Griffith, Femto, White Falcon, Falcon of Darkness, whatever you may call him, remains one of the most hated but misunderstood characters in anime.
His character is undeniable creative perfection, but many seem to harbor immense hatred for him, not entirely unjustified.
However, this hatred needs to be explored to be fully understood, and when explored, a truth about Griffith may be revealed, potentially siding him with the forces of good.
Most people who have heard about Griffith read the manga or watched the anime regard Griffith as the antagonist. An immensely evil demon that fans wish to see beheaded by the Black Swordsman.
While he can initially come off as “innately evil” because of his thirst for power and the methods used to acquire that power, his character is much deeper than you might think.
In all accounts, Guts is portrayed as the bad guy much more than Griffith would in all truth, especially in his Black Swordsman and Conviction arcs.
What Griffith Did
Everything turned south for Griffith after Guts left the Band of the Hawk, making him emotionally deranged, which led to him making a few very…unwise decisions that led to inhumane suffering:
- After Guts leaves, Griffith decides to share a bed with Princess Charlotte, enraging her father, the King, and leading to Griffith being thrown in the dungeons.
There, he was subjected to unfathomable torture, starved, and unable to see the light of day for what felt like an eternity to Griffith.
- As his days of torture came to an end, his body was a mangled piece of meat, a dead man who still breathes. This marks the last straw for Griffith as he uses the Crimson Behelit to summon God Hand, starting the Eclipse.
The Eclipse meant that Griffith was ready to sacrifice the entire Band of the Hawk (his loving companions) to keep his dream alive.
Note: Starting the Eclipse on its own is enough for most fans to hate Griffith and everything he’s ever stood for.
- To make matters worse, in the Eclipse, after Griffith becomes the demon Femto, he sexually assaults Casca in front of Guts, a final act to break Guts and instill in him an unkillable flame of pure hate and rage.
- After the Eclipse and the formation of Falconia, Femto is held responsible for overflowing the world with uncontrollable demons and spirits that now torment all living things that don’t live in Falconia.
What’s worse is that the God Hand now has free reign over the lands, making them more dangerous than they ever were before.
- Griffith also blames Guts for things going this far, using this reasoning to justify his actions.
Why Griffith Did It
There are many reasons for Griffith doing what he did, but what stands as the overarching point is his DREAM.
He wishes for a kingdom of his own, to be the king and rule over and serve those in his kingdom.
This dream was more important to him than anything: the Band of the Hawk, his lover, and his best friend.
Why Griffith Isn’t Evil Only Misunderstood
I wouldn’t regard Griffith as solely evil, not to say that he hasn’t done evil things, but because he’s done these evil things so that he can save more people than he’s sacrificed.
However, that isn’t the only reason. You could say Griffith is ignorant, but due to evidence showing just how intelligent he is, the other option is that he’s simply using the God Hand to fulfill his dream just like he did with the Band of the Hawk.
After all, if he could betray his closest allies as a human who feels more deeply than a demon, what limits him to only using the God Hand to accomplish what he couldn’t as a human?
What Makes Griffith the Good Guy
Griffith does not seek to do evil. He simply wants to accomplish his dream. What he did to Casca was done to hurt Guts, not do evil.
In fact, there are many times when he simply meets Guts but seems to not harbor any ill feelings towards him. The reason for this might be because he understands how much Guts has suffered and wishes not to torment him any further.
What’s more is that he seems to have made a prosperous kingdom to keep all living things safe from the evil he’s unleashed, a righteous decision that tells us that Griffith understands what he’s done wrong and seeks retribution in some sense.
No matter who you are, all of us have made mistakes. Some of us (like Griffith) have even made mistakes that make them nearly unredeemable, but as I’ve said above, that isn’t entirely true.
With the story of Berserk nowhere near its end and Griffith not showing us enough evidence to convey an overwhelming evil presence, it would be speculation to assume Griffith is the antagonist and Guts the protagonist.