BERSERK AND MAN’S PATH

Existence is burden by the weight of the struggles we face every day. No work better than Berserk embodies human destiny.

About Berserk:

“Kentaro Miura’s words and drawings, thanks to an evocative mix of violence and lyricism, scenes of colossal epicism and small moments of reflection, keep tens of thousands of Italian fans glued to their chairs”.

With these words the Italian volumes of Berserk give homage to the Japanese work, an undisputed masterpiece of world comics. An extraordinary metaphor of the titanic struggle between good and evil and not only, described in its most bloody and shocking declinations through artboards richly adorned with details, in a drawing designed to enhance drama, monstrosity and vehemence.

The story is set in medieval times and moves between the paved of the alleys that branch out between the houses, forests in which camp in or ambush, ancient castles under siege, stained by the blaze of blood that rises up to the sky under the shrill clash of swords. The iron and the fire of war brutalize the souls, but at the same time accentuate the most human and fragile sides, illustrating their most authentic shades. Never as during the war, man shows himself for what he truly is: who thinks of his own interests fedects, the coward creates the black market, the valiant man fights showing his courage and laughing in the face of death. People reveal themselves for what they are, often selfish and vicious; the powerful ones, sometimes transformed into real demons, vent their bestality against the masses. Finally, the fight against heretics.

In this scenario take shape the events of the main characters, who will have to travel in an essentially unfair world in search of themselves and a place to fulfill their aspirations. The protagonist of the story, Gatsu, is a man born from death (literally, if you decide to read the manga you will understand) who is adopted and trained from an early age to become a mercenary, an individual who sells death for money. His soul is deeply scarred by conflict and a demonic past that haunts him, which he must deal with every night.

During his journey, he meets the Hawk Squad, a group of top-level mercenaries led by Griffith, a man of ethereal charm who can tame Gatsu’s brutality. The entire group is enlightened by Griffith’s blissful wing and his dazzling dream: to one day build a kingdom in which to prosper. The commander always wears around his neck a scarlet pendant, an esoteric object called Bejelit, whose role will be decisive in the upheaval of events.

“Friends don’t hold on to other people’s dreams, they live for their own, and if there is someone who opposes them they resist and rebel with all their soul, even if they go against me. To me the definition of friends means being all on the same level.”

What does it mean to be a friend? To guide someone in his dream, remaining forever in his shadow, or to follow a personal goal with all one’s might? A friend or a companion sometimes ends up being a sacrificial victim on an altar built behind friendly smiles and false promises. And in the purest souls there may lurk a feverish spasm of selfishness and lust for power, aimed at consuming and consuming themselves in the name of a single, immense utopia. Someone, willing to any cruelty in order to crown his dream, can weave the threads of the destiny of all. And this is what happens in our story.

After hundreds of bloodless fights and legendary events, the Bejelit will call Griffith, who, during an eclipse that occurs every 216 years, will invoke an army of archdemons, opening wide the gates of hell. Most of the team of hawks will be exterminated in a real blood feast, which will consecrate Griffith to become himself one of the five commanders of the archdemons, to have the strength to be able, finally, to crown his dream. Gatsu and Caska, a girl of the team, will be miraculously saved, but will now begin the reign of darkness. The bitter disappointment, marked by the brutality of the massacre, will instill in Gatsu a bitter desire for revenge, which will lead him to fulfill his path and become stronger to achieve the justice he seeks.

What we can observe by reading the extraordinary pages of Berserk is a boundless universe. The race to reach a dream, studded with a ladder of corpses to be trampled on to get higher and higher, transfiguring one’s essence. The spasmodic desire to obtain answers, gritting one’s teeth in the midst of a sea of blood, with the courage to continue wielding one’s sword after having crossed a thousand endless black nights. The rustling of the grass and the chirping of the birds that greet a new regenerating day, the dawn that rises to illuminate a new story in the bed of a long journey, towards answers that perhaps sooner or later will come.

And again, the tenderness of love, torture in the name of martyrdom, the crumbling of reality (and of certainties), the advent of resurrection and the fascination of the otherworldly. Anguish, fear, ardor, madness, seduction, anger, disappointments and bloody passions, as deep as an abyss, driven into the work like an iron blade that always leaves the sign of its passage.

Gatsu’s is the path that every man must take to find himself, to give birth, to regenerate. It is the path of a warrior who has struggled all his life, first just to survive, and then also to live beyond his own fears, as each of us should do. It is the story of a lonely man who, growing up, discovers the existence of something to protect and who shouts, with his voice, against the emptiness of the world, in the titanic attempt to survive an eternal return that has increasingly dramatic connotations. The sense of existence is consecrated in standing, full of ardor, before a reality indifferent to our presence, and marking it indelibly with our claws.

Gatsu is the timeless courage, while Griffith is the corrupted beauty like Dorian Gray, a Faust that will mark the beginning of a new era. The rupture of an intense bond between two opposite poles, which find a reciprocal balance with each other, always constitutes an apocalypse, a schism that destroys everything but leaves the possibility of reflecting in the fragments of the past in order to know each other better and to rise again among the rubble, to follow a new path with renewed conviction. The Spirit finds itself only in absolute devastation, these are the words of Hegel that I have imprinted in my heart and that reverberate every time we get up again.

The future is a blazing Sun shining on the horizon, but the road to reach it can be arduous and fraught with danger. In real life, prudence is a virtue; we cannot be dismissive and laugh in the face of danger. We are not all heroes with a giant piece of iron on our shoulders as a sword, with which to slice through every obstacle as if it were made of papier-mache. But at the same time we must find within ourselves the courage to keep going, despite the thousands of difficulties we may encounter along the way. No matter our inner caliber. Every man should fight for what he believes in. And it is precisely because of the compelling need we have to reach for the future while keeping ourselves whole that we must try to leave the past behind.

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