Berserk is a manga series that had always intimidated me due to how beloved it was within the otaku community, particularly by manga enthusiasts. Couple that with its reputation for being incredibly violent and graphic and unforgiving in its representation of abuse and death, I had kept my distance for a long time. But at the end of 2020, I finally dove into it with the breathtaking Deluxe Editions that are being released by Dark Horse Comics. Not only did I end up getting swept away in the pandemonium surrounding this series, I also discovered so many brilliant characters to love wholeheartedly.
Since Valentine’s Day is looming around the corner, I thought it would be neat to talk about a couple of my favourite Berserk characters, mostly a couple that truly revolutionises the beauty of slow-burn romance and emotional intimacy, a couple known as Guts and Casca.
Both individuals are similar in an abundance of ways. Both were essentially viewed as nothing but useless brats whose only worth stemmed from the money they were sold for. They were both physically and sexually abused and had to learn very early on in their childhood how much death and survival went hand-in-hand. Both were lost until they met a majestic and enigmatic dude named Griffith, and both suffered from the excruciating plight of terrible loneliness.
Even though they have so much in common, they still ended up hating each other for a very long time. Casca resented Guts for coming into Griffith’s life and essentially taking away so much of his time as well as his awe and respect. Griffith and Guts end up developing an extraordinary bond that eventually leads to both of their undoing. Because she was so fraught over the fear of losing someone she had admired so deeply, she never truly gave Guts a chance.
I loved this sense of tension between them for two main reasons. Firstly, I am a sucker for enemies and rivals who eventually end up swooning for one another in the end. Secondly, it helps lay down some excellent foundations for a slow-burn romance that develops from an emotional intimacy that is rarely ever portrayed in the manga medium.
After a truly horrible battle, Casca and Guts find themselves alone fighting for survival as they wait for their friends to eventually come and find them. During this process, the young woman finally lets go of everything she has been holding on to with regard to her resentment and hate and frustration with Guts, which eventually leads her to realise how fond she’s grown of him. Her feelings have outgrown the naivety of jealousy and envy to become a sense of respect and adoration, things that Guts had never received prior to encountering and joining forces with Griffith and the Hawks.
This moment where they share a beautiful exposition of sentimental vulnerability and then have sex for the very first time in both of their lives, in a manner that is filled with consent as much as it is nervousness and fear of being so wholly exposed (physically and psychologically) is magnificently exceptional. It’s one of the most touching confessions and relationship beginnings I have read in manga.
Even though Casca and Guts come together, their relationship also isn’t perfect. Both individuals have tons of baggage with respect to their independent pasts as well as their complicated feelings towards Griffith. The weight of Griffith’s influence and his possible reaction to them being an item weighs on them like a silent, soaking wet iron sheet. This adds another depth of complexity to their interactions and emotions towards one another, never truly letting go of the tension that ultimately attracts them to each another and that shall also eventually lead to their tragic parting.
Casca and Guts are truly one of my favourite manga couples in existence thus far. While reading about what happens to them was both amazingly endearing as it was heart-breaking, wondrously joyous as it was fervently devastating, I have so much respect for what they represent with regard to heartfelt intangible intimacy that naturally blossoms when people allow themselves to be so utterly bare and fragile with their partners; to let down all of those walls and shields so they can allow themselves to be loved as well as to give love in ways they either never expected or hoped would be possible. In spite of the tragedy, they are also an inspiration and have many traits that folx should aspire to achieve in their own romantic affiliations.
If you haven’t read Berserk by Kentarō Miura yet, and need even more of a reason to check it out, these two characters and their relationship are definitely a fantastic reason to get off your arse and do so!