The way the series progress reminds me of ancient Greek and Shakespearian tragedies. I can easily imagine a subtitle below Berserk saying ‘the tragedy of the Black Swordsman’ and Guts delivering a not-so-elegant soliloquy about forever reaching but never quite grasping his heart’s desire, Casca.
That tragedy continues for yet another episode, as Casca is within arm’s reach, but too far to hold tight.
Japanese Title: 亡者の血流
In a seemingly unnecessary first scene, Farnese is called back to the Holy See capital. Berserk rarely wastes any scenes and if there is significance to this event it will be revealed in later episodes. Maybe there is something in the manga that justifies its presence, or maybe there was something important about the scene that I missed. One or the other, I could have lived without knowing who Farnese’s father is and whether Serpico is spying on her.
Nina has spilled the beans on Casca with just one fingernail removed. To give her some credit, I wouldn’t have lasted that long, but the heroic efforts of the anime protagonists make us feel braver than we normally are. There is a certain hypocrisy on judging people from a safe distance, especially when our own judgment is dumb from seeing too much bravery and not enough fear.
Puck arrives in the torture chamber just in time to see Casca being swallowed by an iron maiden that’s destroyed the moment a drop of blood touches her mark. We already know that Casca is not to be harmed, and this time her guardian takes the form of a huge gelatinous abomination that devours everything in its path.
Even though the episode felt a bit uneventful compared to the rest, by the end of it the Skull Knight had saved Luca from certain death and Guts had started his battle against an Apostle Spawn Mozgus and his Apostle Spawn henchmen.
Mozgus and his Disciples: Mozgus and his henchmen are turned by the Egg-shaped Apostle into Apostle Spawns whose outer form reflects their religious ideals. They gain huge white feathered wings and resemble angels. The irony is evident since they are up against the Black Swordsman. Nevertheless, the scene where all seven of them are standing against Guts is epic.
“I have found that faith means death”
Jerome: I found Jerome’s involvement sweet. Unlike Joachim, his feelings about Luca seem to be sincere, and even when things get touch he risks his life to save her and the rest of the group. He’s not your typical hero, but he is a man who stays true to his word.
“Ruining my future for a woman may be fitting for a prodigal son like me”
The Skull Knight: The Skull Knight is super cool. The way he stands on top of the monastery, the descend to save Luca from falling to her death, the way he asks her about that selfless act, and finally the way he tells her to stay behind as he is ready to face evil. If only he was drawn instead of CGIed.
Nina’s Smirk: Was it just me or was Nina ready to drop Luca right before she let Nina’s hand herself in the most selfless act of the series? Damn you Nina. I know it’s tough, but she has to really make her mind. She can’t go all happy when she is saved and betray everyone she cares about when things get tough. That’s the third time. If I have to guess, the next one will send her to her death.
Last scene: I loved the drawing of Casca during the last scene. I wish there were more stills like that throughout the show. Just beautiful.
Themes & Trivia
Torture Devices: The two torture methods shown in this episode are the iron maiden and denailing.
- Denailing is the forcible extraction of the nails from the fingers and/or toes. It was a favorite method of medieval torture that remains in use today.
- There is strong evidence to suggest that the iron maiden was never used as a torture device. According to Wolfgang Schild, putative iron maidens were pieced together from artifacts found in museums to create spectacular objects intended for commercial exhibition. If you are in Japan and you want to see one of these 19th century devices, pay a visit to the Meiji University Museum.
The linear nature of the series continues with great success. Everything happens at the same time and on the same premises for all the series’ protagonists. There are no parallel events, no concurrent happenings miles away. I know almost the same things as the characters know. Now I can’t wait to see how Guts is going to defeat the seven angels standing in his way.
And the rating is…
Berserk is certainly one of the most eminent anime production of the last seasons. There is a certain aura of quality in this production, and that’s an undeniable fact whether you like the new animation style or not. I wouldn’t have said no to more hand-drawn scenes, but the overall feeling is so good that often I disregard the clunky facial movements.
NEXT TIME: Hell’s Angels (ヘルス・エンジェルス)
©KENTAROU MIURA(STUDIO GAGA) HAKUSENSHA/BERSERK PARTNERSHIP