This week saw the announcement that Kentaro Miura’s beloved dark fantasy manga, Berserk, would be returning from hiatus to begin serialization once more in Young Animal. While I certainly agree with fellow OTAQUEST writer Chris Cimi that this probably won’t last for more than a couple of chapters, it’s very possible that this latest Berserk hiatus marks the beginning of the end.
Contains spoilers for the entirety of Berserk up to chapter 357 of the manga.
Mission: Save Casca
The story of Berserk has been running for three decades now, beginning all way back in 1989. But those 30 years have largely been driven by one objective – saving Casca.
Now, there are obvious exceptions to this rule. Casca hadn’t even been introduced in the Black Swordsman arc, which the Berserk manga opens on. In much the same vein, the Lost Children arc (which has been sadly overlooked by the series’ many anime adaptations) is more of an isolated story that focuses on Guts, Jill and Rosine. But these arcs are more of a way for Kentaro Miura to introduce and reacquaint us with Guts as a character, and thus can be seen as exceptions to the norm.
Even so, the objective of saving Casca is not always known to the characters, and indeed to us as readers during all of the arcs. The obvious example of this is during the Golden Age arc, where Casca is perfectly fine and healthy. Yet this arc was used to provide background for this objective in the first place and was no doubt formulated for such a use by Kentaro Miura during the manga’s development.
In addition, the Conviction arc is much the same as the events of the arc are what make Guts realize what he really wants is to be with Casca again. But once more, this is foundational work for an objective that has come to underscore the entire series in hindsight.
Yet that objective has been fulfilled. After many trials and tribulations – including eight years on a boat – Guts’ crew have finally reached Elfhelm, where they hope to have the Flower Storm Monarch heal Casca. The latest developments of the series, now in the Fantasia arc, saw Schierke and Farnese journey through Casca’s tortured psyche to return her to her former self. And it worked!
Trouble in Paradise
But the last time we saw our motley crew, things weren’t so good. Upon seeing Guts for the first time after being healed, Casca saw a vision of the brutal Eclipse and let out a blood-curdling scream.
It’s clear that this healing process hasn’t gone entirely to plan. How Casca has been affected by her trauma, and how Guts will respond to his quest possibly being for nothing will, in turn, become the basis for our protagonist’s new objective. Will he be able to accept what Casca has become, or will he continue fighting? More importantly, however, will the outcome of his quest rekindle his desire for revenge on Griffith – an objective he buried out of fear of himself and for Casca’s sake?
One excellent and brilliantly useful storytelling convention is that of the enduring lie, and perhaps Miura is planning to make use of such a convention. Make your protagonist believe something that isn’t true, and then pull the rug out from under their feet for a truly exciting final act. Perhaps it was just a pipe dream to think that Casca could just be “healed” after such a traumatic experience, after all.
But that’s how a conventional writer would do it. I’m not quite sure that Miura will take the conventional route – he’s had plenty of time to think of a more interesting development, after all. Yet the fact remains that the next developments in the story will be instrumental in shaping the next phase of Berserk.
Hiatus on Hiatus
Not that he’s going to rush to show us what exactly that might entail, mind you. According to the serialization announcement in Young Animal, the series will be back and focusing on Griffith this time around.
You could definitely see this as just avoiding the inevitable, as Miura has been doing for a while now. But even showing what Griffith’s objective is, now that’s he’s achieved his own objective of getting his own kingdom, would be another key development in the story. So wherever Miura goes, he’s got nowhere left to hide – no more iDOLM@STER hiatuses, that’s for sure.
What do you think about this latest serialization announcement? What will the next overarching objective for the series be? What do you think will happen at the end of Berserk? Let us know via social media or via our Discord below.