Welcome my friends, to the ongoing coverage of Berserk (2016-17), an ongoing experiment in whether great story can hold up when animated by two 15 year olds with an iMac from 1999. Seriously, the CG in The Last Starfighter looked better.
But I digress. Let’s get into Berserk, episode 22, A Journey Begins in Flames.
We start off where we left before the recap episode, with Guts brutally injured but now wearing the super awesome Berserker armor, and about to go HAM on dragon-knight guy (hereon mostly referred to as Dragy) from the new Band of the Hawk. The armor doesn’t actually heal Guts, he just can’t feel pain anymore-like an NFL linebacker numbing up that knee so he can pretend his MCL isn’t torn. That bodes well. At least Dragon guy seems impressed.
Guts mk. II starts flipping around, landing huge strikes on our friend Dragy, and even pulls the old ‘cannon in the fake hand” trick. As Guts whoops up on his opponent, Schireke explains the armor to the rest of the gang, how it’s wielder feels no pain or fear, then we see the results: Guts’ blood pouring out of every seam of the armor. I have to say, this seems like a design flaw. “It’ll make you super strong! mumbles It’ll also make you bleed like a stuck pig.” And that’s not even thinking about how rusty all that blood will make it. Just ruins the resale value.
Guts, with the blood pouring out of him like juice from a Gushers fruit snack (they’ll drive you fruity!) managed to break Dragy’s big ass hammer full on in half, then hack into him with some spectacular, Kill Bill level blood spray. Yay! Guts wins! Oh wait, no, the dude turns into an ACTUAL F’ING DRAGON. Actually, he looks less like a dragon and more like an opponent in a Godzilla movie. The good Japanese ones, not the crap American ones.
Despite his enemy being a F’ING DRAGON with nigh unbreakable skin now, Guts actually holds his own, blocking blows and cracking Dragy’s...face. I mean his upper one, he’s got two now. But this awesomness comes at a price, and Guts loses even more blood and is now also breaking bones, which the armor compensates for but doesn’t actually fix. According to Schierke, the last owner used up all his blood and bones and died fighting. Again, kind of design flaw. Schierke’s mistress goes Obi-wan, telling the young witch to get in Guts’ head and keep him from drowning in the suit’s power. Easy for you to say, lady, you’re dead (I guess).
As Guts fights some underling uglies and his fighting style becomes more and more bestial, Schierke deep dives into his subconscious. Lucky her, she gets to see Guts’ memories, including the events of the Eclipse. Fun. Anyway, she manages to find the manifestation of Guts ego, which is just like..some flames. Great work, animation team. Invoking Casca and showing her in peril, Schierke manages to get Guts back to his senses, which is shown visually by being able to see Guts’ face in the helmet now. He’s wearing the armor, instead of the armor wearing him. Ooo, yeah that’s some deep analysis right there. You don’t get that from when Gugsy does these recaps. Guts saves Casca and removes his helmet and….it’s not pretty.
Our pal Guts has a trendy new white streak in his hair. Looks like wearing Berserker armor ages you like being President for 2 terms. So, yay, Guts is back, but they’ve still got a F’ING DRAGON to deal with. Could be a problem, but wait! It’s time for Deus Ex Machina, or, since it’s a witch, maybe Hexen Ex Machina. The Good Witch of the Forest shows up in giant white flames, doing her best Jean Grey, and covers Guts & Friends as they beat a hasty retreat and giving our favorite apprentice witch one last chance to say goodbye to her mentor. The feels, man.
With that, we cut to some new characters! We’re back in the capital city, which doesn’t look so good these days. In what kinda looks like a sewer, Laban of Midland’s knights(whom you can tell is very important by how big the feather in his hat is) meets the local resistance. Seems the Kushans are up to all manner of shenanigans, and there are monsters in the city, some of them controlled by the Kushans. The resistance leader has one question: “Where is the hawk?”
Sadly, before we hear anything about Griffith and his salon-worthy hair, the group is attacked by alligator man, cause why the hell not. Running (with some real, reaaaal crap running animation, by the way; like, they look like action figures ”running”) away from Chompers the crocodile-man just leads them into a an alley with Stompy, the giant axe-wielding Elephant dude. Rock and a hard place for the Resistance. But then, they’re saved by the Moonlight Knight and ..uh..arrow guy from the New Ban of the Hawk. They dispatch the animal-men and tell Sir Laban of the Big Feather to wait, the Hawk is coming to save the city. He’d better hurry the hell up, there’s only 2 episodes left.
Credits time! Guess that’s it...wait, nope, post-credits scene this week! We rejoin the Guts Squad on a very nice beach. Apparently its been a month or so since the events at the Spirit Tree, and Gugs is still recovering. He ignores Schierke’s warnings to take the armor off. So, wait, he’s been wearing it for a month? He must smell just fantastic. Guts seems oddly at peace in this last shot, seeing a nice sunset and Casca’s smile for the first time in forever. Its kinda beautiful, actually; too bad it’ll be back to monsters and rape and disemboweling soon.
Oh, that doesn’t sound good. Well, that’s life in Berserkland. See you next time. HAI YOOOOOO