Hey there Muliversity Readers! This week we trade drama for action in a scene so epic they made a $100 statue of it. No really, they did. This week we will be looking at “Suicidal Act” and “Campfires of Dreams.”
1. Let Berserk be Berserk
Berserk is known as a dark gothic horror series for a reason, it really leans into the terror and gore you would expect from a struggle against the living embodiments of hell. ‘The Folded Age’ arc, which the 1997 anime series is focused on, is notable for its lack of demons for most of its run. The 1997 series also cuts most of the already few demonic elements from the manga. There are, of course, some battle sequences that are thrilling, but none that can compare to the level of action that the rest of the series is known for. That’s why these episodes really stand out. Seeing Guts hack and slash his way through an entire company of mercenaries just feels so Berserk. As a fan, I can’t help but love it.
2. Dreams and Nightmares
“Campfires of Dreams” opens with Guts living his dream of drowning out the world through violence and Casca trapped in her nightmare of helplessness. Throughout the series, Guts has affirmed that the only thing he wants in life is to swing his sword; nothing else in the world matters. He claims that he is not fighting to save Casca at all, it’s just what he does. With 50 men dead at his feet, even he can’t convince himself of that lie. Swinging a sword isn’t enough, it’s not why he’s fighting. He is fighting to protect Casca, someone who has become more than just a comrade. She is the only person who can see the real him, the things that he doesn’t even want to see. Guts realizes that maybe he isn’t as numb as he thinks he is, and maybe that’s not a bad thing. Casca has her own realization as well. All her life she has fought against her womanhood. In the last episode, she was lamenting to Guts that she didn’t choose to be a woman. She worries that behind all the armor, the swordsmanship, the role as a mercenary leader, she is still just that same little girl, pinned down and helpless in a field. There she is again, pinned to the ground seemingly helpless and little more than a plaything for the men who have captured her. In that moment she realizes how far she has come. She is not playing at being a soldier as she has been accused of time and time again. She is a warrior, a fighter, a survivor. To be fair to the guy who loses his eye as Casca shows them just how much of a fighter she is, Guts warned them that she “would tear them to shreds” if they tried her.
3. The Hundred Man Slayer
Guts earns himself a number of nicknames through the series: The Black Swordsman, The Branded Swordsman, The Struggler. Here he earns his most badass nickname: The Hundred Man Slayer. The weight of this moment is easily lost at first look, but really what happens in that forest is the birth of a legend. It is Guts stepping out of Griffith’s shadow and becoming a force to be reckoned with in his own right. He wasn’t just the most useful piece on his master’s strategy anymore; Guts is facing off on his own and slaughtering an entire mercenary crew and living to tell the tale. The story of the night will spread throughout Midland for years to come. There are no words to describe it other than superhuman. Guts is not a demon, an apostle, or a mage. He is just a man, but a man who will push himself to limits far greater than anyone could imagine. Readers of the manga or viewers of the later anime series will watch as Guts acquires varying items of supernatural power, but its not special armor or magic spells that make Guts who he is. Guts’ superpower lies in his superhuman endurance: physical, mental, even emotional. It’s very fitting that after the fight we see Guts receive his first bit of supernatural help in the form of a pack of fairy dust Judeau got from a band of travelers with a little elf who sadly got cut from the 1997 series.Continued below
4. A Bonfire of Dreams
Guts and Casca’s conversation about the fires in the campsite is one of my favorite scenes in the whole show, and really is the first time we see Guts actually open up. The analogy of Griffith as a flame is used quite a bit throughout the series and I think it’s a fitting one. A fire can warm those who need it, be a beacon in the darkness for those lost in the night, or can consume everything around it if given the chance. The idea of the Hawks’ dreams being smaller flames given new life by Griffith’s is a very generous analogy given by Guts. It’s just as easy to say that their flames simply add to Griffith’s, becoming unrecognizable and inseparable once drawn in. It’s sad to think that Guts has no fire to add to that bonfire of dreams, and can only warm himself temporarily as he passes by. But maybe that’s just it: Guts is able to walk away because although he stood next to Griffith’s flame, he had nothing for Griffith’s fire to ignite. Okay, done with the fire metaphors. I promise.
5. That Look, Part 2
When an entire series is based on the juxtaposition of the characters, it feels like lazy writing to discuss it. However, in “Campfires of Dreams” we see something that we don’t often see from Guts that draws such a stark contrast with Griffith that I need to mention it. In this episode, we finally see Guts smile, a true warm and possibly loving smile. A smile assures Casca that everything is going to be fine. His smile is genuine and reassuring, seeming at first out of place for such a gruff character but that makes it all the more meaningful. Guts’ smile is everything that Griffith’s is not. Griffith’s smile is charming, disarming, and downright dreamy. It makes everyone who sees it swoon, and Griffith knows it. Griffith wields his smile like a weapon, a sheathed dagger ready to be drawn at any moment. It, like everything in Griffith’s life, is used for one thing: getting what he wants. There is no emotion behind Griffith’s smile, only desire. There is no warmth, only cold calculations.