Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Berserk main characters analysis Part One:Introduction and Guts (Golden Age Arc) *Spoiler Warning* .

This is one topic I've wanted to cover ever since I woke this blog back up. Yes, because I'm an anime and manga fan, but more so because of how fascinating Berserk as a series actually is. Even so, I held off on doing it since I know that many who actually read this blog aren't THAT interested in all the nerdy stuff I talk about (or if they are, they don't tell me. Seriously who do I gotta bribe to fill up my comments section? *laughs* kidding), and I wanted to let what I had to say cook in my noggin until it came out as a piping hot thought. Whether that time is now, I don't know. But I'm gonna talk about it anyway. Also, guys, I can't analysis any aspect of this series without spoiling it, so if you don't want spoilers, turn away now.  Oh, and some of the pictures I'm using for this are actually pretty violent and disturbing. You've been warned.    

Berserk's first volume cover. featuring Guts.
Anyway, for those who don't know, Berserk  is a Dark Fantasy manga (Japanese Comic Books) series created by artist Kentaro Miura, Set in a familiar medieval Europe-inspired Fantasy setting called 'Midland' the plot revolves around a demon slayer named Guts and his quest for revenge against His former Commander/best friend, Griffith, who betrayed and sacrificed his former comrades, The Band of the Hawk, to demons in exchange for power (more on that later). I first heard about it from a friend of mine who fanboyed over this series to the point of obnoxiousness and kinda turned me off it for a while. That is until I spoke some other friends who were more moderate fans, and based on their recommendations, I decided to check out the manga....all 37 volumes of it. Yeah, Berserk began serialization in 1989 and despite its length, there's still no end in sight. But that's neither here nor there.

What is there, however, is a rich, complex, mature Dark Fantasy that I've often compared to The Song of Ice and Fire series (AKA Game of Thrones), at least in terms of scope. And also in terms of its characters. Now, Just like Game of Thrones, Berserk has a lot of major and minor characters with their own stories. But it's generally agreed that the three characters that drive the story are Guts, his comrade in arms and lover Casca and their former commander Griffith . And it's these three characters that we are going to be focusing on. I don't want to go into too much depth, but there is a lot to talk about and with these three characters alone. So for the sake of my own sanity, here's what I'm going to do, I'm going to break this up into multiple parts. Each part will introduce a character, and each part after will expand upon the previous one, and then I'll wrap it up with my own opinion on each once the other parts are done. Let's start with our star, Guts.

Gut's birth.
From left to right: Casca, Guts, and Griffith. 
Gut's past is darker than any you might find in a George R. R. Martin story. His village was massacred and he was born from the corpse of his mother...who was hung from a tree. No really. Somehow not dying from hitting the ground or the elements, Guts was discovered by a band of roaming mercenaries and adopted by the camp whore...who then died of disease some short years later. having nowhere else to turn, Guts was taken under the wing of the mercenary leader Gambino. Who taught him how to use a sword from the age of 6, and abused Guts in ways that I don't wanna talk about. Anyway, to skip ahead a bit, After Guts killed a crazed Gambino in self-defense, he became a lone mercenary. Until he was discovered by Griffith and recruited into The Band of the Hawk. I don't want this analysis to sound like a Wiki page, but this information is important to understanding Guts as a character. When he is recruited by Griffith, Guts is the very definition of a lone wolf, All he does is go around from battle to battle, fighting and killing as much as he wants. He has no ambition, no direction, and he doesn't seem to want any. His best friend is his sword and he doesn't want any others...until he meets Casca, Griffith and the rest of the Band of the Hawk. They would be his first taste of camaraderie, friendship, and even love. This leads us nicely into part two, where we will talk about Casca and her relationship with Guts and how it changes the both of them....next week.

Before we go, I want to quickly bust a myth that has built up around Guts over the years. It's something that my Berserk fanboy friend told me and, I've heard it from other fans around the internet as well. First, take a look at this:


Could this be the sword that birthed Dragonslayer?   
That, dear reader, is Gut's iconic sword, Dragonslayer. A massive 400-pound slab of iron and steel that Guts wields after Griffith's betrayal. Since their debut, Guts and Dragonslayer have influenced countless other characters with similar weapons, most famously Cloud Strife and his Buster Sword from the game Final Fantasy VII. The fans and several reputable sources say that Guts was the first anime and/or manga (some would even argue the first in the whole of fiction) character to use such a ridiculously oversized weapon. Well, I am here to tell you that that is completely wrong. While it's impossible to pinpoint exactly when or what series first used giant swords, Kentaro Miura himself has often cited a manga series from 1978 called Pygmalion for having an oversized sword. Could this series be where he got the idea? I don't know. But considering that the 1970's are often remembered as the "Golden Age of Manga," it's not outside the realm of possibility. And of course, there are historical two-handed swords, like the Scottish Claymore. And there is the possibility of an oversized weapon in other fantasy literature, but I don't want to get into that. The point is, Berserk wasn't the first manga to have an oversized weapon. It merely popularized the idea.

That's all from me for now, see you in part 2.   


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