How do you define a successful horror story? The options for responding to this question are numerous. Maybe it’s the way the settings and landscapes look in the almost darkness. They can be horrifying creatures with unsettling aesthetics that keep you up at night. This may take the form of clever and nefarious antagonists, or it may take the form of tragic occurrences that mirror those that occur in the real world.
It might be the protagonist and their own struggle to survive in a hostile environment. All of these elements may be found in the Berserk series. That’s to be expected, considering the genre: dark fantasy is synonymous with blood and violence. While these elements certainly contribute to the overall horror vibe of the show, they are not what actually scares the audience.
In fact, there is just one element that truly cements the audience’s sense of dread. One word suffices to describe it. Humans’ capacity for free choice is a popular topic of philosophical debate. Does it even matter if we make our own decisions or not? Are we all following the same predetermined route, where no matter what decisions we make along the way,
we will always reach the same final destination? These are questions that have been asked by the media in abundance over the years. The human mind is naturally curious, therefore the question is inevitable. People want to think they can steer their own life.
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As a matter of fact, it reveals the reality of fate. Absolutely no one can dispute that. From the start, we are aware that Guts will endure hardship. From the minute he is born from his mother’s dead body, we witness his agony as he fights an uphill battle to alter his bleak destiny.
Right then, you, the spectator, have to make a decision. How optimistic are you about Guts’ chances of success, or do you accept the reality that he is doomed no matter what? The uncertainty persists whichever path you take.
Every time you turn around, something will kill the hope you’ve been clinging to. It’ll be shattered when Gambino sells Guts to a soldier for the night. Each hurtful act or scar will demolish it. But what if you have no faith? Every waking second will be spent holding your breath as you expect the other shoe to finally drop.
Berserk Is Direct In The Way It Presents Its Story
Scares are the key to the success of any horror story. Experiencing it makes you nervous. Your hands and heart start to shake as you wonder what’s behind the next door, in the closet, or in the woods. Berserk does this not through monsters but through the impending doom of fate.
When we watch a show, we expect something horrible to happen. You get a sick feeling in your stomach whenever Guts cracks a smile or makes friends among the mercenaries or with Griffith. It serves as a wonderful medium for narrative.
Rather than setting the tone with a message of optimism, Berserk opens with a blunt warning of what is to follow. It doesn’t try to hide the fact that this is a tragic story filled with loss, violence, and treachery on the part of both human beings and the very fabric of the cosmos.
An overt message like that might sometimes diminish the impact of the scare. But because Berserk establishes that expectation early on and poses the necessary questions about fate, it manages to tell you what’s coming, albeit in a vague enough way that it’s hard to figure out where the ball will drop.
Fear brings the audience closer to Guts, who is experiencing similar uncertainty. Although Guts comes across as cold and uncaring at first, you can’t help but feel compassion for him until you see how badly he’s been treated by fate.
I understand if Berserk isn’t for everyone, but the implication that all of the most horrific and shocking scenes are meant to be ‘entertainment for sickos’ shows not only poor understanding of the story, but also a near-illiteracy for media comprehension
— HDoomguy (@HDoomguy) March 11, 2022
As the plot develops, you too become more vulnerable, just like Guts does. When Guts’ heart finally starts to mend, worry sets in since you know the wound will only become worse if something doesn’t stop the healing process in its tracks.
You toughen up when Guts does, but it’s impossible not to get sentimental when thinking about this unfortunate guy and the huge piece of iron he calls a blade.
What makes us feel sorry for Guts is fate, but it is Guts himself who keeps us going. We’re curious to see how his destiny influences him. Most importantly, we’re intrigued by the means by which he meets his untimely end.
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The True Horror Of Berserk Is That Free Will Doesn’t Exist At All
One of the things that make Berserk so terrifying is how it forces us to face the reality that free will does not exist. That no matter how hard Guts tries, he will eventually end up where he was destined to be is the message this passage is trying to send.
Even Guts is aware of this. Most people who try to approach him are rejected. No matter what he wishes, he realizes that he will always be the one picked for a fight. Most significantly, he realizes that he has been destined for a life of suffering.
We, the audience, are expected to share his faith. However, the plot is structured in such a way that we are always filled with dread regardless of our beliefs, whether we accept Guts’ fate or choose to oppose it.
Either we wait for the next incident that shatters Guts’ optimism and happiness, or we wait for the next moment of joy to demonstrate that he can alter the course of his story. In many ways, Berserk is similar to classic horror shows. It uses graphic violence and disturbing imagery.
There are all kinds of terrifying beasts there. There are some truly heartbreaking moments in it. But it’s fate, of all things, that ties everything together. The persistent sense of dread and anxiety is achieved by establishing that the story is one that rejects the concept of free will in favor of a predetermined fate of agony and suffering without the possibility of action.
The focus should be on how you live your life knowing that the outcome is predetermined rather than on whether or not free choice exists. And isn’t hopelessness the worst kind of terror there is?
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