Downward Spiral  

Griffith had to make himself strong!! But Griffith isn't a god!! A person's heart can't be sustained by ideals and dreams alone!! You!! You made Griffith weak!! He's no... Griffith's... no good without you!!!” Caska, Vol. 9 Ch. 9

In many ways, Guts was Griffith’s anchor to sanity. While everybody else held him to the standard of an infallible god, he felt he could relax and be himself around Guts. Although Guts knew that Griffith was very special, he was also able to accept him as a human being, with mortal weaknesses and flaws. Guts was always outspoken, but never judgmental, and truly the closest thing Griffith ever had to a friend. More than that, Guts was the only person Griffith ever truly cared about. Sadly, since he had little experience with rejection, Griffith had a tendency to take people for granted.

“He never came back to the barracks yesterday. I guess he really was in shock.” Rickert, Vol. 9 Ch. 4

Well if that wasn’t the understatement of the year! The floodgates were open, and Griffith had no clue how to deal with the torrent of emotions that assaulted his painfully rational mind. What the hell happened? Things were going so well. Why would he want to leave? Did he do something to drive Guts away? How could he not foresee this? Should he be feeling angry, sad, or bitter? Why did he care so much? Griffith could manipulate his surroundings better than anyone, but he could not handle losing control over himself. Desperate for a way to restore stability, he clawed through the haze of mental chaos and aimed for the one thing that was still in his power. Perhaps if he could shift his focus back towards the realization of his dream, he could forget about Guts. So what did he do?

“Lord Griffith?! Wh-what in the world are you doing?! In the rain... and at this hour...?!” Charlotte, Vol. 9 Ch. 1

That’s right, he stood in the rain like a zombie waiting for Charlotte to come to her room. She let him in through the window and fell into his arms, sobbing about how much she missed him and worried when he was at war, but his mind was elsewhere. Griffith was here for one thing and one thing only: to speed up the process of becoming royalty. It didn’t take him long to seduce her, and soon they were having wild, passionate sex on her bed. Well, at least Charlotte was. Griffith was zoning out throughout the whole thing and flashbacking about Guts. And then, after Charlotte fell fast asleep, he sat restless on the bed nursing the mark left by Guts’ sword. I guess it could be said that he was still in shock at being defeated, but come on! The guy just got done climaxing with a female and all he could do was curl up in a fetus position and cry, apparently longing for someone else.

“You believe that, don't you?” Guts, Vol. 9 Ch. 2

Speaking of flashbacking about Guts, there's that line from the Queen assassination again. It is followed by a flashback of Guts leaving. What could this mean? How are those two scenes connected? When those words were spoken a month earlier, they were words of encouragement, assuring Griffith that Guts would stand by him in pursuing the dream forever. He thought he could enjoy the fruits of his ambition and have the emotional satisfaction of someone to share it with. But he was wrong, the path of relationships had betrayed him, and he truly was alone.

It is important to note that of all the flashbacks Griffith would have, none of them were about losing a swordfight. Instead, they focused exclusively on his emotional attachment to Guts. Proud as he was, the shock of his first defeat seemed petty compared to the pain of losing his closest friend. So, in the end, was it worth it? If the paths of love and ambition were mutually exclusive, did he pick the right one? Perhaps the reason he saw those memories back to back was because he was weighing Guts' presence in his life against his dream as personified by Charlotte.

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.