Turning Point

“I want to stand beside him by attaining something of my own. He's the only one I can't stand looking down on me.” Guts, Vol. 8 Ch. 7

He realized that despite all he had accomplished, and everything he had done for Griffith, it only amounted to glorifying somebody else’s existence. Guts could never hope to stand beside Griffith as an equal until he found his own reason for living. It ate away at him ever since, but he was not the type to run off on a whim. The Hawks were his family and Griffith was still his best friend. He would stick around through the end of the war. When the dust cleared and peace reigned throughout the land, Griffith was awarded the highest rank in the Midland army – White Phoenix General – and the rest of the Hawk Captains would be promoted to nobles. Guts waited about a month before breaking the news: he was leaving to find himself. Griffith would have none of that.


“I thought I told you then that you belong to me. I won you with this [sword]. Your fight and you death, I hold both. If you want to leave my grasp, then it'll be the same as that time. Wrest yourself away by your sword.” Griffith, Vol. 8 Ch. 9

Well, at first, he calmly approached Guts and asked, “Are you... leaving?” Guts said yes. Then he asked again, “Do you really... mean to leave the Band of the Hawk?” Guts said yes, adding that he was sorry. There was some commotion as Ricket tried begging Guts to stay, Judeau explaining that Guts had already made up his mind, and Corkus outright telling Guts that he never liked him anyway. Meanwhile, Griffith was flipping out and silently drew his sword.

“Do you want to go?! Is this how badly you want o leave my grasp?! You can't... You can't!! I won't have it!! I won't let you!!” Griffith, Vol. 8 Ch. 10

Of course, he wouldn’t actually say that out loud. This was the first time in the series that you started seeing inside Griffith’s head, and sometimes it wasn’t pretty. He thought he had everything firmly in his grasp, he believed he could anticipate every possible outcome, yet Guts’ announcement took him by surprise. Griffith quickly analyzed his environment and debated several strategies that would help him overcome Guts’ advantage of a much larger, much heavier weapon. He found one he thought would work, but it had a chance of killing Guts in the process. This worried him for a moment, “But... If I can’t keep him here... It doesn’t matter!!” Yes, Griffith was in ‘if I can’t have him no one can’ mode. I don’t even think it was even a matter of possessiveness, this was pure desperation. He charged in with perfect technique, and would have won, but Guts’ sword cut clean through his blade. Though Guts stopped short of actually injuring Griffith, it was an enormous blow to his pride – in front of his men, no less.

“It's all right. It's like stumbling on a rock on the roadside. It's petty... a small thing. The place you want to go is more distant... farther off. So... it's all right. You'll stand up. And you'll start walking. Soon...” Guts, Vol. 8 Ch. 10

Guts believed that Griffith was so strong, so determined, so inspired by his goals, that he couldn’t truly hurt him. But Guts was wrong. Griffith’s iron will was founded on denial of his feelings, and now that false sense of strength was about to unravel. The world of emotion was uncharted territory for him. Guts didn’t know how much he meant to Griffith because even Griffith didn’t know how much he meant to Griffith. All Griffith knew was that the only person he believed he could trust with his innermost thoughts, insecurities, and darkest secrets was leaving. He felt abandoned and betrayed. It is here that the logic of keeping Guts around as a military asset fails completely. The war was over and the only path to claiming his own kingdom was through Princess Charlotte, not Guts. Furthermore, "those who'd interfere with Griffith's ambitions are all dead." Griffith’s reasons for wanting Guts to stay were 100% personal.

DISCLAIMER: Berserk and all the characters, story, and art therein is copyright Kentaro Miura. No copyright infringement is intended, and I hope that this essay inspires more people to read/watch Berserk! Translation in the text is by Dark Horse, translation in the images is by The Band of the Hawk, unless otherwise specified.