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This discussison originally started in Vinland Saga as a comparison between VS vs Berserk, but I think it took an interesting focus on Berserk so I took it here.
The original thesis was: While the protagonists of Vinland Saga are kinda embedded into society (which is not important for this discussion though), Guts basically has no connection to "society" as we know it. There is interhuman interaction, but almost only between "outcasts" like Guts.
A time line of Guts' social environments
Birth and early childhood: Guts as part of a mercenary troop, that does not have to seem contact to citizens. Rather it's seems to be a pretty isolistic bunch. Of course there is few to nothing civil life for a boy growing up on the battlefield like he did. A pretty rough sociotope he has here.
Roaming the lands: After leaving his original mercenary group, he travels allone for a while and again only seems to have contact to mercenaries he can fight for.
He basically doesn't have personal relations here and just remains allone. When somebody offers him to work for him, he even refuses. Perhaps because he doesn't wont to be bound to other people?
Band of the Hawks: Here he ends up with another group of outcasts. Real outcasts this time, it seems almost everyone of the Band of the Hawks actually fled from normal society.
Again, he doesn't want to associate with them but is forced to (in a friendly way, fortunatelly).
Arriving in Society? Interestingly, both him and Caska seem to struggle hard as soon as the Band of the Hawks arrives in society. During the ball they rather stay outside and seem to feel really uncomfortable with so many people around them.
Soon after, Guts leaves. "Officially" reasoned with him wanting to pursuit his own dreams and finding out what that could be, but perhaps he also is a little scared of society?
Back to the Hawks: Out of all things the moment he reunits with the hawks (after living in an isolated countryside 4-person-household) is when the Hawks were outcasts, again.
Black Swordman: After the next Hawks-time he is as isolated as a man can be, guess this needs no explanation
Guts' new group: We see him only beeing together with outcasts, again. Farneze and Serpico only really become his allies after they broke up with society, before that they were his enemies. Isidro is a lone wolf, too, and Schierke a witch living in the wood isolated from society as much as one can be.
Guts meeting society
I actually only remember three times where he really met society:
1) At the king's castle with Griffith: He only remains amongst the hawks, as isolated as possible and avoided society as much as possible. Instead of living a civil life, he assassinates people for Griffith.
2) During the tower/Retribution arc, he ends up in the refuge camp and tries to rescue Caska. And what do the people do? Trying to burn her as a witch.
3) In the harbor town where Farneze tries to help him by returning to her family and getting Guts a boat. For a change, Guts actually helps out other people here (when the tiger type monsters attack the ball room and he fights them off)! I think it slightly shows a developement, but Guts' main motive still was helping out Farneze, not helping society.
Yet, this is the first time that "Guts and society" ends well - nobody gets hurt, instead Guts recieves the aid he needed right now.
For the future? After the events around Farnezes family he now ends up on a ship of people actually beeing part of a regular army and society. This is the first time he is in such a spot and normally interacts with normal people. It's still not a normal social situation, but kinda better than only beeing amongst outcasts.
Also this is the result of a successful interaction with society - him helping the noblemen, the noblemen helping him. It's the first time this actually works out for him. He might become a little more social now.
On a sidenote - Berserk vs Vinland Saga in depth and social interaction
Last edited by Roflkopt3r; April 17, 2011 at 04:27 AM.
One of my main gripes with your contention is that you see VS as being closer to reality because the characters are interacting with society. Not to get into philosophy here, but what exactly is society? If you're saying being a townsfolk, or being a part of aristocracy is being societal for Guts, then I think that's incorrect. Guts and the "outcasts" he hangs out with don't have much of a choice. Guts grew up as an errand boy, learned the mercenary way, and became one because that's all he knew, and that's how he could survive. To say that he has less interaction with society? Fine...but how does that make the series less real than Vinland Saga?
I understand if you say it's based in history, fine. But something like saying it just feels more real is something that is interpreted by you.
I find Guts' relation to society being that he believes his own actions can bring salvation while society awaits someone else to do it for them. For example, consider Farnese. Early on she would start praying to God whenever trouble showed up instead of actually attempting to solve the problem. Guts calls her out on this bad habit when he pried her hands open and placed a torch in them. Farnese then takes this advice to heart as shown when she begins learning witchcraft.
Society has also been noted to be "sheepish" in the manga. Both humans and apostles are willing to place their faith in Griffith's "salvation" blindly. Blind faith is treated with skepticism in the manga and that is another key distinction between society and Guts. After the Eclipse, Guts has little faith in anything except in his ability to fight for a better tomorrow. His actions have helped the Count's daughter, Jill, Farnese, and several other characters to take their fates into their own hands instead of embracing an outside force (e.g. Griffith, God). This fact will probably become a focal point at the end of the manga when Griffith and Guts finally end their feud with each other.