Before I get into why I dropped Berserk, let me talk a little bit about a fantasy series I used to enjoy: The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. I really enjoyed the struggles of Richard Rahl, the Mother Confessor Kahlan, and the Wizard Zedd. Like Berserk, it had some unsavory moments–some very unsavory moments indeed. Yet, I felt that the great storytelling outweighed the bad.
Then, I ran into Goodkind’s full-blown Objectivist philosophy in book eight, The Naked Empire. Few moments in my reading life have depressed me as much as Richard Rahl inveighing against self-sacrifice as an evil. Apparently, people should always act in their self-interest, and any sacrifice of one’s self-interest is immoral. Never mind that the heroes frequently risk their lives and suffer quite a lot. Also, many good people had sacrificed their lives for good causes by this point in the series, and the fantasy world’s universe includes God, who no doubt rewards the righteous. The idea of self-sacrifice being a moral evil simply did not compute in my mind. Despite having read 6,454 pages of Goodkind’s work–the equivalent of reading War and Peace about four and a half times, I put down the series and never picked it back up again.
A good friend brought around a similar change to the way I viewed Berserk (2017). (I highlight Berserk (2017) because the problem occurs here even if Berserk (2016) gives context to it.) He tends to research series minutely and discovers some very surprising things–like the black magic prayer in Your Lie in April. A while back, I wrote a post titled “On the Danger of Flying Witch and Its Ilk,” wherein I describe acceptable and unacceptable forms of magic in fantasy books. Essentially, I find all purely fantastic magic okay. However, if a story does describe a system of magic plainly related to the real world’s occult, that might be alright too, provided that the story shows it as evil.
The neophyte witch Schierke’s magic involves the common idea of the four elements with a supernatural ruler for each element. This is something a fantasy writer can easily concoct himself; however, that good friend’s research found that the manga involves an incantation with the Four Kings deriving from actual pagan magic. I even discovered one thread where a gentleman was looking for books about the magic Berserk describes, and someone gladly points the books out!!! So, I can not only add that watching or reading Berserk might lead someone to the occult, but it certainly has!
In this context, the portrayal of Berserk’s church is quite sinister. It’s one thing to use the motifs from the Medieval Catholic Church in order to give form to a fantasy religion. It’s another to make this religion cruel and wicked, have other evil forces gallivanting about, and then to show magic as the path to God. Yes, Berserk does have the concept of a supernaturally good Being called God, but it then says that magic is the way to God!
So, I’d say that Berserk (2017) might cause someone not grounded in faith harm. For that reason and to be consistent with my principles, I’m recommending that one avoid the new Berserk completely. I know two very enthusiastic fans of the series who are also ardent Catholics; so, the manga will not necessarily harm one’s understanding of the truth. Still, whether or not one goes into the new anime or the manga, it’s good to know that this occult bias exists so that one can be on one’s guard. As for the Berserk which came out in 1997, that lacks the occult propaganda discussed above. I’ll always consider that version a classic.
I’m not really a fan of Berserk myself. Fiction that goes out of its way to demonize thinly veiled Catholic Church analogues often don’t draw me in. However, I’m surprised that the entities mentioned in the article are connected to an actual Pagan prayer (it’s doubly ironic in universe because the 4 kings are apparently venerated as Archangels in the not-church). On that note. I can’t recommend the new Castlevania animated series. Drenched in way too much anti-Christian and anti-catholic animus.
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You made the right choice about the new Berserk for sure. I enjoyed the story, but it is a shame that so much talent is used to exult witchcraft over religion. Well, at least there’s still the original anime, which is a classic dark fantasy with none of the propaganda.
I’ll keep that in mind about Castlevania.
I agree, I checked out Beserk (I think 2016) because it looked weird and I heard it was an amazing anime. To my dismay, the 3D animation was horrible (to me) and the constant demonic stuff going on was a turn off. It was just too focused on it, and in such a dark, hopeless environment.
And yes, what a991807 said is true. I saw all of Castlevania cause I’m a gamer and I wanted to see what they did to the series but it does have a lot of church bashing. It’s interesting though, one part I found funny. If you do watch it, pay attention to when the demons enter the church of the bishop and start talking to him about his sins. What the demon says actually makes sense and some of it is scriptural (no verses are given, but you will see what I mean if you watch it). The demon then goes ahead and…..eats the bishop, but hey, spoiler!! lol
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Well,I find so weird the lack of Skull Knight in such discussion about Berserk.
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The Skull Knight strikes me as a classic fantasy figure. I don’t know if Skull Riders or Knights feature in the Occult; though, I recall a story about St. Christopher being led astray by a skeletal figure before his conversion to Christ.
There’s a rumor,if I’m not mistaken,that Skull Knight is been vanquished by the God hand,or Apostles.So easily he’s been killed by them…?
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Hi medieval, I really enjoy your blog.
First of all I want to add that the same exact occult themes and pro-witchcraft/anti-christian propaganda occurs also in the Berserk manga, which I have read. I would also say that Berserk becomes utter shit after the Eclipse and nothing of value gets lost by not reading or watching it. Yes Miura can draw well but he can’t or doesn’t want to write a decent story anymore, at least for Berserk.
That said, I was shocked by the occult prayer in Your Lie in April, I never saw the anime but I saw one clip in which the girl says it, and I’m wondering, is that given any context throughout the show? Or is it just left there without any explanation? I mean, if the creator just wants to pass it as normal that she “prays” with a sentence used in a black magic ritual, I really doubt their intentions in the first place, and it’s really creepy. Otherwise, could it be that the intention was to put her in a bad light? I’m asking you as I know nothing of the show, except the fact that many people exalt it as some masterpiece amd others say it’s just a cheesy drama with no depth.
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Thank you. It seems like you like it enough to peruse some of my older posts as well. 🙂
After watching the latest Berserk, I would agree that the Golden Age Arc is the best the story has to offer. I definitely won’t be watching the latest 3D style anime again.
I’ve never seen Your Lie in April. Going off of what other people have said, that prayer seems to be a one time deal. So, it doesn’t seem to make sense in the wider context. One of my friends loves Your Lie in April and he’s an ardent Catholic. So, there cannot be a ton of occult things in there.