Either way, I think the meaning is clear: don't relax, something's coming. I do still love the fact that Gedflynn interrupted them though, despite the frustration. It's difficult to phrase it properly but I find it cool that they're among allies who are pulling their weight for a change. Be it Ged, Volvaba or Danan, these aren't people to be taken lightly. It's a welcome change, especially when I think back to the years Guts spent fighting alone. He's had companions for a while of course, but here they basically have their forefathers in front of them, people who can provide serious aid and counsel.

it's not like Guts was ever going to reach "the God Hand's level of power." Whatever results from Hanarr's guidance, I think there will always be a "cost" associated with using the armor, and that Guts will have to contend with the Beast. That cost, skirting danger with every use, it's what makes the armor cool, to me.
Yeah I have to agree, there isn't going to be some easy way out of the danger the armor poses, and Guts is never going to be stronger than a member of the God Hand. What makes Berserk cool in the first place is that Guts manages to win despite being underpowered against the enemies he fights. He grits his teeth and crawls in the mud, bloody and broken, and against all odds he pulls through. That's not going to change.

Besides, let's not forget that the Berserk's armor was originally worn by Gaiseric, who knew Hanarr well. And we all know how that ended up.
 
That would be nice, but it's not like Guts was ever going to reach "the God Hand's level of power." Whatever results from Hanarr's guidance, I think there will always be a "cost" associated with using the armor, and that Guts will have to contend with the Beast. That cost, skirting danger with every use, it's what makes the armor cool, to me. Also, any guidance that provides Guts more control over when the armor activates would be great, but it wouldn't address the other problem of the armor -- using it dulls his senses, makes him weaker. Maybe that can't be remediated... :beast:
Yeah I may have jumped the gun on there a bit too fast, The Beast will definitely not be gone anytime soon no matter what Hanarr does to the armor so Guts will never have full control over it. Still it'll be nice seeing what modifications, if any, Hanarr can do to make the toll of using it easier on Guts.

Nah, it's Ged who brings up visiting Hanarr, not SK. Anyway, I guess I'm not too familiar with that theory. What's it based on...? SK appearing in front of Guts last episode?
Ah my bad again, although maybe SK would've visited Hanarr irregardless if Ged had brought him up or not?

So I can't remember where exactly I read the theory, might've been on a few forums posted a while back but nothing in particular I can remember right now. The TL;DR version is essentially ever since the Eclipse, SK has taken a special interest in Guts and has been monitoring his progress in his 2-year apostle campaign to see how strong and powerful Guts can truly become, intervening in times when Guts needs guidance to accomplish his goal not to help Guts personally but to further build up his prowess and abilities with dealing with Apostles and other astral creatures. guiding Guts in the Conviction arc to further help him further build up his strength, assisting Flora in redeveloping the Armor for Guts to use to make him even more of a better fighter further feeding into his blood-lust and reminding Guts of where he might encounter Apostles and especially Griffith. All of this is so Guts can become stronger so SK can use him to further his own plans in taking down the Godhand.

It's not exactly the greatest theory under a second look but (If we assume SK = Gaiseric) it did remind me that Skull Knight did use to be a warlord slaughtering thousands of people from many lands and gathered hundreds of laborers in order to build up his empire while many of his subjects suffered under his rule. No matter what happened between then and now, it's hard to believe SK completely changed as a person so I don't think he completely views Guts as just an ally but a future tool if properly honed and used irregardless of what happens to said tool.
 
It's not exactly the greatest theory under a second look but (If we assume SK = Gaiseric) it did remind me that Skull Knight did use to be a warlord slaughtering thousands of people from many lands and gathered hundreds of laborers in order to build up his empire while many of his subjects suffered under his rule. No matter what happened between then and now, it's hard to believe SK completely changed as a person so I don't think he completely views Guts as just an ally but a future tool if properly honed and used irregardless of what happens to said tool.
I’m not as well versed on theories and such as most people here. But I don’t think there’s much evidence to show that SK “used” laborers as tools while he was emperor. We haven’t really seen anyone that dislikes him expect the god hand. He only ever supposedly pissed of “the sage” by locking him in the tower of conviction sage. But that’s all still kind of cloudy. Emperors certainly do use people to achieve goals. But even when the people of falconia compare Griffith to him I think they do so in a favorable way. This recent episode makes it seem even more like he respected and people they rescpected him back. Of course, there is still much to be told. I’m sure that he committed some form of sin or mistake that contributed to how he got to where he is now.
 

Aazealh

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All of this is so Guts can become stronger so SK can use him to further his own plans in taking down the Godhand.
The idea that the Skull Knight intends for Guts to team up with him on some special mission seems completely unlikely to me. Beyond that, the notion that he's "only" trying to use him to further his own plans shows a misunderstanding of the relationship between them. Guts actually asks him directly what his deal is in volume 14, and SK replies straightly enough: he's the enemy of the God Hand. There's no secret there. They have a common enemy. Now if you actually go back and read all their interactions, the Skull Knight basically looks over him. He not only warns him when danger is near (including before the Eclipse) and saves his life, but also helps him understand that he can't both protect Casca and pursue his quest for revenge. He is also not the one who decides to give the armor to them, and Flora doesn't "redevelop" it, she engraves a protective spell on it (that's the reason Guts hasn't been "devoured" yet). Since we're on the subject, Flora warned at the time that her talismans wouldn't last forever, so that will need to be looked at. I actually eagerly anticipate Hanarr's reaction to it. Could he improve on it? Maybe with a guru's help?

Anyway, the Skull Knight's motivations aren't all that mysterious and they're not nefarious. What you should rather be thinking about in my opinion is Volvaba's last line, about something finally coming true. I find it quite intriguing. We know that a prophecy foretold the coming of the Falcon of Darkness long before it happened. What if the one that issued that prophecy is still alive on Skellig? It could even be Danan. She did predict that Puck would come back to the island with people in toe. Now combine that with the fact the Skull Knight has demonstrated an uncanny knowledge over the years. What if he has acted in part based on prophecies? This could have enormous implications for the story. I feel like we're on the verge of learning more about how the world works and even about the principle of causality itself. So far causality was mostly depicted as a force wielded by the bad guys, but if you squint, you can see a countercurrent. Like how the Skull Knight saved Rickert, and then Rickert met Puck who gave him some of his elf dust, after which Rickert stumbled upon the Eclipse and was able to use the dust to heal Guts and Casca's wounds. Is there a bigger picture in there somewhere? I think we're about to find out.

it did remind me that Skull Knight did use to be a warlord slaughtering thousands of people from many lands and gathered hundreds of laborers in order to build up his empire while many of his subjects suffered under his rule. No matter what happened between then and now, it's hard to believe SK completely changed as a person
That's an unreliable story from a thousand years after the facts. You shouldn't take it too literally, especially since it's presented as a "fairy tale" of which there are multiple versions.

But I don’t think there’s much evidence to show that SK “used” laborers as tools while he was emperor.
BerserkDrifter is referring to Gaiseric's story as told in volume 10.

I’m sure that he committed some form of sin or mistake that contributed to how he got to where he is now.
He presumably died fighting his enemies and then chose to exist as a spirit encased in a magical armor so he could keep fighting them.
 
All of this is so Guts can become stronger so SK can use him to further his own plans in taking down the Godhand.
If that were really what he wanted then he sure has made it unnecessarily hard on himself. Saving Casca at the Eclipse and then offering advice to Guts on the matter instead of leaving her behind in the first place is perhaps the biggest hole in this so called theory, besides many other details that, in spite of his enigmatic nature and appearance, consistently present him as a good guy (or at least not a bad guy) to those who pay attention.

He presumably died fighting his enemies and then chose to exist as a spirit encased in a magical armor so he could keep fighting them.
Editing my post after having read this line again because it raises some interesting questions, more exactly, how this transferal or possession process happened really.

Since we now know Hanarr made the armor, did Gaiseric request he make it in preparation for a scenario where the Berserk's armor fails him in battle and he must have a vessel to continue fighting, or was the armor crafted for him when he was still alive to wear on some sort of special occasion and then used by the great magicians of the island at the time who we presume are responsible for binding him to the armor as a sort of save maneuver rather than something he had consciously wanted beforehand?
 
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Yeah all of your guys' points are well made, like I said it's not the greatest theory in Berserk lore but I still like looking into the more outlandish theories now and again.

Anyway, the Skull Knight's motivations aren't all that mysterious and they're not nefarious. What you should rather be thinking about in my opinion is Volvaba's last line, about something finally coming true. I find it quite intriguing. We know that a prophecy foretold the coming of the Falcon of Darkness long before it happened. What if the one that issued that prophecy is still alive on Skellig? It could even be Danan. She did predict that Puck would come back to the island with people in toe. Now combine that with the fact the Skull Knight has demonstrated an uncanny knowledge over the years. What if he has acted in part based on prophecies? This could have enormous implications for the story. I feel like we're on the verge of learning more about how the world works and even about the principle of causality itself. So far causality was mostly depicted as a force wielded by the bad guys, but if you squint, you can see a countercurrent. Like how the Skull Knight saved Rickert, and then Rickert met Puck who gave him some of his elf dust, after which Rickert stumbled upon the Eclipse and was able to use the dust to heal Guts and Casca's wounds. Is there a bigger picture in there somewhere? I think we're about to find out.
True, true, I'm not the biggest of fan of prophecies in stories but learning more about causality would definitely be intresting.

That's an unreliable story from a thousand years after the facts. You shouldn't take it too literally, especially since it's presented as a "fairy tale" of which there are multiple versions.
Hmm, I still find it hard to believe that the legend of Gaiseric compared to the Skull Knight we know today are so different from one another. I wonder, there is evidence that the God Hand and the Holy See have some connections with one another so I wonder if the God Hand had some hand in using the Holy See to warp that unreliable story and taint Gaiseric's history smearing his name to taunt him somewhat. Still there'd be no real reason to do that since humanity isn't aware of Skull Knight anyway so there wouldn't be an effect on the Knight personally apart from insulting him.
 

Aazealh

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Since we now know Hanarr made the armor, did Gaiseric request he make it in preparation for a scenario where the Berserk's armor fails him in battle and he must have a vessel to continue fighting, or was the armor crafted for him when he was still alive to wear on some sort of special occasion and then used by the great magicians of the island at the time who we presume are responsible for binding him to the armor as a sort of save maneuver rather than something he had consciously wanted beforehand?
Hanarr's introduction doesn't really change the status quo on how Gaiseric became the Skull Knight. We have assumed since volume 26 that his spirit was transferred to his current armor after he died in the Berserk's armor. There are a few ways it could have gone down, but I like to imagine that as a dead spirit he clung to the corporeal world, refusing to move on. He was then brought back by a magic user and encased in a magical armor Hanarr forged specifically for that purpose.

Hmm, I still find it hard to believe that the legend of Gaiseric compared to the Skull Knight we know today are so different from one another.
You'd be surprised how distorted a story can get when it's passed down by word of mouth for a thousand years. Beyond the Holy See's influence, which may have played a part, it just makes sense within the theme of the story to have the fearsome "skull king" be an evil person. For otherwise, why would the "angels" have destroyed his city? But as a reader, you know that there are no righteous angels that punish the wicked in Berserk. So what really happened? We don't know. But if you want a hint, look at who the Skull Knight's enemies are.
 
Hanarr's introduction doesn't really change the status quo on how Gaiseric became the Skull Knight. We have assumed since volume 26 that his spirit was transferred to his current armor after he died in the Berserk's armor.
That much was clear, it's not the reason I mentioned it. Not all aspects of how it happened are known yet, so getting a proper introduction of the character who made the armor as well as his relationship with Gaiseric could be useful in figuring out more of what went into it, or so I thought.

There are a few ways it could have gone down, but I like to imagine that as a dead spirit he clung to the corporeal world, refusing to move on. He was then brought back by a magic user and encased in a magical armor Hanarr forged specifically for that purpose.
Sounds pretty cool. The armor being made specifically for that purpose makes sense, just any old armor likely couldn't have been used; but what do you imagine happened in the interval between his death and the forging of the armor, and what makes you think he had any choice, as opposed to just being fortunate it was done to him?
 
Given all the new information from this episode I am know realy curious about when SK first equipped the berserkers armour and especialy, when and where he fought to the death with it.
Zodd reckognized the armor when he saw Guts fight with it and Zodd is said be around for 300 years. If we assume that to be more or less correct, this leaves a 700 year gap between the fall of Gaiserics empire and when he first could have run into Zodd with the armour.
Also, Ged mentiones that he and his father had many audiences with SK while he was King (presumably while he was living Empreror Gaiseric). Did those audiences happen on Skellig? If so, how often exactly did Gaiseric visit the place? I would imagine he had to spend most of his time on the continent ruling his empire.

So some loose guesses, that I cannot quite put into a coherent whole yet:
- Gaiseric visited Skellig at least once while he was still living with his empire intact. It is at this time where I would imagine the audiences with Vid taking place
- One of these visits took too long and something happend on the main land while he was away that triggered the downfall of his empire and the birth of God Hand Void
- In the aftermath of that he fled back to Skellig where he was given the Berserkers armour. Maybe he stayed for quite some time.
- Eventually, he returned to the continent wearing the armour searching for the God Hand. During this time he might have run into Zodd and this could be when he fought almost to the death.
- Somehow he would end up back at Skellig where his Soul would be bound to his current armour, made specifically for that purpose by Hanarr.
- He would leave again shortly after, hunting the God Hand ever since

There are a couple of unawnsered questions here though:
- How does Flora fit into this? When did she leave Skellig? Did SK meet her there for the first time, or did they meet on the continent? Did she return with him when he was dying inside the Berserkers armour?

- How did he travel between Skellig and the continent? Even if he was the most badass warrior of all time, I cannot imagine him clinging to life for the whole time it takes to reach Skellig by sea. Is there some form of teleportaion besides what we have seen so far? Can Magic users somehow leave/return to Skellig using some form of ritual? Maybe there is a shortcut through some deeper layers of the astral world?

- How does the invasion of Skellig "long ago" factor in all of this? Can we assume that the Golems Casca fought in Episode 359 have been made from the soldiers of that time? And when did exactly did that happen?
 

Aazealh

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Given all the new information from this episode I am know realy curious about when SK first equipped the berserkers armour and especialy, when and where he fought to the death with it.
Zodd reckognized the armor when he saw Guts fight with it and Zodd is said be around for 300 years. If we assume that to be more or less correct, this leaves a 700 year gap between the fall of Gaiserics empire and when he first could have run into Zodd with the armour.
I think you should be more cautious in how you interpret Zodd's line from volume 26. He sees Guts slicing down apostles while wearing a new armor with a skull helmet. He tells the Skull Knight it's been a while, then asks him if he intends for Guts to follow the same path he did. This doesn't necessarily mean Zodd knew the Skull Knight while he was still human and wearing the berserk's armor.
 
After this episode there is a couple of points I want to highlight:

- Ged, Hanarr, Slan, Void (Vid?) and Flora were alive during King Gaiseric reign.

- Midland invaded Skellig and attacked Elfhelm? If this gets confirmed later on I'm not sure what role Flora plays in this.

-Vid and Gaiseric had many audiences (It's not explicit where this audiences where taking) but if Vid is the Sage imprisoned in Tower of Conviction by Gaiseric I would believe that Ged's approach would be hostile.

-Is barytes the source of the black typhoon we saw in the Eclipse?
 

Walter

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- Ged, Hanarr, Slan, Void (Vid?) and Flora were alive during King Gaiseric reign.
Slan calling SK "king" doesn't mean she's personally familiar with him. Just that she knows his background. Void being alive back then seems obvious by implication, but still remains unsubstantiated. I'm less inclined now about Vid being Void, now that I've had a few days to roll it over in my head.

- Midland invaded Skellig and attacked Elfhelm? If this gets confirmed later on I'm not sure what role Flora plays in this.
Well we don't know that it was Gaiseric's empire that attacked. It was just a force from the continent. But yeah, if it was his, then it remains a mystery how Gaiseric turned that attack into a circumstance where he could ask "So.... got any soul-encasing armors around?"

-Vid and Gaiseric had many audiences (It's not explicit where this audiences where taking) but if Vid is the Sage imprisoned in Tower of Conviction by Gaiseric I would believe that Ged's approach would be hostile.
Not if it was unilaterally agreed that Vid had turned incredibly evil. But I do agree that if Vid was Void, then it's a name that would probably have more gravity to it than SK treats it in this scene.

-Is barytes the source of the black typhoon we saw in the Eclipse?
That was our initial assumption when we were first talking here about barytes back in 2016. With this episode, we now have some more context about them, but still no solid answers as to their potential linkage with "evil power" in Berserk.
 

Aazealh

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Midland invaded Skellig and attacked Elfhelm?
Walter already answered all your questions well, but I wanted to point out that Midland did not yet exist at the time those events occurred. It came to be after Gaiseric's fall, when his empire split up.
 

Oburi

All praise Grail
Man what a great episode. As usual, the art is awesomely impressive. Skullknight looks glorious on the cliff in the opening panels. It's a little frustrating that they were interrupted just when it was getting good, but that's typical. As for Ged, his entrance here is even more impressive than his original introduction. I'm really liking him. As Aaz said, it shows how much of an authority figure he is, seeing as how he seems to know just where to be at exactly the right time. Nothing gets by him. He's a great source of knowledge.
I love Schierke flying. That whole bit was fantastic. It really felt spectacularly cinematic seeing the island from so high up. It was also neat seeing Morda in a slightly new light too. As much as I liked her before, here she strategically takes off with Schierke after noticing Guts but also bonds a bit with her along the way, while still acting cool. As for Volvaba and Hanarr, I just can't imagine the wealth of history and knowledge these characters posses. Given that they are so incredibly old and probably perceive time in a different way than most other characters, they could provide a unique perspective on great events of the distant past. Perhaps they even may be somewhat indifferent? But the few glimpses we got in this episode, like Volvaba's comment on the old man's talk coming true, the acknowledgement of Flora's name, and Skullknights junction points line, not to mention Hanarr's knowledge of the armor, it's like the tip of the iceberg for all the big questions we were hoping would come up. It's finally happening! Guts is face to face with the creator of armor! Are you kidding me! Glorious.
 
Another interesting speculation this episode presents relating to skullknights past is Volpapa's maybe involvement with the summoning and or manipulation of Gaiseric's soul into the armour. She is clearly familiar with skull knight and Morda calls her "A master of curses and the manipulation of departed souls *wink*
 

Walter

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Another interesting speculation this episode presents relating to skullknights past is Volpapa's maybe involvement with the summoning and or manipulation of Gaiseric's soul into the armour. She is clearly familiar with skull knight and Morda calls her "A master of curses and the manipulation of departed souls *wink*
Specifically, Volvaba being introduced along with Hanarr — with Skull Knight right there — indicates to me that Miura is setting up to share the past.
The whole episode does the legwork for a flashback by introducing new characters who were on the island then and relating events from the past, so that if he throws the story's focus back in time, he can do so without being needlessly expository. You can hear us babble about that and more on the podcast.
 

Aazealh

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So I got my physical copy of Young Animal and I can confirm that the old crone is referred to as Volvaba [ ヴォルヴァバ ]. As @puella pointed out to me after we did the summary, this makes sense because this is furigana for "呪い婆", which basically translates to "Old woman of Curses", and as some of you might know that kanji for "old woman" is pronounced "baba". So it's a pun in Japanese. Like I said in the summary, the name is inspired by the term Völva from Old Norse, which designated women believed to be magic users. As usual, I would caution people against trying to find some deeper meaning in the choice of that word beyond the fact it's a cool reference.

Last thing: if the above didn't make it clear, Volvaba isn't actually the woman's name, it's her title. So I guess we should be calling her the Volvaba. Same way Gedflynn is a "great guru".
 
Hey guys, sorry if this has been mentioned in the thread already but it just occurred to me. Now that we know Skull Knights armor was forged by the dwarven blacksmith Hanarr who resides on Elfhelm, is that finally an explanation as to why when Puck first encounters Skull Knight, he mentions something about him having an elvish aura about him or something about him feeling like home? I forget the exact dialogue but the point is he was alluding to Skull Knight giving off an energy that felt like it had elf-like origins.

I love when tiny details like this in the story come full circle.
 

Walter

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Hey guys, sorry if this has been mentioned in the thread already but it just occurred to me. Now that we know Skull Knights armor was forged by the dwarven blacksmith Hanarr who resides on Elfhelm, is that finally an explanation as to why when Puck first encounters Skull Knight, he mentions something about him having an elvish aura about him or something about him feeling like home? I forget the exact dialogue but the point is he was alluding to Skull Knight giving off an energy that felt like it had elf-like origins.

I love when tiny details like this in the story come full circle.
I don’t think it made it into this thread, but I did bring it up on the podcast. And while it is the first confirmation, it’s been a pretty commonly held belief that would be the case ever since we learned that his previous armor (Berserk) was forged by dwarfs.

Another long held fan belief about how SK came to be also came closer to reality in this episode when Hanarr jokes about how SK is merely “rattling in his coffin.” And further, we were introduced to both the forger of Skull Knight’s current armor along with a witch who specializes in the manipulation of souls.
 
I don’t think it made it into this thread, but I did bring it up on the podcast. And while it is the first confirmation, it’s been a pretty commonly held belief that would be the case ever since we learned that his previous armor (Berserk) was forged by dwarfs.

Another long held fan belief about how SK came to be also came closer to reality in this episode when Hanarr jokes about how SK is merely “rattling in his coffin.” And further, we were introduced to both the forger of Skull Knight’s current armor along with a witch who specializes in the manipulation of souls.
Ah I started listening to the podcast while I was working but then got distracted by work stuff :guts:

I’m certainly interested to see how Skull Knight came to be in his current state and who all was involved in the process. I wouldn’t be surprised if the witch who specializes in the manipulation of souls was involved but I would also think that Flora was almost certainly involved in the process too.
 
Perhaps. This is getting down in the weeds a bit, but maybe it was Flora who advocated for Gaiseric's life to be preserved.
I'm curious to know what kind of missions/adventures Skull Knight and Flora went on together, and if she witnessed him dying in the armor. If she did advocate for his life to be preserved it certainly couldn't have been for no good reason ie. them just being friends. I wonder what the long term plan was there, even if she wasn't the one who advocated for it why did Hanarr and whoever else find Skull Knight to be so vital that he must go on living, albeit for a thousand + years?
 

Walter

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If she did advocate for his life to be preserved it certainly couldn't have been for no good reason ie. them just being friends. I wonder what the long term plan was there, even if she wasn't the one who advocated for it why did Hanarr and whoever else find Skull Knight to be so vital that he must go on living, albeit for a thousand + years?
The missing piece connecting those things could be Void. Perhaps Gaiseric and Elfhelm's goals aligned because he went rogue. There are of course problems with that idea. It's hard for me to see Danan endorsing a human quest for revenge, for example. But maybe it wasn't up to her. Maybe Flora tipped the scales a bit. And maybe when Guts sets out from the island to stop Griffith, it will mirror what happened 1,000 years ago when Gaiseric left to attempt to stop Void.
 
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