What are the themes/morals/messages behind Berserk?

What are the themes/morals/messages behind Berserk?

Hello all. I’m new here. I’ve been lurking around for quite some time now.

Anyways all great stories have something to say through how characters interact within that story. Miura obviously have some things he wants to say to us readers through Berserk. Here’s what I got so far…

-Find/Pursue your dreams, but don’t lose sight of what’s (values/people) really important. (Gutts in relations to Caska)

-If you do lose sight of them then you become a slave of your dream. (Griffith)

-If you don’t pursue your dreams, then you live the mediocre life, being more susceptible to become effected by those that are ambitious, but it’s safer and less risky. (Peasants, villagers, small-role characters)

-People who pursue bigger dreams can crush people with smaller ones. (Griffith with the old school Band of the Hawks)

-Evil comes from humans, not outside of them. (Apostles, Idea of Evil)

-Fate/destiny/free will - There are forces that are dictating how we live our lives. (Causality, Idea of Evil)

-Meaning of life - Miura’s main characters question the meaning of their existence/wonder why they are doing the things they do and if they are worthwhile or not. (Gutts realizing that him hacking away at people with his big sword is a wasteful way of a living, thus he sets off to find his “dream”/something to give his life meaning.)

I believe Miura wants us readers to ask ourselves these philosophical/intellectual questions and come up with our own answers so that we don’t waste our lives.

Of course there are the smaller/less intellectual themes. Every Berserk story arc has certain “themes” that it emphasizes on whether it is Miura’s views on war, political corruption, religion, survival of the fittest/smartest, etc.

But yeah these are what I believe are the main themes of Berserk so far. What are your thoughts on this?
 
Interesting thoughts, I agree with most of them.

For morals however, well there aren't too many morals in the story whatsoever. On that note messages like those related to Griffith when talks about what he believes a dream is, he speaks as if the ultimate thing a person can do is find what he wants to do no matter what and damn everyone else. Guts goes by this philosophy somewhat, though I guess now that Caska is in the picture it's changed a bit.

I think one fundamental concept in the story is to push as hard as you can, gain tremendous will power to do your best to pass your limits no matter how tough. Like most things different people will get different messages from it depending on how they think.

Another could be luck shown as some people are just lucky and others aren't. That is seeing they show some people to be in fortunate positions whereas others clearly aren't. Also people are shown to be very expendable concept in the story whether in a war, a disaster or wherever alot of people die and others get lucky, depending on who is in the right place at the right time.

Rickert was lucky that he wasn't at the Eclipse and that Skull knight came to save him at the right time. Isidro was lucky that Guts came in time to save him when they first met and also gave him a chance to train under a great warrior, where as the priest at the start along with his daughter were just flat out unlucky, and being good or ethical doesn't change a thing.

One that could be seen is the dark side in all humans showing them capable of doing terrible things which has been shown on countless occasions, also comparable to the Idea of evil concept.
 
Mad_Mengo said:
-Find/Pursue your dreams, but don’t lose sight of what’s (values/people) really important.  (Guts in relations to Casca)

-If you don’t pursue your dreams, then you live the mediocre life, being more susceptible to become effected by those that are ambitious, but it’s safer and less risky.  (Peasants, villagers, small-role characters)
I would translate it more as - Find your own dream and don't live in the dream or reality others create. Find your own vision of the world and embrace it. Also, never be satisfied with what you are and always strive to be something more.
 

Walter

Administrator
Staff member
Rage Incarnate said:
  Also, never be satisfied with what you are and always strive to be something more.
This doesn't strike me as a very positive moral.
 
Walter said:
This doesn't strike me as a very positive moral.
I don't mean be greedy but instead be a better person, learn another language, improve your martial arts through more practice etc. Humanity is imperfect strive for perfection knowing this. That is what I think at least. I get this reinforced via Miura occasionally.
 

Walter

Administrator
Staff member
Well, I'd like to hear some examples of Miura enforcing insatiability as a moral. 

What about Guts and his revelation about his friendship with the raiding team?  What about Griffith and his seizing of Princess Charlote too early?  What about Morgan's story of his wasted life? 

With these and other examples, to me Miura is saying the exact opposite. Desiring more is a dangerous gamble. Every main character has been burned by it.  Be content with what you have.  You could lose it.
 
Mad_Mengo said:
-Evil comes from humans, not outside of them. (Apostles, Idea of Evil)

-Fate/destiny/free will - There are forces that are dictating how we live our lives.  (Causality, Idea of Evil)
Yes, the way I see it, progress of humanity lies in understanding the world and controling it so that all the less life is affected by unperceived factors or "luck". Remember that humans make part of the world too. So there is a limit eventually. I wouldn't put evil over that limit. Just randomness.
I don't think that evil is something supernatural or personal though. I think evil is a product of ignorance or false information.
 
Walter said:
With these and other examples, to me Miura is saying the exact opposite. Desiring more is a dangerous gamble. Every main character has been burned by it.  Be content with what you have.  You could lose it.
You're right. :p I suppose I just saw what I wanted to see. In the end the emphasis is on being satisfied with what you have.
 
Mad_Mengo said:
-Fate/destiny/free will - There are forces that are dictating how we live our lives. (Causality, Idea of Evil)
but still you can be a jumping fish  ;D

I'm new too, hello all ^_^/
 

Walter

Administrator
Staff member
Rage Incarnate said:
You're right. :p  I suppose I just saw what I wanted to see.  In the end the emphasis is on being satisfied with what you have.
No need to be appeasing. You weren't 100% wrong, it was just your phrasing. All you had to do was bring up Flora's speeches in ep. 201-202.

Flora says that the path of magic is in learning the true nature of the world through studying it objectively. This is a form of self-improvement, but doesn't have the negative stigma of "never be satisfied." Magicians such as Flora learned and studied for the good of the world, not to glorify themselves (I think...)
 
There seem to be a sort of Anti religion theme in Berserk... That is the god which you believe so much in may not be a good god at all...


The more you believe and pray for your god the more you will suffer (And the one who died eventually) ... This is obvious from Vol 21 when it was mentioned that those who survive the Albion incident are those who longer believe their god...


Or maybe this just me... ;D
 
But at the same time, after the troll attack Schierke talks about the angels she conjured as the same angels the church prays to, the difference is in the way they believe in them. I think Miura criticizes the way people manipulate religion for their benefit, because, since always, after religion hides political and financial interests.

After that the priest in the village allows people to build a small shinre for the spirit ^^

I don't know if i made myself clear............I'm just bad at English...... :(
 

Aazealh

そうはいかぬ
Staff member
Smith said:
There seem to be a sort of Anti religion theme in Berserk... That is the god which you believe so much in may not be a good god at all...
There's not really an "anti-religion" theme in Berserk, it's just that the dominant religious institution and their doctrine are depicted as being extremists and intolerant. Yet we can see a few good sides too, when the priest in Enoch finally comes to accept what Schierke tells him for example.

As for their God, don't be mistaken, I doubt them to pray to the Idea of Evil.

Smith said:
The more you believe and pray for your god the more you will suffer (And the one who died eventually) ... This is obvious from Vol 21 when it was mentioned that those who survive the Albion incident are those who longer believe their god...
That's not really true, and that's also not the best example to take. Mozgus was crazy, and the people massed there had no chance of surviving anyway. It was just emphasised that Guts and the others survived because they weren't just passive and waiting for a deux ex machina to save them, but actively fought for their lives.

Nox said:
after the troll attack Schierke talks about the angels she conjured as the same angels the church prays to, the difference is in the way they believe in them.
Yes, she's referring to the four elemental kings.

Nox said:
I think Miura criticizes the way people manipulate religion for their benefit, because, since always, after religion hides political and financial interests.
Yes, it could be understood that way, among other things. In the case of Mozgus for example, it was just pure ideological fanatism.

Nox said:
I don't know if i made myself clear............I'm just bad at English...... :(
It's ok, don't worry. :)
 
Conan the Barbarian movie had the opening "What does not kill us, makes us stronger."

Which is straight from Old Frederick.

Guts really is a lesson in human endurance and the costs of what exactly that means. His strength comes from his ability to endure pain and suffering on a near-supernatural level, but its really his will that is keeping him going and his unwillingness to be ground down underneath the Hand of God. It's no coincidence that Fate is the fundamental enemy in Berserk. The chief lesson, I feel is that if we can look at Guts and say that he keeps going, then we have no excuse.

Another related idea is that Idols are an inherently dangerous thing to hold up. It's ironic that Christianity, the Idol hating religion to begin with, is the one that gets translated to the Holy See but that's just how things work out it seems. There's a nasty undercurrent to the hero worship of Griffith that basically boils down to the fact that the people don't want to save themselves from the horrors of the world but instead want to turn to beings like the White Hawk in order to do it. Berserk exposes that idea as an extremely selfish one in the context of the story.

Griffith works fairly well as an indictment of fascism in some respects as well. Though the better term would just be "Cults of Personality." Griffith appears superhuman but he's not and the realization of this drives him mad because if you're told enough times that you're a god then you're going to start believing it. Guts exposes the lie that is Griffith to he, himself, and that's something that he can't deal with. It, ultimately, drives him to become Femto.

To a lesser extent, Count Caterpillar and Roslin show the dangers of surrendering to pain and believing too much in a dream at the expense of the reality. Guts lives a miserable life but he's a fundamentally decent man that has managed to maintain at least a small part of his integrity through the horrible things he's been through. He's also a flawed man but that doesn't mean that he's a bad one, it just shows you that we should recognize flaws do not make a person worthless. The Count is unable to deal with his wife cheating on him and Roslin would rather chase a fairy tale (literally) than cope with reality.

To an extent, all of Guts' Party embody people chasing dreams and choping with reality in a far healthier way than the Sheep and Black Sheep of Griffith's army.
 
Awesome analysis willowhugger, couldn't have said it better myself.

I admire Guts' character a lot, he doesn't tuck his tail between his legs to anyone or anything and beg for mercy, even if they are hundreds of times more powerful then he is. I go by that a lot, and Guts gives me more inspiration in that regard.
 

Aazealh

そうはいかぬ
Staff member
willowhugger said:
Griffith appears superhuman but he's not and the realization of this drives him mad because if you're told enough times that you're a god then you're going to start believing it. Guts exposes the lie that is Griffith to he, himself, and that's something that he can't deal with. It, ultimately, drives him to become Femto.
Griffith had doubts and insecurities in the first place, that's why he felt he needed Guts so much. You're taking a hell of a shortcut with what you're saying here. Many things led to his choice to sacrifice his men, and I don't think they should all be reduced to a disenchantment of "not being superhuman".

willowhugger said:
Count Caterpillar and Roslin
The count was based on a slug, not a caterpillar. :schierke: And there are several possible ways to spell "ロシーヌ" in English, but "Roslin" definitely isn't one of them.

willowhugger said:
The Count is unable to deal with his wife cheating on him
There was a little more than that going on...
 

Femto the Raven

The location of agony? The human soul.
I know nobody posted here in a while but I was just going over all the thoughts here...Is it outright bizarre of me to think one of the major themes in Berserk is the beauty of life? or more precisely the beauty of the human spirit?

Let me expound, I mean horrible, terrible things happen, dreams shatter, loved ones die, life grows dark. But really, am I nuts or do I see a optimistic subtext to the suffering? I'm thinking about how the little girl gained strength to move on (despite her abusive parents) after the battle with the Elf apostle. About how the prostitutes survive the horror at the tower and go on, Luca feeling empowered and happy. There are many other examples, but despite how much I hear about how depressing Berserk is, I've always found its conflict to have a silver lining, and out of the great evils, some truly noteworthy good is often born.

Am I looking at life through rose tinted glasses here?
 
I wouldn't word it as the beauty of life or the human spirit, but maybe just "To struggle; to survive." Or at least I don't get the sense Miura is trying to display Berserk in such a fashion.

I could see an optimistic subtext but mostly in Guts' band. The optimism of them getting the opportunity to come together and help one another. (obviously too saving the world, maybe) Maybe the moral is life goes on and you can still get some pleasure or meaning, (so don't off yourself). I guess too I don't see too much optimism in your examples. More like renewed energy to keep living and growing and struggling. Jill still has to go back to rapists/pedophiles and an abusive dad and a mom broken by life. Then not to mention the abundance of beasts that now occupy the land. With Jill, she got some motivation from the incident and Guts.

I'm just not so sure about how beauteous it is. More like broken objects that choose to fight/struggle/survive. I guess the beauty could be some of the people we are allowed to see such as Jill and their personalities or traits that we like. I guess berserk would be depressing to those that don't wont to think about certain topics. (Hopefully they never hear of the Democratic Republic of Congo :sarcasm: But Miura is very good at showing characters fully dimensionalized. He reflects life well and even with all the bad stuff there are still people trying to help.

But I don't think your wearing rose tinted glasses, but I don't know my glasses might be tinted too.
 

Aphasia

ALL MYSTERIES MUST BE SOLVED
I wouldn't say you guys are looking through rosey colored glasses. I've always felt in a similar way about berserk; despite
all the terrible pain and suffering and bloodshed, that there's a positive message one can derive from it. I'm of the personal opinion that
almost anything that is bad, or evil, and painful in our lives can impact us in positive ways too, although they often go unseen or unfelt.

It's refreshing in a way to see characters who's lives are so very different and conflicting (very much like our own) struggle to survive and live
in a world that is cruel. Seeing guts stand up for what he believes and come to the realization that he can't be a follower of someone else's dreams
fills me with a wholesome sense of goodness. In this way, via conflict and resolution, the story may give us faith that we can do just that in our
own lives. There is no reason I can't take control of my life and get through anything that comes my way. Of course, berserk is riddled with tons of
stories that could evoke any number of messages. In fact, I think I may start from the beginning tonight. : D Whoopee!
 
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