Twelve Moments in Anime 2010 No. 6 – Hell on Earth
Berserk is a series that impressed me more as it went along. The first episode is just OK; however, when it gets into the flashback that comprises 99 percent of the series, that’s when the show really gets rolling and never stops getting better, right up until the very end. Unlike a lot of people, I actually love the ending, except for the very last moment where it ends on a somewhat awkward, abrupt note. Other than that, however, it’s fantastic, for the very reason that everything builds up to it in the most horrifying, dreadful way.
The ending sweeps everything in the series away as if it never mattered at all, and it is awesome for doing so. Why? Because it reinforces the main theme of “DESTINY FUCKS OVER EVERYONE” in the cruelest way possible. Berserk‘s ending goes for broke in how the demon lords manipulate everything to get their way; Griffith is so broken that he practically has to go along with their deal, and his rite of initiation is to defile the woman who had loyally followed him from day one. Everyone in the Band of the Hawk dies save Guts and Casca. The world itself becomes a misshapen, hellish landscape. And a new demon lord is born.
Every action and interaction in Berserk builds to this point: Every step climbed fuels Griffith’s lust for power; every relationship formed strengthens the blood sacrifice; and Griffith’s friendship/rivalry with Guts provides the fear that, maybe, his dream might not come true after all . . . except when that demon voice sounds off so temptingly in his mind. The Egg of the King is just begging to be used . . .
Berserk is the rare anime that is perfectly planned from start to finish (luckily, it has a well written and structured base from which to draw). If only this were the rule rather than the exception.