Speculating on the God Hand's end goal: the Eternal War & World Transformation theories

With episode 362 hopefully coming up this year I thought it would be interesting to do a before/after and discuss all what we know as well as the theories surrounding the Idea of Evil. We will probably have more clues to what really happened with the Skull Knight's backstory so I might make another post if you find it interesting.

You have probably already guessed from the title, my article is based on this post. Reading it is better since I will take some ideas from it although it is not needed to understand this post.


I) A reminder : What are the IoE (Idea of Evil) means of action and how can we guess its final goal? (This part is for new readers and can be skipped, I just considere episode 83 to be canon)


In this post i will consider the lost episode (83) as canon. Miura said he didn't want to publish it because he felt it was told too early + the existence of the IoE is confirmed at the end of episode 82 and talked about in episode 84 and 202. This could be revealed to be false but I think that it is worth to try to theorize from it. In it we learn a few things :

  1. The Idea of Evil was born the Abyss which lies at the bottom of the Vortex of Souls . They represent the common darkness of humankind.
  2. The humans wanted meaning for their deaths and lives. The IoE's mission is to answer them. The answer is what we'll try to determine here.
  3. It tries to achieve its goal by manipulating the subconscious of every human and acting far in advance.
  4. The God Hand is completely free. The IoE has predicted the future and influenced humanity for the creation of each God Hand member so that they unknowingly accomplish its goal.
It's important here to remind you that the God Hand are attuned to the flow of causality, and can shape events to a degree but are oblivious to the other members are doing. That was confirmed by Slan in episode 220 when she stated that she did not know what the other members were doing.

And while those revelations do not bode well for Guts and his companions, there is a big blindspot in the IoE's powers if we consider episode 83 as canon : the IoE mentioned manipulating humans but not other creatures. Thus it would be probable that the non-humans would be it's natural enemies, because if the IoE can't control or predict them then the humans themselves escape its grasp every time they interact with astral creatures. It would make sense with the apparent inability of the IoE to influence the practitioners of magic in Skellig or Flora and Schierke, who seem to have worked consciously against it for centuries.

A smaller blindspot consists of the humans living in the Interstice : Skull Knight, Guts and Casca. Those "humans" are under the influence of the IoE but can still act against causality during the temporal junction points. This is often misinterpreted because Femto predicted the attack of Skull Knight on top of Ganishka, though Femto himself said that he did not "see" what SK would do but guessed it because he always attacked the God Hand during those times. This will of course be part of the reason why the IoE will fail in the end but that's not what we are looking at here, we just want to know its grand plan.

So now that we know the means of action of the IoE, how do we predict its goal?

The members of the God Hand are "free" in the sense that their desires align with the IoE's because it created them from scratch. So it makes sense to analyse their respective goals and behavior while keeping in mind the mission of the IoE : give meaning to the deaths and lives of humans. Another way to look at it is that the IoE wants to limit or eradicate all inhabitants of the astral world (with the exception of demons of the God Hand as well as apostles) since they are not under its influence. I will explore each of those reasoning and establish two separate theories from them.


II) The Eternal War theory

In this part I will solely be looking at the motivations of the God Hand to understand the ultimate goal of the IoE.

First, I will tackle an evident question : can the GH fight among themselves or at least act against each other's plans? At first glance it seems to contradict the idea that they are working towards the ultimate goal of their master. Nevertheless I think that their fight itself could be the will of the IoE, at the very least I think it's a lead worth exploring. So let's look at the intentions of the God Hand.

I will begin with the easy one : Femto/Griffith. We know that he always wanted to have his own kingdom, but it has also been heavily hinted that his ambition won't stop there. And that's because Griffith doesn't really have an objective, he only wants to pursue one. Guts sums it best in episode 345 "Not quite. For him it's more like an end to his means. Getting his kingdom...that's just one step along his way. He'll continue soaring higher and higher".

Void's intentions are far more mysterious and this part is more speculation than the rest of this theory. Void strikes me as a true servant of the God of the Abyss. He may not know the final objective but he hasn't shown any desire so far apart from wanting to follow the currents of causality and help accomplish the will of the IoE. This is very likely to change in the next few episodes as we learn the backstory of Skull Knight, so I decided to keep his intentions unknown. Aazealh already wrote a very good theory on his origin and goal so if you want more details I invite you to read the two paragraphs "Human-based magic vs Elemental magic" and "What happened a thousand years ago" in this post. The revelations in episode 361 seem to confirm what has been said there so far.

We know very few things about Ubik, he did influence Griffith much like Void but also Theresia. He seems to be a true sadist who enjoys torturing and misleading humans, he is also shown to enjoy himself in his sephira during the World Transformation.

Slan is the manifestation of the deprativity of humankind. She is a sadomasochist who was seen influencing humanity through the cult of the Goddess of Flame, whose members hold cannibalistic pagan blood orgies in her honor. She wants depravation and is the antithesis to the doctrine of the Holy See.

Finally Conrad doesn't talk much in the serie. But he does have an interest in spreading deadly diseases to humans, he was the one behind the plague that forced many refugees to come to Albion and killed the king.

Now that we know their intentions it is possible to try to determine what will logically happen.

Griffith will try to conquer the entire world, killing any astral creatures and magicians on his way. Should he succeed and decide to reign as the emperor of this new world, he will face a new problem : the apostles need to find a way to satisfy their hunger for blood and slaughter (episode 336).

This theory answers almost every questions. It gives meaning to the lives and deaths of humans with a very clear reason : humans must stand united and fight the monsters that want to destroy the paradise that is Griffith's kingdom, the land of their savior. It also gives the apostles a way to consistently satisfy their hunger for blood and slaughter (episode 336), something that would otherwise be a problem once Griffith has finished his conquest. When looking at the history of the world in Berserk it also makes sense for the IoE to first separate the Astral and Physical Worlds in order to better control humanity and thus create the God Hand. Once the God of the Abyss has his powerful pawns it doesn't fear the astral creatures anymore, and the worlds can join again.

Almost every question.....because there is still one : why would the magicians protect the Spirit Tree Forest for centuries when it allowed the IoE to control humanity freely and create more Guardian Angels?

III) The second World Transformation theory

This one will be quicker. While it is well within Griffith's abilities to get rid of every astral creatures and magic practitioners apart from other Guardians Angels, it does not mean that the threat of magic would dissapear. Magic could always be found again, the same way humanity initially found about the Four Cardinal Kings. To stop magic from ever reappearing Femto has a solution : burn the Spirit Tree forest on Elfhem to even further join the Astral and the Physical Worlds. This would have two consequences :
  1. The IoE would have the opportunity to manifest itself at least partly in the physical world.
  2. Those higher beings like the Cardinal Kings would be forced to take form, which would give the opportunity for the God Hand and the IoE to kill them. Magic would then be powerless.
By being manifested into the world we can predict that the powers of the God of the Abyss will become stronger than ever, suppressing all or most free will from humans. They would live, suffer and die as the puppets of the Idea of Evil, a God created and nourished by them.

This theory has the benefit to answer what the the Eternal War theory couldn't : it is possible that the magic practitioners separated the two worlds because Void found the IoE and tried to manifest it into reality. Then it strengthen its forces for several centuries, using Griffith desire to conquer to eliminate magicians now as well as the Spirit Tree Forest.

The only problem I have with it is that Femto would definitely not be pleased with this endgame and would try to get rid of the IoE. He might even realize that he doesn't need to burn the Spirit Forest Tree but just kill all the inhabitants of Elfhelm.


Conclusion :

I struggled to find any theory that would answer every questions we have at this moment in Berserk, and I think that this is a testament to Miura's skills as a writer and worldbuilder. Nevertheless I expanded a few leads that I never saw explored. Something that always bugged me is the term "age of darkness" in the prophecy. The ones who wrote that prophecy must be magic practitioners so the "age of darkness" could have some unseen meaning. If humanity as a whole is happy but magicians are persecuted then it makes sense for those of the prophecy to use that term. In the end I didn't use it in my theories because its true meaning is still unknown.

What are your thoughts?
 
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Aazealh

Administrator
Staff member
Hello Dramsss and welcome to our community. Well that is a very long and ambitious first thread.

Having read it, I regret to inform you that I've found a non-trivial amount of factual errors or misinterpretations that I believe skew your reasoning towards wrong conclusions. I hope you don't take this personally, since it's not really surprising that a newcomer to the series would misunderstand some aspects of it. It would take me a long time to address everything in detail, so I'll just pinpoint a few of them and will be brief about it. Please don't take that the wrong way. I do this for your personal benefit so I hope you will appreciate it.

Ah, another thing: while I'm flattered that my own thread inspired you to write this one, it is somewhat presumptuous of you to present this as a follow-up or even an expanded version, especially since I don't agree with you regarding the way things will go. In this regard, and for the purpose of clarity, it might have been better to give your thread another title, such as "Speculating on the God Hand's end goal: the Eternal War & World Transformation theories".

Anyway, moving on:

With chapter 362
As you may have noticed, we refer to individual issues of Berserk as "episodes", not "chapters". That is not just a whim, that's how they're actually referred to. This is detailed in our Mythbusters post, which also addresses some other topic you might have an interest in. Yes, most other manga series call them chapters, but Berserk does not. Chapters are different subsections of the story.

For others, all theories on the IoE consider the lost chapter (83) as canon. Miura said he didn't want to publish it because he felt it was told too early + the existence of the IoE is confirmed at the end of chapter 82 and talked about in chapter 84 and 202. Thus everyone thinks that chapter is canon until Miura or the manga clearly says the opposite.
Actually episode 83 is definitely not canon and anything in it should be taken with a grain of salt. The God of the Abyss certainly exists, and it's true nothing has directly invalidated what is shown in episode 83, but I would caution against trying to derive too much from it. It was removed from the story for a reason.

The Idea of Evil was born from the endless vortex of souls in the Abyss. They represent the common darkness of humankind.
As far as we know, from Flora's explanation, the Abyss lies at the bottom of the Vortex of Souls, not the other way around. In that regard, you could say maybe the actual story contradicts what is shown in episode 83. Unless the IoE can rise and lower itself or something.

The souls wanted meaning for their deaths and lives. The IoE's mission is to answer them. The answer is what we'll try to determine here.
The Idea of Evil talks about all humans, not just the souls from the vortex. And it describes its surroundings as "an ocean of feelings all humans have deep in their souls".

It tries to achieve its goal by manipulating the subconscious of every human alongside predicting the future.
No mention is made of predicting the future. The IoE just says it manipulated events far in advance in order to create the result it wanted.

The sentence "merging blood with blood" is ambiguous
Nothing ambiguous about it, it refers to pairing people to produce specific bloodlines.

It's important here to remind you that the God Hand also has the power to predict "most" things in the same way as the IoE. The big difference being that the IoE can predict the actions of the God Hand members themselves and they can't. That was confirmed by Slan in chapter 220.
Slan confirms no such thing. Members of the God Hand are attuned to the flow of causality, and can shape events to a degree. They are not said to be able to see the future like a seer would. Maybe Void can see more than the others from the flow of causality, but it's mere speculation for now.

it can only manipulate and predict the actions of humans.
That's just my personal speculation, that hasn't been confirmed or anything. I'm actually thinking about making a thread on causality but haven't really gotten around to it yet.

Thus the non-humans are it's natural enemies
Same as above. Maybe you merely meant to sum up my post, but I'm not 100% sure so I prefer to clarify.

Since the members of the God Hand are free it makes sense to analyse their respective goals and behavior while keeping in mind the mission of the IoE : give meaning to the deaths and lives of humans.
If you go by episode 83, which seems to be what you're doing, then members of the God Hand are only free in the sense that their desires align with the IoE's because it created them from scratch. But they remain its servants as the "Hand of God".

First, I will tackle an evident question : can the GH fight among themselves or at least act against each other's plans? And the answer is yes.
That's a huge assumption which no real basis in the story. And it contradicts the idea that they are working towards the ultimate goal of their master.

Slan tried to corrupt Guts in the Qliphoth when Guts was part of Femto's plan to beat Ganishka in Vritannis. Without Guts and his Dragon Slayer Griffith would have had to come himself, which partially ruins his plans to come with the pope, all this while hiding his demon form of course. This is speculative though because Griffith did send his warriors to destroy the spirit tree in Enoch's forest.
This is a really weak justification for the statement above. It's not at all sure that Griffith needed Guts to be there, and it's in fact pretty unlikely. If you think about it a little more I'm sure you'll be able to imagine many possible outcomes other than the one we got, none of which would have severely compromised Griffith's plans.

Void's intentions are far more mysterious and this part is more speculation than the rest of this theory. Void strikes me as a true servant of the God of the Abyss. He may not know the final objective but he doesn't show any desire of his own apart from wanting to follow the currents of causality and help accomplish the will of the IoE. This explains why he went out of his to convince Griffith into sacrificing his comrades in chapter 79.

We know very few things about Ubik, he did influence Griffith much like Void but also Theresa. He seems to be a true sadist who enjoys torturing and misleading humans, he is also shown to enjoy himself in his "sephira" during the World Transformation. The absence of visible strong motivations makes him a non-factor in the future. Slan is the manifestation of the deprativity of humankind. She is a sadomasochist who has actively influenced humanity through the cult of the Goddess of Flame, whose members hold cannibalistic pagan blood orgies in her honor. She wants depravation and is the antithesis to the doctrine of the Holy See. Finally Conrad has pretty much never talked in the serie. But he does have an interest in spreading deadly diseases to humans, he was the one behind the plague that forced many refugees to come to Albion and killed the king.
The girl's name is Theresia, and what you call the "World Transformation" is actually referred to in the story as "The Blast of the Astral World" (like a blast of wind). Moving on, I think you assume way too many things about these guys here. Void doesn't show any desire of his own? I mean, we don't know what he wants, but that's not a reason to assume he doesn't want anything. Also, he hardly went "out of his way" to convince Griffith to sacrifice. They were already at the ceremony and he's the one presiding. That goes for the others too. For example you seem to be giving way too much weight to the little heretical cult we see during the Conviction arc. Slan presumably thrives with heretics because she appeals to their base instincts, but as far as we know that specific cult was limited to that cave. They just call her that because they had visions of her while having orgies. Also Conrad has in fact talked in the series.

Griffith will try to conquer the entire world, killing any astral creatures and magicians on his way. In the end there will be only 4 territories outside of his grasp : the other God Hand members territories, manifested into reality with the World transformation.
Now we're getting to your actual theory, which is very different from my own thread. Anyway, we don't know whether they have physical territories they rule over like sovereigns. I personally find it unlikely. Femto was incarnated and it was a very unique event. When he unleashed the Blast of the Astral World, he ushered them in, but that doesn't mean they acquired landmasses, nor that they want to have their own kingdoms. Ruling over a kingdom is Griffith's thing. They have other interests. Their "sephira" are the domains upon which they rule, but they are implied to be something other than corporeal, related to humankind as a whole.

But the other Guardians Angels will also act, and if Conrad and Slan can distract themselves for the moment with the humans outside of Femto's kingdom, they also will inevitably try to infiltrate it. Griffith will try to stop them but for the first time he will face opponents with powers rivaling his own. This is how the Eternal War starts. Slan and Conrad will spread diseases and send countless monsters attack humanity + pervert them with the cult of the Goddess of Flame. Griffith will have all apostles and humanity on his side, but it is confirmed that Slan can generate any number of monster in chapter 220 so the forces will be balanced. Void and Ubik would not act and only watch from the sidelines. Humanity would be forced to fight evil forces while serving under one forever.
The fact Slan births a dozen ogres in the Qliphoth (which she refers to as being "like her womb") doesn't mean she can just mass produce whole armies at will. I also have a hard time understanding how armies and monsters can fight against diseases and sexual urges. Not to mention that ogres can't hold their own against apostles. Oh and Void and Ubik would just not do anything? Guess they're useless in the grand scheme of things then. What a waste to have them around since they serve no purpose. The Idea of Evil must not be that good.

This theory answers almost every questions. It gives meaning to the lives and deaths of humans with a very clear reason : humans must stand united and fight the monsters that want to destroy the paradise that is Griffith's kingdom, the land of their savior.
Dying for someone else's kingdom is hardly what I'd consider an appropriate meaning for one's life. I really don't think that fits the Idea of Evil's words in episode 83. Furthermore, we know that the world in the distant past was also a violent and chaotic place, filled with strife. And yet that is when the Idea of Evil developed its sentience. I don't see how a return to a similar kind of world would fulfill these needs if it didn't do so before.

When looking at the history of the world in Berserk it also makes sense for the IoE to first separate the Astral and Physical Worlds in order to better control humanity and thus create the God Hand. Once the God of the Abyss has his powerful pawns it doesn't fear the astral creatures anymore, and the worlds can join again.
I don't see what that statement is based on. The God Hand thought to return the world to its previous state of his existence. And as you mention below, we know that witches played a key part in keeping the worlds apart. Therefore the logical assumption should be that witches impeded the Idea of Evil's plans and it created the God Hand to counter their efforts.

While it is well within Griffith's abilities to get rid of every astral creatures and magic practitioners apart from other Guardians Angels
So you say.

Magic could always be found again, the same way humanity found the Four Cardinal Kings.
How did humanity find the four kings?

To stop magic from ever reappearing Femto has a solution : burn the Spirit Tree forest on Elfhem to even further join the Astral and the Physical Worlds. This would have two consequences :

The IoE would have the opportunity to manifest itself at least partly in the physical world.
Those higher beings like the Cardinal Kings would be forced to take form, which would give the opportunity for the God Hand and the IoE to kill them. Magic would then be powerless.
Personally I find the idea that higher level astral beings or even the Idea of Evil could take permanent physical form to be grotesque. Besides, it feels like a gigantic assumption that beings inherently associated with the fundamental elements of the world could be destroyed. Would the elements themselves then disappear?

By being manifested into the world we can predict that the powers of the God of the Abyss will become stronger than ever, suppressing all or most free will from humans.
Why would that be the case? As far as we know, existing within the "world of ideas" grants more influence than being in the corporeal world. It goes Idea > Astral > Physical. That's why being in the Insterstice between the astral and corporeal worlds allows Guts to do things others can't.

The only problem I have with it is that Femto would definitely not be pleased with this endgame and would try to get rid of the IoE. He might even realize that he doesn't need to burn the Spirit Forest Tree but just kill all the inhabitants of Elfhelm.
This notion directly contradicts what you were talking about earlier when you mentioned the Idea of Evil and what it tells Griffith. Beyond created him and his entire life's circumstances from scratch, it explains that "I dwell deep in your heart. I am a part of you. You are a part of your kind's consciousness. A part of me. Your desire is my desire as well." Of course, like I said at the beginning, we should take episode 83 with a grain of salt. But what you definitely can't do is pick and choose what applies and doesn't when it suits you or not.

Something that always bugged me is the term "age of darkness" in the prophecy. The ones who wrote that prophecy must be magic practitioners so the "age of darkness" could have some unseen meaning. If humanity as a whole is happy but magicians are persecuted then it makes sense for those of the prophecy to use that term. In the end I didn't use it in my theories because its true meaning is still unknown.
It surprises me that I need to say this, but obviously whatever future the Idea of Evil and its servants have in mind for humanity is not going to be nice. They are the bad guys in the story. That's why it's the Age of Darkness.
 
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