Berserk (2016) – Episode 12 [Those Who Cling, Those Who Struggle] [Final Impression]


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Final episode… T_T

Nina’s still alive, unfortunately. She landed on a covered pallet of some kind, and she’s hurt her ankle. Feeling sorry for herself she manages to hobble into the middle of the road and fall over, and is nearly stampeded to death by panicking refugees, except that Luca appears at the last possible moment and throws them both out of the way. Behind the wave of refugees are more of the blob spirits, and Nina can’t run with her injured ankle, so Luca stuffs her into a barrel and tells her to be quiet until everything passes.

vlcsnap-00017As she’s trapped in the barrel and being knocked around every which way, Nina begins panicking and then coughing up blood. She realizes that when she’s the most afraid is also when she feels the most alive. Nina resolves to try her best to continue living, for both Luca and for herself.

Atop one of the lower gateways, Guts and the others are attempting to hold off the purple gelatinous-looking spirits with their torches, but they are in danger of being overrun by them. Puck explains that the spirits are the manifestations of the pain and resentment felt by those who died at the tower, and are being fed by the negative emotions held by the people they’ve been engulfing.

Farnese is having a hard time processing what she’s seeing. At one point she’s about to resort to prayer, until some harsh words from Guts bring her to her senses. With Guts facing one way, Farnese and Serpico attempt to watch his back with their torches.

Suddenly the massive army of spirits converge on the tower and swarm up its sides towards the five fingers outstretched towards the sky. Their weight is too heavy and the tower itself actually starts to snap and crack, but the merged forms of the spirits hold it somewhat together.

A monologue from the Egg of the World overlaid with shots of the God Hand implies that the long-awaited reincarnation ceremony is finally starting to take place. The thoughts of the living and the dead are converging into a single point, which will result in the birth of the White Hawk Griffith and a whole new world.

Both Guts and Casca are feeling the agony from the spirits through their brand. As the ceremony reaches its pinacle, the spirits vomit what looks like blood and the tower finally collapses into rubble. As it falls, we get a brief glimpse at an unnamed female witch and her fairy companion.

Day breaks, and Guts and the others have made it through the night in one piece, including Nina in her barrel and Luca who hid in a well. However they are not out of the woods yet: the Kushan have arrived! Their leader commands that their forces attack and capture Farnese and the others, including the Black Swordsman.

Just then Azan shows up to help out. It looks like all of the other Holy Iron Chain Knights didn’t survive, as Azan is alone. As he prepares to join the battle, Zodd vlcsnap-00033the Immortal bursts through the rubble. Guts is initially unsure of why Zodd is there, but as he strides towards a figure in the distance, everything becomes crystal clear: Griffith has been reborn, and he is now Zodd’s master.

While Guts understands the significance of this turn in events, the Kushan do not, and they do not hesitate to launch an attack against Griffith. Guts is about to join them when he stops suddenly. He has Casca to protect; he can’t abandon her again, not after he made a promise to keep her safe.

Azan leads Luca, Farnese and the others away from the ruins, but Guts and Casca remain behind. As the main Kushan forces arrive at what’s left of the tower, Isidoro and Jerome spot Guts and Casca riding away from the battlefield on horseback. Meanwhile a nude Griffith soars away into the distance on Zodd’s back.

It turns out there are a handful of other surviving refugees who made it through the night as well. Luca picks a little bouquet of flowers and throws it into the wind, saying it was for a poor lonely soul who never met anyone. It’s a nice gesture for such a pitiful creature. Isidoro takes off on his own, and Nina momentarily excuses herself from the group.

Down by the water Nina runs into Joachim, who claims to really care for her and apologizes for ratting her out. He turns to leave but Nina stops him; she decides to leave with Joachim, for they are two similar souls, and they depart without saying goodbye to Luca or the others.

Farnese also has a major revelation: she decides to leave the Order to follow Guts. His strength and ability to stand alone in the darkness have captivated her for reasons she can’t yet define, but she will follow him at her own pace, and Serpico will of course be with her.

As the credits roll, Luca, Jerome and the other working girls are still waiting for Nina, who has fucked off with Joachim. The Skull Knight sits atop his horse on top of a cliff, watching down through the clouds at this new world below.

And elsewhere as night falls, Guts, Casca and Puck make their way through a forest. Guts and Casca are finally together again, but what new adventures await them?

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My thoughts:
As a story arc, I thought that this episode was a little anti-climactic. The Conviction arc basically builds up towards the ceremony which results in the birth of a new world (which is elaborated on later in the manga) and Griffith’s reincarnation, but the ceremony itself was actually pretty short. And we barely got to see or hear the God Hand either. I feel like this last episode could have spanned two episodes and included a little more content.

That being said, what we did get to see of the reborn Griffith was pretty awesome, I just wish there had been more of it. He had an almost magical girl-like reveal, what with his long white hair flowing behind him and feathers everywhere.

I’m super excited that we’re getting another season in the spring 2017 season, and I am hoping that I’ll be covering that arc as well. We’ll get to meet a new cast of characters, including the green-haired forest witch and the fairy whom we got our first look at this episode.

I’m stalling the inevitable, so I guess without further ado, here’s my final impression for Berserk (2016).



Story:
From what I remember of the Conviction arc in the manga, this season was a pretty faithful adaption of the source material. I can’t fault the story just because I don’t like the arc, so the story gets full points from me. We’re also still early enough in the series that events are not getting super repetitive yet, which is good because that’s definitely one thing I am critical of later on.

Characters: Again full points from me. With the exception of Casca, pretty much everyone experiences some kind of personal growth and development during this arc. For example, Farnese changes from being a devoted leader within the Order to someone who openly questions and later discards her religious beliefs. Guts goes from being on a personal quest to destroy all Apostles (and by extension Griffith) to someone who realizes he must protect what is most important to him: Casca. Even Isidoro goes from being a cocky kid who’s most concerned about Guts training him to someone who learns about the notion of personal responsibility and fixing one’s mistakes.

There are some characters who do not experience a lot of growth or have much of their backstory revealed (such as Serpico or Azan) who will get their turn in later arcs, so I can’t discard any points for that.

vlcsnap-00046I’d also like to point out that I feel that Casca’s seiyuu, Toa Yukinari, does a fantastic job voicing a character who has literally no dialogue in the entire season. In all episodes she appears in, Casca communicates with only grunts and cries, and it’s left to the other characters to determine her wants and needs based primarily on her body language and tone of voice. That can’t have been an easy role to voice, but I think Yukinari-san pulled it off well.

Lastly Nina needs to go DIAF. Holy fuck what a whiny, useless, annoying character. She is perhaps the only character who has virtually no growth, because what little she gains in the final episode is offset by her desire to avoid hating herself. I knew she would not die during this arc because she doesn’t die in the manga, but that didn’t stop me from hoping that maybe the producers had made a couple changes here or there and that her death would be one of them.

Music & Animation: The music is top notch, and I am still thrilled that Hirasawa-san returned to compose more music for Berserk. I have my fingers crossed that the Blu-ray release of Berserk (2016) will include the official soundtrack. Tracks like “Hai Yo” really add to the dark, demonic fantasy world which Guts and Casca inhabit, and the music for this series is include any other anime music I’ve heard before. The opening theme is fucking awesome, gets me really amped up to watch the show, and the ending theme is just beautiful.

This blend of 2D and 3D animation is not my preferred style; I personally would have rather seen Berserk (2016) done in a more traditional style (as with the original 1997 TV series), or in the method used for the Golden Age film trilogy. Granted there are some scenes which the CG doesn’t warp, but for larger scenes with lots of characters such as group shots or battles with demons, the CG blend doesn’t do Berserk (2016) any favors. Characters’ movements often seem clunky or slow, and the CG lacks the smoothness of 2D animation.

What I did enjoy about the animation in Berserk (2016) were the close-ups, because those shots used more 2D than 3D animation, given them a more “traditional” look. I also really enjoyed the colored still at the end of each episode shown right before the “To Be Continued” screen.

Overall thoughts: Honestly I’m in love with everything about this season except the animation. It’s a little hard to tell from the brief preview we got at the endvlcsnap-00001-2 of this episode, but it looks like the next season might be done in the same CG style, so if that’s the case I will be bitching less about the animation the next time around. Like many other fans while I’m not big on this style of blended 2D & 3D animation, I was so excited to learn that us Berserk fans were getting a new adaption, and so I’m just grateful for the new seasons.

I’ve had a few people question over the last few months why I’m such a big fan of Berserk, because I normally hate anything from the horror genre and I try to avoid blood and gore (I’m squeamish). But like with many other shows, I don’t watch for the violence or the blood – I watch for the characters and their relationships more than anything. And the music. Always for the music.

Berserk is a dark fantasy, but it’s the growth shown by Guts that intrigues me more than anything, and the devotion he shows to Casca which draws me in. He and Casca only have one intimate encounter, but the relationship he has with Casca is powerful enough that it alters his entire psyche. He’s willing to give up his quest to kill Femto, give up his mission to kill the Apostles just to protect her. Not only that but as we’ll see in the next season (and hopefully later arcs too!), Guts will go to extreme lengths to help try to restore Casca’s mental state.

In parting, here are my final songs from Susumu Hirasawa for you. They are Inferno and Meimoku no Kanata, the opening and closing themes from Berserk (2016), respectively. Thank you to those who’ve read my entries for Berserk (2016), and I hope you will join me when I (hopefully) blog the next season in the spring. ^_^v

Final Score: 9/10

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