No Griffith this time, but Episode 16 of Berserk took our merry band of mortals and took them to the realm of fairies, trolls, and witches. The little house in the prairie is not the promised land of the fairies where Casca would live happily ever after, but it seems like a pivotal milestone. How did the witch know about the brand?
Japanese Title: 獣鬼の森
Through a series of mishaps, Farnese realizes that she has a bit of soul searching to do. Her whole life was a lie, a blind religious rollercoaster of killing and following orders. Now she feels useless but determined to prove to the group that she can contribute. In reality, she is more useful than she thinks she is. She is not as strong as Guts or as resourceful as Serpico, but she is certainly the only person with whom Casca feels free to smile. She will have to confront the sins she has committed and protect the one her former boss wanted to burn on the stake, and by the end of the Episode, she has to endure the confusion of being treated kindly by a kind she was sworn to hunt, witches.
Clearly, the highlight of the episode was neither the trolls nor the elementals, but instead the training montage. I enjoyed the scenes with teacher Guts and student Isidro so much. Drawing from his own training days, Guts treated Isidro with a patience that felt strange but at the same time heart-warming. I wonder if his little apprentice will be able to take after his master and become a great swordsman.
Literal Idiom: I am not sure if the scene with Isidro throwing the stone was deliberate, but there is an English idiom that means ‘achieve two ends with a single effort’ and it goes like this: ‘kill two birds with one stone.’ This is one of those rare instances when one could say, ‘No, he literally killed two birds with one stone.
Special Move: In classic Japanese fashion, Isidro shouted his special move as he somersaulted the golem/elemental: ‘ISIDROKICK!’ I was raised with mecha anime from the 70s and I always found a little silly how the robot pilots announced the special moves second before pushing the button. Silly but amazingly cool.
Themes & Trivia
Politics and War: In politics and war, the peasant and the farmer are the last to be asked of what happens to the contested territories. They are either too busy fighting or too afraid worrying about their future. When two powers clash their swords over power and resources, the outcome is rarely a concern for the sheep herder, even if he knows every detail that has to do with the war.
Practicing: As Isidro is being trained by Guts, he mistakes experience for mastery. A chess player is practicing the basics every single day and in every single match. So do the guitarist and the writer. He practices every time he goes out in the ‘battlefield’ and fights. He becomes better with every swing, every note, and every pen stroke. Especially in Isidro’s case, he fights for his life almost every single day. The next time he goes into battle, every bit of experience, every bit of advice, could be the reason he survives.
Witch Stereotypes: Popular culture has played its part in the way we portray certain things: a troll is big, made of stone (or turns into one) and carries a club. A vampire hates sunlight, avoids garlic, and uses her fangs to suck the blood out of human beings. The female Power Ranger will probably be pink. In the same manner, one of the most typical stereotypes for witches is the one with the pointy hat and the mole on the nose. The ugly hag with the hysterical laugh and the flying broom. The mistress of the mansion of the Spirit Tree is nothing of the sort, but she still takes Isidro’s comment as a compliment.
The Exact Opposite: Schierke and Ivalera are the exact opposite of Isidro and Puck. Magic vs swordsmanship, blue vs pink, silliness vs seriousness. It will be interesting to see how they will interact with each other, but please, no more accidental boob groping.
Trolls: Contemporary youth is probably more familiar with the internet troll than it is to the being that originated in Norse mythology and Scandinavian folklore. The trolls in Berserk are vastly different from their folklore cousins, even if they do look similar. Trolls are depicted in a variety of media in modern popular culture, from the trolls of Middle Earth and Discworld to the trolls in Thundercats and Dungeons and Dragons.
Pentagram: The inverted pentagram is usually associated with satanic worship, but the symbol is far from evil. It has a close connection with the mystical and magical number 5 (I prefer 7). The pentagram is a star encased in a circle. The point aiming upwards represents the spirit. The other four are representing the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. With their powers combined, they DO NOT call Captain Planet (this joke is getting old) but they represent life and the parts from which we are all created.
It pains my heart to see Casca a mere caricature of her former self. She was a proud warrior who went through a trauma so soul-wrecking, she was diminished to a dumb child. I am curious to see if at any point she will regain her memories and cognitive ability. It will be interesting to see if she will play any role to the story except as the one who needs to be protected.
I have been waiting for you…
We know from the preview that Schierke will join the group, but what we don’t know is why. How did the old lady know about the brands? What powers does she hold and what reason she has to help them? I am guessing that their journey is not going to take them to the fairy land… How about an Apostle to fight in the next episode?
Did you like Episode 16 of Berserk? Let us know in the comments below! Read the rest of our episodic anime reviews for Spring 2017, and don’t forget to check our new Otaku Poll! By taking the survey, you enter an amazing anime giveaway to win Sword Art Online items, Makoto Shinkai goods, and original anime merchandise from AnimeJapan 2017: