Berserk (2016) – Episode 2 [The Holy Iron Chain Knights]
The Holy Iron Chain Knights have Guts surrounded, and when he can’t get a good grip on his massive sword (ha!), it looks like it might be the end for him. But this is Guts after all, so it’s best to not doubt him so easily. We get a quick flashback to a scene from the first season when Guts and Casca had been surrounded by soldiers, and Guts told Casca he’d clear a path for her so she could return to Griffith’s side.
Oh. Yeah the white brunette is Casca. Not really a spoiler because Guts mentions her later, and given that we know he’s looking for someone it’s reasonable to assume that she’s that person.
The knights launch themselves at Guts and in his fatigued, injured state he is initially only able to dodge their attacks and strike back with his false hand. The knights are the sons of nobles and thus have little actual fighting experience, so Guts is easily able to lay waste to the “Spoiled Brat Knights.” Finally when he has been hit with a crossbow and has his back up against a tree, he strikes back and severs several knights in half with one blow. Guts is back in the fight!
Azan quickly steps in, and he and Guts face off against each other after a brief introduction. Azan is second in command to Lady Farnese (the blonde lady with pigtails), who commands the Holy Iron Chain Knights. Azan is extremely skilled and Guts acknowledges that he’s going to quickly run out of energy against this extremely skilled opponent and lose. He launches himself over Azan at Farnese, intent on getting in one last blow to kill the head of the snake, but her (literal) blind strike at his neck topples Guts before he can hurt her. The knights drag Guts to his feet and take him back to their base camp.
En route to their camp Guts has a flashback to a young Griffith and him talking together after a hard battle. Guts is buried under many bodies and Griffith digs him out. Griffith says that he feels soldiers are taken advantage of and everyone must go along with the tide of fate, no matter what their ranking, and often die before they learn who they really are. Griffith’s words seem more prophetic if one has seen the first season of Berserk.
Once in the Holy Iron Knights’ camp, Guts’ wounds are bandaged and he is put into a wooden stock and has an iron ball shackled to one leg. He’s definitely not going anywhere. Farnese has him brought to her private tent, chained standing up to a post, so she can interrogate him about the old Band of the Hawk and the grey Behelit she found among his possessions.
This scene is personally very intriguing to me because Farnese is attempting to intimidate him while coming from a religious standpoint (“Don’t blasphemy me!” etc) but Guts thinks she (and religion) are full of shit and he basically just laughs in her face. He’s seem so much death that there is no way that Farnese can shake him. Guts tells her that he’s not even going to bother confessing because he doesn’t think she’ll truly learn anything. And when he tells her that she doesn’t command respect like Azan does, and that she’s as empty inside as the idol she claims to worship, Farnese loses it and turns Guts’ chest into a bleeding checkerboard with her flail. Guts doesn’t fight back, just grits his teeth and bears her onslaught.
Farnese’s outburst is discovered and Guts is taken away to his cell. On his way back to his cage, the blonde youth who’s been shadowing Farnese tells Guts to not be so rough on Farnese.
As he’s trapped in his cell, Guts realizes he’s running out of time. Not only is he looking for Casca but the night has almost arrived, meaning he’s soon going to be defenseless against the monsters coming for him. Thankfully he has Puck, who is perfectly adorable as he breaks Guts out of his cell. Puck tells Guts that his weapons are in Farnese’s tent so that’s where they head.
Guts sneaks into the lady commander’s tent in time to see her whipping her bare back with her flail, and she looks very sad. I won’t pretend I remember why she might be doing this, but it’s mildly disturbing to say the least. Guts knocks her out and takes her as a hostage. He binds her, throws her on his horse and they’re off, with Farnese’s blond companion trailing them in the distance with a crossbow. However as night falls, even this nameless young man is able to tell that something is not right as evil starts to make itself known.
My thoughts: Goddamn I love the opening and ending themes. (╯3╰) And the insert songs where I can hear Hirasawa-san’s voice really set up the atmosphere for some scenes perfectly.
I’m still adjusting to the animation, but at this point the voice acting and everything else is so good that I think it will detract less from the series for me as it progresses.
What I do think is bullshit is the whitewashing of Casca. As you can see here, her skin tone has progressively lightened with each new Berserk anime adaption:
And there’s literally NO reason for it. In this list I found, Casca is one of three persons of color in anime whom I am familiar with, and the only other one I can think of offhand to add is Van Fanel from Escaflowne. 20 years of watching anime and that’s the shortlist I can come up with. Pretty pathetic if you ask me. When’s the last time the lead character in an anime was a person of color? And if you can think of such a series, how often does it happen? Yeah I thought so. :/
Anyways, enough of my soapbox. Can’t wait for next week’s episode!
Question for those who have seen the original anime: do you prefer the animation from the original 1997 TV series, or this newer CG style? I’ve read in articles that apparently people weren’t thrilled with the original series’ animation, but I honestly prefer it and don’t think it looked that bad. I think I have and will always prefer “traditional animation”, when a series looks hand-drawn. What about you?
Susumu Hirasawa video of the week: “Guts’ Theme” (or “Gats” as it’s listed on the CD), off the Sword-Wind Chronicle BERSERK Original Soundtrack (1997).