I don’t know what kind of troubles this anime production is going through, but I have to admit that I expected more from Episode 22 of Berserk. The reason I expected more was the unbelievable hype of the fans online, who were excited by the one-week hiatus and were waiting an amazing episode because ‘that’s the reason they postponed the episode.’ Animation-wise we didn’t get the amazing episode we were expecting, but since I am one of those weird fans who place more value on the story, that was one aspect that Berserk was more than ok.
Japanese Title: 炎の旅立ち
After two weeks, we finally had the chance to see what happens when there is no pain and fear holding back that monster of a man called Guts. Completely skipping the recap episode (not that we needed a recap) the strength of Berserk doesn’t lie in its animation. Let’s be honest here. It’s either the black and white awesomeness of the manga or the hype of the first season and its subsequent movies that keep us on our screens. Gut’s fight against the Pink Dragon Of Fire (Grunbeld in his dragon form reminds me of a League of Legends hero but I can’t remember his name) was not visually pleasing but storytelling-wise it had all the impact of a fight between a man who goes beyond his limits and another who has long foregone his humanity.
Since Guts is over-relying to his Berserker Armor, he is in danger of losing his own humanity as well. Schierke straps herself on her tether once again to bring Guts back from bonding with his revenge dog more than is necessary.
A human soul wouldn’t let itself be so badly hurt for something that doesn’t matter
What is Guts fighting for? Who is Guts fighting for? Is there really something worth fighting for? These are the questions that the memory bubbles inside Gut’s soul are answering. Friendship, love, a chance in happiness. Do these sound cliché to you? Probably they are. But it’s very interesting how these same questions can apply to every battle everywhere. In every shonen manga. In every war film. Even in Berserk. What if Griffith had asked the same questions before the Eclipse? What if Griffith had his own Schierke? We already have Griffith, however, and Guts is not going to take the same path as the antagonist. Casca and his newfound friends are enough to keep him sane.
At last, we had a change of scenery. In Windham, the resistance is placing its hopes on the Hawk of Light. The city is overrun with monsters and the citizens are cowering inside their homes. Interestingly enough, an old acquaintance is part of it: Foss, that fat, short, bald man with those shifty eyes. You don’t need to know who he is to enjoy the story, but I have written a sentence or two about him in the Themes and Trivia section. In the same light, you don’t need to know who Princess Charlotte is or what the Tower of Rebirth is, but for fans this will make for a good dose of background ‘AHAs’.
White Hair: I giggled a little when I saw Guts with his little snowy right side on his head. It reminded me a little of the titular character from the classic anime Black Jack.
Dragon: No. No. NO. As much as I love dragons, this pink thing with the abominable face is not going to enter any dragon encyclopedias soon. I know it’s an apostle and it’s supposed to be grotesque, but no.
Remember who you are: SIMBA. Sorry, but I had to make this comment because that’s the first thing that crossed my mind when Schierke called Guts to his senses. It’s all about patterns.
Beach: Thank god we are not in a slice-of-life anime. Instead of the usual bikini and ice creams, we got a scene that fits the gloomy world of Berserk. The sunrise on the horizon, Casca’s smile, Isidoro’s goofiness: there is something worth fighting in this world. There is always light at the end of the tunnel. Even if this tunnel seems a bit too dark and a bit too long.
Mentor and Mentee: That little exchange between Schierke and Fiora was a bit hard on the sentimental side:
We will see each other in our dreams.
Farewell, my sunlight.
Themes & Trivia
Foss: In the Golden Age Arc movies, Foss attempted to assassinate Griffith. He was intimidated by the young warrior and twice tried to take his life. He was eventually blackmailed into submission when Griffith takes his daughter as hostage. Fast forward to this arc, and Foss is the leader of the resistance against the Kushan occupation of Windham and places his only hopes of redemption (of both himself and his country) to the very person he once tried to kill.
Charlotte: Charlotte is the princess of Midland, and not that I think of her lineage, probably she took the promotion to Queen. In the Golden Age Arc movies she was depicted just as her portrait in this episode. She is a petite brunette with blue eyes and almost white skin. She was once seduced by Griffith and that resulted in getting him locked up in…
The Tower of Rebirth: The tower is located in Windham and is used as a prison. This is where Griffith was put after he was convicted in eternal torture for having sex with Charlotte.
Were these two weeks enough time to make an episode worth watching? Visually and acoustically…well… no. The songs were still used in uninspiring ways, and for me, they have lost that epicness that was present in the first episodes of the first season. The animation was as bad as ever and even Grunbeld’s transformation into Barbie’s dragon was not as impressive as it should have been. The Berserker armor was interesting, but I think that Guts lost a little too much blood in his battle. The X-ray a la Mortal Kombat sequences were interesting, but I would have preferred that money spent in the characters and their expressions. Guts got his humanity back for his friends. I would have loved seeing their reaction to that instead of having the camera going crazy around the battlefield.
The Hawk and the Dog
The episodes are not enough to provide closure to this season. What I realized from this episode is that Berserk is an epic that needs to be experienced through the manga. Yet, having the new Band of the Hawk making an appearance at list rekindles my hopes for a Guts-Griffith encounter.