Self-Sacrifice: 100-Man-Slayer Scene
Because Guts has witnessed both Griffith and Casca having a dream and conviction they are both devoting themselves to, he is wondering why he is fighting, risking his well-being and life fighting a horde of dirty mercs. He is in emotional pain as he does so. During the fight, mostly through Adon’s mockery of Guts, Casca realizes the length Guts goes to ensure her safety.
As they march out to return to their unit, Casca is still very weak because of her fever. When she gets on her knees, Guts will taunt her.
It seems very rude for him to say this, but if you read further, he does so because he is concerned for her safety: A weak woman on the battle field WILL fall prey to sex-deprived mercenaries. Reminder that Guts himself fell prey to Donovan in his childhood.
Then Casca puts herself together and stands up, just for them to get ambushed by Adon’s mercenaries.
Now, because Adon makes it very clear that Casca would end up a toy for his men in case they lose, defending themselves successfully has a special meaning both Guts and Casca.
Guts, because – being a victim of sexual violence himself – he cannot allow anyone to harm Casca and he WILL fiercely oppose those who intend to do so.
Casca, because it was Griffith who saved her from getting raped by the noble when she was a child. Now Guts is basically taking on that role and her opinion of him will make a 180° turn because of this.
Anyway, Casca does not seem to be very comfortable with the fact Guts has been helping her that much.
What is also interesting is the role Guts takes for Casca during this fight. As she is cutting down the enemy, you see Guts appearing next to her.
…and her reaction to this is that of relief:
It seems like she is reassured by the fact that someone is by her side.
…someone by her side, eh?! 🤔
Then Adon’s brother enters the scene with his giant flail that even smashes boulders. At this point, it is clear that Casca cannot dodge a weapon like this in her weakened state.
Guts is starting to hit the flail back with his sword at the risk of it breaking (it eventually will during the Battle of Doldrey, which also yields symbolic significance).
Casca at this point is wondering whether he is doing it for her. Here is also a reminder Guts is also wounded due to Adon’s crossbow shot he took earlier:
It’s funny how Adon is mocking Guts’ actions, but at the same time, he is calling out what Guts was doing all this time: protecting her. Casca missed this entirely so far and she appears a bit confused as a result.
Casca is telling him to go after Adon and just finish him off – but Guts chooses to protect her instead by creating an opportunity for her to escape. Why does this seem so familiar?
He utterly destroys the flail and kills Adon’s brother with one strike, cutting through his shield and helmet.
As the soldiers stand there in shock at what just happened, Guts tells Casca to take the chance and run off. However, she refuses. She can’t leave the very one who ensured she stayed alive and unharmed until now behind like this.
Because Adon at this point has also noticed how protective Guts is towards Casca, he commands his men to attack Casca instead. Guts is taking a couple of arrow shots for her.
Adon keeps making fun of Guts for it: “Not once but twice, for just one woman!” – as if he should have done it for more women instead of one, so he can into their pants or something?! Guts says how he hates being laughed at by him (presumably, for doing the right thing). Casca at this point is so confused she asks him why he goes to this length to protect her.
Now Guts, of course, is playing it down:
Why he is protecting her? That is actually a very good question. She does matter to him, always has ever since she saved him from freezing death after dueling Griffith. Because he owed her, he was trying to make up for it: He listened to her when she criticized him and gave his best trying to meet her standards. He found qualities in her that he looked up to (e.g. being a good fighter and have a goal in her life), even if they mostly argued in the early Golden Age. He always tried to woo her and impress her from the start. He did so because he perceived her as standing out, being unusual and competent, and because she fascinated him he wanted to be liked by her (he also does the same to Griffith).
This is also why I do not fully believe him when he says this:
While it may be true that Casca is a burden at the moment and preventing him from fighting efficiently, it is also entirely true he is concerned for her and her safety. However, since Casca confessed her devotion to Griffith before this, there was no point for him to woo her like this anymore.
Then we see Guts reminding her of her goals and dreams, essentially asking her: Would you die in a place like this if you still have a noble goal to accomplish?
He is telling her to go back to the master of her sword:
Guts doesn’t have a noble goal as she does. It wouldn’t have mattered if he fought and died here.
He would have died for nothing, but at least he would contribute to HER dream by keeping her alive. He actually states something like this during the Campfire of dreams scene. In the image above we are seeing a glimpse, but more of this later.
Only then, Casca is finally taking off, promising to get reinforcements.
This is where the theme of self-sacrifice started and peaks with Guts using the Berserker Armor at the cost of his well-being and humanity.
Guts started to ponder about this in a serious manner. Why was he fighting in this place? Was it because of her? Was he looking for a place or reason to die?
Judging by the kind of thoughts he has here it appears like he is in (emotional) pain. Reminder that he was pretty frustrated with Casca’s reaction to him saving her and possibly had given up hope in Casca as potential love interest after hearing her story with Griffith. This and the fact he has no dream has him floating in a complete void now. Also note that the fact he is physically injured is also a metaphor for his emotional pain, the other occasion being in a pretty bad shape after killing Adonis (in both instances, he received an arrow wound to his arm, too!).
He is swinging his sword to numb and ease his pain, which he turns into fighting strength, something he’d do again after the Eclipse and failing to connect to a then potato Casca.
I am also getting the impression from this point onwards, he slowly becomes aware of the feelings he developed towards her. I can also detect a sense sadness and resignation in his actions from this point onward. It’s as if something changed inside of him.
Meanwhile, Casca attempts to escape Adon’s men and is saved by Judeau and a troop of the Hawks. She is urging them to follow her as Guts was left behind.
When they finally arrived at the scene, they found a carpet of corpses:
Look at how she spurts after him the moment she sees him leaning against the tree:
Little reminder that she has done the same to Griffith after the encounter with Zodd:
She is shaking Guts, hoping that he’s still alive.
Guts just tells her to stop shaking her as response. Note how Casca during the cliff incident claimed she does not care whether Guts drops dead or not and here, she is more than happy to see he made it out alive.
Look how happy Casca is to see Guts made it out alive. The 100-Man-Slayer scene is the turning point in Guts’ and Casca’s relationship. They stopped being stubborn towards the other – but at the same time, Casca has said things that made our sensitive boy Guts feel unwelcome, which was one of the triggers that eventually pushed him to leaving the Hawks.