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"Black Swordsman" (黒い剣士 Kuroi Kenshi?) is the first episode of the Berserk 1997 anime adaptation. It covers the first episode of the manga with some elements of the second episode.


A girl is being assaulted in a bar when Guts walks in. He kills all her assailants but one, making him tell his master that the Black Swordsman is coming. Guts attacks the master, kills him, and removes a Beherit from around his neck. In the end of the episode it takes back when Guts kills Bazuso and he meets Griffith.


"In this world, is the destiny of mankind controlled by some transcendental entity or law? Is it that like the Hand of God hovering above? At least it is true that Man has no control even over his own will"

The series begins with the forging of the Dragon Slayer sword by the blacksmith, Godot, while a man dressed in all black sits in the darkness.


Forging of the Dragon Slayer

After the opening sequence, Guts enters the town of Koka during a rain storm and is passed by a caravan full of prisoners. In a bar, a man asks the bartender if he has heard "any good news" to which the reply is none at all. The man at the bar goes onto the say that ever since Griffith has become King he's lost all hope, while the bartender tries to quiet the man, fearing snitches.

The two men's discussion is abruptly interrupted when a group of the servants of the Snake Baron enter with a young girl who they begin to terrorize while the other patrons look away. The girls grandfather enters the bar and begs for Collette's release and is viciously attacked by the group of men.

Guts saves Collete

Guts saves Collette

Guts appears in the bar and shoots one of the men through the head with a crossbow bolt from the bow mounted on his mechanical arm. He then shoots two of the other men, one in the neck and the other through the shoulder. The last man attempts to use Collette as a human shield and threatens to make Guts pay for what he's done. The man is ignored, and instead Guts demands to see the man's master. When he does not comply he is hit in the shoulder with a throwing knife. Guts decides to allow the man to live and pass a message to his master: "Tell him the Black Swordsman has come."

As Guts is giving his orders, the only other surviving member of the group tries to sneak up behind him. Immediately, Guts kills the man using the Dragon Slayer, making this the first kill of many seen using that fearsome sword.

Later, a man tells the Minister of Koka of the Black Swordsman. The Minister orders his personal bodyguards to search everywhere for the man. He then laments to himself that he must be the one to bring the news to his master, the Snake Baron.

Snake Baron Portrait

The Snake Baron

From a high window, the Snake Baron watches the search for Guts in the town and orders for the Minister to be brought to him. He smiles and laughs, saying: "He has finally come."

Elsewhere, Guts spends the night in a forest just outside of Koka, when a brand on his neck begins to bleed and an evil laugh echoes. A voice can be heard saying: "We are always watching you. Your body belongs to us. You cannot escape." Several spirits grab onto Guts' legs, saying that all his negative emotions belong to them as long as he bears the brand. Flashing images of the first four God Hands are seen: Slan, Ubik, Conrad and Void, and finally, the fifth God Hand, Femto, whom Guts addresses as Griffith. Guts attempts to attack Femto with his sword, but the body dissipates into a swirl of the spirits, revealing that this was an illusion.

Back in Koka, the Minister meets with the Snake Baron and begs for forgiveness, claiming the man was only a lone wanderer. The Minister tries to assuage the Snake Baron with offers of more food and money, but the Baron simply states that they are of no use to him. However, the Snake Baron does want something, which is to meet the Swordsman, going onto say that he loves to hear "human screams as they burn and the sound of cracking bones." The Minister begs the Snake Baron, saying they had a deal that no harm would come to his people any further, to which the Baron replies he does not care and to let the people burn.

The Snake Baron then goes out into Koka, in his armour in the likeness of a snake and burns the town to the ground, killing all the inhabitants. The Minister is found in the midst of the town, impaled.

The Snake Baron laughs at all the death around him, when suddenly several arrows come from the flames, killing some of his men. The Snake Baron orders his men to go and confront Guts, but they are also killed, with either more arrows or from his sword. Guts then engages the Baron, who seems to be losing, until he changes from his human form and Guts is thrown back easily, with the flick of the Baron's tail. The Baron laughs, saying that no human can kill him, he then repeatedly attacks Guts, crushing him with his tail.

Just when it seems that the Baron has won, Guts uses the hidden cannon in his mechanical arm and using the recoil is able to get the Dragon Slayer to inflict more wounds on the Baron. As Guts attacks, a Beherit flies off the Snake Baron and lands away from the two. As the Baron lies dying, Guts mockingly asks: "Didn't you say a human couldn't kill you?" The Baron suddenly realizes that Guts is one of the Branded sacrfices.

Guts begins to torture the Baron, piercing him in multiple places with his arrows. As he does so, Guts says "You're right, we are mortal and fragile. But even if we are tortured or wounded we will fight to survive. You should feel the pain we feel and understand. I am the messenger that will deliver you to that understanding." Guts shows no mercy to the Baron when he asks for it, citing the people in Koka he had just callously killed.

Baron Dying

Guts standing above the dying Snake Baron.

Guts leaves the Snake Baron to burn in the fires he had set to kill the humans of the town and retrieves the Beherit from where it lay (this differs from the manga, where he gains the Beherit of the Count, which was stolen from Vargas).

As the episode ends, there is a sudden flashback to where Guts is still just a young boy and about to fight a knight at least twice as large as himself, Bazuso.

Next Episode Preview[]

The narrator, Void, asks questions about the purpose of humans: why they come into being, why do they live to meet those who would become important to them. On the screen, Guts fights Bazuso and several of the members of the Band of the Falcon are shown.

Characters in Order of Appearance[]