Image source: TVアニメ「ベルセルク」公式 on Twitter

Berserk’s Lady Farnese has gone through an important metamorphosis throughout just a single season of the new Berserk series. Once a haughty noblewoman whose faith was placed squarely in the hands of the religious Holy Iron Chain Knights and now one of Guts’ fellow travelers, she’s come a long way. Farnese de Vandimion is a changed woman—for the most part—and she’s a much more fascinating character for it.

[Note: This article contains major spoilers for Berserk.]

These types of transformations don’t come easy—that’s why this has been such a fascinating evolution. The incorrigible woman we met early on in 2016’s Berserk is nowhere to be found these days, replaced instead with a more humble girl who even appears to have a crush on the same man she once whipped out of anger and frustration. She follows Guts willingly now and it’s like night and day. If you knew her before, you’d hardly be able to recognize her now.

In the beginning, Farnese immediately cemented herself as a formidable opponent and a fairly obnoxious character with little reason for fans to back her. Everything that came out of her mouth was some sort of nonsense about the Holy See and her Holy Iron Chain Knights—or bouts of adoration for the bizarre and overtly cruel Mozgus. It appeared Farnese was destined to live under the Holy See’s thumb, never questioning her own actions or theirs—blindly following her faith even when the things she thought to be true crumbled down around her.

Image source: TVアニメ「ベルセルク」公式 on Twitter

She was never one to take it upon herself to investigate or attempt to ascertain additional knowledge about things, even when strange occurrences looked her right in the eye. This ended up being part of her eventual reconciliation, especially when it comes to following and trusting Guts.

Back when she first met Guts, it happened as a result of her tracking him (as she believed he was the Hawk of Darkness she had been searching for). When she did capture him, she showed Guts no mercy, and even went so far as to treat him callously. Confident, angry, and prone to losing her temper, she made no bones about how much she loved her cause and her holy mission.

When time came to interrogate Guts and he didn’t give her the answers she had been searching for, she even went wild whipping Guts and acting out of anger. This was at odds with her “calm and collected” composure she had tried to maintain in front of Guts previously, hinting at the madness swirling inside of her that would later manifest itself as sadism and masochism. These two ideals reared their heads before Guts had to save Farnese from a ravenous horse demon that was trying to mount and sexually assault her.

This run-in didn’t prove to be a one-time thing, as being possessed by a demon that forced her to mount Guts and straddle his sword was relegated to a single occasion, but she was later shown pleasuring herself in a similar manner after the demon made it clear that she loved the pain she was in and also enjoyed doling it out. This was made clear early on, like when she whipped Guts and then turned the whip to herself later on for “penance,” since it seemed an awful lot like a sexual thing.

Eventually after Farnese met with the fate of St. Albion thanks to the evil Mozgus, she did decide to change her ways and travel with Guts and his friends, looking for answers and a way to live on in a world that wasn’t exactly like she thought it was—where things like Mozgus’ cruelty are allowed to run rampant.

Image source: TVアニメ「ベルセルク」公式 on Twitter

When Farnese joined Guts and company, she cut her hair and began changing in several ways, showing affection for Guts along with shyness and a great deal of sympathy. Where she might grumble and complain before, she tries to understand. Instead of running away from danger, she does attempt to take a stand and fight back.

Interestingly enough, she performs a motherly role for poor Casca, even though she’s jealous of how much Guts cares for Casca in the first place. She’s even begun studying witchcraft under the tutelage of Schierke, which is something she would have immediately denounced before.

Along with the changes she’s undergone, we’ve learned a lot more about Farnese’s past since the new season started as well, namely the fact that she grew up abusing her half-brother Serpico in a vicious cycle that ended up perpetuating abuse and feeding her love for sadism and masochism.

It’s not hard to see why she’d gravitate toward the Holy See in some sort of meek attempt to save her soul and repent for the things she had done in the past. She’s deeply regretful and sorrowful about her old ways, but things like that do have a nasty habit of cropping back up when you least expect them.

Farnese seems to have changed her ways for good, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. She’s growing in so many ways and becoming a dependable and even likable character now, which is a far cry from the arrogant woman we met in the last season. Here’s hoping nothing untoward happens to her before she finally comes into her own, because there’s not been all this work put into improving her character overall for nothing.

Berserk (2016) can be viewed with English subtitles on Crunchyroll.

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