This is something I have put off writing about for quite some time. It definitely contains spoilers for Berserk. Exercise caution.
There’s Something About Griffith
Ever since readers had been introduced to him during the Golden Age, it’s been abundantly clear that there is something about this man, the man known as Griffith. This singularity in his stature is also hinted at during Guts’s flaming encounter with Femto in the Black Swordsman arc. It’s difficult to state exactly what it is, nevertheless there is an it factor that naturally separates this glossy-ivory headed femboy from the pack. Though one can call attention to either his personality and physical characteristics, in effort to decipher where his charisma derives from, this would fall short of capturing the essence of his character. These aforementioned aspects of Griffith’s personality and physical appearance do make a necessary contribution to his overall appeal; though this is the case, it would be blatantly irresponsible to grant credit to those things alone. There is something deeper, lying beneath the surface perhaps, which causes everyone (whether they’re a character or a reader) to flock to the individual that is known as Griffith.
A Contextual Framework
Arguably the most demented depiction of arbitrary brutality and chaos across the medium (i.e. manga) takes place in Berserk. No one needs me to name drop, as those who know, know what I am referring to. This presumed event known as the Eclipse is the ritual that determines the fate of Griffith as a member of the Godhand. This Promised Time initiates itself in the midst of chapter 77 (I think) and brutally extends throughout a number of chapters — with it not really ending until the 89th chapter or so. It is not needed for me to go into detail on this event; rather, it is obviously my aim to focus upon the major event which is missing in the midst of these cruel chapters.
Given the nature of the “Lost Chapter,” it is no surprise that it is what it is; meaning that there is obviously a reason that this was lost. The story goes that upon completing it, Miura had second thoughts about including it. There are perhaps a variety of reasons that this is the case, but I imagine that this stemmed from a desire to avoid spoilers. Providing readers with too much fuel and insight into the nature of Griffith this early on in the story would be less than ideal. After all, upon reading this, there can no longer be any ambiguity surrounding the character of Griffith. I assume that this is partly to blame for his desire to remove it.
To get a better grasp upon what is taking place in this one-shot (i.e. Chapter 83 — the Lost Chapter), it is important to briefly touch base upon the events surrounding it. As I have already mentioned, 82 is in the midst of The Eclipse in full swing. This is the moment where Berserk envelops into a form of its own. This is the Eclipse. It is during the latter panels of this chapter that shows where exactly within the conscious realm he has gone off to. Griffith is illustrated in a position where he attempts to come to terms with the decision he has made, namely the deaths of his comrades and the final moments of suffering for the human beings who held him so near and dear to their hearts.
“When suffering so profound as to make someone rip himself apart is confronted…a heart is ‘frozen.'”
Leading into 83, this is Griffith’s state of being: he is convinced that he will do whatever it takes to follow his dream, yet there is an inkling of inner strife. There seems to be slight hesitancy at this juncture, as he is separated from everyone else taking a plunge to the darker, deeper crevices of the Interstice. 82 ends here. This is what brings us to 83, the Lost Chapter. This is where Griffith encounters “God.”
The Lost Chapter
What if the Messiah went rogue? The trope of the rogue messiah (i.e. the fallen chosen one) is explored relatively often in fiction. There are plenty of examples out there of “The Chosen One” who does not live up to the expectations that are laid out for them. One of the most glaring comparisons that comes to mind for me is Anakin from Star Wars. It’s rather uncanny. From his mother’s immaculate conception to his own fall from grace and turning to the dark side of the force, Anakin’s character development is a story of tragedy. In a way that is not entirely dissimilar, Griffith’s descending into the abyss is a tragedy that can be interpreted in one of two ways that depend on the interpreter’s own perception of the laws of causality.
Who is God? This is the question that is intitially addressed in 83. This chapter is a one-to-one interaction, a conversation between Griffith and the ‘God’ of Berserk. To clarify, this is not a categorically accurate interpretation or traditional view of what most would call “God.” Throughout the length of 83, the two of these aforementioned entities discuss each other’s nature. The conversation begins with the revelation of “the desired God” and its true nature: the Idea of Evil.
“This [hell, the vortex of souls] is just the surface of multiple layers of a whole consciousness, but you know. You know that this place is terribly human.”
The Idea of Evil, this God, is just as it sounds and claims to be. He is the idea of evil. Lying dormant within the collective unconscious are the desires of humanity. This entity is the physical and/or astral manifestation of the human populous as a whole. It tells Griffith that it was born as a result of the darkness which loomed within the hearts of each person. In the beginning, it never existed. It arose and was conceived through the efforts of human feeling. The darkness in the heart of hearts, deep in the confines of the human soul, are to be credited for the existence of this God.
“Violence and loneliness. This place is filled with all kinds of blurred negative feelings. It is truly the will that defines human nature.”
In the world of Berserk, along with our own world as well, no man has control over his circumstances. Each individual is a victim of his own experiences and environment. There is no question about it, no man has control over his own fate either. The only question that remains and surrounds this ontological phenomenon is whether or not there is an outside influence which plays a role in the trajectory of mankind’s destiny. According to the Idea of Evil (i.e. God), there both is and is not an omniscient force outside the physical realm which drives the forces of causality.
As their conversation continues, the nature of predestination (as reflected by Berserk’s law of causality) is briefly touched on. Though God’s predestination spiel is not strictly Calvinistic, the Idea demonstrates that there is some sort of control that It exercises over the events that take place in the world. This has been made possible as a result of Its own birth’s circumstances. This God exists because humanity needed reasons. Humanity needed a reason for everything:
“Reasons for pain. Reasons for sadness. Reasons for life. Reasons for death. Reasons why their lives were filled with suffering. Reasons why their deaths were absurd…I produce those, as it is what I have been brought into existence for.”
In Its own words, God fulfills the absence of a dire, fundamental need on the part of humanity. As a result of this cursed fate, It tells Griffith, It has controlled the destiny of mankind. It does so through an inadvertent obedience of “the will of the essence of human kind.” God weaves every man’s destiny. It reveals to Griffith that It made special exceptions, almost as if It went out of Its way to arrange for the circumstances of Griffith’s life to come into place. It claims that in the distant past, It produced a lineage of people that would eventually give birth to Griffith in a context that would allow him to end up in the exact position he finds himself in 83.
Upon conclusion of 83, it becomes clear that Griffith is “The Chosen One” in a very real way. When the two of God and Griffith reach the end of their conversation, the ambiguity that surrounds Griffith’s nature falls flat on its face. Upon learning that regardless of whether or not his actions “bring pain or salvation” to others, they will be suitable and justified in the eyes of “God;” Griffith asks for wings and continues to push forward for the sake of his dream — irrespective of cost.
Regardless of how one feels about Griffith, after reading this, there is literally no doubt about who and what he is. He is an enveloped chaos of selfish desires, with no prerogative or justification for his own actions. This much is and has been clear to those without their own biases. The only thing that 83 does is remove any potential for debates surrounding Griffith’s nature. I would imagine that this is part of why 83 was swiped out of the Berserk volumes. Not only does it probably reveal too much about Berserk’s cosmology, ontology, etc.; but it also removes any of the ambiguity surrounding Griffith as a character. I am sure that Miura always knew that no matter what happened, there would always be those who would be quick to defend Griffith. The Lost Chapter makes it impossible to do that without resorting to blatant ignorance.
I do intend to unpack Griffith’s character, at some point in the [hopefully] not-so-distant future. To me, that is a task that requires me being intentional when it comes to both detail and time. This review is merely my own poor my attempt to briefly touch base upon Miura’s “Lost Chapter.” Read everything I say with a grain of salt, as I am by no means an authority on any subject. I would imagine that most fans are aware of it, but with the recent influx of readers since Miura’s late passing, it comes as no surprise that there are those new to the series who have yet to encounter it.
This one-shot is worth exploring and reading. Some people do debate on whether or not this is strictly canon, which is surprising to me. I’ve always been under the impression that it is too canon. The thing about the chapter is that it just reveals too much, leaving little opportunity for revealing some of these things at a later date. That’s what Miura seemed to have in mind. At any rate, I recommend this to those who have yet to check it out. I am of the opinion that it is better suited for those who have caught up with the series, but that is just a personal preference. Use your own discretion.
Thanks for reading, if you read this. I appreciate your time.