Canon

Why Some Berserk Fans Say Its Controversial Front Page Isn’t Canon

Berserk is famous for its deep story and complex characters, which makes the early pages of the series controversial among fans.

Warning: contains discussion of sexual assault

Few manga have won the respect and admiration of readers around the world like Berserk. At the center of this love is the show’s main character, Guts. The Black Swordsman is a deceptively complex character. It’s this depth that explains why some fans of the hit manga simply can’t reconcile the series’ opening pages with what they later learn about Guts.

Created by Kentaro Miura in 1989, Berserk is the story of the Black Swordsman, Guts. Throughout the manga’s first handful of chapters, Guts comes across as a thoroughly unsympathetic protagonist. It gets to the point where the only reason he could be considered a hero is because the demons he slays are so much worse than him. In the series’ famous Golden Age arc, readers finally learn how Guts became so ruthless. Guts is a man who has lost everything he cared about many times. While the Eclipse that ended up killing his band of mercenaries is the best-known example, Guts’ trauma goes back even further than that. Readers learn that Guts was sexually abused as a child. Suddenly his aversion to being touched makes perfect sense. That cold, detached personality that defines him in the early chapters is suddenly a defense mechanism he uses to protect himself from injury. All of this makes Guts a much deeper character than initial appearances would suggest…which is why the opening of the manga just doesn’t fit.

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from Berserk the first chapter begins with Guts having sex with a woman. However, in the grip of passion, the woman is transformed. Although she thinks she tricked Guts with his true disgusting form, he turns the tables without hesitation and fires the cannonball into his arm, annihilating the monster. Instead of setting up plot points, this opening aims to establish that the manga world is overrun by demons and that Guts is someone who enjoys killing them. However, when looking at Guts’ history and his intimacy issues, it’s hard to imagine Guts doing something like this. He even has trouble letting the woman he loves touch him, so it’s odd that he apparently has no problem connecting with a demon.



The first page of Berserk

Due to these supposed contradictions, some fans actually prefer to consider the footage non-canon. It is certainly a sympathetic position to adopt. While dark and dark things often happen in Berserk, they rarely occur without making some sort of larger thematic focus on its characters or world. Additionally, the scene is never referenced again and doesn’t create any significant plot points, meaning it’s entirely possible to remove the scene without changing anything to the larger narrative of the series. from Berserk many adaptations seemingly okay with that, as the 1997 animated adaptation of the show’s Golden Age arc omits the scene entirely. It’s important to note that the scene itself isn’t bad in a vacuum. He still wears Miura’s beautiful and horrifying artwork. The problem with from Berserk the opening of the pages is not a question of quality, it is that they offer too many contradictions for many readers.


However one views the scene, it does nothing to diminish the legacy or impact of the series as a whole. It’s not an understatement to call Berserk a once in a lifetime masterpiece. Kentaro Miura’s epic may be ultra-violent, but it’s also introspective and thoughtful. Even if some readers don’t care Berserkit’s controversial opening, the series is a work of art that will no doubt be celebrated for decades to come.

Next: Berserk’s Final Chapter Surpasses Game of Thrones’ Disappointing Ending

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