The King of Midland thought Griffith was his ultimate weapon in Berserk, but it was all a game of deception.
The Berserk franchise is famed for its dark and violent fantasy scenes and setting, but there’s much more to it than that. The late Kentaro Miura‘s magnum opus also draws heavily from the shojo world to deepen its characters and balance the series’ gentle side with its heavier side. This includes the remarkable depths of each character’s relationships.
Griffith was the Band of the Hawk’s leader during the famed Golden Age of the manga series and 1997 anime. On the outside, he was a charismatic, friendly and open-minded fellow who would accept any challenge and befriend anyone he met. He and the king of the Midland realm seemed to be close allies, but the truth was far grimmer.
Griffith & The Midland King: Master And Servant, For Now
Griffith maintained close ties to the other members of his mercenary gang. Outwardly, he was their friend, a skilled commander who held them all near and dear to his heart. And when Griffith allied with the kingdom of Midland, he forged a similar relationship with the king (whose name is never revealed). Griffith’s tactical acumen and the prowess of his army impressed the king and led to many victories against Midland’s bitter enemy, the kingdom of Tudor.
At first, the Midland king merely appreciated Griffith as a hired sword, but as his mercenary band won battle after battle, his opinion of the young man grew further. Out of sheer gratitude, the king made Griffith his favorite. In his eyes, the kingdom of Midland had no greater asset than Griffith and the Band of the Hawk.
The king was comfortable maintaining this status quo, rewarding Griffith with the title of nobility and no doubt endless riches and favor in the royal court. Griffith was outwardly humbled and grateful, staying in the king’s good graces without getting a big head. However, their true relationship was one of exploitation and ambition, traits that define Griffith’s entire character arc. This is all a sham, and the king never saw it coming.
When Griffith Turned On The Midland King
Around this time in Berserk, the mercenary Guts declared he had nothing more to gain from fighting with the Band of the Hawk, parting ways with Griffith to find his own destiny. Griffith was heartbroken, seeing Guts as his only true rival and friend (of sorts), and he too had gained all he could from the Midland king. To mirror Guts’ departure from the Band, Griffith turned on the king, showing his true colors at last. His ruthless ambitions demanded more, and he personally defied the king when he visited Princess Charlotte and seduced her. Charlotte was already Griffith’s admirer, and in embracing him, she turned on her father. The king’s and Griffith’s professional alliance was shattered overnight, and they became enemies on the outside as well as the inside.
The mercenary was only using the king to amass money, power and status for himself and the Band of the Hawk, and an earlier flashback made clear that Griffith would do anything to fund his Band’s growth — including going to bed with older men who fancied him. Griffith still had so much to gain, while the king of Midland had everything to lose, primarily his relationship with his beloved daughter Charlotte.
Griffith was on the rise, ready to step all over the king to reach his true destiny. The hapless king could do little but imprison and torture him for his betrayal, a fairly typical response, but it did no good. No amount of torture or isolation could break Griffith, and even in his dungeon cell, he faintly heard the call of the Godhand, his true destiny beckoning. The king didn’t see this coming either, and for that matter, neither did Guts nor the other Band of the Hawk members.
Ultimately, his relationship with the king of Midland echoed his relationship with the Band. Outwardly they were comrades and fellow professionals, but in reality, Griffith saw only fodder for his grand ambitions. He left empty, used people in his wake, from the king to Guts to the entire Band of the Hawk. No friend, king or torturer in Berserk can hold Griffith back. To know him is to become his victim, as the king learned the hard way.
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