Thanasis is a writer, professional geek, and assistant editor at MANGA.TOKYO. He started watching anime with the mecha shows of the 70s and hasn't stopped since. He loves JRPGs.
‘Berserk’ is off to an awesome start. I was skeptical about the quality of the show and as I said in the review of the first episode, the heavy use of CGI was not extremely bothersome, but it made me feel a little alienated.
The second episode proves that the wait was well worth it. Guts shows just why he is called the One-Hundred-Man slayer.
The episode’s title is quite literal: The Holy Iron Chain Knights is a group of spoiled rich kids who want to avoid direct conflict by joining a band that is guaranteed to avoid immediate danger. That guarantee is voided when they are tasked with capturing the Black Swordsman. They are to present him to the Holy See, which is probably a religious organization that investigates the events leading to the eclipse.
Guts, tired and hurt, tries to avoid captivity by the inexperienced band. If it weren’t for their numbers and Azan, the famous bridge knight, he would have killed them all before going on his way. Instead he managed to massacre a dozen or so before his eventual defeat.
In the camp, Guts must find a way to escape and continue on his journey.
Religion: The Holy Iron Chain Nights are a band of soldiers who probably belong to a religious group called the Holy See. The theme of religion plays throughout the episode. Bigotry, self-punishment, disbelief, and heresy, these are all concepts we encounter through Gut’s dialogues with the formidable commander of the knights, Farnese.
Fate: The concept of fate always played a prominent role in ‘Berserk’. Through flashbacks, Griffith reminds us of the difference between common and gifted people, and the responsibilities of those who are tasked with changing the world.
Morality: To say that ‘Berserk’ balances on the grey area of the good & evil compass would be an understatement. Gut’s priorities work like a compass, they always point towards Casca. Everything is about her. Nothing matters when it comes to his mission. Certainly not the lives of those that stand in his way.
Note: if you are new to the series and don’t know who Casca or Griffith is, go watch an overview of the plot of the manga until current events. I guarantee you, you’ll enjoy the anime so much more knowing the characters. They are referenced heavily during these two episodes.
The events leading to this episode are starting to be slightly reintroduced with the use of various flashback scenes shown throughout the episode. It is a nice touch that will make newcomers feel that they are not left out, and will remind veterans of the much-loved ‘Berserk’ past.
Guts’ battle with Azan felt a little rushed and could have taken a little more screen time, but I am sure that they are going to meet in the future. Azan’s backstory set the ground for the characters who will certainly play a role in the coming events.
Farnese, the commander of the Holy Knights, seems like a Casca counter role. Unlike Casca, she is inexperienced, soft, and a weak-minded religious zealot. Like Casca, she wants to be a formidable commander who inspires her troops.
I am so glad they decided to include Puck. ‘Berserk’ is known for its dark tones and the humor brought in by the little elf balances the violence and provides a tight grip to reality. Good and evil, grim and humor, must coexist to know the difference between despair and hope. The humorous exchange between Guts and Puck near the end of the episode gave me that final push I needed to make sure that this episode was an incredible addition.
I enjoyed the episode very much. The flashbacks were knitted nicely with the rest of the scenes, Puck’s role as the comic relief was excellent, and the action reminds us why we all loved Berserk in the first place.
NEXT TIME: “Night of Miracles”, “Kiseki no yoru” (奇跡の夜)
©KENTAROU MIURA(STUDIO GAGA) HAKUSENSHA/BERSERK PARTNERSHIP