Hey Multiversity Readers, how’s it going? In this week’s Berserk episodes “Battle Engagement and Two People” another kid dies, Guts grunts while listening to backstory, and Casca gets her period. Really top notch drama.
1. A Woman on the Battlefield
I’ve already spoken a bit about how Casca is a complicated character: how she at times is shown to be a strong leader superior to any of the men she commands but also shown as irrational and emotional and is constantly questioned. “Battle Engagement” is really the peak of this balancing act, and honestly ends up failing. In it, Casca and Adon end up facing each other one-on-one; he scolds her for being on the battlefield and offers to let her live if she comes back as his men’s whore. Yeah, it goes from subtle insults to full-on rapey real quick. This level of sexism is new in the series, but the idea is nowhere new. Corkus constantly questions Casca’s leadership and Guts often remarks how she is weak but Casca is always able to shut them up quick, usually with a solid right hook. Here we see Guts have to step in and save Casca, because as we learn later, she got her period before the battle. It’s hard not to see this as confirmation that Casca is in fact weak, and while obviously we aren’t meant to agree with Adon’s assertion that a woman is meant only for sex, maybe we’re meant to agree with Guts that having a woman on the battlefield is a liability. To further compound this issue, you need to fast forward two story arcs in the anime or three in the manga before you see this idea that women aren’t meant for battle be shifted. Not great.
2. A Fight for Purpose
Last week, we saw Guts’s entire world come crashing down as he realized just where he stands in relation to Griffith. Luckily for him, he gets the chance to drown out all that self-doubt and inner turmoil with some good old fashioned violence. All those hopes of a grown and healthy Guts, who doesn’t need to fall asleep cuddling his sword like a teddy bear, seem to be gone as he rides into battle with the express purpose of drowning out the voices in his head with violence. He tears through the enemy lines proving to himself that he is nothing more than the mad dog that Casca accuses him of being, that is until he rides in to save her.
3. Someone to Protect
Time and again, Guts is at his best when fighting to protect someone. When his own life is on the line he is ready to throw it away, but when protecting his raiders or Griffith he is a different person. He is careful and calculating in battle, and caring and compassionate towards those he has sworn to protect. Despite his best efforts to be a lone wolf, that simply isn’t where he shines. It only makes sense that he puts his own life on the line to protect Casca. He protects her from the fall, takes her to shore, and tends to her fever all while suffering from a crossbow wound himself. He even does the “woman’s work” as Griffith puts it, of keeping Casca warm through the night. It’s clear that Guts has complicated feelings about Casca: he respects her skill but can’t get over the notion that her being a woman makes her a liability. However, he does not treat her like a helpless victim, but instead like an equal who needs him. Needing help does not make someone helpless; this is a lesson Guts will struggle with for years but something he begins to see here.
4. No Salvation
Casca’s backstory tells a lot about not only her and her connection to Griffith, but also gives insight into just why she hates Guts so much. When Griffith and Casca first meet, she thinks he is an angel sent to save her from the nobleman who paid her family for her body. We immediately realize, however, that Griffith isn’t here to save anyone. It’s difficult to tell whether Griffith has any compassion for her at all, or only contempt for the nobleman as he tosses Casca his sword. What is clear is that a path close to him is a path soaked in blood. Casca is far too enamoured with Griffith to even think of the consequences of joining him and the Hawks. Admiration becomes obsession as she vows to be his sword, his weapon with which to achieve his dream. This is why it so deeply wounds her when Griffith turns his affections not towards her, but to Guts. She talks about that scene on the hilltop when the three of them met; how Griffith has never looked at or spoken to her the way that he spoke to Guts. She knows that she will never know the love that Griffith has for Guts, or at least had at that moment.Continued below
5. The Price of a Dream
“Two People,” a one-sided conversation between two people about a third, is the first real glimpse into Griffith’s past. This is Griffith before he was the legendary Hawk, before he was a nobleman, it seems even before he was a general at all. The Griffith Casca describes is so far from the Griffith we know, it’s almost hard to reconcile. His heartbreak at the loss of a young soldier’s life is the most human and relatable moment we ever see in the series. He tries as best he can to rationalize this young child dying on the battlefield under his command. He wonders if the boy was happy since he died chasing his dream. This is a different Griffith than the one we see in the garden, filled with contempt for those who are foolish enough to throw away their dreams to help someone else achieve theirs.
Griffith sells his body to the local governor for enough money to keep the Hawks growing, a sacrifice he tells Casca he is happy to make if it means less of his men need to die. Every moment that he wastes in achieving his dream is more bodies he needs to walk over to get there, and that bothers him. It is easy to see how Cacsa can fall in love with the Griffith, idealistic and vulnerable. It makes sense why she would want to protect someone who so genuinely cares about his men, and her. But that is the Griffith of the past. Griffith has become comfortable with stepping over bodies to achieve his dream; in fact, he has come to realize that is the only path there is. Whether it is the bodies of his men, his enemies, or innocent children, it is all the same. A means to an end, flesh and blood in exchange for a dream