My Top 10 Favourite Characters of All Time

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This list serves as a list of my Top 10 Favourite Characters of All Time, wherein I recount my favourite characters throughout fiction, but this video also functions as an experiment I’d like to play out over the coming years here on the channel. Every year in January I would like to remake this list and compare how the placement of certain characters change over time, and as new characters are introduced. With that being said let’s start the list:

  1. Edda (Black Lagoon)

One of my favourite moments in Black Lagoon is the scene at the end of the Greenback Jane arc, were the cowboy from America figures out the Edda is a secret informant for the CIA. This reveal, is the closer of an already great arc for characterisation of Edda gives her additional depth, and this additional depth, gives Edda enough depth and interested to grant her a spot on this list. Edda CIA status then plays perfectly into Rock’s character arc and the progression of the story in Roberta’s Blood Trail. Rock spends an episode trying to uncover the person truly in control of Roanapur and decides that someone important would be paying him a visit very soon, only for Edda to show up ad with a little dramatic irony, the audience realises that she is the one how controls Roanapur. She’s the only character in Roberta’s Blood Trail that keeps her cool and fixes the situation; Revy is pissed because the young maid is living her dream, Rock is pissed at Mr Chang, Roberta is so pissed she loses her mind, Dutch is pissed at Rock, and Balalaika is so incredibly pissed at the world and the way she’s been treated since the war, that she threatens America. Edda is the only reason both the Americans and Roberta leave Roanapur, saving the city from absolute collapse. Another standout scene is when she cucks Roberta in the aeroplane, and we finally see her in full CIA apparel, blue eyes out and everything. Edda is nearly as underrated as the show she inhabits and in the latter half of the series proves her effectiveness as a character.

  1. Askeladd (Vinland Saga)

Askeladd is the standout character of Vinland Saga. Thorfinn, though I do value his ties to the thematic undertones of the series and his unwavering pacifism, is a little too boring contemporarily to have a slot on this list (though he still made the honourable mentions list). Askeladd has that intelligent nihilistic endearment that Thorfinn lacks, he’s cynical and wise and always steps ahead of everyone else, including the audience. Askeladd upon introduction is presented as Thorfinn’s ultimate obstacle, the last step in Thorfinn’s journey of revenge. As the prologue progresses the audience begins to suspect something deeper is going on with Askeladd and it is eventually revealed through the groups pursuit by Thorkell that Askeladd is from Wales and his true goal is to protect his mother’s homeland, and that he intends to achieve this by installing Canute as King. His hatred for his comrades and the Viking way of life, through his backstory about his mother, adds that necessarily depth to rank on this list. The reveal that he hates everything we, as the audience, once believed he entirely represented is a great subversion. Askeladd’s strength as a character is displayed in my favourite scenes of Vinland Saga. The scene where he and Thorfinn find themselves both detached from the group, unknowingly both mutually disgusted by their peers, is one of my favourites. Askeladd and Thorfinn discuss how war has laid waste to the area they are standing on, with Askeladd pointing out the remains of monuments from the Roman Empire that were know irrelevant. This is one of the scenes were Askeladd is giving advice to Thorfinn warning him that he’s better than war and better than revenge but it doesn’t resonate with that Thorfinn, and later in another standout scene when the two clash for the final time, Askeladd finally shows some disappointment in Thorfinn for not understanding what he and his father were trying to instil in him. Luckily, eventually Thorfinn would learn these lessons.

But Askeladd is who placed number 9 on this list not Thorfinn, and I would be remise when talking about Askeladd if we didn’t mention chapter 54. Spoilers for Vinland Saga ahead. (Skip to number 8 if you haven’t seen Vinland Saga and wish to avoid massive spoilers) Askeladd’s final stand is one of the best I have ever seen. He singlehandedly stops the invasion of Wales, kills the King and grants Canute the perfect opportunity and scenario to claim the crown for himself, and sub-textually the impact this has on Thorfinn’s character is even greater than everything I just mentioned. It’s truly griping to watch chapter 54 unfold for the first time, I couldn’t believe everything was resolved so perfectly, every plotline was resolved in this action by Askeladd, when I’m sure many in the audience weren’t expecting this to be the conclusion of the prologue. Thorfinn has everything he thought he wanted taken from him, Canute truly came of age, the wars were over and Askeladd’s story was resolved. Askeladd wasn’t around in the grand scheme of Vinland Saga very much but his impact is undeniable.

  1. Naito Tetsuya (New Japan Pro Wrestling)

If this list was going to be as true to myself as possible, professional wrestling would need some representation and I thought about Stone Cold Steve Austin and I thought about The Rock, but I came down to two options; the woman that inspired me to take this path or the most captivating character in the history of wrestling. Tetsuya Naito was introduced to me by Showbuckle, the man responsible for my investment in New Japan Pro Wrestling entirely. His video “The Fall and Rise of Tetsuya Naito,” was the first taste of New Japan Pro Wrestling ever, sure I’d heard the name Kenny Omega and Okada, but this was my first visual connection to New Japan and afterwards I never looked back. A lot of people’s first New Japan event was Wrestle Kingdom 12, but most tuned in for the return of Chris Jericho, when I was completely drawn in because Naito vs Okada was the main event and it seemed destined for this to be Naito’s biggest victory. Naito’s gimmick is that he doesn’t give a fuck about anything, he’s tranquilo, whenever in a big match he loses his cool he either losses or snaps back into his absolute calmness. Watching the subtle storytelling of Naito using his old moves and losing matches like at Wrestle Kingdom 12, when 30 thousand fans specifically bought tickets to watch him finally get his moment by defeating Kazuckica Okada in the main event of the biggest show of the year, only for Naito to slip back into the Stardust Genius for a second and then lose the match he seemed destined to win, was the pinnacle of Pro Wrestling storytelling. Naito has the most charisma that I’ve seen in a wrestler since Austin and Rock in the early 2000s, and the value of that and the appeal of that cannot be understated.

  1. Annie (Attack on Titan)

Annie is the outlier pick on this list because she isn’t as well developed or even as focused on as the other characters on this list, but she does hold personal value to me. Hell, any isn’t even critically the best character in Attack on Titan, Levi, Kenny, Erwin, Geisha and Kruger are all more effective, but Annie is special to me because she has been my favourite character since I initially watched Attack on Titan. Like a lot of people, Attack on Titan was my gateway anime, sure I’d watched shows like Dragon Ball, Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh previously but Attack on Titan was the first anime I watched consciously. I sympathised with Annie because she seemed so alone at the end of Season 1, her flashback with her father who’s relentlessly apologising for putting her in this position won her over to me. Maybe this was all propped up by my twelve-year-old attraction to her, but nonetheless her character does have some depth and the community universally awaits her return, while Isayama continues to tease us without compassion.

  1. Farnese (Berserk)

Farnese may be the character with the most development in all of Berserk. She has been continuously focused upon in every arc since her introduction in Conviction. In Conviction she’s initially introduced and is inspired by Guts to throw away her fundamentalist religious beliefs and follow him to find a real purpose in life. In the Millennium Flacon arc she wrestles with her feelings of worthlessness as she tries to fill the void in her heart since she removed God from her life. She finds herself sacrificing her freedom to try and prove her self-worth by agreeing to marry Rodrick in return for a boat for the group, only for the group to prove to her that she is valued by coming back to rescue her as everything goes to shit in Virtannis. Contemporarily in Fantasia she is coming into her own as a Witch and coming to terms with her relationship with both Guts and Casca. The most exciting aspect of Farnese may still be in her future as in the coming chapter we will see how her jealousy towards Casca regarding Guts’ affection is forced to the surface. Hopefully she realises that Rodrick is a great catch and she moves forward with him. Farnese has developed so much throughout the story that original Farnese as we were initially introduced to her would kill current Farnese if they meant, that’s outstanding development. From vile, repressed witch hunter to valued comrade and friend, Farnese is a fantastic character to watch grow, and in any normal series would undeniably be best girl.

  1. Casca (Berserk)

Casca is the very best character Berserk has to offer and what’s most impressive is that she was only really active for a single arc. Her character development through her blossoming relationship with Guts endeared her to me more than all of Farnese’s technically proficient development. Casca supportiveness in her and Guts’ sex scene, endeared her fundamentally as a kind and understanding life partner for our main boy Guts. Her acceptance of Guts after he shares his most personal and depressing experiences is heart-warming and their togetherness in that moment makes them a joy to watch together. Not only that but her portrayal as a layered and relatable person through her extremely complex relationship with Guts and Griffith make her stand out amongst the sea of fantastic Berserk characters. But my favourability of Casca was made evident early in 2018 when she finally returned to us. The emotion I felt to finally have a walking, talking Casca back was unparalleled in a story, I had never felt as much emotion towards a character or a story as I did towards Casca and Berserk in that moment. Going through the heartbreak of the Eclipse and the insuring journey was all made worth it by journeys end. Casca is the only character on this list I’ve cried over and that must count for something. Most interestingly is that Casca has a lot of development ahead of her, in the coming chapters we will see where she will lead us and the overall narrative of Berserk, personally I’m hoping to see her go through a ruthless Black Swordsman period…

  1. Revy (Black Lagoon)

There is no anime character more entertaining to watch or more interesting to listen to than Revy from the greatest anime of all time, Black Lagoon. Here we are exclusively talking about the far superior version of Revy in the English Dub of Black Lagoon, her dialogue and the re-written script for this show is the driving force behind her characters success. Revy unlike any other anime character is not only hilarious and fun to watch but has some legitimate depth and subtextual motivation. Her hilarity and the overall fantastic writing of the series is highlighted by her chemistry with Edda as mentioned at the beginning of the list and in her other fun interactions with the mercenary she affectionately refers to as Chinglish and the stoned Irish drive, among others. But a criminally underrated aspect of Revy as a character is her depth, particularly in her relationship with Rock. Their relationship is the driving force behind everything that happens in Black Lagoon. To boil it down to the simplest elements, Rock to Revy represents her hopes for a normal life, were she wasn’t molested and beat as a child and she can have a peaceful life in a city like Tokyo. Initially the reminder that this life is possible irritates Revy and that’s were their drama early in the series comes from. But unknowingly this antagonism towards Rock in the early stages makes him more accustomed to her way of living and his normal side slowly slips away until Roberta’s Blood Trail where it is completely gone, Rock has become just as fucked as Revy. But the true depth with Revy comes from all throughout the series as she struggles to protect Rock from the darkness ignoring that he, himself wants to dive headfirst into it and that he even enjoys it. When this subtle storyline briefly bubbles to the top it produces some of the greatest scenes in the show, including the scene where Balalaika nearly kills Rock, both his transformation is on display here as well as a line from Balalaika where she mentions to Revy that she doesn’t know what she sees in Rock. Another similar scene occurs between Revy and the mini maid in Roberta’s Blood Trail. Revy is just such a great character and easily my favourite in all of Japanese media.

  1. Tywin Lannister (Game of Thrones)

Tywin Lannister is the ultimate hypocrite, but it’s so enthralling to watch his hypocrisy at work. Charles Dance puts on the standout performance in a great cast, when you consider his competition are some of the elite actors like Peter Dinklage, Diana Rigg and Lena Heady, that’s saying a lot. Tywin as a character was lucky enough to have only existed during the highlight period of Game of Throne’s run, he was introduced in season one in an incredibly introductory scene with Jamie and then died in the finale of season 4 with a great death scene with Tyrion. Tywin was killed before the terrible writing of seasons 5,6 and 7 ruined the fundamental aspects of the show. Recounting his greatest moments is a difficult task, any scene wherein he interacts with one of his children is always captivating, it’s interesting to see how his relationship between the three of them differs; he’s more lenient with Jamie, harsher with Tyrion and pettier with Cersei. Tywin’s scenes with Joffrey are legendary and Tywin is the only character with the balls and the power to tell Joffrey to fuck off consistency. His scenes with Arya have an unrivalled tension and atmosphere and watching them subtly insult and endear themselves to each other was a weirdly great dynamic. There’s countless more like his dick measuring contests with Lady Olenna, but the Shakespearian performance from Charles Dance personifies what the patriarch of the Lannister family should have been.

  1. Tony Soprano (The Sopranos)

Tony Soprano is the deepest and most layered character I’ve ever encountered. The Sopranos total runtime, all seasons included, numbers over 70+ hours, and nearly all of that is an exploration of a single enthralling character. To not only carry this enormous amount of TV time but also create the greatest and most influential television show of all time, is a clear testament to the impact and effectiveness of Tony Soprano. Tony is a depressed mob boss with internal struggles and moral quandaries in both his families, and watching him deal with his divorce, deal with coming to turns with the betrayal of one of his closest friends, deal with his sons attempted suicide, deal with having to run for his life are all wholly engrossing. Plus, the exploration of his psychology is equally as fascinating. One of the most prevalent elements of the Sopranos is Tony’s therapy sessions and his elaborate meta dream sequences. These add so much depth to Tony and are how we come to understand his violent tendencies and problems with authority, throughout the series. This is all enhanced by the writing and dialogue in the show, the dialogue is grounded and realistic, we hear Tony grunt and gasp for air as he talks, we her him misspeak and get interrupted. Tony is so engrossing as a character sometimes it’s hard to tell that you’re not watching a walking, talking human being, because of the sheer amount of depth here. If I were to mention my favourite Tony Sopranos scenes we would just list every scene in the entire show, because there isn’t a bad one. The standout scene I think of when thinking about Tony are all unimportant scene to the overall plot but integral to Tony as a character. Like the scene where he tells Jackie Jr that Richie was a rat, I love the way he tells him to sit the fuck down or when he blows up in a Melfei session about Janice and rants about how she not entitled to anything because he has the scares from the years she left him alone with their mother when they were younger. Ultimately, Tony Soprano may be the greatest character in fiction, but he’s outclassed by one character on my favourites list.

  1. Junior Soprano (The Sopranos)

If Tony Soprano isn’t number 1 on this list then who could possibly top his entertainment factor and overall depth, non-other than his uncle Junior Soprano. Junior has depth, he’s not as explored as Tony, he isn’t the lead after all, in fact he’s the old out of touch grandfather antagonist in the first season. While the acting and dialogue for Junior in season one is exceptional, the depth and love for this character that I have I drawn from his antics in the following seasons. Simply: there is no character more fun to watch in fiction, to me, than Corrado ‘Junior’ Soprano. His scenes with Bobby are comedic genius, his trial antics and interactions with his lawyer are amazing, his battle with cancer and dementia just add to the overall package here. But the most interesting aspect of Junior’s character is that he is the exception of the mafia rule, he rides off into the sunset, being allowed to grow senile and die peacefully having avoided sickness, jail, death and the demons from his past. All things he’s faced with through the series; Tony was going to kill him at the end of season one, the feds couldn’t get to him, he beat cancer and because of his forgetfulness all the horrible things he did in the past have been forgotten. If Tony did indeed die at the end of the series, which is debatable, then Junior would be the only character to seemingly have a happy ending in the entire show. I urge you to seek out both his funniest and most emotionally impactful scenes and watch or rewatch them. The scenes with Mikey in Season 1 are hilarious particularly the ‘we aren’t making a western here’ scene, but the scene where he sings Core N’ Grato after Jackie Jr’s funeral is impeccable, the crying mobsters and the powerful song create an unforgettable scene. The scene where he is talking to Tony about having plenty he’d like to forget heartbreaking, especially when he doesn’t realise the irony. There’s not only extreme depth with Tony in this show but in nearly all the characters especially Junior Soprano, my favourite character of all time.

 

 

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Berserk: Hill of Swords Scene Analysis (Manga)

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This is a comprehensive video analysis of the Hill of Swords scene from the Berserk manga written by Kentaru Miura:

Our scene starts with a shot of a gravestone, and more astute readers will figure out what Erica corroborates immediately afterwards, that Godo has died. His gravestone is engraved with blacksmith paraphernalia and the dreaded Holy See insignia. Godo’s life and character is defined by his ambition for his trade, Guts and he had a conversation where he told Guts that he was so enthralled with his work and that the sparks from his forging that one day he woke up an old man. This is a bittersweet realisation for the reader, Godo was an incredible man who took Guts in and clearly had some love for him, resulting in Godo being the closest thing to a father Guts ever had, but he lived a long life and it was his time to die. Erica seems to be holding up pretty well, there’s clearly some sorrow and anguish in her expression when she wishes him an adorable good morning, but he had a peaceful death and nothing that left her traumatised. Erica is one of the purest entities in Berserk and has somehow remained that way, its only in this scene that she is in anyway sad, with both this moment and the one later where she thinks everyone is leaving her behind.

After saying good morning to her father Erica notices Guts, Casca and Puck returning after they’re journey to the Tower of Conviction. There’s a one page spread off a beautiful family portrait of them all with Godo’s gravestone looming in the foreground. The wholesome nature of the scene is fostered by Casca’s genuine excitement to see Erica again. Erica reciprocates and cries as she hugs Casca who hugs her back. Guts laments taking too long to get back. Erica let’s everyone, including the audience, know that it happened soon after Guts left as she holds Casca’s hand and skips back to the hut. This wholesomeness is important to keeping a balanced representation of human nature and the world entirely. If Berserk was only filled with Eclipse level traumatic experiences it would be dishonest in its representation. Things as emotionally traumatic as the Eclipse do occur in our world but incredibly endearing moments happen as well, otherwise we would all just be dead. This duality of the world is depicted not only here, where they have just come from the horrific events at the Tower of Conviction but right after the Eclipse where Guts runs through a naturally beautiful landscape that juxtaposes the nightmare he just went through, it goes from absolute despair to serenity.

Guts apologises but Erica says the Godo was happy that he got to see his surrogate son one last time before his death. Erica gets noticeably sadder throughout her explanation but either consciously or subconsciously changes the subject and tries to be positive by bringing up that Guts successfully got Casca back. However, with knowledge of her reaction towards the end of the chapter she clearly feels there is a void know that her father is gone and wants Casca and Guts to fill it. She asks Guts if he will stay with them now that he’s got Casca back, but Guts is still conflicted. When Erica says ‘let’s all live together’ he immediately thinks of Griffith and of his revenge. Erica continues justifying why everything will be fine now, Casca won’t run away ever again as long as Guts is with her, they can even renovate the cave and make it a proper home. Guts responds with ‘that’s true’ acknowledging that she’s right but not necessarily agreeing that he’s definitely staying but Erica misinterprets and becomes ecstatic. If the subtle allude to Griffith wasn’t registering with the reader Guts and Puck have a conversation about Guts being torn between Griffith and Casca again, torn between vengeance and love. Guts has an internal monologue where he acknowledges the irony that as soon as he got Casca back and believed he understood his purpose, Griffith reappeared before him not as a demon but as he once was. Meanwhile Erica is adorable freaking out.

Now this scene takes place amid Guts’ internal conflict between Casca and Griffith, does he hate Griffith enough for it to tip the scale further than his love for Casca? Ultimately, Guts comes to the right decision in choosing Casca over Griffith. This is made evident by one scene preceding this scene and one after this scene. At the Tower of Conviction Guts consciously choose Casca over Griffith in this iconic panel were his rage is placated by Casca in the background. It’s a wonderfully put together two-page spread that alludes to Guts’ priorities but at this point he hasn’t truly come to term with this decision of Casca over Griffith that he consciously made. But later when all the demonic forces in the world descend on Vritannis and Guts once again see’s Griffith on the horizon he leaves with Casca without a second thought. Casca is Guts’ replacement for his sword. Guts comes to the philosophical self-understanding at the tail end of the Golden Age arc that his sword may be the most important thing in his life and that maybe his purpose in life was to continuously swing his sword, but he repeatedly throws his sword away for Casca. Guts throws his sword down to pick up Casca at Doldrey and that’s the first time he does anything without his sword. He doesn’t even sleep without his sword, except when he sleeps with Casca, both sexually and platonically. On two occasions they slept with each other for warmth and for survival and Guts slept without his sword both times and then later when it became sexual Guts again left his sword behind in favour of Casca. This is repeatedly his subconscious trying to tell him that Casca is more important to him than anything he could achieve with a sword including killing Griffith. This is all something that Guts comes to understand after this scene, but it’s in this scene that this internal conflict is made incredibly physical.

Guts internal monologue continues, and he explains that when he initially saw him he forgot his urge to kill him and this amazement is captured on his face in this panel but then is immediately undermined by the next panel where he exhausts his frustrations at this, he will not allow himself to forgive Griffith. He then reflects on his period as the Black Swordsmen and how he wandered aimlessly chasing Griffiths undefined shadow, but now Griffith exists on the plane as him, where his sword can reach him. Interestingly, we seem to be ignoring the actual first encounter that Guts had with Griffith post-eclipse, in the scene with the Count. In this reflective monologue Guts doesn’t even allude to that meeting. I think Miura is hoping he had all forgotten about that because the only plausible explanation for neither one of them bringing it up in this scene is that he’s acting as if that never happened. But then the immediate mood of the scene is forever changed when Erica subtly starts to allude to Rickert being preoccupied with a guest that was an old war colleague and has long silver hair and was so pretty she couldn’t even tell that he was a man. Griffith is here holy shit.

This is a monumental moment. The monumentality of this moment and my original reaction to this moment in the manga is the driving force behind the creation of this video. If ever I wished I was recording my reaction to any piece or moment of media, this would have been it, I overtly freaked the fuck out. It was impossible for this to be happening especially so soon, this was supposed to happen at the very end of the story, I thought. There’s no way he would dare show himself here and there is no way Miura would deliver on something I wanted to see so bad so soon. The balls it takes to immediately and confidently play your best card so soon is what makes me respect this decision and love this scene so much. He decided not to fuck around and charge ahead with 1000% velocity. The way Miura constructed this page is masterful and creates the most palpable tension possible. The subtle hints that he’s there and the long shots of Rickert with another person in the distance tease it, but the close-up of Guts other eye draws you in and before you even had the chance to digest the hints and teases he’s right there. This caught me and the majority of us collectively off guard with unimaginable precision. This is the best surprise in a story I’ve ever experience, it was the last thing I thought was possible. Chapter 177 ends with a full page backshot of Griffith creating further mystery around him as we watch in awe from behind, astounded.

A key element left out of the discussion surrounding this scene and Griffith’s decision to show up here is his arrogance. Arrogance isn’t a trait I hear attributed to Griffith enough, I truly believe it is one of his most defining characteristics. In this scene he was the gall to not only show up but to actively walk on the symbolic grave of the Band of the Hawk. His unbridled arrogance is most on display, however in the scene wherein he has the opportunity to ask a literal (emotional) God for anything and he asks him for Wings.  But I hope to analyse that scene identically to how I’m analysing this scene next, so I’ll leave the in-depth analysis of Griffith’s arrogance for that later date.

Our scene continues in Chapter 178, after the cliff-hanger of the century, imagine having to wait a month between these chapters, with Rickert exclaiming his excitement that Griffith is alive. A key element of this scene is the dramatic irony with Rickert’s character, no one wants to fill young Rickert in. His emotional reaction to Griffith’s return also serves as a reminder to the readers that may have forgotten that Rickert is still ignorant about the on goings of the Eclipse and in this case, ignorance is definitely bliss. But even if you fully understand that you can’t help but get annoyed at Rickert throughout this scene, which was clearly Miura’s intent here. Rickert comes across as extremely winey and annoying in this scene, especially when he puts himself between Guts and Griffith. Rickert starts listening all the dead members of the Band of the Hawk and explains how he believed Griffith was dead all along and how relieved his that he’s alive. Every panel of Rickert talking is interspliced with panels of Guts rushing to the two with frightening speed and quite murderous intent. Erica, Casca and Puck are all left behind in the hut presumably for safety. These panels of Guts chasing are quite subtle and it’s important that we still haven’t seen Griffith’s face yet, the mystery element remains. Two page spread of Guts arriving and Rickert noticing and then a detailed close-up of Guts face and the reveal of Griffith is held off for the following page, which is another epic two page spread. These pages speak for themselves…

I cannot overstate the monumentality of this moment, but this spare down conveys it. Guts’ rage breaks the staring contest and Rickert kicks into gear and their breakdown in communication is evident. This situation would have been incredibly different if Guts had been transparent with Rickert and explained everything to him from the beginning, we have proof that Rickert would be on Guts side because the next time Rickert see’s Griffith after learning the truth he becomes the internet’s favourite man. They continue to miscommunicate and as they squabble Griffith finally speaks telling Guts that he never changes and that he always swings first and talks later. Fuck You Griffith. Not only is this infuriating to Guts but its infuriating to the viewer, the first thing this motherfucker says after the Eclipse is not an apology or a grand silique about how the ends justify the means but it’s some ad hominem against Guts, what an arrogant prick. Then he precedes to demean Guts’ development and say that he’s exactly the same as when they first meant. Out of the two of these pricks one of them has remained the same since that day and it’s not Guts. This sentiment also implies that Griffith stands just as far over current Guts as he did previous Guts which is equally infuriating. I hate this prick and his dumb smile and Guts agrees and asks him what the hell he came here for.

Griffith responds saying he came here to see Guts and to see if he still feels any connection to Guts and if he could make him forget his dream and fuck everything up a second time. He also throws in a line about the location being fitting because the Band of the Hawk has assembled once more. Another arrogant gesture and he is also neglecting Casca in this statement, because she wasn’t there which is another jab at Guts and quite demeaning to Casca as a character and undervalues her as a leader in the Hawks. Guts gets mad that Griffith would even dare use the name Band of the Hawk, this is a particularly soft spot for him, he repeats this offense when he fights Grunbeld far later in the series. Griffith then declares himself free of his emotional connection to Guts, and I choose to believe him here, because Miura seems to have switched Griffith weakness from Guts to Casca thematically, as will be corroborated later in the scene. Guts is shown getting incredibly mad in an extreme close-up and throws Rickert out the way to charge at Griffith. As he does so he asks him how it is that after everything he did he feels nothing. Griffith responds by simply saying that he will not betray his dream, this results in another rage panel from Guts and Guts swings at Griffith only to be blocked by Zodd.

Nosferatu Zodd is a great character, he’s the demonic exception to the rule. I’d say a majority of the Berserk fanbase likes Zodd and that can’t be said about nearly any other demon. Demons are usually terrible, barbaric creates who rape, devour and mindlessly murder people but Zodd is never shown eating or raping anyone and he fights for the fun of it and seems to have some honour, even if he is extremely Darwinistic in his approach. Zodd is basically a demonic version of Goku, he seeks out strong fighters and wishes to have thrilling death matches with them. Therefore, the audience doesn’t view him as a demon but just a beast. Later in the series when Griffith has accrued his demonic army Zodd is rarely shown among them, at Flora’s estate he kills a particularly annoying apostle who was being a piece of shit and when Sonia gives Mule a tour of the Band of the Hawk camp the demons are segregated and Zodd is not among them socialising but looking over Griffith. This separation is a necessary tool used by Miura if we are to in any way like Zodd, and ultimately this tool may be used to make Zodd an ally come the end of the series, but that last part is just some idle speculation.

Guts is caught off guard by Zodd’s appearance here, it’s a mixture of surprise and fear. Surprise that Zodd, someone who stood solemnly over he and Griffith is now for all intent and purposes his guard dog and fear because the source of all of Guts’ nightmares in his adulthood are standing in front of him. The first encounter with Zodd changed Guts fundamentally as a human being, all his dream sequences have a Zodd allegory if not Zodd himself present. Zodd was a symbol of something that made Guts powerless in his adulthood, Zodd was overwhelmingly more powerful than Guts and that scared Guts, he thought he had grown strong enough for no one ever to physically take advantage of again, but Guts proved him wrong. Now the figure that instilled all fear into Guts as an adult, stands in the way of the figurehead of the other traumatic and fear inducing experience of Guts adulthood. He is now forced to confront all his fears if he wishes to enact his vengeance. He decides here that his hatred for Griffith supersedes his lasting fear relating to Zodd. Additionally, there is fantastic attention to detail narratively here from Miura, he remembered that Rickert only ever saw Zodd in his transformed state, so until Zodd transforms in this scene Rickert is perplexed that some random creature is stepping to Guts in a sword fight. Zodd interestingly refers to Guts as the Black Swordsman which demonstrates Guts’ effectiveness in creating a reputation while he was slaughtering apostles in the Black Swordsman arc. Chapter 178 ends with Puck and Casca both seemingly noticing a presence on the snowy peak. Miura here is teasing their involvement in the coming chapter.

Chapter 179 continues our scene and opens fight poster shot of the upcoming Zodd vs Guts showdown. This fight is another story element that on my initial readthrough caught me completely off guard. Much like the Guts and Griffith conversation, I assumed that we would get a Guts vs Zodd fight in the final chapters of the overall manga. But Miura quadrupled down for this scene and blew off another highly built angle in this epic scene. This entire scene is a masterclass in how to surprise an audience with a major plot element that they weren’t expecting, and still maintaining intrigue by not giving too many answers. This scene is all masterful character work if you think about it, the only plot related development is that the Elvish cave is destroy, and this is just a plot device so Guts is forced to continue his journey and to introduce Elfhelm as a concept and a goal. Rickert’s internal monologue here is used as tension building for the fight as well as an expositional tool to guide the slower members of the audience. Here he explains his amazement to how strong this other swordsman is to be blocking Guts’ strikes. Zodd puts Guts over and explains how much it pleases him that he has significantly progressed since their previous encounter. Then their fight truly begins.

Now the fight between Guts and Zodd here is something I’m not going to focus on or discuss in much detail, basically it boils down to a well-drawn and well-choreographed clash. Zodd puts Guts over again, saying that it is magnificent that a human has attained such discipline. Guts completely ignores him and asks why he is with Griffith, protecting him, and then asks him to move aside because his business is with Griffith. We get a panel of Griffith looking generally disinterested in the ongoing madness, with his eyes such and his expression being completely blank. Then Zodd responds with possibly his best line in the entire series, “Works Lack Elegance, Force Your Way Past.” This line not only is cool as fuck but deeply insightful into Zodd’s character, he believes force to be elegant and believes words lack any elegance, that was a good one Miura. They then continue to fight with Guts’ attempting to force his way through. They have a back and forth of offense and defence, Guts concludes internally that Zodd is nothing compared to the journey he has fought through to get his chance to kill Griffith, he belittles Zodd in the face of Griffith.

Meanwhile we continue to get internal monologue from Rickert as he attempts to put all the pieces together. Who is this mysterious man matching Guts in strength and Why is Guts fighting so desperately to attack Griffith? Guts confirms again that he is stronger than base Zodd when he tactically impales him with one of the surrounding ceremonial swords and Zodd is forced to transform. Internally Rickert has a great, poetic line reflecting that Guts has done unbelievably well ‘braving death’ which is a fantastic use of personification. The chapter ends with Miura stopping his recent neglect of Griffith and giving him a moment of feeling, Griffith describes this as a faint throbbing. He goes on to say that his blood should have been frozen as his contemporaries told him it would have been at the Eclipse. But in his rebirth, he is feeling emotion again, he assumed that his blood had been frozen when he felt nothing towards Guts once seeing him again, but now he is feeling different. He concludes that the feelings he is feeling are derived from the infant infused into his being by the Egg of the New World, he seems unaware that this is Guts’ and Casca’s tainted offspring. The underlying irony here being that its Griffith’s fault he is feeling these feelings because the infant was only tainted because he raped Casca. As we will see demonstrated in the following chapter Griffith is now connected to Casca and puts her safety subconsciously above his dream. He may have successfully escaped the binds of Guts through the Eclipse, but because he was given free will he immediately fucked it up, enacting revenge on Guts by raping Casca to prove this connection to Guts was severed and conclusively, inevitable created a connection to Casca. Guts can no longer distract Griffith from his dream but Casca can! The final page of the chapter shows Guts and Griffith’s faces juxtaposed.

Our scene continues further in Chapter 180 and opens with Zodd continuing to praise Guts for his swordsmanship and the power of his sword itself, which is a nice little nod to Godo and his elite level craftsmanship. Since he spent every waking moment forging its nice for Zodd to corroborate his level of expertise. Guts realises that this is where the real fight starts, he’s fully aware that Zodd still has a transformation. Zodd finishes his monologue with saying that he has not yet tasted enough, he hasn’t had his full of fun and subsequently transforms. This two-page spread of Zodd’s transformation might be in my Top 5 pages from the entire manga, not that I have a Top 5 pages from the manga, but you get the idea. You can feel the momentum from the pages, the verbosity and forward momentum of Zodd here is profound. Now that Zodd has transformed Rickert finally starts piecing together the situation, but he is still perplexed that Zodd is protecting Griffith. They continue to fight with Huts clearly now on the defensive. Guts is forced to dodge constantly as Zodd continuously charges him down hoping to impale him on his solitary remaining horn. One of these dodges results in Zodd destroying the Elvish cave that was the only know safe house for Guts and Casca. Speaking of which Casca makes her appearance wondering up from the hut to the extremely dangerous battlefield.

Guts knowing that it’s impossible for him to fend off Zodd and protect Casca at the same time, lashes out in anger and calls her stupid and to get back, Erica is shown following her up the snowy peak. Casca stops immediately upon seeing Griffith, she’s transfixed from afar as Griffith looks on with a blank face. Now there are multiple explanations for Casca transfixion here, maybe Griffith’s angelic appearance is responsible, she’s drawn to the shiny man on the mountaintop. Another explanation could be that she senses the presence of her child inside of Griffith and has a maternal instinct to protect it. These are equally more justifiable than the explanation I sometimes see that this instance of transfixion is evidence that Casca wasn’t raped and that now that she has her mind back that she wants to go back to Griffith. Zodd remerges from the debris and rains boulders from the sky, Erica and Puck successfully get out of dodge but Casca, whose unaware of her predicament is left unguarded, with Guts to far away to save her. Guts reaches out to pull her out of the way but Zodd smacks him into the other direction. All seems lost for Casca until this prick comes to the rescue. The fact that he would even dare touch her infuriates Guts and the audience, but he saved her when Guts couldn’t, rubbing salt in the limp sized wound. Casca with the shiny object now right in front of her reaches out trying to touch it but her brand explodes causing her immense pain. Guts visualises the audiences rage in the following panel, Casca falls to her knees in front of Griffith.

Surprising it seems that Griffith was not intentionally trying to save Casca and giving us and Guts collectively a massive fuck you, but subconsciously was driven to protect Casca because of the infant. Immediately after saving Casca he tells Zodd to stop and leaves. Now Griffith immediate leaving implies that this emotion he feels towards Casca caught him off guard so much that leaving was necessary. Obviously, he had to think about how to move forward now that Casca has the ability to make him forget about his dream, she now has the ultimate power over him and the irony and justness of that fact gives me great relief. Fuck You Griffith. Zodd does not second guess Griffith’s order, showing us that his loyalty to Griffith and his will trump any fun he wishes to seek out personally. I’m certain that Zodd wanted to continue to fight Guts but Griffith is a member of the God Hand and Zodd is a mere apostle and he is loyal to this structure. Guts who caught off guard by the sudden retreat attempts to ask where they are going, but Griffith interrupts with the answer. Griffith tells him that he told him once that he will get his own kingdom and gives the chilling and infuriating line, “Nothing Has Changed.” This line demonstrates that previously mentioned arrogance and disrespect from Griffith and closes out chapter 180. Fuck you Griffith everything has changed…

Chapter 181 concludes our scene and opens with the line chapter 180 ended with, “Nothing Has Changed,” it’s equally as irritating the second time. Then Griffith continues, ignoring Guts, telling Rickert that if he learns the truth as still wishes to follow Griffith towards his goal, then he has no reason to refuse him. I hope Griffith regrets this now after getting slapped. But Griffith even in this offer shows his arrogance saying that it all makes no difference to him, Rickert is only further confused by this. Guts is not happy that his two biggest targets are running away and starts mindlessly firing crossbow bolts in their general direction, they all miss and Rickert again puts himself between Guts and Griffith. Guts then decides to verbally express his emotions screaming at Griffith as he flies away, asking him how after everything that happened he can say nothing has change. Griffith ends the conversation with “You should have known, this Is the man I am… you of all people.” This implies that Griffith expected some level of understanding from Guts and that his actions are obviously justifiable, which is laughable. This is too date the last conversation these two have ever had. They briefly see each other Vritannis but they are yet to speak to each other since.

After Griffith and Zodd fly into the distance, we cut back to our family with Rickert demanding Guts tell him the entire truth while Erica and Casca hold hands, watching from a distance. Rickert states that he doesn’t care how painful the truth is he just wants to understand. We cut to Griffith who holds his heart thinking back to protecting Casca and then immediately thinking about the infant, heavily implying that it was not his free will that made him protect Casca, but the overwhelming will of the infant infused into his being. Griffith cannot do as he will. I appreciate the subtle storytelling here, no words or exposition is given here by Griffith to explain this to the audience, Miura respects us enough to trust us to put it all together with the information given. When we cut back to Guts and Rickert its implied that Guts has told Rickert everything, additionally Puck was listening and is now fully caught up on Guts’ backstory, even if he says he had somewhat already figured it out. Rickert is driven to his knee by the information, and rightfully so. Puck looks over his shoulder at an adorably innocent staring off into the distance, Puck is internally juxtaposing the two images. She may or may not be looking off in the direction Griffith and Zodd took off in, she is holding her brand after all.

Erica is left melancholically lamenting the destroyed Elvish cave, she may be young, but she isn’t stupid, she understands this means Guts and Casca cannot stay with her and Rickert now. Rickert after collecting his thoughts declares that he wants to go with Guts because he needs to make up for the years he lived a comfortable life in the blacksmith’s hut, while Guts sought revenge by himself. Guts denies Rickert with an incredibly poignant line, “Because You Could Never Really Hate Griffith.” Which is true because Rickert does not have the nightmares and scares of the Eclipse on his body, he isn’t forced to revisit the horrors constantly and isn’t haunted because he literally isn’t branded as a sacrifice. Meanwhile, Erica who overheard Rickert say he was leaving and get upset and runs off. Rickert is pressured into following after her by Puck. Rickert visually prioritises Erica over his revenge against Griffith by running after Erica rather than staying with Guts. This leaves Guts and Puck to talk, and they both concluded that the path of vengeance is impossible with Casca tagging along, and now Guts refuses to leave her behind. Now that the safehouse is destroyed they’re in quite the conundrum.

The final page depicts Chesnutt Puck having a cute, comedic, hard think. He has an epiphany and says there’s a perfect place for Guts and Casca to journey too and that its safer than nearly anywhere in the world and that he can’t believe he hadn’t thought about it sooner, they can go to Puck’s home. This not only creates interest in this mystery location by connecting a character we know to it but also shows show self-awareness in Miura comedically pointing out how convenient to the plot this reveal is, chocking it up to Puck’s forgetfulness. Additionally, the panel of Puck saying, “My Home,” is another one of my favourite panels in the entire series. It’s extremely cute with Pucks massive eyes and wholesome expression but further by the adorable reflection of Casca in Puck’s wing. This panel ends Berserk chapter 181 and ends our scene analysis.

 

 

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Griffith Only Did One Thing Wrong…

Griffith’s actions in the Eclipse to a point, were completely forgivable and justifiable. In this instance the ends Griffith went to did justify the means all until the rape. RAPE IS BAD PEOPLE. It’s literally the worst thing that can be done to a human being, worse than murder, worse than theft, worse than anything. Sacrificing the Band of the Hawk is justified by the narrative itself, we spent multiple chapters wherein Ubik explains to Griffith that his life will be horribly mediocre if he refuses the sacrifice and everyone that ever followed him will have died in vain, that’s thousands of people that will forever be on Griffith’s conscious will he wastes away for the rest of his life. Characters that have mercilessly killed other characters the audience cared about have been forgiven in media before; Vegeta was responsible for killing nearly all of the Z Warriors and then just joins them, Magneto is always doing crazy shit and ends up teaming with the X-Men against an eviller and threatening being. Griffith could have been forgiven in a similar way… until he mindlessly raped Casca.

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But the rape of Casca was pointless and gratuitous. Griffith had nothing to gain from raping Casca, he did it simply to torment Guts. For chapters and chapters before the Eclipse, panel after panel conveyed his unhappiness and jealousy of the relationship he can see has developed between Guts and Casca since his capture. Maybe he believes they’d forgotten about him and that’s why it took them a year to come and rescue him, who knows and who cares; Griffith must die. For the crime of sacrificing everyone Guts cared about, for tormenting him by cuck-raping his wife Griffith has earned a death sentence. Griffith did only one thing wrong, rape Casca and for that one thing he must die…