[Featurama] Silver Haired Devils: Griffith
Over the past two days, I have been talking about absolute some of the biggest villains in comic books and video games. Now we’ll look at the true demon of anime. Hit the jump below as we analyze one of the best villains ever crafted for our final look at Silver Haired Devils.
Griffith from Berserk
Griffith is the leader of the powerful Band of the Hawks mercenary group. He is the man that transformed the raging berserker Guts into almost a normal human being. This is his charisma and combined with his impressive strategic abilities, he has created the greatest mercenary army in the world.
People find that this man will lead them to greatness. He has the potential and the opportunity to lead them to nobility. They aren’t great warriors, they are only great under him. Around his neck he wears Behelit, the egg of the conqueror, and there is a genuine belief that he could one day lead his men to greatness.
It’s a shame that he betrays them all.
Griffith is a born leader, yet his commoner blood has made his climb to power difficult. Talented and driven, he wishes to evolve his lowly band of mercenaries into nobility. It is in this world of humans that the majority of society is owned by the elite. This man will join the people that shape history with his band of warriors. He will obtain god’s power and shape the world his own way.
He does this with his Band of the Hawks. Using his talents to gain advantage in tricky situations, he empowers them to move forward. Even a person so tainted by hatred like giant sword swinging Guts is beaten and overcome by Griffith’s talent and determination. He uses people’s faith in him to lead and he is successful because of this.
It is in this goal of raising himself to a higher setting that motivates people into gladly following him. They want to see something something so interesting that risking their lives will be worth it. Griffith sees this and he will use them to become king.
Moment of Friendship:
Griffith intrigued by the suicidal warrior Guts stumbles across him and brings him in to his Band of the Hawks. It is in this man that he sees the potential to help him break through and bring his army to greatness. He is the anti-Griffith, blind in his rage and unfocused in his goal. Griffith brings him in to the fold with such acceptance that his second in command Caska is driven to great jealousy.
With this newest addition, Griffith has someone to take care of all the dirty work of the army. Griffith can and will use Guts strength and ability to break through his enemies. It is in Guts that he has an ally he actually believes to be his equal. A true friend for him can only be a man that is his equal and Guts takes that task as he pushes through all of the obstacles put in front of him. It is in this friendship that Griffith will even uncharacteristically sacrifice his safety to protect Guts. This is something a calculating man does not do. It is his weakness.
This moment of sacrifice shook everyone in the party. Casca who has loved and worshiped Griffith for years, took far too long to finally come around to Guts. As Griffith was slowly moving away from the comfort of his mercenaries in to nobility as the undefeated general, his relationship among his men started to become more distant. The only person he could still confide in is his loyal Guts.
It is when his friend starts to move on from the group that Griffith truly begins to lose a piece of his dream. It is here where we see Griffith’s emotional bond truly exist. He gets stupid. He becomes weak when his best soldier leaves and everything comes crushing down upon him.
Unlike the other two I’ve covered this week, there isn’t any room for debate on what Griffith’s moment is. It is by far the most insane turn I have ever read.
Griffith was tortured to the point of uselessness after he thoughtlessly slept with the princess of Midland in a fit of depression. He was broken by the King and because of this, his dreams were dead. With the Band of the Hawks separated and confused after the king sought to destroy Griffith’s prized army, Casca had to take control. Without Griffith’s light to shine, she finally drifted towards Guts. When the time came and the Behelit was activated, Griffith was given the choice that all Apostles were given: make a sacrifice to gain great power.
So he does. He marks his loyal army for death sending the apostles to feast on their bodies. Not content with sacrificing just them, he proceeds to destroy his humanity in one action. He pins Guts and takes his lover Casca. In front of him he rapes Casca brutally, taunting Guts before he kills them. He razed everything he had ever made in one single power grab. He sacrificed his love, his hope and his dream in an awful showcase of violence.
It is this brutality that drives Guts to true rage. It is in this that he learns what a man can do when he loses everything.
“When you sacrifice, you will be cut from humanity.”
It is not simply the betrayal of his friends in sacrifice, it is the utter destruction of which Griffith razed that defines everything this character would become. His fall from grace was incredible. He sacrificed everything to become something more than human. He destroyed his most loyal follower and his best friend for power. Guts and Caska manage to flee, but they can never be whole again after this.
What we are given is a truly gruesome scene and if you want to watch it, I caution you that it is extremely graphic.
What’s Next For Our Villain:
Well, the manga is still running 22 years strong. Griffith as the new god has returned back to Earth and is using his power to conquer the world with his new unholy army.
Besides that, a trilogy of films is running in Japan from a great studio in Studio 4°C. With a focus on the Golden Arc of Griffith’s rise and fall, the film series looks to highlight the most popular part of the manga. Currently the first film (The Egg of the King) and second film (The Battle for Doldrey) have released in Japan. The third film (Descent) is set for release some time in 2013. Viz Media licensed the series in April so we’ll be seeing a release some time soon.