Guts, a character whose last cannon smile was in fucking 1998 is a notoriously famous and critically acclaimed character in the realm of Japanese fiction, also known as the black swordsman. No, not that one fuck off he’s the main character and protagonist of kentaro Mira’s berserk. We followed him since the literal moment he was born and growing up from being a weak and feeble newborn child lying in a puddle beneath his mother’s corpse to the handsome stoic damaged and existential Chad. We know him as today.
I’M sure that any reader of berserk will be eager to tell you that guts is a lot more of a complex character than he may appear to be upon. First glance from the very beginning. Guts is not, as he seems, it’s very easy to make face value judgments just from his exterior appearance, his imposing character, design his weapon too big to be called a sword and his cold brutish attitude all attribute into thinking. He is no more than a violent and single-minded archetypal character and guts does follow through with some of these traits, as evidenced by his unrelenting rage, anger and ruthlessness in combat throughout the series boots. This is well the similarities end, whilst in the same way, these simplistic traits characterize guts to people who haven’t read, berserk all the people in the series who only know him as the black swordsman.
In reality, these traits in no way define guts. They fail to capture his humanity, there’s obviously a lot more to guts than just his violent traits, imposing character, design and Chad tear jaw line. He is a deeply existential character who is more than capable of showcase and compassion, loyalty, thoughtfulness and, most importantly, an impenetrable will.
There’S an understated duality to his character as he develops throughout the series, while scouts may exhibit certain traits and ideologies at the beginning of the story, they are constantly changing over time at each turn. Point of his journey every moment of development he’s undergone piece of dialogue. He’S spoken and trial he’s overcome all coalesce into making him more of a complex and human character. There are many factors that make him unique: his humanity, character, design, philosophy and extreme moral ambiguity, all act in a way that distinguishes him from the vast amount of protagonists. We see in fiction today and that’s what we’re gon na talk about, why guts stands out from other protagonists. Now, I’d like to start off by clarifying that, I’m not saying other protagonists in Japanese fiction, don’t share similar traits the guts.
In fact, many do characters in vagabond, Trigun bleach, finland, saga and many others are just a few examples of stories that contain similarities. Traits such as the violence, brutes or strong, but silent wanderer are commonplace at this point, but the reason why there is an abundance of characters like this is because well, a lot of them were actually inspired by berserk. In fact, historically berserk was actually one of the first instances of a well-written antihero in a dark fantasy series in Japan. Conversely, I’m not saying that guts is the only well-written protagonist in Japanese literature.
There are plenty of other examples of a great main characters in other series, such as well actually wait a second, it’s difficult to define what category guts his character actually fits into throughout the story, you see, berserk places a large emphasis on the development of guts as Personality and how it drastically changes over time, which is one of its most appealing factors. When guts is introduced. He fits the threshold of a classic 90s antihero he’s missing an arm in an eye. Has a gritty demeanor a dark, backstory and is full of edge.
He tells puck that he’s only interested in revenge and any bystanders who get caught up in his vengeance are weaklings who didn’t deserve to live anyway. There are also many examples of guts being as ferocious heartless and deranged as the demons. He kills with his role as the hero of the story always being questioned in reality. His cold and callous personality is simply a facade to hide his pain. The truth is guts is justified in acting this way because of the amazingly written backstory. That is the Golden Age arc, giving us context to the whirlwind of emotions.
He experiences. The odds have been stacked against him all his life from a in the moment he was born. He enjoyed an abusive childhood became an Amos Lee wandering mercenary, without meaning to eventually becoming a valued comrade amongst the band of the hawk. He gains the will to pave out his own path in life, to find meaning beyond fighting and killing and ends up overcoming the lingering effects of his abusive childhood by finding companionship with Casca it’s difficult to classify guts as the quote hero of berserk, because he strays Far away from any classic heroic archetypes, he developed so much throughout the story in a beautifully humanizing way that to simply call him, an antihero may be true at the beginning of the story, but is a disservice to his character in the latter parts of berserk. Throughout the series, guts is always changing.
You could say that after the Eclipse he descends into a sociopathic hero and then in two different shades of antihero afterwards. But to me the most significant change he undergoes lies in this page of berserk. It is one of the most impactful and, if not the most important page of the series, as it represents the sheer growth he is undergone, the vengeful intent guts held towards the god hand and, more importantly, Griffith – was his core motivator throughout the entire series, his life And almost everything he valued was ruined by these divine beings, making the rage he holds inside him, his defining traits the essence of his character, butts and guts sacrifices that rage by instead opting to use his life to defend the only person he ever truly romantically loved. This essentially makes guts an antihero sociopathic hero, Byronic, hero, tragic hero and nominal hero and others. This is what makes it hard to actually define what type of character guts is because he is just too complex and well human to fit underneath a single proscribed, heroic trope. This inability to truly define what type of character guts is is what I believe to be one of the biggest factors that makes him stand out from other protagonists.
It’S almost like guts creates his own category. Guts is simply guts to clarify, I’m not stating that. Oh so written it transcends tropes in literature, because it’s just that fucking! No, it’s just difficult to define guts because he fits into so many molds and vastly develops throughout the story.
You can’t really pigeonhole him under a single category, which is what I believe to be one of his biggest strengths as a character. For the sake of this video, I’m going to simply define him as a struggling protagonist or struggling hero, as it’s a broad and vague enough term to encapsulate what his character actually is and the fact that he’s literally known as the fucking struggler. Now. The reason why this is important in making guts unique is because he is literally one of the first examples of this type of character in Japanese literature. Not only that, but Kintaro Mira’s berserk is actually one of the first dark fantasy series published in Japan. For those unaware, a dark fantasy is essentially a work of fiction that covers not only mature themes.
Book contains a world that harshly abides by the guidelines of nature. In essence, it’s a kill-or-be-killed scenario. This normally results in worlds like berserk that are dark, dystopian and brutal. Where common fantasy elements are either deconstructed or portrayed in the darkest way possible until the late 80s, Japanese literature was never really known to delve into any dark or medieval fantasy settings, as it was more of a Western storytelling genre, it’s only really started being implemented in Japan, because of the growing fandoms of imported Tolkien or other fantasy novels, with the earliest examples of dark fantasy in Japan being a saga, the record of low-dose War and, of course, berserk making them the first true Japanese interpretations of the genre.
However, the reason why berserk eclipses the other series and remains as the pinnacle of dark fantasy in Japan is because of its main character, guts and how he is the perfect realization of this struggling hero trope in fantasy. If we look at other classical characters in the dark fantasy genre, people say that many others have already satisfied this trope classical characters such as Geralt from The Witcher and Aragorn from the Lord of the Rings are just two examples and are both good in their own Rights but characters like these and many others fail to fully encapsulate what it means to be a struggling hero to have the audience themselves genuinely questioned where the protagonists can still be deemed as heroic to have a character that falls far beyond the classic. Morally grey antihero into someone who’s, just as capable of being as deranged and berserk as the demons he kills. Since his first meeting with Scholl, my guts was named the struggler and understandably so, there’s a reason why the thumbnail of this video has the words struggling against destiny on it, as it encapsulates well the entirety of guts, his life. The odds have always been stacked against him.
Faith has been unrelentingly cruel on guts, since the moment he was born not only on a physical level but on a mental one as well. The ruthlessness he showcases as the black swordsman was painstakingly groomed from the trials he enjoyed during the Golden Age. Arc guts is always on the edge of insanity because of his self-destructive need for revenge and the lengths he’s willing to go to pursue it. This is far removed from how he was before the Eclipse where it was shown that he was perfectly capable of being contemplative and even having a chivalrous personality. At times this duality between struggling to keep his sanity or falling into the abyss and becoming a monster is written in a way that has never been done to this extent before in the fantasy genre.
There’S plenty of visual imagery Mira uses to exemplify this, such as the beasts of darkness guts is sheer animalistic rage when fighting the demons and his destructive determination to get his revenge. I mentioned before how guts is a deeply existential character which isn’t surprising, as the manga of berserk was definitely inspired by the philosophical works of Nietzsche at points in the manga. Miura even verbatim quotes the man and these philosophical tenets and the themes of the manga really work in enriching guts, his character, whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process, he does not become a monster.
If you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you. These are just two examples of philosophical quotes that are directly applicable to guts themes from Nietzsche, such as the absence of God and atheism to finding meaning through suffering, are prevalent throughout berserk. So why the fuck is this philosophical stuff relevant well in Nietzsche’s beyond good and evil? One of the many things he talks about is the import of the human will and whether it is strong or weak. Arguably, the biggest theme in berserk is causality and the debates where the free will actually exists.
Characters such as skull, knight and void, agree on this concept of determinism, but guts guts doesn’t really give a fuck guts axe in direct opposition of this notion that everything is predestined and is a testament to freewill. He struggles against his own destiny. This is what I fully believe is his greatest characteristic his unwillingness to give up and accept his fate when guts was a young mercenary, he essentially resigned himself to a fate of combat and nothing else, even omitting that he was completely contempt just living by the sword And killing enemies doing nothing else.
It was only when he joined the ban of the hawk that the idea of actually shaping his own destiny open up to him. Guts was willing to go to such lengths to gain independence from Griffith, so he could walk his own path. He even fought against him even after the horrible events of the Eclipse, it was his extreme willpower and battle prowess that allowed him to struggle against his own destiny of dying at the hands of demons. I think it’s, this aspect of guts. The fact he’s willing to go and live life by his own rules, despite literally going to hell and back that people find so motivating about his character.
Practically no fantasy protagonists were written in this way. It’S because of this unwavering humanity. Guts shows that he philosophically stands out from other protagonists and separates himself from the abundance of generic fantasy clichés found in the genre, despite the most important factors that make guts a unique character being his personality, development and philosophy, it’s still worth pointing out his physical appearance. His character, design is obviously far removed from the typical protagonist we see in modern-day shows, where it’s predominantly a younger main character with a slimmer build, but even then guts is still distinguished from the protagonists, written in the same time period or berserk, where the rugged antihero Was at its peak in popularity, take any panel of guts and show it to someone who’s never went berserk before they will most likely believe he’s the villain of the story. Besides from this one, because well, that’s just fucking adorable his dark, brooding and towering appearance.
As the black swordsman all worked to give off this effect on a closer look, his face and body is weather-beaten and contains countless cards with his expression. Differing from any normal protagonist guts is muscular due to spending his lifetime as a mercenary and fighting demons. But even then he seems slimmer and more toned than the cliche bulky superhero. It honestly seems, like his body, is a result of the challenges he’s had to endure throughout his life, rather than gaining muscle on purpose, normally, even with anti-heroes.
The protagonist is expected to give off a welcoming but friendly vibe, but the looking guts his eyes portrays something different on the rare chance guts is acting friendly. He gives off a peaceful but cold. Look when he’s smiling there’s always an underlying sense of sadness and tragedy that sets him apart and that’s when he’s in a fucking good mood, his character, design, body, language and specifically eyes all act in service to perfectly encapsulate the absolute whirlwind of emotions, guts and jaws. The sheer range of emotions reflected in his character, especially in the more sombre and quiet moments, are normally extremely difficult to pull off in a visual medium. But thanks to the talents of Miura, they always work to guts, his favor in physically distinguishing him from other protagonists. In the genre, the thing that I find most appealing about guts is that well he’s not an idealistic character.
Looking through the abundance of stories in the genre, the protagonist only has a lot of redeeming factors and fights for what’s right, the audience is almost always on their side and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, but the protagonist status guts holds doesn’t exclude him from taking. Morally questionable acts that take the reader back people may find guts to be a great character, but he’s not exactly a moral Bastion that people should aspire to be he’s. Kicked an elderly and crippled man thrown a decapitated head of a woman in front of her brother sadistically killed. The count in front of his daughter, told a girl to kill herself was essentially a dick to everyone assassinated a child killed more children killed more demon. Children essentially killed thousands of people and sexually assaulted, Casca yeah, the dude, isn’t really a fucking Saint and before you get angry at me for pointing this stuff out. Yes, I completely understand that there are excuses behind most of his actions.
His dickish Ness was essentially a facade because he had already experienced the pain of losing everyone he cared about. His sadistic actions were a result of his built-up rage because his life was fucked. Guts, didn’t really have a choice of who he killed and essentially did it for his own survival, killing that kid was well a shitty situation, an accident, because the kid was in the wrong place at the wrong time and he was borderline possessed by his inner demon. When assaulting Casca and managed to stop himself, there were reasons behind his abhorrent actions and it’s completely okay to sympathize with guts, but at the end of the day he is responsible for doing all this. It is a part of him, and this is why I fucking love berserk. It shows the sheer ugliness and brutality of the world in a brilliantly written dystopian fantasy.
Setting, I feel, like guts, is a good person deep down, but has been trapped by very, very, very unfortunate situations and circumstances. Death has always been a step behind him and, as a result, he used his heart off to the world that he hated so much becoming a force of nature, whose only desire was revenge becoming the black swordsman and, once again. This is why I love this page. So much he was forced to work with companions again and ultimately chose Casca over his desire for revenge, eventually opening up to others, having people to care about again and having people care about him he’s become a much better person now, and I think it’s apparent that He’S redeemed himself when he read the latest chapters, he still hasn’t forgotten his past experiences and his development isn’t as simple as just moving on from it he’s always fighting the ongoing war to keep his sanity, refusing to be controlled by the bloodlust from his inner demon. He doesn’t suddenly overcome his trauma. He constantly struggles against it, which is what humanizes him so much guts, isn’t a good or bad person.
He is a complicated character who shouts of fuck you at the idea of black and white protagonists, and this is why he stands out: hey it’s time for the obligatory end of video message that ruins the continuity of an otherwise impactful conclusion. Yes, I thought I quickly mentioned that I have started a patreon page for the people who are interested in supporting the channel and future content. The nature of these long-form analysis. Videos are extremely time consuming to make, and I got borderline carpal tunnel just editing this thing.
Let alone all the research and scripting, so it would genuinely mean a lot if you could, at the very least, check out the patreon page that should be on the screen or in the description for more information about the rewards and how the money will actually help Me continue this channel in the long term, because I’d really like that to be a reality. Perks includes stuff, like a private disco, server, having a lot more influence over. Why cover and, of course, the the classic mention at the end of every video I’d also like to thank you all for the recent growth and support