The fighting abilities of lone swordsman Guts pique the interest of mercenary leader Griffith, following the former's defeat of Bazuso during the siege of a Hawk-held fortress. The two later engage in a decisive duel, in which Griffith successfully recruits Guts into his Band of the Falcon by defeating the swordsman.
For three years, Guts aids greatly in the Band of the Hawk's military efforts, gaining rank as the Hawk's Raiders Captain. With their consecutive military victories and ever-increasing fame, the band eventually wins over the confidence of the King of Midland, who enlists their aid in Midland's Hundred-Year War with Tudor. In a siege on a Tudor-held fortress, the Hawks encounter the legendary swordsman Zodd, believed to be immortal. Despite being overwhelmed by Zodd's inhuman strength and ferociousness, Guts and Griffith leave with their lives after Zodd notices Griffith's mysterious Crimson Beherit and ominously withdraws thereafter.
Midland's generals eventually set their sights on recapturing the border fortress of Doldrey – Tudor's seizing of which ignited the Hundred-Year War. Griffith assures the King of Midland that he and his Hawks are all that is necessary to recapture the fortress. True to his word, Griffith successfully leads his mere 5,000 cavalry against the 30,000-strong legions of Tudor forces and recaptures Doldrey, thus concluding the Hundred-Year War.
At the height of the Band of the Hawk's glory, Guts acts on his growing dissatisfaction with fighting for Griffith's dream and departs from the Hawks, to discover and pursue a dream of his own. Losing his most-treasured soldier throws Griffith's mind into turmoil, compelling him to impulsively bed Princess Charlotte on a fateful night. Captured the morning after and imprisoned for treason against Midland's royal house, Griffith is sentenced to a year of prolonged torture by the incensed King of Midland and the Hawks are consequently branded enemies of the state.
A year later, having received word of his former comrades' continued activities, Guts reunites with Casca and the remnant Band of the Hawk, sharing a moment of romance with the former before aiding the latter in rescuing Griffith from beneath the Tower of Rebirth. The King, incensed even further both by Griffith's escape and by the fact that Princess Charlotte has chosen to go with them, sends a group of the famed Bakiraka assassins after them with express orders to bring the Princess back alive. The Falcons are forced to release Charlotte before making their escape through the sewers. Charlotte is brought back to the King, but the King is not satisfied with this. Despite Charlotte's pleas to spare Griffith, the King sends the Black Dog Knights, led by an Apostle by the name of Wyald, after Griffith and the Hawks, with orders to kill them all.
When Wyald and his men find the Hawks, a furious battle commences in which Guts, Casca and the Hawks are thrown into battle with the Black Dog Knights and eventually Wyald, who is defeated by Guts at the cost of his sword. Wyald eventually meets his end when he captures Griffith to try to find his Crimson Beherit, only to find that he does not have it, and is killed by being ripped in half by Zodd as punishment for trying to kill Griffith.
Now a crippled shell of his once-glorious self, having been completely ravaged by his torturer, Griffith activates his Crimson Beherit in a moment of utmost despair and is granted new life by the God Hand, reborn as their final member Femto in exchange for sacrificing his Falcon comrades during the fifth Eclipse. The group of sacrificed Hawks is feasted on by ravenous monsters called "apostles"; Guts loses his left arm and right eye, and Casca's mind collapses after being raped by Femto. The two are left the only surviving sacrifices of the hellish event only due to the Skull Knight's intervention.
Guts vows revenge on the apostles and God Hand. After having a sword made for him by Godot, he breaks it on the hide of the first Apostle to seek him out, before using another sword, the Dragon Slayer, to kill it. Armed with this weapon and a prosthetic cannon arm, and clad in a set of black armor and cape, Guts embarks on a personal war against his sworn enemies as the Black Swordsman.
- Guts vs Bazuso
- Guts' first duel with Griffith
- The Hawks vs Zodd
- Guts vs 100 Blue Whale Knights
- The Battle for Doldrey
- Guts' second duel with Griffith
- Guts plowing through Midland guards while escaping the Tower of Rebirth
- The remnant Hawks and Guts vs Silat and his henchmen
- Guts vs Wyald
- The Skull Knight vs Zodd
- Guts vs numerous apostles during the fifth Eclipse
- Guts vs an unidentified roaming apostle
Anime and Manga Differences
- While Shisu isn't seen in any anime adaptation, she is briefly mentioned by Gambino in the 1997 anime.
- The 1997 anime omits Donovan, while Berserk: The Golden Age Arc I - The Egg of the King alludes to him during Guts' coma.
- Guts' first battle with the Band of the Hawk is omitted in the Berserk: The Golden Age Arc film trilogy.
- Samson Coborlwitz is omitted in Berserk: The Golden Age Arc II - The Battle for Doldrey.
- The second attempt at murder (poisoned drink) against Griffith by the Midland nobility is not seen in the Berserk: The Golden Age Arc film trilogy.
- Guts and Casca's dialogue by the tree is absent in Berserk: The Golden Age Arc.
- Neither the 1997 anime nor Berserk: The Golden Age Arc establish the Queen of Midland as Julius' secret lover.
- Griffith's deduction of the King of Midland's lust for his own daughter is omitted from the 1997 anime.
- The King of Midland's sexual assault on Charlotte is cut from both the 1997 anime and Berserk: The Golden Age Arc.
- Valancia is excluded from Berserk: The Golden Age Arc III - The Advent.
- While both adaptations omit the Bakiraka, Silat is omitted from the 1997 anime.
- Both the 1997 anime and Berserk: The Golden Age Arc omit Wyald.
- The arc ending is only present in Berserk: The Golden Age Arc III - The Advent. The 1997 anime ends with Guts losing his right eye.
- Neither adaptation includes the birth of the Demon Child.
- Guts' fight against the unidentified roaming apostle is omitted from the 1997 anime and Berserk: The Golden Age Arc. In the 2016 anime, the roaming apostle is named the "Keeper of the Hounds", given a proper backstory, and doesn't encounter Guts directly after the fifth Eclipse. The keeper also serves the Snake Lord's role as the apostle who Guts interrogates for the God Hand's whereabouts.
- In the 1997 anime, all moments featuring the Skull Knight are absent.
- ^ a b Berserk, Volume 4, "Golden Age (6)"
- ^ a b Berserk, Volume 5, "Nosferatu Zodd (1)"
- ^ a b Berserk, Volume 8, "Battle to Capture Doldrey (6)"
- ^ a b c Berserk, Volume 8, "Morning of Departure (3)"
- ^ a b Berserk, Volume 9, "Beginning of the Endless Night"
- ^ a b Berserk, Volume 12, "Separation"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 5, "Nosferatu Zodd (4)"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 9, "Demise of a Dream"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 10, "Reunion in the Abyss"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 13, "Escape"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 13, "Vow of Retaliation"
- ^ a b Berserk, Volume 14, "The One Who Hunts Dragons"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 4, "Golden Age (3)"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 4, "Golden Age (5)"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 7, "Ready to Die (3)"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 7, "Battle to Capture Doldrey (3)"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 10, "A Way Through"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 9, "Fugitives"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 11, "Demon Dog (4)"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 12, "Feast"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 13, "God of the Abyss (1)"
|Golden Age Arc|