The Dark Age of Man has begun as Guts travels alone on his hunt for vengeance. Along the way, he enters a pub to rest where he finds a group of bandits tormenting an elf named Puck. After beating up the bandits, Guts takes his leave with a freed Puck, who feels indebted to the swordsman and joins him on his journey. Guts encounters a girl named Collette and her father, who are attacked by restless spirits drawn to Guts' brand. Collette is possessed by spirits and subsequently killed by Guts. Later on, meeting up next to a tree where pagans used to commit ritualistic suicide, the bandits from earlier, planning revenge on Guts, are devoured by the tree as it comes to life. Facing the animated tree as it senses his brand, Guts slays it with a single stroke of his sword before daybreak. After lamenting Collette's death, Guts finds himself confronted by a group of knights calling themselves the Holy Iron Chain Knights who have been hunting for him for years.
The episode begins with a band of knights discovering the aftermath of a ferocious and grisly battle. Recognizing the signs that the Hawk of Darkness prophecy has been fulfilled, they set out to prepare themselves as a mysterious young witch also foresees that the Dark Age of Man has begun. Meanwhile, a lone Black Swordsman walks in the darkness.
In a filthy lawless town, a red-haired boy brings several mugs of ale to a group of bandits resting in a pub. The bandits cruelly throw knives at a tied-up elf who struggles to break free from his restraints. The Black Swordsman walks into the pub as the bandits continue to torture the elf. The boy berates the bandit leader for wasting time when he simply agreed to travel with the bandits to learn how to fight. The leader of the bandits proceeds to beat up the boy, stepping on his head as the Black Swordsman looks on silently.
Once the bandit leader threatens to kill the boy, the Black Swordsman steps in and shatters the leader's jaw. With relative ease, the Swordsman defeats every last bandit in the bar non-lethally. Apologizing for the ruckus, the Black Swordsman asks the bartender to refill his canteen and also purchases a bottle of rum. Later at night, the Swordsman kills a rabbit while traveling through the forest. He proceeds to build a campfire and prepares his dinner while the elf from earlier, now free, tracks him down.
The elf inquires about the Swordsman's massive weapon, only to be ignored. The elf introduces himself as Puck and says he was traveling with an entertainment troupe before being attacked and captured by the bandits. Puck warns the Swordsman about the remaining bandit group lurking deeper in the forest; however, the Swordsman merely threatens to crush him if he continues to babble. Puck flies away as the red-haired boy from earlier chases after the Swordsman only to lose him in a coming storm.
While the Black Swordsman walks in the rain, a passing wagon spots him. The old man driving offers to give the Swordsman a lift, which he refuses for the driver's safety. The Swordsman reveals that he is haunted by evil spirits, yet the old man insists he'll be alright due to his own faith in God. Puck appears behind the old man's daughter, taunting the Swordsman. Reluctantly, the latter boards the wagon as several red, glaring eyes gaze at him from the shadows. The bandits from earlier, now reporting the incident at the tavern to the others, marvel at the mysterious Black Swordsman's inhuman strength. One of the bandits remarks that he set up an ambush for the Swordsman. He then tells the other bandits the tale of a group of cultists that performed sacrifices to appease forest spirits, the location where they currently reside at, in an attempt to frighten them.
Back on the wagon, Puck converses with the Black Swordsman, who pays him no mind. The old man's daughter approaches the Swordsman and offers him homemade wine to warm him up. The Swordsman refuses, however, not wanting to dull his senses, and instead tosses the wine skin to Puck. The girl asks the Swordsman about his prosthetic arm; he replies that he lost it after being bitten by an evil spirit. When the girl asks for the Swordsman's name, he introduces himself as Guts. The old man also formally introduces himself as Adolf along with his daughter, Collette.
Adolf praises Guts for saving Puck at the tavern earlier, having overseen the battle, and inquires if Guts is a mercenary. Guts halfheartedly confirms this while Adolf disapproves of such a violent profession. Adolf tells Guts his nephew died in battle, saying that if he hadn't become a soldier, he could have lived a happy life. Guts disagrees, wondering what's wrong with dying for something you want. Guts decides to rest while Collette covers him to prevent him from catching a fever.
In a nightmare, Guts runs down an impossibly-long alley while a large eye follows him from above. Guts' Brand of Sacrifice begins to bleed as a deformed creature gazes at him. Guts walks through a murky body of water littered with decaying corpses of soldiers before the deformed creature taunts him. Guts begins to have flashbacks to the events of the Eclipse, witnessing the rape of his lover and the silhouettes of five unholy demons. Seeing the new, demonic form of his former friend, Guts calls out to Griffith in a rage before waking up and stabbing an Incubus. Adolf stops the wagon after Puck screams in terror at the dead monster's corpse. Guts tells the others it was feeding off of the terror of his nightmare. Noticing that his Brand is bleeding, Guts picks up his sword and prepares himself for battle.
The wagon's horses, sensing the evil in the area, begin to become agitated. Collette jumps out to calm them as Guts warns her to get back inside, just before she is impaled by an animated, armed skeleton. Guts, now infuriated, goes on the offensive; taking out several skeletons with his prosthetic's crossbow. Puck advises Guts to flee, due to the fact that he is clearly outnumbered. However, Guts remarks with a grin that this is nothing new to him. Taking out his massive greatsword, the Dragon Slayer, Guts cleaves through skeletons left and right. While Guts fights, Puck investigates after hearing Adolf gasp. A possessed Collette smiles wickedly, holding her father's decapitated head in her hand.
Puck calls out to Guts, who freezes in shock as the possessed girl stabs him with a sword. Instinctively, Guts bisects Collette with a single swing. Guts, realizing he killed the child, vomits in revulsion while still fighting back undead skeletons. Meanwhile, in the shadows, the group of bandits mentioned earlier lay in wait to ambush Guts. However, they are all consumed and killed by a massive demonic tree. Having defeated the skeletons, Guts takes a short rest only to be attacked from under the ground by the demon tree's roots. The tree wraps its roots around Guts and the Dragon Slayer, rendering him unable to move. As the tree prepares to eat Guts, he yells in fury, firing his prosthetic's hidden cannon to blast apart the branches binding him. Now free, Guts swings back and cleaves the tree in half, killing it.
The sun rises upon the forest, freeing the trapped souls of the undead skeletons who fell in battle. Looking at Collette's broken corpse, Puck assures Guts it wasn't his fault. Guts coldly chuckles, remarking that only the weak get themselves killed in someone else's battle. Puck recoils at Guts' cruel comments before the demons that haunt Guts taunt him, reminding him that as long as he bears the Brand, he'll never know peace. In an attempt to silence the voices in his head, Guts fires his cannon into the sky. As Guts walks off further into the forest, Puck follows him while pondering over the fact that death is the only thing Guts knows.
Later on, a group of knights clad in silver armor surround Guts and Puck. The leader of the knights is a blonde-haired woman who remarks that, at long last, she's finally found them.
Next Episode Preview Edit
Farnese captures Guts and imprisons him, holding a Beherit in her hand. Then, as the Holy Iron Chain Knights rush into battle against Guts, Azan introduces himself. The scene then changes to Puck holding a set of keys while affirming that elves have a strong sense of responsibility.
Characters in Order of Appearance Edit
Manga/Anime Differences Edit
- The scene of Guts killing the Female Apostle and the plotline of the Snake Baron are omitted, with Isidro introduced early in the story.
- The plotline involving the Count is cut entirely.
- Guts' nightmare is altered with scenes from the Eclipse added into the sequence.
- The monster tree from the Lost Children Chapter is introduced after Guts' fight against the skeletons.
- Rather than the group of bandits being brutally murdered by Guts at their camp, they are instead simply beaten up and later killed by the demonic tree.
- Oddly, Crunchyroll subtitles mistranslated the episode's title as "The Branded Swordsman".
|Black Swordsman Arc|
|The Golden Age Arc Trilogy|