Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Random musing: 2D or 3D animation?

First off, I want to apologize for last week's post. It was messy, whiny, and born more out of frustration than anything else. And in future, I will try to avoid such posts.

But anyway, the subject we are going to talking about today is animation, so before we go on, I should preface this post with a disclaimer: namely that I am NOT an animator, and I'm never likely to be. And everything I'm about to say here is based on research, observation and my own opinion. So take what I'm saying here with a grain of salt. So if you're an animator reading this, then please don't freak out.

Recently, former Disney animator and film maker, Don Bluth, had a successful crowdfunding campaign to make a film based off his 1983 arcade game, Dragon's Lair (see video on the right), a film that he's been trying to get made well before it saw life as a game, but it just never happened for some reason or another. Now obviously, the money raised from the campaign isn't enough to get an entire movie made, but it was never meant to be. It was meant to fund a sizzle reel to show to potential investors. But the big draw with this potential film is this: Bluth wants to do this film with traditional hand drawn 2D animation. Which is GREAT. Hollywood is so obsessed with CGI/3D animation that seeing a traditionally animated film would be like breathing air from the highest tier of heaven.
But it also begs the question...why would a traditional 2D animated film be such a breath of fresh air? Why, exactly, did Hollywood abandon hand drawn 2D animation, in favor of overused CGI (Computer Generated Image) that keeps looking more and more dated as time goes on?

How traditional animation works.
Well, according to a friend of mine who studies animation, the reason is that "2D animation is no longer viable...it takes less work to make it with 3D animation and there are things you can do with 3D animation that you can't with 2D animation." I'm paraphrasing by the way. Now, if we were talking about animating with animation cels, which is the technique that Walt Disney perfected when he made Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, then I could see my friend's point, because that is very labor intensive and cartoons/films made this way can cost a lot of money and take a lot of time to produce. But what my friend's argument does not address, through all the times we have talked about it, is this....nobody uses animation cels anymore. Why is this? Well...

1 computer. 
+ Drawing Tablet (or a really good mouse) X Photoshop (or something similar) .
+ animation software = 2D ANIMATION IS STILL VIABLE.   

....That's why. Guys, there is computer hardware and software that I could go out and buy right now, that can do what took Walt Disney three years of work and over $1 million in the 1930's, in about two weeks for practically nothing. Alright, alright, that's obviously an exaggeration, but the point I'm making here is that, hand drawn 2D animation is not only still viable, it's now more possible than ever to do. The tools to make have changed. We stopped using Animation Cels because technology got to the point where we don't need them anymore. And if you need more proof, just look overseas at Japan (see video on the right for an example, which mixes both 2D and 3D animation), South Korea, Europe and even India (among other places), where 2D animation is still being produced using the same kind of technology that I just showed you above.

The answer is money. Pure and simple.
This leads nicely to the next point, and the real reason, as I see it, as to why 2D animation isn't done by Hollywood much anymore. Namely, its got NOTHING to do with weather 2D animation is still viable or even profitable, and it has everything to do with economics. Supposedly, American animators get paid $125 USD/hour, whereas animators in, say, India, get paid the equivalent of $25 USD/an hour. And that an animated feature film in America can costs up to $175 million USD or more to produce. Where in India, the cost would be up to $25 Million USD.  I say 'supposedly' because I got this information off of Wikipedia, so who the hell knows what their source was. But for the sake of argument, let's say that it is accurate. I bring it up because 90% of animation projects these days, from both sides of this argument, are being outsourced to companies from the aforementioned countries.

While I can appreciate that money plays a huge role in the production of entertainment, it also flies in the face of common sense when applied to this topic. It's common knowledge that as technology improves, things get easier and cheaper to produce, its as true with computers, as it is with animation. And, according to all the sources I've been able to find on this, all of these foreign animation companies that are getting contracted to produce animation for Hollywood are using the best animation equipment that money can buy. Pretty much the same kind of equipment that Hollywood uses...hmmm, that's very odd.

Maybe there is a factor here that I'm missing, but it looks to me like Hollywood is perfectly content to ***ck 2D animators out of work, and completely ignore the people who are willing to give them their money to see more 2D animation.

Now look, I'm not saying that animation done with computers is easy to do, Hell, I couldn't do it. Nor am I saying that a lot of hard work and time dosen't go into animation. I know for a fact that it does. All I'm saying is that the whole "2D animation isn't viable" argument is a crock of bull shit. And I can hear some of the complaints now, "But if it's done with computers, then it's not real traditional animation," and "You're ****cking retarded if you think that 2D animation is better than 3D animation." Then to the former I say; Guys, if it looks like a duck, talks a duck, feels like a duck, and the only difference is that the duck has a power motor suited to move MechaGodzilla, then it's still technically a duck.

And to the latter I say: well first off, that's quite rude, and secondly. I am in no way implying that one form of animation is somehow superior to the other, I honestly couldn't care less about which is better. I'm saying that it makes very little sense to me why Hollywood (or any film industry for that matter), would willingly abandon one in favor of the other. Especially when there is room for both or, even better, a mixture of the two. How cool would that be? 2D animation mixed with 3D animation. If done correctly, it would be the best of both worlds. Hell, in Japan, we are already starting to see something like that.

I think Don Bluth sums it up the best:
"Just because we listen to classical music doesn't mean that we can't listen to jazz."
Well put sir, well put.

And that's all out of me for now, Dear Readers. See you next week.                              

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Personal Rant/venting: When Senpai won't notice you.

*sigh*. For those who don't know, the term "Senpai" is a Japanese term most commonly translated as "Older Classmate." In anime and nerd culture, the term "Notice me Senpai" often refers to a character who has a crush on another character, but said crush is very one sided, and the ensuing chaos usually falls somewhere between hilarious and unbelievably disturbing. But that's not what I'm here to talk about today. Also, I apologize if this post is all over the place, I'm writing this off the cuff and don't have a clear structure in mind, so just please just bare with me, ok?

In my case, my "Senpai" is the world as a whole. What I mean by that is...well, I've been producing content on and off for a few years now, mostly here on this blog, and there's my book of short stories, but there's also on my very neglected Hubpages page and, of course, most recently Youtube. But you know what? It just dosen't feel like I've gotten anywhere with any of it. Now, I know that  99.9%  of that is my own fault. As I have no bloody idea how to market/brand myself, and, let's be honest, I'm not the most active content producer on the planet. But the other part of it, I'm assuming, is that I'm producing content that...no one wants to hear. Not in the sense that i'm saying some sort of hard truth that nobody wants to talk about, but in the sense that it feels like I'm the only one who actually cares about what I'm producing.

I HATE feeling like that. I want people to see and enjoy what I make, whether it be a video, book or whatever, but if these past few years are anything to go by, i've proven just how inept I am at pouring on the hype for my own....product (for lack of a better term). I remember back when my short story collection was first published on Lulu.com, I would spam the hell out of it on Social Media (notably Twitter and Facebook) and joining a whole bunch of forums and mentioning somewhere that I had a book for people to buy. But that didn't help at all. The only reason I did that was because I had read somewhere that both Twitter and Facebook were the best places to market whatever it was you were trying to market, and it looked to me like that that was what the other indie authors I follow on social media were doing and were (seemingly) successful. The problem is that It didn't actually work, and I kinda felt like a stupid asshole for doing it. Like I was trying to force people to buy my book. It's not until recent years that I found out that I was actually doing it WRONG. I didn't understand how things like Hashtags, SEO, branding/marketing or any of that stuff worked. Hell, I still don't fully understand how they work. Because none of the sources I used to try and learn how to market myself actually mentioned them; or if they did, then it acted like you already knew what this stuff was, or it was explained in a way that didn't make sense to me, and I don't really know anybody who could/can explain it to me.

As for the forum and websites, Guys, I'm already shy, and the only way to garner attention on forums and websites is be extremely active. But whenever I tried to be, that small worm of guilt kept wiggling in and I felt like I was using people, and that's something I just don't like doing (even if it is to my detriment). Couple that with not liking big crowds, being the center of attention and an overall feeling of awkwardness...well you get the idea.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I want people to like what I do on its own merits, not because I have to shove it in their face all the time. But even then, I don't know how to make people care enough to even look at my stuff, And with my novel's first draft finished and me being on Youtube, I need to direct that oh so hated attention to me since I need feedback...*exasberated sigh*. I just don't know what to do anymore guys. I'm not going to stop making any of this stuff, but I just don't know what to do.

I apologize if this sounds like me whining with no actual point. And I know I got no one but myself to blame. But it comes from a place of frustration, and I really wanted to get this off my chest.

Thanks for reading and for your patience, I'll see you next week.        


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Out of it.

Sorry, guys, I don't have anything prepared. I'll get back to you next week.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Pardon me, but please drop your pants before using the Restroom.

*exasperated sigh* I know I said that the post about me voting for Senator Sanders in the Georgia Primaries was my last overtly political post. But I'm sorry, given recent events, this is something I have to throw my hat into. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I support LGBT (which, for those who don't know, is an acronym for 'Lesbien, Gay, Bisuxual and Transgender') Civil Rights. It's a topic I feel very strongly about--despite not being gay myself-- because to me it doesn't make any sense not to. This is a group of people who are constantly being marginalized and discriminated against in both modern times and in the past, all because the person they love happens to be of the same gender as them, or because they are the victim of one of God's cruelest jokes. And yet, some politicians (some of whom are old enough to know EXACTLY what discrimination looks like) are trying to, or have already, passed laws that infringe on the rights of these people. And that, Dear Reader, is UNACCEPTABLE. And it also leads nicely into the topic today.

Perfect illustration as to why Bathroom Laws are bullshit.
Now, unless you have been living under a rock, you've probably heard that North Carolina has recently passed a law that states that people in NC must use the bathroom of the gender that is on their birth certificate, and present some sort of card that explains that they are transgender  Well, not only is that a violation of a Transgender Person's right to privacy--and can lead to many an awkward situation besides-- it's also a violation of their Civil Rights, by trying to monitor and control what they do. And it would also put their lives in danger, because who knows what a less tolerant man would do to a Trans Woman (or vise/versa) while she's trying to do her business or even after that. Several big businesses, including Google and Apple, have called this law what it is, a law born from bigotry, and are actively fighting against it. Paypal for example, even canceled a planned expansion into the state, because of the bill.  The latest and most controversial corporation to join the fight is Target, who has publicly stated that it will not force Transgender customers to use the restroom of the gender they don't identify with.  This has lead many an angry religious and conservative nut grabbing their torches and pitch forks and boycott and protest against Target over this decision.

Christopher  Hambrook
is a known Serial Rapist. and now the posterboy for bigots who don't get it.
Why are these Bathroom laws even being passed? Some might ask. Well according to the people who are for them, including GOP Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz,  The idea behind the NC bill, and others like it in other states, is to stop Sexual Predators from claiming to be Transgender so that they can gain access to the woman's bathroom unopposed, and do their vile business. And, to be perfectly fair, I would be hard pressed to dismiss this as an irrational fear. In doing the research for this post, I did stumble upon on one blog post that cited a news story from Canada that states that this actually happened. It's important to note though, dear readers, that the articles cited in the blog post was done by the now defunct Sun News Network , a Canadian news network known for its shoddy reporting and pro-conservative bias. And while I have no way to check the article's accuracy; what is agreed upon is that the perpetrator of the incident in question (A man named Christopher Hambrook) is that he was NOT transgender, but a convicted serial rapist who had been in and out of prison numerous times before the incident in question. And after said incident, he was declared a danger to society and thrown into jail permanently.

Also a good point, there's no real way for NC,
or any state really, to enforce this BS.
Ok, these fears are not totally irrational. Here's the thing though. If the proposed laws are supposed to stop predators like Hambrook, why are they framed in such away that specifically targets Transgender people?  When there really ISN'T any evidence of a Transgender person sexually assaulting someone in the Bathroom (remember, Hambrook was NOT a Transgender)?  I'm not kidding, I scoured every reputable source I could think of, and, other than the aforementioned incident in Canada, there isn't a shred of credible evidence that suggests a correlation between Transgenders using the bathroom of the gender they identify with, and a rise in sexual assault.  There just isn't, the evidence doesn't exist. Hell, as I hinted at before, there's way more evidence to suggest the opposite. This is fear mongering. Pure slimy fear mongering that has been picked up by idiots who don't do their research, or just don't care. Or (even worse) they oppose it for "Religious reasons" (don't even get me started). Here's an idea, lawmakers, if you so worried about sexual predators, REAL sexual predators. Then why don't you make laws that make it virtually impossible for them to get out of prison in the first place? You hypocrites.


Sadly, this ignorance and fear, has wormed into members of my own family. Without naming names, I'm going to tell you a story that happened to me recently related to this. A few weeks ago, a cousin of mine  posted a video on Facebook of a Pastor standing outside a Target store and ranting and raving against Target's decision. This in of itself wasn't unusual, as he is always posting political stuff on Facebook, but this particular video really set my blood boiling. Now, me and this cousin, we don't see eye to eye on a lot of things. He is very conservative and a staunch republican, while I am more liberal and don't affiliate with either Party. And while I don't really care where he parks his butt on the bench of politics, He has this nasty habit of taking Republican propaganda and treating it like the golden word of God, and will largely not listen to views that run counter to his own. Throughout his young life (he's in his 20's), to my knowledge, no one has ever truly challenged him on his beliefs. Hell, as I recall, when I had tried to in the past, I was told quite sternly to leave him alone.
This time, however, I had no intention of leaving it alone. I and another friend of his called him out on the video, and he asked us if we supported "gender neutral bathrooms?" I told him, no, I supported what Target was doing, because it's not the government's (or ignorant assholes) goddamned business when a Transgender person has to take a number 2. His counter argument was something along the lines of how awkward it would be for a "Man who thinks he is a woman" to use the woman's bathroom and vice/versa. Analysing what he said, however, it becomes pretty obvious to me what he truly meant; namely, that Transgenderism doesn't exist, and those who claim to be transgender are sexual predators.

Well, I took some issue with that, as you might imagine. And I called his argument exactly what it was, "Ignorant and Bigoted" and explained to him that Transgenderism/Transexualism is a very real condition, and that it's backed up by strong scientific evidence. I even added two links to two science journals on that matter (this one  and this one  to be precise). and I ended my little spiel by asking him "When has this ever been a problem for anybody?"  Well to make a long story short, he tried to paint me as a hypocrite rather than properly debate with me, and after trying to dox me a second time, I finally called him out and told him he wasn't providing any evidence to support his argument, which was making him look more and more in the wrong. He promptly deleted the post and removed me from his friends list. Classy.

Now why am I telling you this? because it shows just how much ignorance there is when it comes to this issue. Transgender people are not predators, their people. And they deserve to be treated as such. Regardless of what your personal beliefs are, that's the cold hard truth. And it quite frankly sickens the hell out of me that so many people don't see that.

Those are my two cents. Thank you all for reading. I'll see you next week.                

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Berserk main characters analysis Part Four: Thoughts on Golden Age Arc.

I know I said last time that I'd give an overview of what came after Griffith's betrayal, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that that might be a bad idea. Like I said before, there's a lot of ground to cover in Berserk, and even trying to summarize it would take me forever. So I decided instead to leave it alone and come back to it another time. And instead, I'm just going to give you my thoughts on the series that I've covered so far.

I should also probably explain the title of this post.You see, as of right now, the Berserk Manga has a total of five story arcs. The Black swordsman arc, The Golden Age arc, The Conviction Arc (i.e. my personal favorite), The Falcon of the Millennium Empire Arc, and the most recent (and ongoing) The Fantasia Arc. And although the Black Swordsman arc was the first published, the arc we covered, The Golden Age, is the first arc chronologically. And it's the one that casual fans would be the most familiar with simply because it's been animated twice. Once as a 25 episode TV series in 1997, and, more recently, as a film trilogy.

Literally, we see Guts' birth.
Anyway, here's what I think of the Golden Age arc. It's no secret that I like it, why else would I be writing about it? But honestly, the character development is kinda, 'meh'. Oh it's not bad by any means, Kentarō Miura did a great job in avoiding the stereotypes of his chosen medium. But the only character that he seemed to put any real effort into was Guts. We get to see Guts' from the time he's a new born and all the way to Griffith's betrayal, a time span of several decades. At least we do in the Manga and the TV series. We get to see Casca as a child too, yes, But not to the same degree as we do Guts. The odd man out here is Griffith *stabs him in the face with a very big knife*. While I will still argue that he's a very interesting character, we still don't know much about his past. What about his formative years helped mold him into the ambitious, backstabbing scumbag that he is today? Why does he want to become a king so bad? To my knowledge, the Manga has never really address this, and neither has any of the animes.

Griffith,why can't you just DIE!!!?
Despite that, as I've said, Griffith is still a very interesting character. I mean, yeah, I've wanted him dead, since the moment I laid eyes on him, but that doesn't change the fact. He's the kind of character that you "Love to hate," I think that that's one of the highest compliment you can give a villain character. "I despise you so much, that I love you." I still want him dead, though.  As for the other Hawk members, we don't get to see them as kids either, but we do get a clear enough picture of who they are and how they development as the story progresses...but then again, all but one of them (not counting Casca and Guts for the moment) are dead, so they don't matter.
Schierke...not in the Golden Age.

As for the story, itself, I like it. Its careful to avoid all the supernatural stuff till it's important to the plot, which in the Manga is only three times in the arc we covered (and only twice in the TV show and movies), and that includes Griffith's betrayal. Like Game of Thrones, The Golden Age arc focus a lot of its attention on political intrigue and character development rather than "how cool Guts looks as he slays 1 million demons while his bulging muscles rip out of his shirt." Arcs after the Golden Age retain the same level of politics and character development, but we also get more traditional fantasy elements, like magic, fairies, witches (including my personal favorite character, Schierke), and of course, more demon slaying than I care to get into here. While I don't have a problem with fantasy elements; yeah, it's kinda hard to deny that, when compared to the others, the Golden Age is probably the best written arc of the series. At least so far.

Casca, post-Griffith's betrayal. 
If I had one big complaint about Berserk as a whole, it's the lack of a proper ending. As I said in the first post, The Berserk Manga is, at the time of writing, 37 volumes long and there's still no end in sight. Game of Thrones feels like a paragraph by a first grader when compared to this series sometimes. Part of that, hell most of it, is on Kentarō Miura himself. I'm not gonna claim that he's artificially extending the length of Berserk, as there is no evidence to suggest it. And, as a fantasy writer myself, I can understand and appreciate that telling a big story like this takes time. But there are times when I feel like he deliberately ignores opportunities to get to the ending quicker. For example, much later in the story, Griffith returns to the mortal realm and reforms the Band of the Hawk, but this time with Demons disguised as humans at his beck and call. Being the genius that he is (sarcasm), Griffith visits Guts and tries to get him to join this new army. Guts obviously tells him to eat shit and die, and attacks him. But Guts is repulsed by Griffith's demonic bodyguard and escapes. Rather than do the sensible thing and, ya know, go after him and kill him once and for all, Guts decides to take Casca (who still has the cognitive functions of a child due to the traumatic events of the eclipse) and go on a journey to find a cure for her madness. Sure....why not?

There's also the fact that Miura puts Berserk on hiatus often, and for long stretches of time, particularly these days. And, as a result, the publication of a new Berserk chapter is erratic and not all regular. I've heard that he does this because of  health-related reasons, but I haven't been able to find a reliable, english-language source (I can't read Japanese) that confirms or denies this. So for all I know, he could just be giving himself a break. Which is understandable given that, like many manga creators, he writes and draws all of his graphic novels himself. Writing is hard enough, but drawing it too, well you'd be burned out quicker.

Another thing that bugs me about Berserk as a whole doesn't have anything to do with the work itself, but it's fanboys and fangirls. I've already talked about the myth about Guts' sword, Dragonslayer, being the first oversized sword in manga and anime, we all know that's not true. But there are many other things that have been put forth by fanboys/girls that have become misconceptions about the series. Now, every fandom has its share of cringe worthy fans, but the Berserk fanboys/girls scare me the most because of how many of them choose to paint Griffith, which I'll get to in a second. But for now I wanna address some of the misconceptions:

scece from the Akira Manga.
  • "Guts is the most bad ass and hardcore anime character ever.": This is a matter of opinion, not one of fact. I personally think that Motoko Kusanagi   from the excellent anime/manga series Ghost in The Shell  (seriously, why haven't you all read or seen Ghost in the Shell) is more bad ass than Guts, because she can literally rip both people and giant mechs apart with her bare hands. And besides, when I ask Berserk fanboys/girls to explain what do they mean by "Hardcore." none of them can answer me. 
  • "Berserk is known for its illustrations being far superior than any other manga out there!": ....um.... Have you all never read Akira, Ghost in the Shell, or any other manga whose target audience wasn't kids and teenagers (hell, I'd even argue that kids and teens manga can be just as detailed as Berserk)? When you read Manga that's meant for adults, you're gonna see more detailed drawings as a general rule. It depends on the artist's style and what kind of deadlines their under, but the point is that Berserk isn't unique here. 
  • "Berserk is better written than any manga or western comic book.": Generally said by the fans who don't know a goddamn thing about writing, anime, Manga, or western comic books. Moving on.
  • "Griffith isn't the villain, he's the antagonist/ Griffith did nothing wrong": I mentioned this briefly in the post about Griffith, but this is where the fan misconceptions really start to disturb me. Yes, you CAN make the argument that the antagonist of a story isn't necessarily the villain. Problem is that that argument doesn't hold water when its applied to Griffith. He's manipulative, controlling, sees his friends and comrades as stones that should only exist to pave the way to his dream. And he murders people just to get what he wants, and he murders those who reject him and he ultimately doesn't care. Need I remind you of what he did to the Band of the Hawk after they saved him? Or what he did to Casca? All of which leads to one conclusion, HE'S THE VILLAIN. Who are you KIDDING?! Griffith is evil, he has ALWAYS been evil. Cut, print, end of bloody story. And if your STILL one of those people who think that Griffith did nothing wrong...***ck. right. off. 
I could go on, but I think I made my point.

Anyway, that concludes my analysis on Guts, Casca and Griffith, and my Thoughts on Berserk as a whole I guess. I hope you all found it informative and enjoyed it. Have any of you read Berserk? Do you agree with my analysis? Do you want me to talk about the other Arcs? Let me know down in the comments. 

Oh, and if you are reading this from Goodreads.com or my Amazon authors page (becuase I know that this blog is linked to those sites too). DON'T POST YOUR COMMENTS ON THOSE SITES. I WILL NOT see them if you do. Leave your comments on the proper post here: http://thesummersleeper.blogspot.com/  

And that's all out of me for now dear readers. I'll see you next week.

Oh yeah, yeah, you wanna know why they haven't made an anime out of Berserk's other story arcs, right? Well, I don't know why they didn't with the TV shows or the movies, buttttt......

Hell Yeah. Beyond summer of this year, I don't know when exactly this new series will air. But I do know that it will pick up where the recent film trilogy left off, and eventually cover the Manga storyline in its entirety. And I know that anime streaming website, Crunchyroll, have acquired the rights to stream the series in the west as, it airs on Japanese TV.  I'm not ever sure how that works, but whatever.

If you wanna read the manga for yourself, it has been released in the west by Comic book company Dark Horse Comics, and you can buy the volumes at any book retailer (Amazon is your friend), and it can easily be found online at the time of writing.

And in case you all missed them, here are the links to the other Berserk posts: Part 1: http://thesummersleeper.blogspot.com/2016/04/berserk-main-characters-analysis-part.html

Part 2: http://thesummersleeper.blogspot.com/2016/04/berserk-main-characters-analysis-part_12.html   

And Part 3:http://thesummersleeper.blogspot.com/2016/04/berserk-main-characters-analysis-part_19.html      

Now I'm out for real, later.                                        

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Berserk main characters analysis Part Three: Griffith ( Golden Age Arc) *Spoiler and Mature Content Warning*.

And so we come to the third part of our analysis, this time covering the third link that ties the story of Berserk together. The charismatic, and ambitious Griffith.
*sigh*. I gotta be honest with you guys, I HATE this f***er, I mean honest to god, jump up and down HATE him. Not because he's an uninteresting character, but because he's the kind of person you NEVER want to get involved with. He's a self serving, manipulative, high functioning psychopath who will do anything, ANYthing, to get what he wants. In other words, he's the WORST kind of evil. And yet, for whatever reason, half of the Berserk fanbase just goes ga-ga over this guy. Seriously, there are people who will defend every single one of Griffith's actions, no matter how reprehensible. Hell, some won't even call him the series villain. Here, I will show why they are wrong. Oh and guys, for the sake of time, I am going to skip some of the things that Griffith does. I will, however, say enough to give you a basic idea as to what kind of person he is. and as alway, Spoiler and Mature Content Warning!!!!

Anyway, when we last left Guts, he had just left the Band of the Hawk. I told you that the reason for this was because of Griffith, but not because they had a disagreement or anything like that. No, Guts left because he wanted to become worthy of being Griffith's friend. No really. Rather than explain it, I'm just going to show you the moment Guts discovered what Griffith's definition of a "friend" is. Keep in mind, this scene happens immediately after Guts assassinates the heir of Midland's throne (and said heir's son, though that kinda happened by accident) on Griffith's orders:

This is the face that told me just how evil this bastard is.
....Yeeeah, can you see why I don't like this guy? Guts at that point in the story has devoted his life to helping Griffith achieve his dream, and Griffith has the BALLS to say that he doesn't consider anyone his friend who doesn't have any dreams of his own? Yeah, no. F***ck you, Griffith. Though to be fair, at this point in the story, Guts still has no ambition of his own. He dosen't care about dreams, he's just enjoying killing people and the fact that he now has friends that actually care about him. He's pretty much the definition of what Griffith doesn't consider a friend. But regardless, this is what prompts Guts to eventually leave the Band of the Hawk, to find his own dream. Griffith, however, kinda has a cow about this.

The start of Griffith's dream.
Griffith's Behlit.
But before I get to that, I should probably back up and talk about Griffith himself. Normally this is where I would talk about the character's backstory, but in the case of Griffith, there really isn't that much to go on. Other than he was born a peasant and that he always dreamed of becoming a King, neither the Manga nor the anime has really offered up much on Griffith's past, or what could have made him into the scumbag we see when the story begins. What we do know, however, is that as a child, Griffith was given a strange crimson colored egg shaped pendent called a "Behelit" And that he was told that it would guide him to his destiny. And we know that when he came of age he formed the Band of the Hawk with Casca and some other secondary characters who I don't want to get into. What is important here is the Behlit, Griffith carried it with him as a good luck talisman pretty much all of his life. The importance of the Behlit is best summed up by this bit of foreshadowing:

Anyway, back to the present. Before Guts leaves the Band of the Hawk. Griffith tries to stop him in a scene that also reveals what kind of man he is. Basically, when Guts first joined the Hawks, Griffith said flat out that he was his to control and do with as he wishes. And that only death could free him from that control. Now that Guts wants to leave, well, as I said, Griffith's not happy about it. In fact it pisses him off. So, just like when he was recruited, Griffith challenges Guts to a duel. If Guts wins, he's free to go. This is a very revealing moment to me. Not only is Griffith manipulative, he's also controlling. To him, his comrades aren't people, they're toys. Toys that he controls and he's free to do whatever he wants to. He dosen't care about them. To him, they exist to solely to support him. Guts' may or not be the exception, and I say that because after Guts win the duel, Griffith becomes incredibly depressed. So depressed, that to console himself, or (and I suspect more likely) to reassert his manhood or something, he seduces (and has sex with) his bride to be, Midland's young Princess Charlotte. Some have viewed this scene as Griffith trying to speed up his plans for the throne. I completely disagree. Ya'll, as much as I hate him, Griffith isn't an idiot. He knows that if he's caught with the Princess before they are married, he'll get skinned alive and everything he worked for will be for nothing. No, this is someone who is depressed and trying to drown out his depression. Some have also viewed Griffith's depression and his actions here as him having romantic feelings for Guts. While there are scenes in the story that suggest that Griffith is at least bisexual, I doubt that he had any feelings of the sort for him. In my opinion, Griffith sees Guts' leaving as a betrayal. That despite his words, he did see Guts as a friend of sorts. But him leaving to live his own life and not support him and his dream? Nope, he's turning his back on me. We can't have that.

Anyway, Griffith is caught. And naturally, the King of Midland is very upset by his actions. He throws Griffith into the hands of the castle interrogator and brands the rest of the Band of the Hawk as traitors. Under Casca's leadership, they manage to flee Midland and hide out in the surrounding countryside. A year passes, and Guts eventually hears of Griffiths and the Band of the Hawks fate. And he rejoins them. Casca confronts him, and blames him for what happened to Griffith. But by then, she's tired, burdened by the mantel of leadership. Its also here that they officially become a couple (see video on the right).

Well, to make a long story short, Guts finally realizes, that what he's been seeking his whole life wasn't a dream worthy of Griffith. But a family, a sense of belonging. And that he had had it all this time with the Hawks. They had given him everything he had ever wanted in life. Casca, similarly, has found in Guts the acceptance and love that she would have never gotten from Griffith, and through that she has rediscovered her femininity. Griffith had been the capstone that had held them all together, but now they've outgrown him. They have each other. Problem is that they don't realize the latter, and Guts agrees to help them rescue Griffith. And when they find him....you know what, I'm just gonna show you (sorry for the lack of subtitles guys, but this was the best clip I could find, watch):


Griffith is all kinds of messed up (just to be tasteful). He's not a threat to anyone at this point. He can't even walk and his tounges been cut out. Yet, even after Guts, Casca and the others rescue him, Griffith can't let go of his dream, He can't even accept that Guts and Casca don't need him anymore, and that he's essentially lost his power over them, and the others. Once the other members of the Hawks discover Griffith's condition, they decide to call it a day and pursue other things. Casca, out of a sense of guilt, volunteers to take care of Griffith with Guts. Griffith tries to run away and...and then there's a solar eclipse, the Behlit wakes up, Griffith and the Hawks gut sucked into a hellish, nightmare dimension that is a gathering place for demons and then this happens (female nudity warning):


Griffith makes his choice.
Griffith is reborn as Demon Lord Femto. 
These are the God Hands, God like Demon Lords that explain themselves to be the right hand of the divine, and they have appeared now at Griffith's call, because he's been chosen by fate to join their number. This is where Griffith's betrayal that I mentioned in the first post happens. You see, In order to become a demon, he needs to sacrifice someone close to him, like a family member or friend. Griffith, being the grateful bastard that he is (sarcasm) accepts the God Hand's offer and willingly sacrifices The Band of the Hawk. What happens next is a slaughter fest, demons kill and devour all of Hawks members one by one, save for Casca, Guts and one other character who was absent when these events took place. Griffith is then reborn as the Demon Lord Femto.

Guts survives.
What happens next is so disturbing, I'm not even going to show it. Griffith/Femto then rapes Casca in a pool of their former comrades blood. Yeah, he has Demon's hold her down and everything. And in the Manga, you see it in explicit detail. This was one part of the story I really didn't understand for a while. Why did he do it? My friend who is a Berserk fanboy tried to pass it off as part of the ritual that turned him into a demon, but that's a fat load of BS. Why? Because his transformation was complete when he did it, that's why! And where was Guts while this was going on, you might ask? Well he did try to stop it. Hell, he had to sever his own arm to do so. But he was then pinned down and forced to watch with one of his eyes gouged out. Now, from a narrative standpoint, this whole horrific chapter can be seen as a rebirth of Guts, Casca and Griffith. Well, ok, Griffith's rebirth isn't so much of a rebirth as it is his true self being manifest. He was always this evil, but now that evil has come out, and he is ready to unleash it upon the world. Guts rebirth is more symbolic, he was born amidst blood and death, and him surviving this can be seen as him being born again as an embodiment of rage that he becomes later in the series. It's a rebirth of Casca because, well, after this her mind is destroyed, reduced to the cognitive functions of a child to block out the events. And it can been seen as her character coming full circle. She was saved from being rapped by a nobleman by Griffith. Hell, she was practically raised by him. She idolized him, and this is how he repays her loyalty, by ruining her like that nobleman tried to do all those years ago. There are some fans out there who say that Casca actually LIKED what Griffith does to her. If you're one of those people, get away from my blog, YOU'RE A FUCKING PIG!  

But this brings us back to my original question, Why did Griffith rape her? Well the answer is that he did it out of spite. He saw what Casca and Guts meant to each other, and how he had lost his control over them, and how they didn't need him anymore. And this one act of sexual violence is him reasserting his authority over both of them in the most painful and brutal way possible. Guts and Casca do escape, and shortly thereafter, Guts begins his quest for revenge.

This is as far as I'm going to go when it comes to analysing these characters. Guys, this Manga is 37 volumes long and is as complex as any of Game of Thrones books. If I tried to look at everything, I would be here for the next two or three years. But I will give you a synopsis of what happens after this events, as well as my final thoughts on the series.

Tune in next week for that.

And I'm out. later guys.        



Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Berserk main characters analysis Part Two: Casca (Golden Age Arc). *Spoiler and Mature Content Warning*.

Before we get started, I have a bit of an announcement. I have started a Patreon page to help keep both this blog and my YouTube Channel alive. Don't worry, I'm not going to charge anything for anyone to see this blog or my videos, but I need a little help. I'm serious guys, I NEED your help to keep doing this. I don't like asking and I HATE begging for money, but I really have no choice now. I'm flat broke, and I can't find a job outside of this blog and Youtube. There is still my Amazon store if you rather buy something than donate to Patreon, but either way....guys, there's just no way for me to say this with any pride: Please, I know I don't deserve it but, please....HELP ME.

Here are the links to both Patreon and the store I hope you all will consider one or the other:

My Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/WillEnglish?ty=h

My Amazon Store: http://astore.amazon.com/awesostufffor-20 

Casca holding her own against Guts when they first met. 

Now That I've proven that I have no shame. Let's continue on with where we left off last week. And just like last time: SPOILER ALERT!

When we last left Guts, he had just been recruited by Griffith into his company of mercenary, The Band of the Hawk, It's also here that we meet Casca,  the only woman in the company. But unlike Gut's adoptive mother, she's not the camp whore. No, she's second in command, and is as good with a sword as any of the men. Hell, when they first meet, she's able to hold her own against Guts, blow for blow. But anyway, that other thing that characterizes Casca, and this is a very important detail, is her undying loyalty to Griffith.
Why is she so loyal to him? Well to understand that, we need to go to her past.

Casca was born a peasant, and she accep
Griffith gives child Casca a choice.
ted that all of the hardships that peasants had to endure. Midland was (and still was by the time Guts joined the Band of the Hawk) in the middle of a Hundred Year War. And she had lived through crops getting trampled, people getting kidnapped, the pillaging, the slaughter, all of that. She was young and accepted being helpless. Then one day, a local Nobleman came and took her with him, promising her parents a better life for her....but in actuality all he wanted to do was rape her. He would have succeeded too, if Griffith hadn't been passing by and intervened. The strangest part about this whole scene is that he didn't actually save her, not the traditional sense. He threw his sword down and told her to make a choice. To simplify: she could be weak and accept her fate, or she could be strong and fight back.
Casca makes her choice. 

Casca chose the latter. Ever since that day, she has been at his side. Griffith had saved her life, and in return, she gave him everything, effectively throwing away her both her childhood and her femininity completely in exchange for the strength to stand on her own....except that's not what she's doing at all. Sure she becomes strong, but all of that strength she's gained was so that she could be of use to Griffith. She basically worships the man, and wants his attention, his love. Even though she kinda sorta knows that Griffith doesn't see her that way.  Still, she tries to be of use to him....and then Guts enters the picture.

Not to jump ahead, because I wanna talk about this more when we talk about Griffith, but the short of it is: Griffith starts to play favorites and favors Guts over the other members of the Band of the Hawk and Casca dosen't like this one little bit. And starts acting hostile towards him. But as the story progresses, she starts to open up to Guts, and probably for the first time in her life, starts to love someone who isn't Griffith, and in that process, she rediscovers her femininity. There's even this hilarious scene from both the anime and the Manga in where Casca wears a dress and everyone is shocked to see her in it.

Because it's so out of character. But anyway, things seem
to be going good, at this point. Guts and Casca are a couple (unofficially anyway), The Band of the Hawk has single handedly ended Midland's 100 year war and Griffith is set to marry Midland's Princess Charlotte and achieve his ambition of becoming King...and then Guts decides to leave the Band of the Hawk. Why did he do this? Because of Griffith.

Find out how next week, when we are finally gonna talk about him.

And I'm out guys, see you later.