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The Black Swordsman
Hiroaki Iwanaga (2016 Anime/Movies)
15 (Beginning of the Golden Age Arc)
6'3 (190 cm)
Black, with white patch
AppearanceGuts has black hair fitted with constant, short pointy spikes already built from short hair itself. At the base of his hairline, he allows a few strands to hang just above his forehead. It most closely resembles a crew cut.
He wears bandages over his right hand (a style he has used since the beginning, most likely to assist in handling a sword and for hand stabilization). He also wears a sleeveless black shirt underneath his armor, allowing him to move his arms freely.
Over his pants, he sports a type of groin armor (codpiece) most likely for protective purposes.
During the Golden Age, Guts wears a tan-to-brown colored set of armor that transitions from leather to a harder material. In addition to this equipment, he is mostly seen in battle wearing a uniquely shaped head-guard that protects all but his mouth. He later discards the helmet upon leaving the Hawks (along with the sword he was using up to that point, due to having been broken in battle by Boscogn).
In the Retribution Saga, Guts is shown to be a man wearing a long black cape with a hood strewn over his head. He is shown to be a rather tall man at 6'3" (190 cm) with a strong, heavily scarred muscular frame. In one scene, he is shown to slaughter 69 men (more if you include the background screams. One soldier comments there "must be more than 100 corpses."). While he appears to be in his thirties at first glance, he's actually only in his twenties at this point and has been hardened by a lifetime of war.
Without his hood, he is shown to be a man with a young, wrinkle-less face with a scar crossing the bridge of his nose. His right eye remains closed indefinitely, as it is later revealed that it was taken from him by an Apostle some time before. Guts was forced to sever his left arm off just below the elbow because he could not get his arm free from the Apostle's teeth. Since then, it has been replaced by the Cannon Arm, fitted with an arm cannon which has a magnet in the palm portion capable of grasping the rather large blade he carries with him. His outfit consists of a long black cape featured over black-plated armor, complete with dark pants and armored boots.
Guts' armor is updated in the Millennium Falcon Saga by Rickert, causing its plates to bear great resemblance to the Berserker Armor that he would wear later on. Shortly following the battle against Slan, and later, against Grunbeld, Guts switches the regular plates of his armor for the Berserker Armor. The first use of the armor causes the Beast of Darkness to shape the armor, and also turns a portion of his black hair white.
Guts has what could be the most complex personality in the entire series. It could be said that due to this complex personality, he is perhaps the most "human" out of the characters introduced, demonstrating significant shifts in character as he ages.
Being born from a bloody situation and forced into a life of violence, Guts had hardly any time to live like a normal child. While he experienced moments of happiness and joy, his true passion was warped into desiring the fight, mostly to gain Gambino's favor and later to satisfy his own fighting abilities. After successfully killing the first person in what would eventually be a list of hundreds, Guts tempered himself to become stronger, eventually building a strong and very personal relationship with the blade he wields. During his time with the Band of the Hawk, Guts had also told Casca that he was only ever happy when wielding his sword.
"I'd rather fight for my life than live it." (Episode 19)
After leaving the Hawks, Guts appreciates his bond with his sword and realizes that he wants to create his own sparks. This connection with sparks causes him to uncharacteristically and gratefully thank Judeau when the latter uses the light from sparks to briefly identify the locations of the attacking Bākiraka assassins in their effort to save Griffith.As a child, he attempted to make something of a family between his adoptive mother and father, though the former was struck by an illness, dying early on and the latter rarely gave his approval despite how much Guts desired it. Seeing Gambino and Shisu as his adoptive parents, Guts has never thought about his birth parents, putting Gambino as the closest thing he had to a father, despite the mercenary leader's attempt to kill him. Guts sinks into depression after accidentally killing Gambino in self-defense, with only himself left as a reminder of his early life.
In the four years he travels around with various mercenary groups, it is shown that Guts had not grown close to anybody until meeting Griffith and the Band of the Hawk. Outwardly displaying a lonely, though arrogant teenage persona, Guts grows close to the Hawks throughout his three years with them, even disregarding Corkus' negativity in greater light of his conflicts with Casca and adapting to the rough mercenary persona shared by the Hawks. Only after talking to Gaston moments before the Eclipse does Guts realize that the Hawks were a family to him and that he was too stubborn to admit it. The Eclipse's occurrence causes the Hawks to be sacrificed, and Guts, upon waking up after four days of rest, ran outside Godo's elven mine and cried upon remembering the Hawks' deaths. Guts later accepts his loneliness after realizing the demonic nature of the enemies he will face. When he realizes that his actions were indirectly the cause for the Hawks' deaths, he admits that he had no right to avenge them and focuses on finding a cure for Casca's mental instability. Later, Isidro, Farnese, and Serpico resolve to join him, and Guts admits that he never knew that he would have comrades again seeing this as a new light in his life.
Despite hating and rejecting the Demon Child that Casca would bear to him and refusing to acknowledge him as his child, after settling with his new party and encountering the child, he begins to think of him and wonder if he was "still out there wandering the night all by himself", unaware that Griffith used his body for the Incarnation Ceremony. This implies that Guts may feel a certain degree of paternity towards the child.
Having been raped by Donovan at an early age, Guts has developed an aversion to being touched by other men, perhaps extending to homophobia. When Guts is suddenly touched by another man, he will react violently to the person touching him, only reacting curiously when he realizes that Casca slept with him to keep him warm. Later, after he wakes up on Roderick's ship, Guts inwardly hopes that Roderick did not revive him by performing mouth to mouth resuscitation.
The three years he spends with the Hawks largely downplays this paranoia as he becomes more friendly with the Raiders, only starting up again when he makes love to Casca. This later allows him to leave behind his fear of being touched. The Eclipse causes him to take up this fear again in a way largely related to the first. Notably, his right eye's last sight is of Casca being raped by Femto, while he was held down by an Apostle and unable to do more than watch.
Guts' sword is also tied to his instinct for survival, saving him when he is attacked by a drunken Gambino and later when he is attacked by a pack of wolves. In both cases, Guts did not intend to kill his attacker and in the latter case, even resigned himself to death before realizing how much he wanted to live. Hearing Griffith's conceptualization of a true friend elicits a resolution from Guts not to be swallowed up in Griffith's dream.
His "struggler" attitude towards most things, however, has a rebound in which Guts realizes the true value of what he had left behind after he has lost it. All this combined serves to fuel Guts' large disregard of and hatred towards the concept of fate. He displays a similar, though more mellow, disregard of God, simply shrugging it off as a dark joke compared to his heated response to fate.
Guts has a very tactical personality. When he is not enraged, he will study his opponent thoroughly if given the opportunity. He has become a brilliant warrior because of this, and on-top of his normal survival instincts, this advantage of his brain allows him to survive some of the most difficult battles. He is prone to using decoys and tricks to defeat his larger enemies, on-top of evasive maneuvers and hiding, while looking for a weak spot.
In his Berserk Mode, however, Guts acts as a wild animal with only the will to kill and survive. He will use anything that he can forge as a weapon (even an Apostle's horn). If he's not in his Berserk Mode, sometimes Guts enters a sort of kill mode that causes his eyes to fade slightly but become very serious, thus showing his resolve and determination to kill anything in his way to achieve victory.
Guts is subject to blood lust, getting an intense bestial satisfaction off of killing other people almost to the degree that he could be considered somewhat psychotic. He will occasionally grin in such a manner that makes him appear to be a demon, and loves the feeling of killing scum. He's always open for a challenge, and does not mind literally crushing someone's body and internal organs to employ his battle techniques. That being said, Guts has no morals on how he kills people and will easily slaughter anyone without giving it a second thought.
Early in the manga, Guts valued life according to strength: the weaker the being, the more it deserved to die, with a measure of nonchalance toward bystanders and those caught in the crossfire. This leads to conflict with Puck, whose happiness and morality contrasts with Guts' morbidity and borderline immorality. In the Band of the Hawk, Guts is casual with its members and acts rowdy, reckless and sometimes goofy (especially in certain situations with Griffith). When it comes to close friends such as Casca and Judeau, he will smile and talk with them on an even level, being very interested in sharing his own thoughts, but keeping his secrets as well.He treats the Apostles as targets that deserve to die, and while some he kills quickly, others he would not mind calling out for the terrible things they do, wanting them to feel pain, getting a sick satisfaction from some of it.
Guts is, first and foremost, an incredibly resilient man. Despite the hardships he's been meant to suffer from his cursed birth, he has grown and changed considerably, gaining in both strength of body and mind. The brash stubbornness of his youth has melted into a somewhat "worldly" view on things and the people around him; he's come to realize over time what matters most to him and what he is willing to sacrifice to protect it - everything. He gives of himself relentlessly for the sake of those precious few who've managed to fight their ways into his heart despite the long voyage it took to get there; Guts is both incredibly loyal and incredibly selfless, though this was not always the case. It took unfathomable loss for him to finally understand what his priorities truly were.
He holds himself at an arm's length to most, preferring to keep his distance in order to protect those around him; cursed with the Brand of Sacrifice, Guts is a veritable 'demon beacon'; the mark on the base of his neck is like a magnet, drawing in all the wretched creatures of the shadows and darkness. Anyone around him is guaranteed to become entrapped in the endless battles Guts is forced to partake in, as he's constantly under attack. However, it isn't only by fault of the Brand that Guts keeps from forming many personal relationships. He still feels a deep, strong sense of loss and longing after the betrayal of the man he viewed as his best friend, Griffith, and the transformation of the woman he loves, Casca. Dealing with both of these issues on a daily basis has left him emotionally damaged, likely beyond repair, but has given him insight into himself and others he wouldn't have possessed otherwise.
Beneath the outer layers of his personality - the regret, the longing, the emotional distance, is an insatiable anger and blood lust that cannot hope to be tamed nor satisfied. With the usage of the Berserker Armor, he's constantly engaged in battle with himself in order to keep these emotions in check, lest he let his rage win out and he becomes a mindless beast unable to determine friend from foe. The nature of these feelings are clear: his hatred and pain caused by Griffith's betrayal, his actions, the loss of the Band of the Hawk, everything that happened to Casca, being made to watch her rape and subsequent loss of mental capacities, his disgust and loathing for the God Hand. His hatred for demons, and anything resembling them, is considerable. In fact, it has been subtly demonstrated that Guts may suffer from a kind of dementia brought on by post-traumatic stress. There have been times when he has hallucinated about The Beast of Darkness, the mental projection of all the pain and anguish he has suffered. The fact that the visions of the beast appear when he is awake indicate that he may also be suffering from a form of schizophrenia, as the beast has a life of its own and speaks to Guts as if it is someone else.
Guts refuses to acknowledge the concept that humanity's fate has been pre-determined or previously ordained; he fights against his own as being Branded for the Sacrifice, and is determined to see the end to God Hand - Griffith in particular. However, in the face of seeing Casca well again, even revenge had taken a back seat to attempting to bring her back and find some way to protect those he loves against the onslaught of Apostles and demons that they attract.
Berserk Mode (Black Berserker Rage for Guts) is a special sub-genre of personality that activates in people that are typically prominent in rage and is used mostly in battle. While in Berserk Mode, it's as if nothing can get through to the person and they will kill multiple enemies with increased stamina, endurance and adrenaline. Berserk Mode allows someone to surpass human limitations and throw away their fears in order to survive, which Guts displays quite often in dangerous situations.
Guts possesses titanic strength gained from a harsh childhood lived with a band of mercenaries. Guts is seen by many as the personification of endurance and human willpower. Somehow Guts always manages to survive, even risking his life needlessly, as long as it was a risk that lay along a path to victory. He has engaged and successfully triumphed against many human opponents such as Bazuso, Zondark and Boscogn. However, his greatest battles are against the horrific beings known as Apostles, who can transform into giant demons, easily surpassing groups of men.
At the age of six, Guts began his training with Gambino, using a sword forged for adults even when the mercenaries watching suggested that he should use a sword more suited to his size. Even though he clearly struggles to wield the blade, Guts persists, managing to scratch Gambino's chin. Guts continues his training to the point where he can hold his own against full grown men. At the age of nine, he enters his first battle with a longsword and makes his first kill, albeit indirectly. However, he is later hit by a flail in the back and is almost killed, but is saved by Gambino's intervention.
At the age of eleven, he is shown to have improved significantly. Able to wield his longsword with only a single hand, Guts goes as far as to kill a mounted general. Later, in self-defense, his body reacts on its own to defend himself against seven wolves, a feat made all the more impressive by two broken ribs and blood loss caused by a bolt wound, all received earlier after fleeing the band of mercenaries he was traveling with.
By his late teens, Guts is seen wielding a sword three times larger and three times heavier than a standard great sword. When none of all the men present upon a battlefield were willing to duel Bazuso, who has reputedly slain thirty men, Guts confidently steps forward and controls the whole fight. Though he almost dies due to his recklessness, his strength and willpower managed to see him through the fight.
Sometime after being picked up by another band of mercenaries, and later travelling alone, Guts, with a smaller and duller sword, was able to defeat a larger armored man with a mace, despite the fact that his sword was completely unable to break through his opponent's armor. This demonstrates Guts' ability to adapt with different, and even inferior, weapons. He also incorporates a left wrist guard to assist in blocking enemy attacks by placing it behind the blade of his sword rather than leverage his strength upon the handle.
In his early twenties, as the Black Swordsman, Guts is shown to be a true master swordsman, even considered by the Count to be the greatest of all humans. Guts is shown to be able to block attacks faster than the human eye can see, and all with the insanely heavy Dragonslayer. With his vast arsenal, Guts is shown to be able to dispatch foes at any range, each weapon option growing in lethality as he gets closer.
- Dragonslayer: With the mighty blade forged by Godo, Guts can cleave through both armored knights and their horses with ease. The Dragonslayer is also extremely effective against all but the most heavily armored Apostles. The sword is so heavy that it can slice through regular weapons and armor in a single slash. Guts has wielded it to such effect, that the vast amount of blood of Apostles and demons have given the Dragonslayer the ability to have great effect on astral beings. Guts has also learned to use it defensively. When held in front of him, it's broad enough to act as a shield from arrows and bolts, even diverting lightning into the ground by using it as a lightning rod. Guts also uses it to cushion his impact by laying the sword level with his body and letting it absorb the impact first. By using the Dragonslayer, he is able to leave cracks on Zodd's Kushan great sword. However, he lacked the force to damage the Apostle spawn Mozgus' armored scales. The Berserker Armor turns this weapon into a tool of immense power by releasing the limiters on Guts' strength. Guts was able to shatter Grunbeld's shield and war hammer after donning the armor for the first time. Grunbeld commented that he was able to repel cannonballs with the shield. Guts was even able to crack his apostle's form's skin, which was said to be harder than steel.
- Cannon Arm: The cannon in Guts' mechanical arm is one of Godo's inventions. It is given to him alongside other tools to help Guts on his quest for revenge. Guts operates the cannon by loading powder into the barrel and ramming the cannonball into the barrel with a special ramrod. Guts then pulls a rope/cord that pulls his mechanical arm's hand above the barrel which then leads to the powder igniting and then firing. Guts makes use of this cord in situations where he cannot let go of the Dragonslayer or he can't use his right hand by pulling the cord with his teeth and firing the cannon that way. Guts' cannon arm is shown to be powerful enough to blast through apostles or at the very least deal severe damage. Quite often he manages to fool his enemies into thinking he's out of weapons or too badly injured to continue fighting, though quite literally he still has this potent weapon up his sleeve. He can also attack enemies from opposite directions or do a sword-cannon combo by reverse gripping the Dragonslayer then fire his cannon (with his sword holding hand) and use the recoil to power up his cleave either forward or spinning motion. One of the few drawbacks to this powerful weapon is that the recoil produced by its firing hurts Guts' shoulder. Guts complained of this problem the first time he used it by saying that there was too much gunpowder, although he has not made any mention of this problem since then, so it can be assumed that he fixed the problem with the gunpowder. Guts is also hampered by the fact that he can only carry a limited amount of cannon balls at one time. The cannon must also be reloaded after each firing, which in the heat of battle, is almost impossible.
- Repeater Crossbow: The Repeater Crossbow is another one of Godo's inventions. Guts receives this weapon before he sets out on his quest of revenge as the Black Swordsman. Guts uses the crossbow by attaching it to his mechanical arm and filling its magazine full of bolts like a modern day machine gun. Guts then aims down the sight and turns a crank on the weapon with his right hand to let fly a volley of bolts. Guts uses it extensively up until the point in the story where he acquires the Berserker Armor, which ends up to where Guts almost never has to use it. Rickert also has a version of this which he used to protect the carriage when it was being assaulted by harpies.
- Throwing Knives: A weapon first used by Judeau, Guts uses them in his memory, primarily using their stealth advantages. Their greatest use depended on accuracy and vital points being hit, and they are of minimal effect against Apostles, but against smaller targets can be quite lethal. Guts appears to have very great aim and skill using them, landing two knives straight into a pair of soldiers' foreheads in his first scene using them.
- Miniature Bomb: These small mine-shaped bombs are a later addition to Guts' arsenal. Guts first uses this potent weapon to slow down the goat demon during the Conviction arc in order to then cleave its head off. These bombs are very powerful for their size, but within a very small, contained radius, and usually do not have the power to kill their intended targets unless struck in a vital area. These bombs are usually used to slow down or distract a larger enemy in order to counter with a deadly swing from the Dragonslayer. A slight problem with the bombs is that if the powder inside the bombs gets wet, the explosive power is diminished greatly as noted by Isidro when he injured the Kushan wizard who was surrounded by water. Guts has given these bombs to Isidro for the foreseeable future.
- Berserker Armor: Gifted to Guts by Flora, the Berserker Armor acts as his trump card against powerful enemies. When used, it completely numbs his senses to pain, and enhances his every movement. Guts is able to do multiple somersaults even while wielding the heavy armor and wielding the Dragonslayer. The armor itself unlocks the user's muscles, allowing them to use their full strength, at the risk of permanent damage to both their body and mind. Guts is either under the influence of his inner beast or kept sane by Schierke, as hinted by Daiba that there's a power difference when he loses his rage state. With the help of the Berserker Armor, Guts is able to crack Grunbeld's diamond-like exterior, and make quick work of multiple enemies like the Makara. The cons of this armor greatly outweigh the pros, however, as without a sense of pain, Guts is unable to recognize when his body is in mortal danger and will soon fail. When a debilitating injury, such as a broken leg, is received, the armor forcibly seals it by extending metal spikes into the area, keeping it in one piece long enough to continue the fight, although afterward this does more harm than good. In short, Guts while wearing this armor is able to fight at his full, nearly superhuman capabilities, but is all the more vulnerable.
- Guts also bears a likeness to two Norse war gods, Odin and Týr. Týr lost his hand to Fenrir, a giant demon wolf, and Odin gave up his eye for ultimate wisdom. Odin is destined to be killed by Fenrir at Ragnarok, the end of the world. Guts is also reminiscent of berserkers, a group of warriors who idolized Odin and went into furious trances during battle which were believed to be caused by the eating of certain herbs and mushrooms but now is considered to have been caused by post-traumatic stress. Note that "Odin" means "the furious one".
- Guts carries the Behelit that used to be owned by the Count. It is hinted that the ownership of the Behelit has passed onto him, as a horde of ghosts suggested he use it to gain power to fight Griffith, and Slan of the God Hand's presence in Quiploth activates it and she attempts to torture him into using it before the Skull Knight intervenes.
- Guts is very similar in certain ways to iterations of Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion. At least one version of the Eternal Champion (Corum Jhaelen Irsei) is missing an eye and a hand, that is replaced with a mechanical construct while wielding a sword of immense power. The Eternal Champion similarly battles beings of enormous power and extreme destructive capability who are bent upon achieving absolute control over the realms of the multi verse through supernatural means.
- Most of the threatening enemies (apart from random lackeys) that challenge Guts are at least twice his size, this has been the case since the first chapter with the Snake Baron, though the first incident in his life is Donovan. It could be said that he was trained to fight larger enemies as seen in his sword practices with Gambino, in which he uses a sword made for an adult that would become the basis for other large swords he would wield in his life.
- Though much of Guts' survival is due to his determination and willpower, much of his life has also been littered with instances where his survival was largely coincidental, and as noted by Griffith in their first meeting, borderline miraculous. Such instances include, but are not limited to:
- His survival as a decoy in one of Gambino's mercenary operations, when the taller adults who fought with him were killed by arrows.
- His fall from the cliff after his escape from said mercenaries, in which none of the mercenaries expected him to survive. He subsequently loses the will to live and gives in to the wolves attacking him, but his body reacts and he ends up defending himself from the wolves anyway.
- Following his duel with the son of a noble, the flower he was holding onto suddenly slips from his clothes, causing the archer behind him to miss the shot and hit the noble's son instead.
- His duel with Bazuso, with his survival dependent on the fact that Bazuso's ax cracked.
- During an unspecified time between his meeting Griffith and the Hawks and reappearing as the Raiders Captain, he battled many soldiers and managed to be the sole survivor, leading Griffith to marvel at his sheer luck.
- His Set Armor from the Golden Age Arc is available in the 2012 video game Dragon's Dogma, as well as his former sword.
- Guts may have served as inspiration for the character Knight Artorias from Dark Souls, due to Artorias' armor bearing great likeness and also having a crippled arm.
- In the anime series, Guts is voiced by Nobutoshi Canna (adult) and Orine Fukushima (child) in Japanese, and by Marc Diraison (adult) and Maria Dente (child) in English.
- In the film trilogy, he was voiced by Hiroaki Iwanaga (adult) and Jun Inoue (child) in Japanese, while in English, Marc Diraison reprises the role with Colin DePaula now as the young version.
- In the manga, consistent translation errors have led to a surfacing of several mistranslated names for Guts, these errors having occured both in fan translations and in official translations, resulting in names such as Gattsu, Gatts, Gatz, Gatsu, Gattsuu, Gattz, Gatzu, etc.