Having aired more than two decades ago, ‘Berserk‘ is an anime that does not have the most superior art style. But if you look at it closely, this old school art style actually compliments its dark themes; which is probably the main reason why the new 3D animation version of it has not been so well received. The entire anime is adapted from a manga that has more than 300 episodes. Considering this, many manga fans were initially worried if the anime would be able to meet the standards set by the source material with just 25 episodes. But surprisingly, the old classic version of ‘Berserk‘ perfectly captures all the elements of the manga that made it so amazing in the first place. Undeniably, ‘Berserk’ is no less than a masterpiece and if you have even the slightest tolerance towards violence and profanity in anime, it will turn out to be one of your favorite shows.
Guts’ Timeline Explained
One thing that really confuses most viewers is how the whole timeline of the anime unfolds. There are certainly no issues with the pacing of the show but it is understandable how some people are not able to draw links between the last few moments and the first episode. So we’ll be breaking down the entire ‘Berserk’ timeline with respect to what each of the different arcs focuses on. This will not only help you comprehend the meaning of “The Black Swordman” but will also help you get a better understanding of Griffith’s transformation.
The Introduction of The Black Swordsman
The series begins by introducing a mysterious man who claims to be “The Black Swordsman”. He enters a town with the intention of battling its ruler. But when the ruler finds out about this, he starts to slaughter his own men and burns the whole place down just to draw him closer to the man who wants to battle him. “The Black Swordsman” is easily able to kill the ruler but this is when he suddenly transforms into a massive lizard and completely destroys the swordsman. On the brink of death, the swordsman raises his hidden arm cannon and blows a hole through the monster. He then grabs his sword and slashes it right through him.
Guts’ First Encounter With The Hawks
The anime then drifts back in time and shows a castle that is in the state of beleaguerment and has been surrounded by a mercenary group known as “The Band of Hawks”. Led by Griffith, a huge Knight guards the entrance of the castle. This is when Guts is first introduced as he makes his way to the castle and kills the Knight who guards it. This leads to the end of the castle’s siege and Guts gets away with some award money. Later, Guts is attacked by the members of the mercenary group and though he is outnumbered, he is easily able to defeat all of them. This is when Griffith is forced to send his strongest member, Casca, to destroy him. When Guts ends up defeating Casca as well, Griffith shows up and makes him promise that if he loses against him, he must join “The Band of Hawks”. Griffith easily wins against him and Guts is forced to join them.
Guts’ Journey With the Hawks
The story that follows later is pretty straight forward as it shows how Guts’s involvement with the mercenary just helps them rise in power. While Guts is easily able to gain the trust of all the members of the group, including Griffith, Casca still seems to be quite bitter towards him.
With a flashback, the anime also introduces Gut’s origin story where he is found by a group of mercenaries after he is born from the corpse of his dead mother. But years later, after he is adopted by the wife of a mercenary, she ends up dying and he is forced to stay with his cruel adoptive father, Gambino. This part of the anime shows how Guts became so strong after fighting alongside the group. As he encounters more and more enemies with the mercenary group, he tends to become a better fighter. One night, Gambino gets an uncontrollable outburst of rage and he ends up attacking Guts. And though Guts loves him, he is forced to kill him while defending himself. This is when Guts is disowned by the first mercenary and after being thrown out, he decides to live a solo life.
The Introduction of the Behelit
This arc of the story is quite brief but it holds a lot of significance as it is directly liked with the ending. As Griffith continues to rise in power, the Hawks manage to get the attention of the Kind of Midland. After they help the King in winning a war against the neighboring country of Tudor, Griffith is appointed as the Knight. Later, during one of his battles for the Hawks, Guts encounters a huge monster known as Zodd. When Guts almost dies facing this creature, Griffith arrives to rescue him and that’s when Zodd notices “the behelit” wrapped around Griffith’s neck. Zodd warns Guts that Griffith will betray him someday and then just flees the area. For those who don’t know what the Behelit is, we’ll be covering that later in the article.
After this, Griffith marries the King’s daughter and the ones who get jealous of his rise in power make several attempts to assassinate him. Meanwhile, Casa and Guts get close to each other and Guts even expresses how he wishes to leave the Hawks. Griffith further rises after the Hawks defeat Tudor and end the Hundred Year War. He then becomes the General and is even appointed as the supreme command of the Midland Army. Guts realises that Griffith has achieved what he wanted to and he leaves the mercenary behind.
When Everything Falls Apart
After getting a fit of rage after Guts’s departure, Griffith seduces the Princess to sleep with him and for this act, he is captured by the Guards and imprisoned. The Hawks are then declared outlaws by the state and are forced to flee. When the news reaches Guts, he decides to help them but Casca now blames him for Griffith’s imprisonment. But when Guts saves her life, the two end up confessing their feelings for each other and vow to start a new life together after rescuing Griffith. They break into the castle only to find Griffith in a very critical state where he has almost been tortured to death.
Drowned in the sorrows that have dawned upon his nearly perfect life, Guts attempts to kill himself by drowning in a stream. But when his blood splatters in his “behelit”, which suddenly shows up among the river stones, it triggers a huge supernatural eclipse and hell breaks loose on all the members of the Hawk. They are surrounded by the vicious being known as the God Hand. Griffith gets the opportunity to be born as the sixth God’s Hand if he is willing to sacrifice the lives of all the Hawks. He decides to go for it and all the Hawks, except for Guts and Casca, are killed. Griffith is then reborn as a Winged Bat-like Demon and he later rapes Casca in front of Griffith.
What is The Behelit?
The Behelit acts as an aperture that connects the physical human realm with that of the Astral realm where the God Hand reside. The Behelit belongs to a predestined owner. So no matter what happens, when its owner is in a desperate situation where he’s badly looking for an escape, it magically appears and offers its owner the opportunity to transform into an Apostle. That’s probably the reason why the Behelit suddenly appears on the river rocks. Also, the Behelit is activated only by the blood or flesh of its owner, so that’s probably why it leads to all those supernatural events after Griffith’s blood touches it. The Behelit possessed by Griffith is known as the Crimson Behelit and was given to him by a fortune teller when he was much younger.
Post Credits Scene
In the post-credits scene, we see Guts leaving the blacksmith with a whole new sword and that’s how the events of the first episode come in full circle. Guts is now “The Black Swordman” that we see earlier in the show and is out for revenge.