While watching Berserk (2016), one cannot but be struck by how much evil exists in that world. In that way, it imitates our own world, where every depravity has been committed at least a thousand times over. Most figures in the story strike one as villains or mindless drones. Few are like Guts in taking a stand against the forces of evil. Decent people are mostly powerless against evil, and the majority only want to save their own skin–even at the expense of another’s life or hundreds of other lives. This anime provides as bleak a picture of humanity. Even death does not provide rest, as souls swallowed by demons remain trapped in their anger, hatred, and despair.
But, I repeat that this world is much like ours: there is even the presence of grace though characters deny the efficacy of prayer and claim that only deeds count. The concepts of grace and providence apply more to Nina than any other character. Her surviving merciless soldiers, monstrous executioners, a fall of several stories, an ogreish inquisitor, and an army of infernal blob demons can only be considered providential and gracious. Did she deserve it? No, all her actions are selfish and call for punishment, from her clinging to life at all costs and participation at Satanic orgies to her consistent betrayal of associates and friends.
At first, I wanted a swift and ignominious death for Nina; but, the longer one watches her, the less one wishes to see her demise. Her very vices and cowardice elicit the audience’s pity. The mangaka certainly felt pity for her. Thus, she manages to survive that insane night, which ended with the castle’s destruction and the death of several thousands of refugees.
People often complain about the absence of God and all the suffering which occurs in the world. But, how much of this suffering is caused by free choice of the will? I’m willing to bet that 90% of the pain and suffering endured on an ordinary day has a human origin. Most of the rest has to do with bodily weakness and physical necessities. Even things like famine, pestilence, and natural disasters are either caused by or exacerbated by human wickedness. The first step in removing evil from a fallen world is not to blame God, but to look in the mirror, to see the evil in ourselves, and to work in order to rid ourselves of it. How much less power would the demonic attack in the finale have had if the mob knew how to forgive?
Still, people try again and again to change and fail again and again. Like Nina, they meditate on acting unselfishly, but can’t break the cycle of sin. Nina continues to be a self-serving scaredy-cat until the end. Fortunately, God knows the weight of human misery and has indeed built His very Throne of Mercy upon it. What did Christ not suffer? From His earliest infancy , someone wished to kill Him! Pious tradition tells us that he could not even dwell in his own country for the first seven years of his life. The very religious leaders He wished to govern Israel became his worst enemies. Some of these, Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich learned in her visions, even bore Him a grudge for Christ correcting them while He was yet twelve! (Luke 2:41-52) All the sufferings of Christ are too numerous to list, for which He has been called the Man of Sorrows.
We need never despair of mercy from God: our very misery calls upon it! Those very sins and vices we detest called Christ from paradise! Because of our inability to break free of them, Christ is unable to forsake us. Though I say inability, our own unwillingness both to break free of vice and to seek grace keep us in sin. You despair of being willing to turn from sin? Ask God for the willingness and confess your faults. Grace is close to the contrite and broken heart. Then, one only needs to forgive the faults of others: “But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:15). We who rely upon forgiveness in order to accomplish any good work ought not to be slow to forgive others! We too can walk out of the darkness of sin until the dawn of righteousness arises in our souls–but only if we forgive like Nina!