In Berserk, Guts the swordsman has been living in misery since his childhood, and things have only gotten worse for him over time.
Berserk is a famously dark and brutal seinen action series, penned by the late author Kentaro Miura. The story is often epic in scope, such as the war between the Midland and Tudor kingdoms and later, the Kushan Empire’s invasion of Midland. But this story is also quite intimate, especially with protagonist Guts and his many struggles.
Every seinen fan knows that poor Guts has been through a lot since his early childhood, and things only rarely change for the better. Guts hasn’t given up hope, but even so, his life is filled with many harsh realities that weigh heavily on him, and some of these harsh realities will never go away no matter how many Apostles he slays. The Skull Knight is right to call him the struggler.
No.10 Guts Has Never Known His Own Family
On the plus side, the harsh reality that Guts doesn’t know his family doesn’t seem to bother Guts that much, given how he pretty much never brings the topic up. But surely, a small part of him is bothered by the fact that he never met his parents and never will. Even when Guts was only a few hours old, they were already deceased.
Orphans in fiction sometimes wonder who their parents had been, and they might long for the family life they’ve lost or never had. Perhaps during moments of lonely vulnerability, Guts feels that way, too. Even the mightiest warrior wants to be soothed by a mother’s touch.
No.9 Guts Is Mentally Scarred By Assault
When Guts was a boy, he was trained by the mercenary commander Gambino, who was almost like a gruff foster father to him, not unlike Yondu and Star-Lord in the MCU. But unlike Yondu, Gambino decided to indirectly abuse his foster son and scar him in multiple ways.
When Guts was nine years old, Gambino accepted payment for the mercenary Donovan to assault Guts in unspeakable ways, and Guts couldn’t escape. Now Guts is mentally scarred by that brutal experience, to the point that he can’t stand people touching him in any way, for any reason.
No.8 Guts Has No Permanent Home
Many anime heroes have a home to return to, from the Kurosaki family clinic in Bleach to Naruto’s apartment in Naruto to Thorfinn’s family home on the Icelandic coast in Vinland Saga. But not Guts the mercenary. He’s been on the road for years now, and at most, he’ll have coins to spare to rent a room in a roadside inn.
Many fictional characters can’t stand being wanderers, or at least, they don’t find it very fun and comforting. Guts often sleeps in the open, dozing under trees or in caves, and that’s a rough lifestyle indeed. It also means his inventory of items is limited to what he can carry.
No.7 Guts Might Never Slay Griffith
Guts’ friend turned nemesis, the charismatic Griffith, is seemingly untouchable. Guts did defeat Griffith in a duel once, but ever since then, Griffith has been nigh-untouchable, especially after he was reborn at the tower of Albion. Guts didn’t get a chance to even swing his sword at Griffith, in fact.
Now, Guts is determined to defeat and kill his mortal enemy, but it seems he will never succeed, given Griffith’s supernatural status. This must weigh heavily on Guts, and he is likely holding back intense frustration and despair at the thought.
No.6 Guts’ Lover, Casca, Lost Her Memories
For a time, Guts and the lady knight Casca were romantically involved, and this was one of the few perks of Guts’ rough lifestyle. Then the Eclipse happened, and Casca was brutally tormented to the point that her mind broke, including the loss of her memories.
Even when Caca is by Guts’ side, on a mental level, she is quite far away from him. Casca cannot speak, and she does not know who Guts is or what her relationship with him is. This is miserable for Guts, but he hasn’t given up hope on restoring Casca’s mind someday.
No.5 Guts Is Constantly Hounded By Apostles & Spirits
Guts is rarely left alone during his difficult journey across Midland. He and Casca were both marked with the brand of sacrifice, which tends to attract deadly Apostles and even the spirits of the dead. In the eyes of those monsters, Guts is overdue to die, so they won’t stop attacking him.
Every night until sunup, Guts must constantly fight these monsters, and he almost makes a game out of it to amuse himself. But even if Guts views this as a game, it’s a terrible harsh reality of his life, something not even Farnese and Rickert have to put up with.
No.4 Guts Is Under Serious Stress
Many of Guts’ harsh realities, both physical and mental, all add up to create a miserable and highly stressful lifestyle. Most shonen and seinen heroes are under stress due to the constant violence and danger in their lives, but even then, Guts is having a tough time.
Guts must fight hundreds of foes every night, and he needs to travel by day, so his sleep is limited. That’s highly stressful in many ways, and it’s taking a serious toll on Guts. Any modern doctor would take one look at Guts and prescribe all kinds of medicine and therapy for him before he collapses for good.
No.3 Guts’ Best Weapon Also Hurts Him
A variety of action heroes have a dark power that they are reluctant to use, from Ken Kaneki’s ghoul powers in Tokyo Ghoul to Ichigo’s inner Hollow in Bleach, and Guts’ version of that is his famous berserker armor. On the plus side, this armor greatly enhances his combat skills and numbs all pain.
However, that armor won’t prevent Guts’ body from suffering serious harm as a side effect, and that means Guts is being physically torn apart faster than ever. He must limit that armor’s use, or it’ll be the end of him.
No.2 Guts’ Armor Also Brings Out His Inner Monster
Guts’ berserker armor is doing more than damaging his body in battle. His armor also takes a mental toll on him, mostly by unleashing the wrath of what’s known as the beast of darkness. This canine creature is the spirit of the armor, so to speak, and it’s not friendly.
This beast represents Guts’ darkest desires, and to Guts’ horror, his own inner darkness wants to tear Casca apart and overpower her, just the way Griffith had once done. If Guts isn’t careful, he will become the very monster he swore to destroy.
No.1 Guts Has Just One Good Eye
Aside from Guts’ giant sword, one of the most notable features of Guts is how he always has his right eye closed. During the Eclipse, Guts lost both his right eye and his left arm just below the elbow, and he has since found ways to compensate for those missing body parts.
Guts now has a prosthetic left arm, but he cannot restore his lost eye. This restricts his field of vision and his depth perception alike, making it more difficult for him to see. Even if Guts has gotten used to this, it’s not easy seeing a battlefield with just his left eye.
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