In a little abandoned village high in the snowy mountains, Isidoro is being bullied by some military men because he has food and drink that they want. He finally gives up his goods, but reveals that it was poisoned with bee venom. As he’s getting ready to leave he’s surprised by more soldiers, who ask him what he’s doing and how the armoured men on the ground were taken out. Isidoro lies and says that the Kushan were responsible. Just as it looks like the soldiers might be seeing through Isidoro’s story, the Kushan really do show up and start killing everyone while Isidoro attempts to hide.
Then dun dun duuun, Guts shows up on the scene to kick some ass and spill some blood. Just in the nick of time too because Isidoro is about to be killed.
The music playing during this fight scene is Susumu Hirasawa-san’s song “Hai Yo”, and it’s a perfect fit. For the first time this series we get to hear more than just the snippet that plays during the preview for the next episode. I am really excited to hear the song in full whenever it is finally released, and totally intend to buy the soundtrack if it’s not included with the Berserk (2016) Blu-ray at the end of the season.
Puck mooches Isidoro’s food while the kid’s stuck staring at Guts slaughtering all the Kushan soldiers, then flies after Guts with his heavy prize. Isidoro makes up his mind in an instant: he’s going to follow Guts!
Meanwhile from up in the hills, the remaining members of this particular Kushan scout troop are watching the trio leave. They are from the Bakiraka clan, and their leader is a man Guts fought against in years past. It turns out this “Young Master” has not forgotten Guts, and he makes the decision for their group to withdraw for now so they don’t lose anymore men.
In St. Albion, the situation is dire. Many refugees live in a sprawling tent camp, and poverty and famine are everywhere. Luca is one of several prostitutes, and she’s taken Casca under her wing. As the Holy Knights pass through on the way to the monastery , the starving refugees beg for food and are turned away. Then a woman holds up her famished child who is starving to death, and Mozgus takes pity on her and brings the group of refugees up to the abbey. Once inside the everyone else is led away, and the woman with the infant is taken to see a doctor, who says that once the child is given more nutrients and is able to rest, he will get better.
Mozgus says that the Holy See have sent a request to their church and requested aid, and that the clergy will possibly distribute some of the food from earlier tributes to the refugees below. Then the episode takes a trip to the Land of Fucked Upness, because Mozgus leads the woman, Farnese and the remaining guards to a torture chamber, where he says she has a “duty to perform” for God. The idea is that God is kind and can bestow good things upon people, but he is also a strict judge who punishes people for sinning. As far as I can tell the only “sin” the refugee woman committed was begging, but it is enough for her to be strapped naked into a restraint chair and branded with a hot coal. Farnese is shocked, but as we saw in the torture scene at the end of the last episode, we also know that she’s probably also secretly enjoying what she sees.
Back in the refugee camp, Luca is “working” with Jerome, a Holy See knight and one of her regular clients. Jerome has nothing nice to say about Farnese, telling Luca that Farnese is really just a figurehead. Then Casca interrupts and Luca’s session with Jerome is over prematurely, ha! Jerome gives Luca a beautiful necklace as he leaves, promising that he’ll come back for her at the end of his current mission and make her his mistress. After he leaves, the other working girls in the camp crowd around Luca and she splits up her rice rations and the pearls amongst their little group. At least, I’m assuming that the other girls are also prostitutes because there are a couple of references to Nina being seriously ill, and her symptoms strike me as something she’d get from a sexually transmitted infection not from starving.
From down by the river, the monastery looms over the refugee camp, looking more like a menacing castle than a holy place of worship. As the sun starts to set below the horizon, Casca’s brand starts to bleed and zombies start to push their way up through the ground.
We are taken back to Guts and Puck, who are resting after covering a lot of ground in a short period of time. Isidoro is winded, but has finally caught up to the two. Pucks talks to Isidoro as he tries to pick up Guts’ sword, and when Isidoro is pinned underneath it Puck rats on Isidoro to Guts. Guts asks Isidoro if he wants to be a swordsman, and then warns the boy to stay away from him.
But it’s too late. The sun disappears, and a horde of cursed skeleton wheels roll towards Guts and Isidoro. Guts saves the kid, then whips out his sword and starts slashing at the wheels. He knows he must hurry to Casca as fast as he can.
My thoughts: This whole section of the plot is called the Conviction Arc, and it’s honestly my least favourite of the series. I do enjoy Berserk but I find the rampant torture to be way too much, and the faster we get through this part of the series the better as far as I’m concerned.
Mozgus is in this arc because there are heretics rumoured to be hiding amongst the refugees outside the monastery. Mozgus was asked to intervene, presumably because he has such a brutal reputation, and he in turn asked for the Holy See Knights to escort him and aid his investigation. The concept still makes me say ugh though.
Also, it continues to amaze me that Japanese censors are not ok with nipples, but it’s totally ok to show two people in an intimate position. I guess because they’re not moving together, it’s ok? They’re just hugging each other… naked? Ah well.
So what’s really going on with this witch hunt at St. Albion, and will Guts reach Casca in time? Stay tuned next week for more blood and torture.
Author’s Note: I will be out of town next week, and while I will aim to get my entries out on time, I will be on a laptop with limited functioning and so my entries may be a little delayed.