Episode two introduces us to the important characters that make up the “Band Of The Hawk” – in other words, the personalities that dominate the rest of Berserk. The dark-skinned Casca is an exceptionally talented swordsman who just so happens to be a woman. That she commands so much respect amongst her comrades suggests that her power is second to only one man. The white haired Griffith is the leader of the Hawks and a lethal warrior; his strength and ability with a sword matched only by his elegance and charisma. Men follow Griffith because they can see he is destined for greatness, he shines so brightly – the Hawk is a legend waiting to happen.
Between Casca, Griffith and Guts, you will discover the soul of Berserk, the way they talk to each other, the tense body language and variable facial expressions; it all makes for such riveting viewing. Even during this early episode, sparks are flying between Casca and Guts. I should point out that Casca is deeply in love, bordering on obsessed with Griffith – she cannot stand to see his attentions elsewhere, and every second Griffith spends talking with Guts is like another small tear ripping through her heart. She hates Guts because Griffith likes him; basically, she is jealous.
It’s obvious that Griffith is special. During his exchanges with Guts, he talks like an ageless poet. There is no doubt in his voice, no fear, just the unrelenting calm of a man who could be very well be cradling the fate of the world in his palms. Most people are in awe of Griffith, but Guts would happily spit in his face. That’s what fascinates Griffith and infuriates Casca. Guts is an enigma and uncontrollable, a man who only feels alive in the heat of battle. Nothing else matters to him. And as it turns out, nothing else matters to Griffith either, but in Guts he finds a kindred spirit.
I’ve harped on about character relationships in this post but I don’t want anyone to think Berserk is just some boring period soap opera. It can be extremely gory and exciting, as the amount of severed limbs will attest. My favourite berserk moment in this episode comes right at the beginning as the young warrior Guts stands facing a bear-like beast of a man called Basuzo, who is wielding an axe and boasting about having killed 30 people in one battle; Basuzo stands a few yards in front of Guts, mocking him about being young, small and weak. Guts simply straps on his helmet, puts his head down and smiles. It is the grin of a man filling with excitement, starring death in the face, and running head first straight into it. That is Guts and that is Berserk.