WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!
Well, Berserk just had to go and make a fool out of me with an outstanding episode this week. After talking a healthy amount of trash during our recent mid-season check-in, I was extremely pleased with the quality and pacing of episode 7.
The episode opens with one of Luca’s girls, Pepe, being dragged off by the heretic hunters. As corrupt officials are apt to do, the knight begins whipping the poor girl while she pleads for mercy.
Luca steps in to try and defend her colleague, with little effect. Unfortunately for the scumbag knight, his oppression is cut short by Guts’ arrival and subsequent beat-down.
Still on the hunt for Casca, Guts asks him if a woman with a brand on her chest has been rounded up during the witch-hunt, to which the poor soul has no answer. Luca, however, recognizes the description as the child-like Elaine they took in some days before. After Guts dispatches a handful of knights with a powerful swing of his blade, he rushes to Casca’s last whereabouts, only to discover that his princess is in another castle. Well, more specifically, in the heretic hideout among the nearby caves.
Nina, despite receiving a hearty spanking from Luca in the last episode, is still afflicted with a terminal case of selfishness. Wanting to surrender Casca to the cultists, she escorts her to the hideout. Isidoro and Puck notice them sneaking off, and follow Nina to the nearby caves. Unfortunately for Nina, things don’t work out quite as she planned – while Casca is received like a goddess, Nina is accused of trying to keep the powers of the witch to herself and thereby sentenced to die.
Meanwhile, word of Guts’ earlier encounter gets back to Farnese and her company:
Just as they’re about to move against Guts, Joachim emerges from his bad fall in the last episode to rat out the heretics and reveal their hideout. Farnese and her knights move out, and happen to stumble upon the ritual in session right as Nina’s heart is about to be cut from her chest. Isidoro saves the day with a volley of stone throws and sends puck out to bring Guts back to the cave.
The knights seem to be dispatching the cultists easily until evil spirits appear and use the cultists bodies to begin eating peoples faces left and right. Farnese recognizes the creatures from her previous encounter at the castle, and despite her vice-commanders assurances that the cultists were simply on some equivalent of bath salts, she worries that something evil is afoot. Maybe the cauldron of boiling body parts was some sort of indication?
Casca is targeted once again by these beasts, and just when it seems like all hope is lost, Guts makes an entry into the “badass entry of the year” competition and cleaves through a dozen of them with one swing, standing between her and the demons.
Annnnddddd it ends on that cliffhanger.
Berserk is at its best when Guts is able to do what he does best: wreck shit. Both of his introductions in this episode are very well done, coupled with his theme song to allow for maximum hype. Cleaving through multiple enemies, and the sound effect of his massive blade cutting through the air, will never get old. If nothing else, Berserk is doing a great job of establishing Guts as a man of otherworldly strength and skill.
Isidoro’s performance throughout the episode is endearing, and he plays the role of comedic relief quite well in a series that is usually quite dark. All of the characters spotlighted this week make good progress, actually, with the exception of Farnese – whom I still hate with a fiery passion.
Overall, this week’s episode was a solid entry in the series, and represents a significant improvement over the previous weeks. As Guts moves into his boss-battle mode, I’ll be interested to see more action as we progress through the Conviction arc. After some reluctance in the early weeks, I’m now eagerly awaiting next week’s episode!