Guilt and the weight of it all.
What They Say:
Berserk #4: “Epiphany”
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Guts returns to the last place he left Casca, bruised and carrying broken equipment. Two years have passed since the Eclipse, yet when he returns he doesn’t find Casca. He finds Erica first, and the little girl leads him to Rickert and the master blacksmith Godo. They admit that Casca fled after a trip to the woods, and Guts blames Rickert before realizing that no one is to blame but himself. The scene falls a bit flat due to the stilted and strange movements of the characters, that same problem with animating children moving slowly persists from episode one. It makes Erica move more like a puppet than a human being.
We get a decent scene of Guts meditating on his past and future during his time recuperating at Godo’s. He goes back and forth about his quest for revenge, his running away and leaving behind the Band of the Hawk once and then the survivors. The guilt is there, but so is a new sense of purpose. He has a vision granted to him by a dark and misshapen thing of Casca in danger and he resolves to rescue her. There are witch hunts happening in St. Albion, and Guts fears the worst. Rickert shows Guts the memorial he built for the Band of the Hawk, and it’s the last motivation Guts needs.
Gearing back up, with an upgrade provided by Rickert and Godo, Guts says goodbye and departs once again with Puck. He knows it’ll likely be the last time he sees Godo.
After having failed to permanently capture Guts and bring him to whatever amounts to justice, Farnese is tasked with escorting Inquisitor Mozgus to St. Albion. Mozgus’ reputation as that of an unforgiving man who enjoys torturing and killing heretics has spread far and wide, so it comes as no surprise when a group of angry citizens attacks his caravan. The Holy Knights don’t do much to protect him, and they don’t need to. Mozgus has his own freak show of murderers watching his back. (And yes, Mozgus was just that weird and unsettling looking in the manga, if not more so.)
It doesn’t end well for those who tried to attack him. As Farnese apologizes his men slaughter the attackers in front of the crowd of refugees. The actual carnage is mostly disguised, although the actual attacks and outcome from them are the same gruesome methods as depicted in the manga. Farnese gazes at the spectacle first with horror and then with sadistic pleasure, in case you were wondering if her nightmare night cured her of her fetish the answer is no. A young woman is lead away from the sight before she can get in trouble with the inquisitor, Casca. (Who is back to her normal darker skin color after appearing too pale in previous episode. Perhaps the only thing this adaptation has course corrected on.)
What ultimately will likely finally drive me away from covering or even watching this show will be Casca herself. As readers of the manga know, she has been reduced to a drooling, cooing, brain damaged shell of her former self. It was hard enough to watch her post eclipse in the manga, but in motion (or what passes for it here) it’s almost too sad and uncomfortable to bare. I also fear that this adaptation won’t be able to deliver her plight without it being a mockery.
In the quiet moments between fighting off the creatures of darkness, Guts returns to find Casca no longer where he left her two years ago. The introspective moment of recovery and regrouping is marred by the usual problems with the animation, or lack thereof, in this adaptation. When we catch up with Farnese and crew and meet with the new baddie of this arc we get a good introduction into how corrupt the Holy Knights might be. However, the attempts to tone down the vicious and over-the-top violence distract from the horror unfolding, rather than disguise it. Different week, same problems.
Episode Grade: C
Streamed by: Crunchyroll