“Danzai no tō” (断罪の塔)
Every episode of ‘Berserk’ strives for balance: a few fights, a couple of scenes to advance the plot, some philosophical questions, and a bunch of controversial parts that makes you question the sanity of our species.
All in all, this was another awesome week for ‘Berserk’, but I must admit: I miss Griffith. I am not reading the manga, so I am not up to speed with what’s happening, but I am eagerly waiting for that Griffith Vs Guts scene. It will happen, someday.
Isidoro, that witty little kid we met in the first episode, is rescued by Guts after he and a band of soldiers he pranked upon are attacked by a group of Kushan warriors. Isidoro is mesmerized by the overwhelming power of the Black Swordsman. Even though he is too proud to admit it, he follows Guts in pursue of an indirect apprenticeship. He won’t admit any weakness, but at the same time closely observes Guts in order to learn his techniques. Judging by his interaction with Guts, Isidoro is definitely going to be a comedic partner of Puck; he provides the same kind of comic relief. Even though, his arrogant and stiff behavior might hint on a past worth exploring at some point.
Back in St. Albion, Bishop Mozgus continues to shock us with his evil benevolence. Even though he helps a child from being famished to death, he accuses its mother of sin and locks her in his torture chamber. Farnese, at first delighted by the Bishop’s kindness, is mortified at the sight of the chamber. An action doesn’t determine someone’s character as good people often do evil things for a good cause (Guts) while evil people can do good things for an evil cause (Mozgus). While the cause doesn’t justify the means, the action cannot define a character.
Up to this point, Farnese is one of the most interesting characters. While the Bishop is clearly a delusional paranoid, Farnese is torn between her faith and the reality of the horrors she’d gone through a few episodes before. She is definitely not a natural leader nor an exceptional warrior, but a talent in either is not a prerequisite for doing great things.
Last but certainly not least, we learn more about Casca’s guardian angel, Luca. She leads a band of merry prostitutes as a motherly figure. Luca follows by the letter this episode’s theme which can be summarized in the idiom don’t judge a book by its cover. She covers Casca’s face so that men won’t take advantage of her now that she is not capable of taking responsibility for her actions; she shares all her earning with the other prostitutes in her group; all the prostitutes give a portion of their earnings to their neighbors; she helps each member of their group with their individual problems; she provides comfort to her clients without giving them a long face. She is a mother, a guardian, a lover, a sister, and a Samaritan. She is everything this world (and the world in ‘Berserk’) needs but usually scoffs at.
“Humans are wretched creatures. They envy those who have more and they sneer at those who have less” Luca
Kushan: The Kushan was a real empire. It was originally formed in south Asia in the early 1st century CE under Kujula Kadphises in the territories of ancient Bactria around the Oxus River, and later near Kabul, Afghanistan.
Prostitution: It has been described euphemistically as the world’s oldest profession. There are various records that indicate that prostitution has been practiced in all ancient and modern cultures. In the Middle Ages, which is real historical period closer to that in ‘Berserk’, prostitution was commonly found in urban contexts. The Roman Catholic Church, the institution the Holy See Empire is based on, regarded all sexual activity outside of marriage as sinful. Prostitution was tolerated because it helped to prevent more pressing matters like the evils of rape, sodomy, and masturbation.
Torture of Heretics: On 1252, Pope Innocent IV issued a papal bull which authorized the use of torture by the Church inquisitors. Contrary to the scenes shown in the episode, torture methods that resulted in bloodshed births, mutilation, or death were forbidden. Inquisitors often preferred to avoid even execution if the sinner repented.
“Anyone who attempts to construe a personal view of God which conflicts with Church dogma must be burned without pity.” – Pope Innocent III
I still can’t get used to this blend of 2D and 3D mixed with the artistic pencil lines. I read that director Shin Itagaki is a 2D animator and everything that goes into his storyboard is drawn in 2D. For everything else he meets with the 2D and 3D studios and decides based on what they want to accomplish with each scene. I understand that they are trying to do something fresh and new, but really, the opening scene of this episode was awful. Isidro’s mouth movement reminded more of old 3DO games than a modern animation.
I’ve read somewhere that Isidoro is supposedly inspired by Osamu Tezuka’s ‘Dororo’. I haven’t read the manga or seen the anime so I can’t really judge, but I would love to know more. Feel free to share your awesome otaku knowledge in the comments if you can see the connection.
And the rating is…
Not much has happened in this episode. The time was well spent though since we had the chance to learn more about the sadistic nature of Bishop Mozgus, the benevolence of Luca, and were also reminded of how strong Guts really is.
©KENTAROU MIURA(STUDIO GAGA) HAKUSENSHA/BERSERK PARTNERSHIP