Guts arrives in St. Albion, at last. I was silently cheering for a showdown with Mozgus’s henchmen, but I guess that has to wait a few episodes more. For now, our Big Bad Black Swordsman has to take on the ruler of Hell. At least that’s what he looks like.
In St. Albion the heretic hunter knights are busy hunting down any heretics they can find. One of the arrested is Pepe, who is eventually saved by Luca’s kindness and Gut’s oversized sword.
“You judge people from your comfortable towers” Luca
Nina takes Casca and leave the camp just before Guts and Luca arrive to find an empty tent. Our comic relief duo (who are given a lot of screen time in this episode) manage to follow Nina and Casca back to the heretics’ cult where Casca is to be offered to their leader, the Great Goat, and Nina is to be slaughtered so that her heart can be offered to Casca. I was impressed by Isidoro’s rock-throwing ability and Puck’s lightning speed. It actually made sense that his name comes from the words石をドロップ (ishiwodroppu – drop rocks). He could have made a hell of a pitcher if he lived in our modern era.
Joachim, guided by fear, betrays to the Holy Iron Knights the location of the cult. Farnese takes what seems like her whole army battalion and storms to arrest the heretics. As it happens, inside the cult, the heretics are possessed, and their great leader is turned into an Apostle Spawn, a Satyr-like monster.
Even though Casca is about to be raped by a giant snake-cock, the scene where the two see each other after two years is very emotional. It was like Guts saying, ‘Just a moment, honey. I just have to slaughter everything in here, and then I’ll be right there with you”.
Goat Symbolism: The Great Goat in Berserk is the leader of the heretical cult we see in St.Albion. He is a tall, thin and slender human wearing a mask resembling a goat. The goat as a symbol has been used in many old stories and myths. In Greece, the goat received divine honors. The Egyptians, according to Herodotus, ranked the goat among their animal-headed gods. In various mythological settings there is a goat-like anthropomorphized figure called the Pan. There is also a play with words if you use the noun as an acronym to mean GOAT, the God of all Things.
After the advent of Christianity, however, the GOAT or God Pan with his beard, cloven hoofs became associated with an unofficial image for Satan. Since Berserk draws heavily from Christian imagery, the Great Goat resembles Baphomet, a figure with a heavy history that is most commonly identified as a synonym of Satan or a demon.
Crown of Thorns: When the cult idolizes Casca as a witch, she brings her to the Great Goat to be fed Nina’s heart and consummate with the heretic’s leader. While on top of her man-carrying carriage, she is wearing a crown of thorns. It is evident that when Miura Kentarou was drawing the scene, he wanted to show how the heretics have mistaken Casca for their own messiah, a symbol of their faith. In Christian imagery, a woven crown of thorns was placed on the head of Jesus Christ during the events leading up to his crucifixion. It was used by Jesus’ captors both to cause him pain and to mock his claim of authority. Where there is no claim of authority by Casca and no indication she is in any pain, she is heading to a kind of personal crucifixion, as she almost relived the events that ended with her personality broken.
Berserk manages to incorporate heavy philosophical themes without imposing the viewer with tiresome scenes and incomprehensible monologues. Everything is woven inside the action. It’s part of the plot in a way that doesn’t spoil the fun for those who don’t care about the subtle moral teachings implied by the series’ imagery.
Berserk is also giving enough time to every major character to unveil their individuality and the reason they are included in the cast. There is meaning to each and every one of them, even if their screen time is miniscule. When at the start of the episode the heretic hunters take Pepe away, I found myself saying “Oh no, not Pepe!”
The episode had some awesome directing from Itagaki Shin. I really liked the scene transitions and his preference not to focus on the face of the character talking each given time.
And the rating is…
The battle between Guts and the Great Goat is going to be epic. I can’t wait to see how our Black Swordsman is going to defeat this Apostle Spawn. After a few episodes of character building and plot developing, it’s finally time to see some sword-wielding action.
NEXT TIME: Reunion in the Den of Evil, “Makutsu no saikai” (魔窟の再会)
©KENTAROU MIURA(STUDIO GAGA) HAKUSENSHA/BERSERK PARTNERSHIP