Berserk is a legendary manga series that needs few introductions. It's the story of the Mercenary named Guts who has fought battle after battle since he was a child. He falls in with the noted mercenary group, the Band of the Hawk, which is led by the byronic and ambitious Griffith.
Griffith values his skills as a fighter and sees Gut's as essential to the group's success and Gut's begins to find more and more of a home in the Band of the Hawk. Not everyone takes to Gut's quite as quick, most important of which is Griffith's second in command, the female warrior Casca. Gut's eventually finds more of a home among the Hawks than he's ever felt before, but his own independence, and Griffith's dream, are going to set each other on a tragic course....
Puck gets written off as a sort of comic relief character, and yes, that is a lot of his function within the series. However, it's not the only bit. Puck is an important character in the series because in the times just after the Eclipse, Puck was really all Guts had as a companion and thus, keeping him human. Guts is always tempted and tainted by demons, both external and internal, and Puck has helped him retain his humanity. As such, he's much more critical to the series than he looks. Plus, he is incredibly funny or at least goofy at times and who can really find that as a fault?
9. Noseferatu Zodd
Noseferatu Zodd was a huge turning point in the Golden Age arc. His bloody debut signaled that the supernatural held major sway in this world and that monsters were real. His character design evokes this so well, and becomes so imposing when he turns into his apostle form. The fight's that he's had with Guts were some of the most brutal, desperate and incredible fights in the series, like the Iconic duel when Griffith first met Guts in his new physical form. Zodd may look a little weaker in the context of how the Godhand and other parts of the supernatural world has been developed, but he feels like a symbol for all the mystery and inhuman might behind it.
Berserk is known for the blood, battles and gore but in the end they're all smoke and mirrors without the emotional core of the series which are the characters. There's death and destruction everywhere, but Berserk is a story of people trying to find basic happiness in a very dark world. There's still beauty out there, and this is what much of Floras's role in the manga drives home.
Her warm, refined and dignified presence plus the fact that her home occupies a sort of literal oasis in the Interstice shows that there can still be peace in a very grim world. Flora always works to see and fight for the best in people, and I loved her maternal relationship with Schierke. I'm sad that she's gone, but I know that she's left an indelible mark upon Schierke and the rest of the party.
Man did I feel bad for Judeau at the eclipse. Judeau was always a completely solid guy who tried to have everyone's back the best he could. He wasn't as great a fighter or a leader as Guts, Griffith or Casca but he was a welcome face to all 3 and the whole band of the hawk as well. He's another one of the fighters who relied more upon quick moves and quick wits than brute strength, and made throwing knives into a staple.
Judeau had a knack for reading the emotions of others but unfortunately was never able to speak true to his own. Dying before he could tell Casca the truth about how he felt about her was Tragic, and Judeau's loss was one of the sharpest blows of the eclipse.
Not many regular human beings can go toe to toe against Guts, but Serpico can. He can't all the time of course, but Sun Tzu once said 'He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot will be victorious' and Serpico always picks his battles at the most opportune times. Picking his battles is something he's had to do throughout his life, when he often had to fight multiple kids who were older than him or, after Farnese took him in, nobles who looked down upon his commoner origins. His relationship wit Farnese is one of his most interesting attributes, and it's wonderful how the two care for one another throughout the series.
5. Farenese de Vandimion
Our resident Pyromanic making the list at number 5. Farnese is a bit of a problem child but has recently gone into far more problematic and damning territory. But Berserk being what it is, it doesn't simply pass her off as some unforgivable evil. Berserk's world is cruel and brutish, but beautiful things still happen, and Farny, as she's affectionately called by members of her party is starting to earn more and more redemption.
Her story of how her neglect as a child had the effect of, shall we say, igniting a darker side to her is a story that's all too common in the world of Berserk. But bit by bit she's starting to find a place for herself not just in developing her abilities but forging new and deeper relationships with Guts and the rest of the group. Farny's character arc is worthy of what Berserk did before she was introduced, and she's s one of the best thing s about the later arc
Think of how much of a central figure Guts is in the Berserk universe. Think about how strong he is as a fighter. Now think that right now, Shierke is the person he probably needs the most to keep him, and the rest of the group, alive. It was a brilliant stroke by Miura to make Guts, one of the most dominating and macho male leads in the anime canon (and belovedly so) rely on and trust so deeply a young girl with magic powers. Shierke comes through in the clutch so many times for Guts and the rest of the group, and she's essential to him maintaining his own sense of self in his Berserker rage.
Aside from her abilities, she's a great character in a number of ways. A breath of fresh air from the stuffy and zealous religious bigots that claim so much power in the world of Berserk, Schierke is a call back to a pagan, at least in the european context, belief system. Not only are her beliefs different but she's just more humane, and her ideals are based around compassion and respect for the natural world. Shierke is one of the reasons that the last two arcs of the Manga have still been great, aside from the over-reliance on maritime adventures.
Casca goes through a lot of hell in the world of Berserk. Unlike many, she's still alive but she's scarred to the point of being mute, mentally ill and without her memories. A miserable fate made even worse by how bright Casca shone in the Golden Age. Casca was universally respected by the Hawks, she was a woman who lived in the age of total patriarchy and led men successfully on the field of battle. She was skillful, agile fighter who was fleet of foot and able to defeat men who were bigger and stronger than her.
Casca led the hawks in the desperate times after Griffith was imprisoned, and was the only thing that kept the band together. Nearly at the end of her rope, she tried to commit suicide only before Guts managed to pull her back and the two started a relationship in which they found some happiness in eachother. I really want to see that Happiness back in Berserk, and I hope that Casca gets her memories back soon.
A series like Berserk needed a great villain if it ever needed to be successful, and boy does Griffith fit the bill. His betrayal at the Eclipse is as cataclysmic as it is shocking, and it makes something like the Red Wedding look like a tea party. What makes Griffith such an impactful villain is everything that made him such a likable character before hand. He was an amazing fighter, tactician and leader. He was consummately beautiful, drawing the eye of both men and women. He can talk and relate to a common soldier as easily as he could a court noble. Griffith inspired so many people throughout his run for King, and it's hard to think he wouldn't have made a better ruler than most of the incompetent aristocrats at the time.
Griffith always had a duplicitous ambition but he had a group of comrades he never wanted to abandon. He's not simply evil as some make him out to be. In fact in the world of Berserk, that the eclipse happened at all is testament that the Band of the Hawk was very dear to him. However, the events of Berserk are so jarring that it's easy to see why people hate him. I'll always be a Griffith Fanboy and an Ironic #GriffithdidNothingWrong poster, he's one of my favorite characters from all fiction and unquestionably one of anime's most iconic and tragic villains.
Guts Is an anime and manga icon. He is one of the most recognizable figures coming from those mediums and It's impossible to not give him the number one spot. Guts is such a tragic character with an amazing story that he deserves to be one of the standard bearers for anime and manga. Guts is such an amazing hero and antihero, he's not a guy trying to fight haphazardly for justice, in fact he's been fighting so long merely just to survive. But Gut's was never a 'fight for the sake of fighting' edge lord, he did want to build his strength as a warrior throughout most of the Golden Age arc but his story was more about finally finding a home and a group of people who cared for him, leaving it for his own foolish reasons and then having it tragically, cruelly ripped away from him when he tried to go back to it, realizing he was much more important to it than he ever gave himself credit for.
Gut's delivers an huge amount of appeal as an action hero, and there are so many times where I clenched my fist and cheered because he came into battle at a key time and saved some of his comrades. But before all that, he's simply a fantastic character who's search for a home, identity, friends, comrades and a lover is universal. I really pray that Miura has somewhat of a happy ending in store for te Black Swordsman.
There's a number of characters I wanted to include but unfortunately, there's only 10 spots on the list so choices have to be made. Let us know what you think of these choices and what ones you would have made! What are your favorite Berserk Characters? Let us know in the comments below.