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My dear rival. Do you intending on making him walk the same path as you did? To follow your footsteps down to the destructive perdition?
~ Zodd to Skull Knight, seeing Guts wearing Berserker Armor.
The od that resides within that armor is a flame that never burns out. Even if you put it out, it will always smolder. If it ever gets a chance, it will explode into a massive inferno. Even with the charm on it, do not let your guard down. If you wish to remain a human.
~ Skull Knight warning to Guts what is to come.

Berserker Armor (狂戦士の甲冑) is a magical suit of extraordinarily powerful and durable but extremely risky armor forged by Dwarves (a race not seen. Only mentioned) in Berserk. This cursed armor represents the very theme of both manga and anime, and is the materialized manifestation of the theme. Wearers of this armor are named (fittingly) Berserkers, due to the superhuman strength and feral ferocity they are being subjected to while donning the armor. When donned with the armor for the first time, the wearer hears the voice of temptation to entrust everything (to his manifested inner demon about to take over the wearer's mind).

Previously, Guts showed an image of a berserker warrior, but it was a bit ambiguous as a real one. But with the appearance of this armor, he is now legitimately and unquestioningly the berserker.

Description

At an unknown point in time, the Berserker Armor is forged by magical Dwarves to create an ultimate fighting being. Dwarves imbued their creation with an incredibly violent od purposed for drawing out and manifesting its wearer's negative emotions; particularly rage. The armor is eventually found and donned by the man who becomes the Skull Knight when he was still a human being, used by him to combat his enemies. However, its malevolent nature grows too much for him to bear, so he entrusts it to his close friend, the talented witch named Flora. In her care, it remained locked away for many years.

It is later entrusted to Guts after Flora's Spirit Tree Mansion came under assault by Apostles who are parts of Griffith's New Band of the Hawk. Guts, after losing his original armor during his near-fatal confrontation against God Hand member Slan, wears Berserker Armor, fights against Grunbeld, an Apostle general while slaughtering lesser Apostles effortlessly. In spite of Grunbeld's immense strength, even after his fire dragon transformation, Guts in Berserker Armor not only withstood Grunbeld's attacks, even temporarily overwhelms the Apostle in their clash.


During his journey with his party Guts encounters Kushan military's Demon Beast troops at the Vritannis' beach outskirt at night under full moon. Guts fared well without the assistance of the armor until larger Pishacha beast named Makara appeared, forcing Guts to resort to the armor's power in order to take out the larger demon beast. Although Guts under Berserker Armor's influence quickly put an end to Makara's life, under full moon Guts could not snap back to his sanity in time and was about to attack his own party until combined effort of Moonlight Child and Schierke brought him back.


During the siege of Vritannis city waged by Kushan military Guts once again resorted to the armor's power when he and his companion are surrounded by several Makaras that are eliminated rather quickly (each Makaras are capable of destroying 10 warships) before facing Dhaiva the Kushan sorcerer, who understands Guts' source of power. But while attempting to dissuade Guts from using the armor in earlier phase of the battle Schierke's soul accidentally got sucked into the armor, finding Guts' ego and once again brought him back to his self. From that point on Guts and Schierke team up to defeat Dhaiva. Emperor Ganishka eventually arrives and tried his might on Guts. Heavily damaged by Ganishka's lightning attack, Guts managed to maintain his self even when Schierke's soul got forced out of the armor after Guts was struck by lightning. With the help of Zodd, Guts managed to wound Ganishka in the head and forced the monstrous tyrant his retreat. While Guts had his risk with his armor, he had his share of merit when he saved his comrades from falling mast using the power of armor.

In volume 33, it is revealed that it is not Guts in the form of suppressing the armor's rampant tendency, but the Beast of Darkness, having manifested through Berserker Armor and has become a 'mind' of Berserker Armor, is merely 'doing what the Guts wants to do' until the day the Beast gets his 'scale'; that will be the day it will fight with unchecked rampancy with 'wild hatred and joyous fury'. Nothing will stand its way and Guts will then be completely taken over by the Beast. So the Beast tells Guts in his subconsciousness a warning to cherish the people around him for the time being.


On his way to Elfhelm Guts and his companions stops at a small island which turns out to be a resting place of a monstrous Sea God. The sea god eventually resurrects, turning its inhabitants into its minions save Isma. Guts had to resort to his armor to save himself and others in spite of Farnese's objection. Schierke was isolated and away elsewhere at the time so she could not help him. When she attempted to enter into the armor, having been upgraded the armor repelled her. After doing away with most of sea god's minions Guts still seeks more preys to kill. Then the armor and Guts began having a fierce duel of the will as the two fought for dominance; Guts tries to force off the armor while the armor actually attempts forced takeover of Guts. Before the battle can be decided, Moonlight Child once again appeared, giving Schierke enough time to run up to him and forcibly ripped the armor helm from Guts, deactivating the cursed armor.

After this battle, Guts and Schierke once again team up to kill Sea God, and Merrows, a heroic race from the past that fought and sealed Sea God once before, aided Guts' party. After fending off numerous minions and internal parasites and guardian monsters, the partners managed to reach into the heart of Sea God, and with extreme difficulty, Guts utilized the power of his armor to the max to cleave the heart of Sea God into two, killing the monstrous deity.


When Guts' party arrived on Elfhelm, Elfhelm's king had Schierke and Farnese enter into Casca's dream world in order to bring Casca back to her sane self. Berserker Armor, brought by Farnese, was once again called into service when they were surrounded by Casca's nightmares, in form of Apostles during Invocation of Doom. This time Guts, in a form of a dog, dons the armor and took on Casca's hostile nightmares lashing out with Dragon Slayer sword on its tail. While Guts-dog wearing Berserker Armor took care of nightmares, Schierke and Farnese managed to bring Casca back to her old self.

Powers and Risks

Berserkers under the influence of Berserker Armor possess inhuman strength and agility in battle. The Berserker Armor's ominous od overtakes its wearer's mind, deadening their senses of fear and pain. This allows for the transcendence of subconscious limitations placed (instinctively placed in order to avoid self-destruction) on the human body, granting its wearer unimaginable gains in strength, speed and endurance coupled with an inhuman tenacity and bloodlust. In this empowered state, its wearer's egos are drowned in a huge torrent of the armor's evil od. Upon wearing, the armor's helm takes on the appearance of its wearer's inner darkness; in Guts' case, the helmet of the armor is shaped like the Beast of Darkness, which up until now had only been Guts' impulse deep within him but upon wearing the armor it gained separate sentience and is fully unleashed. The helm is able to function as a mouth capable of biting enemies.


The wearer wearing the said armor is more than a match for supernatural creatures which can be otherwise hopelessly overwhelming. The armor also temporarily 'repairs' debilitating injuries in the heat of battle through reinforcing broken bones and forcibly reallocating dislocated joints... By piercing through the flesh of its wearer with thin barbs and spikes coming out of the armor from within in the process. Such invasive and forced reparation can lead to added perforations and hemorrhages. So the longer wearer fights on donning Berserker Armor, the closer the wearer gets to his eventual demise. It is said by Schierke that prior to Guts owning the armor, a previous wearer (hinted to be Skull Knight) of Berserker Armor fought while donning his armor and kept on fighting until the very last drop of blood in his body have been hemorrhaged out, until every parts of his bones have been broken into pieces, and every pieces of his fractured bones have been pierced by protruding barbs/needles of Berserker Armor. So rather than actually healing its wearer like Guts' party previously thought, Berserker Armor empowers its wearer at the expense of its wearer's health and sanity. Also even after the battle against Apostles was over, the armor, with its barbs stuck onto Guts, continued to latch onto its new owner's body for days, as Guts continued to bled. When Guts' party finally did manage to take off his armor, Guts drifted in and out of consciousness due to intense pain, not to mention reopening his wounds every time it happened.

When pierced by powerful thrust attacks the armor heals itself. Also prior to entrusting the armor to Guts, Flora has carved a magical talisman onto the armor, allowing Guts to maintain bare minimum of ego, which allowed Schierke's spirit to enter inside of armor and helped Guts bring him back to his sanity during a siege of Spirit Tree Mansion.

In addition to the said perilous natures of the armor, due to wearers' egos being lost in the armor's wicked od, wearers' abilities to differentiate between friend and foe are totally dissolved. Schierke knows dangers armor poses, so when Flora asked her to deliver the armor to Guts Schierke at first hesitated. It can also cause its wearer a chronic mental deterioration, allowing its wearer's inner darkness to fester externally; prodding, inciting, mocking and luring the wearer. When the armor is active, the helm's eye sockets glow red and Guts' face is completely obstructed. But if in control of himself (through external assistance), however, Gut's face is partially visible and the helm's eye sockets do not emit red glows. Berserker Armor, once worn, is not meant to be taken off and this is shown when Guts who still had a bare minimum of his ego during the battle against Sea God's minions attempted to force off his armor but the armor kept resisting, preventing Guts from taking off the armor.

According to the Skull Knight, Guts, begins to lose some colors and tongue will not know the taste, and fingers will shiver (due to loss of sense of touch). Guts' hair also turned slightly from full black to partially gray. Besides, this is just the beginning, and if Guts keeps fighting like this, he will lose more and more such as light, voice, warmth. Just when the fear of the Brand seems to have been temporarily disappeared, a new ordeal arrived for Guts and his band.

Through one incident, Guts has learned a way to minimize the Berserker Armor's risks through Schierke's spirit entering the armor, help maintaining Guts' sanity while drawing out the power of the armor. It seems by maintaining sanity using this method, the power as a berserker decreases a bit, as stated by Dhaiva. This prevention method is not 100% foolproof, of course. Even with this cautionary measure the power of the armor still frequently goes out of control, allowing the Beast to come out and wreak havoc; and every time this happens Guts' body gradually but surely wears out under tremendous stress and burden. But when the world has turned into Fantasia, all kinds of powerful, dangerous and even god-like monsters in terms of powers began to appear, so while incredibly risky every time using it, without Berserker Armor Guts' party would not even stand a chance of survival. Making the armor a necessary evil. Also even though Guts is extraordinary warrior, he is not super beings like those in Marvel or DC comic characters so he still must wage a risky battle.

Also under a full moon (said to be the time when power of magic reaches at peak) and nearby sea, there is even greater chance of Armor going out of control and wearer's mind has a chance of becoming more unhinged. In these environments even skilled magus such as Schierke would have a great difficulty subduing the influence of the armor: in fact, during Guts' battle against Pishaca demon beast troops Schierke was able to bring back Guts thanks to Moonlight Child having already woke up Guts partially before Schierke's spirit reached his mind. During battling against minions of Sea God under a full moon Schierke failed to bring back Guts by herself. Once again Moonlight Child had to intervene to partially bring back Guts before Schierke bailed him out.

Criticism

However, there is also a negative view on the design of Berserker Armor. Prior to the debut of the armor, the vengeful motivation for Guts fighting a bloody and horrid battles were seen in his bloodthirsty expressions that made even his allies nervous with fear. But with Berserker Armor's emergence Guts' murderous expressions are covered in blackness of Berserker Armor. Granted when wearing the armor he will be swallowed by the Beast, but with the help of Scheirke, the desperation and his murderous facial expression shown in Guts is very much gone, and readers felt Berserker Armor has tamed Guts' state of wrathful mind and psyche.

Trivia

  • Berserker Armor is often made comparison to Tokyo Ghoul's Arita series Kakuja:
    • Both can be worn.
    • Both grant their wearers superhuman attributes.
    • Both have a tendency to eat away their owners and pose great risks to them.
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