Berserk is arguably still the best manga series we got from Japan in the last three decades, and even after that many years, we are still fascinated by the world-building and characters of Midland. The two main heroes or villains in the series are Guts and Griffith, two men who were best friends and partners but eventually became each other’s worst nightmare. The Eclipse brought both characters immense pain, but one is more culpable than the other since he was the one who made everyone’s lives miserable. Griffith became Guts’ worst enemy, and we will discuss that in more detail.
Despite being partners and best friends, Griffith betrayed Guts during the Eclipse, where he sacrificed his Band of Falcons to become a member of God Hand, a demon Femto. He then sexually abused Guts’ lover Casca before him and left him for that after the event. Griffith chose his desire for power and selfishness over friends, love, and peace, making him one of the most notorious villains ever.
Griffith is an extraordinary character whose layers could be analyzed for academic purposes, so he is a good villain in Berserk. From friend to foe, Griffith became a major villain in the Berserk series, and if you are interested in why, stay with us until the end.
Griffith and Guts’ relationship before the Eclipse
Miura always ensured his characters had slow but steady development in Berserk, and Griffith and Guts are perfect examples of that. Interestingly enough, both characters had somewhat similar childhoods, with both men suffering from poverty and pain. Guts had a more extreme case of tragic childhood since he couldn’t control his life path in any form as a young boy. Born to a dead and lynched mother, Guts was found and raised by bandits, one of them being Gambino, who sold the boy for mere coins to another mercenary to use him sexually.
If being a victim of sexual abuse and committing murder in self-defense wasn’t enough, Guts had to kill his only father figure in life to protect himself from being killed. After killing Gambino, Guts only knew loss and violence until he met the Band of Falcons. On the other hand, Griffith was an only child born in poverty and the one who sought peace by observing the castle in the distance, hoping that one day he would be sitting on that throne.
With desires, dreams, and willingness to escape the misery of poverty, Griffith sold his body and unconsciously his soul to old royals and politicians who would use him sexually and then give him the bare minimum. Griffith thought even the slightest progress would get him closer to his dream, but he soon realized that he would need help from other people to achieve his dreams.
Griffith found help and solace in people from poverty, who had no direction in life, and someone who would desperately live for his dreams as if they were theirs. The man founded the Band of Falcons from people he charmed with his great dreams and led them through the Midlands until he met another man who could easily counter or even outmatch him. Guts and Griffith didn’t hit it off immediately, but when Griffith beat Guts in a sword fight and took him into his Band, the warrior was relieved since there was someone who actually took a chance with him for the first time in his life.
Guts found a family in Band of Falcons and even developed romantic feelings for Casca, the group’s only woman, but who was willing to stand up for herself in the “man’s world.” Until then, Guts fully bought into Griffith’s dream and considered the man his idol since he was willing to fight for his vision and future.
However, Guts didn’t realize that when he looked at Casca, someone was looking at him from afar – no other than Griffith. This might be controversial, but Griffith most likely had romantic feelings for Guts during the Golden Age Arc of Berserk. The way he acted around the other young man, the interesting scenes they found themselves in, and the way Griffith embraced Guts one time that even Guts was shocked. All these moments only strengthened the thesis that Griffith most likely had feelings for Guts at some point.
Bathing together, protecting each other… there have been many hints of some romantic feelings involved between Griffith and Guts, but unfortunately for the former, Guts didn’t like the leader of the Band back because he eventually fell in love with Casca.
This might be one of the factors why Griffith, already desperate for success in his life, decided to do the worst thing possible – sacrifice his friends and loved ones for his own gain.
Why Griffith became a villain?
The prologue to The Eclipse is dramatic in every way – after Guts realizes that he needs to follow his dreams to become the best he can be, he decides to leave the Band of Falcon.
To leave the group of mercenaries, Griffith challenges Guts for one last fight, which the strong swordsman wins. Griffith leaves his friend and former teammate to leave, and in desperation, he goes to Princess Charlotte.
He sleeps with the young woman and leaves in the morning; however, he is captured by the Midlands royal guard and is sentenced for treason – Charlotte’s father and king accuse Griffith of defiling the royal member and house, and Griffith double’s down and continues berating the old king and his reign.
King orders a year-long torture for Griffith, whose life just worsened tenfold. Griffith is brutally tortured during his torture – the guards cut his tongue and constantly burn and cut his skin. However, Griffith is, by a miracle, still alive and is only kept alive by his dream and thinking about Guts.
One night, a strange vision is bestowed upon him, where the former White Falcon sees demonic figures who refer to him as the “Blessed King of Longing.” The supposed servants promise Griffith he will see them and meet them at the proper time and place.
A year of brutal torture passes, and the former Band of Falcon members arrive and rescue their fallen comrade. Black Dog Knights, the mercenary group full of abusers and rapists, led by the apostle Wyald, attack Griffith, but not before Band of Falcon come to his rescue.
However, the moment Griffith becomes the story’s true villain starts when he uses his Crimson Beherit, which transfers him and Band of Falcon to another dimension and summons four members of God Hand.
The Void, the tallest of them, tells Griffith he needs to sacrifice his closest allies and loved ones to be resurrected as the demon and member of God Hand as they are, so he can finally realize his dream. Griffith realizes that Guts was the only one who made him forget his dream and utters the words “I sacrifice,” branding his comrades for sacrifice.
After witnessing the slaughter of his closest friends, the former White Falcon rises as the demon Femto rapes Casca in front of Guts and proceeds to kill them both, but not before Skull Knight saves the distraught couple from the dark dimension.
God Hand hail their new demon Femto and ushers the mortal world into the age of darkness with the words: “An age when every darkness shall eclipse light.” This is where Guts’ hunger for revenge and the hardest period of his life begins – he needs to avenge his teammates and kill his former idol and friend while simultaneously fighting his own demons.
Since then, Guts hunts Femto and tries his hardest to kill his former friend once and for all.