Another showing for Berserk with episode five. The weirdest part is we still don’t know how long this show is going to run for. We can assume it will be 12 episodes and will conclude with the fight between Mozgus and Guts, or we will get a full 24-26 episode order and the new series will move past that. That aside, this week’s episode took some time to get into what the High Inquisitor and Farnese have been up to at the Tower of Conviction, while Guts travels between regions in search of Casca. We also got to spend more time with Luca and crew in the slums outside Albion.
Right out of the gate we get another rad fight scene with Guts and the Kushans, and Isidro -as I had guessed- makes his second appearance in the series now. The Kushans themselves are a pretty neat group, but outside of the prince they don’t really hold a place in Guts story per se, but they are a good jumping off point to allow some outside conflict to make it into Guts journey. Isidro himself is more or less the first to join Guts party as he tears through the country in search of Casca. In this series he is voice acted well -as much of the cast is- and provides some comedic relief with Puck, which I still absolutely love. Isidro like many others are thunderstruck at the sight of Guts fighting, and are inspired to become stronger.
The most exciting part of the opening scene was that the transitions between 2D and CGI were pretty fluid and worked really well together. Maybe they are finally figuring it out a bit more? Seeing Guts shred through the Kushans was, like all fight scenes so far, pretty enthralling. I think the show has done a decent job of showing that Guts isn’t just a brute, but a fairly crafty and agile fighter. And while the 3D dismemberment looks really rad, I think there should be more blood.
We then leave Guts to return to the Tower and see what state civilization is in, which is not great. People are starving and dying of disease and war. Probably the best part of the episode was seeing Mozgus delegate at the Tower. He’s a powerful voice and people both fear and respect him. We saw last week that he is a bit unhinged, and this week we got a deeper look at just how violent and brutal the faith is. Mozgus’ torture room remains a pretty clear image in fans minds and seeing it animated was pretty horrifying, especially with the proposition given to the mother who begged for food for her child.
We also got a better look at Casca, Luca and company, especially the curly haired Nina who will play a big role in the episode to come. Its great to see Luca care for Casca, and the way she cares for her whole bunch. She is truly a great side character. The scene on the beach with Casca and Nina was a great and very important moment, Nina with her sexually transmitted disease and the tower in the background. And the stoning of the man, which shows just how much of a hive mind the people are becoming. To not participate in the religiously sanctioned stoning and beatings is considered taboo. I’ve always thought this arc was a great look at the dangerous power of fear and organized religion so I especially enjoyed this episode for reasons outside of the show itself.
Nina’s monologue about the fear she feels about both living and dying basically embodies one of the main themes behind Berserk. Guts with the brand basically means that living for him will be hell, but in death he will have failed to save the ones he loves. And Nina exhibited a bit of that same sentiment this week. Her quote about the tower basically sums up this arc as a whole. “This place is supposed to be where God is present,why does it look so stark and terrifying?” a quote that I think is a singular thread through many stories with religious overtones and is really driven home in Berserk many times.
Bookending this episode is another encounter for Isidro and Guts, and it leads to another kickass, albeit short, fight between Guts and the pinwheels. (PINWHEELS! DARK SOULS INCOMING.) A scene that truly showed some of the excellent camera work presented in the series and another great blend of styles. The dialogue between Puck and Isidro again drew some laughs, which you really need in between the bleak streaks of black and grey that are Guts.
Berserk 2016 is still on an upswing. “Tower of Conviction” is another great episode, and if the preview means anything we are still not at the peak of crazy for this season. This week’s episode opened and ended on some killer fight scenes and between the slabs of iron was a look into both Mozgus and Luca’s groups. Couple that with some excellent art direction and you’ve got another high point for the series. And next week Skull Knight? C’mon! I can’t wait.