Episode 15 of Berserk brought few new things to the table. It built on the two opposing camps and the two different paths the show will follow: One side has Griffith and his supernatural knights on a mission of conquest. The other side has Guts and his band of merry friends as they escort Casca to the land of the Fairies.
Japanese Title: 飛剣の御旗
Griffith hasn’t changed much since the Golden Age Arc movies. Well, he is an Apostle and probably a thousand times stronger, but he is still trying to create a loyal following that will help him achieve this dreams. He even gave his army the same name. He is also as cruel as ever. He will sacrifice everything to make his ambitions real and will stop at nothing.
I am not sold to his multicultural army as a means to unite the land, but more as a way to create an overwhelming force that will take the land by storm. Having their loyalty will just be the cherry on the pie.
Now the world begins to change
On the other camp, Guts accepts Farnese and Serpico in his group. The duo has left the Order in order to go on their personal path of finding the truth of the world they are living in. The reason Guts has no qualms in allowing them to join them is not one I was expecting. I forgot that Guts is human and having him realize that he is afraid to be alone gave him a refreshing note of humanity.
Rock Mood: 9mm Parabellum Bullet sacrificed nothing in making the opening theme of Berserk as epic as possible. The electric guitar and catchy tune are coupled with the usual whirlwindy action scenes and sequences of the new characters.
Neo Band of the Hawk: Keeping the same name for a band whose only constant member is Griffith reminds me of band leaders who decide to keep the same name even if all the other members are different than the original lineup. See Guns and Roses. Nevertheless, if you seem to have lost track of all the new members, here they are:
Griffith: No need to introduce the de facto leader and future dictator of Midland. If you are new to Berserk, you really need to see the 1997 anime and the Golden Age Arc movies.
Nosferatu Zodd: Zodd the Immortal is the only Apostle we already knew about. As it was evident from this episode, every time he decides to participate in the battle results in mountains of bodies and pools of blood. He is one of the primary adversaries of both Guts and Skull Knight.
Grunbeld: He seems to be the leader of the demon army part of the new Band of the Hawk. He became famous during the One Hundred Year War when he protected a small northern country against an enemy force of 3000.
Irvine: We haven’t seen a lot of Irvine in this episode. He is the Robin Hood guy with the Soul Calibur-like bow. He is in charge of the archers.
Rakshas: He is the mysterious figure that seems like he jumped out of the pages of Naruto. We learned that he was exiled from the Kushan clan of the Bakiraka before becoming an Apostle. He is in charge of the Search and Destroy squad.
Locus: He is the captain of the lancers and the first new member to reach Griffith after his vision. He is nicknamed the Moonlight Knight, an incredibly calm and relaxed demon. I wonder what his true form is.
Sonia: She is some kind of empath and medium who can easily manipulate people. She has the ability to sense people’s emotions as well as see visions of the future. What at first seemed like a hopeless wish for salvation, was indeed her power to see ahead.
Mule Wolflame: A young noble of Midland who was present at the battle against the Kushans when Griffith appeared. He felt an uncomprehending drive to join the Band and protect Sonia.
Puck and Isidro: I’m so glad that our comedic duo is back. Berserk is heavy on violence and grotesque imagery and their lighthearted moments are alleviating the tense and give us some time to pause and think about what happened. I am looking forward to their moments.
Say any more and you’ll be the villain
Themes & Trivia
Manga Continuity: ‘Banner of the Flying Sword’ is the name of the 193rd chapter of the Berserk manga. I haven’t read the manga, so I’m not sure how closely the anime is following the source material, but from reading the summary, other from the manga being more descriptive, the events are similar.
Haircut: When Farnese is challenged by Isidro to prove her loyalty and earnestness, she cuts her hair. In popular culture and folklore mythology, cutting one’s hair is a powerful act. It often symbolizes a milestone in the character’s growth or the start of a new adventure. For Farnese, it’s both.
Alexander the Great: I have always made the comparison between Alexander the Great and Griffith. Counting out the demonic eggs and supernatural elements, both leaders are young idealists, conquerors with an agenda that is bigger than themselves. Both saw a world that could only find hope when unified under one ruler. One kingdom under the sun where everyone is equal. Similar to the way Alexander the Great treated its kingdom and its army, Griffith accepts anyone who wants to find alongside him, regardless of race, gender, or previous affiliation.
We are ultimately all human beings. Former foes are more similar than you realize.
Locus and Griffith: Locus, the Moonlight Knight, is a proud and calm Apostle who joins the Neo Band of the Hawk after seeing a vision of Griffith. He held no allegiance to no man that he deemed lesser in power, and following Griffith brings to mind the story of Lancelot and Arthur. Like the two figures in the Arthurian legend, Locus has absolute trust in Griffith and serves him blindly.
Knowing that the Band of the Hawk now consists of Apostles, I am so hyped to see their true form! Guts and his gang will have to battle against them at some point. The new Band of the Hawk is certainly not the same as the old one, but I’m still intrigued on what Griffith will do to realize his plans. I think that I am fortunate to not have read the manga and find the story interesting enough to go on with the series.
Stuff of Legends
This was a decent episode for Berserk. I don’t know at which point the path of the two groups will cross, but I can’t wait for Guts to test his sword against Griffith’s Apostles. I wonder when he is going to get the Black Swordsman armor. It looks amazing in the opening sequence.