Casca is back! This is such an amazing thing to see. People are worried about the state of Guts and Casca in this chapter; but as I will show you – the fact they cannot see each other is challenge, but they both still care for and understand each other. In my opinion, this is an important groundwork to rebuild their relationship.
Casca knows what people have done for her
The chapter enters with Casca getting her hair cut by Dannan and get proper fighting equipment. Then she goes outside to see her companions.
As they look in awe, Casca looks flustered and being a bit feisty
(not sure if that’s the right word) as she usually is, tells them not to stare. This is still the old Casca we know from the Golden Age!
Then Isidro gets nostalgic and recalls the time when he helped saving her from Farnese’s Iron Chain Knights and the heretics back in the Conviction Arc. I also like that Farnese is apologizing at the notion of this event. Casca remembers this hazily and acknowledges Puck’s and Isidro’s efforts to save her.
I really like Casca’s attitude here. She is grateful that she was saved by all these people, Luca’s girls included, and to me it appears like she wants to give something to them in return.
Then something very very interesting happens. Farnese is ashamed of the things she’s done to Casca being the leader of the Holy Iron Chain Knights but Casca insists she didn’t even mean it that way.
Casca is addressing Farnese with a strong sense of respect (“my lady”), her eyes seem to be filled with admiration or fascination (am not sure if these are the right words!) as she is looking at her, then she proceeds stating how she is owing her a special thanks. After all, it was her who took care of her all this time, giving her a motherly/sisterly love.
Farnese is really touched by that and is playing down her own contributions. I like that Serpico, too, notes that she is not used to praise.
So in other words… Casca KNOWS about the things Farnese has done during the Conviction arc – and is forgiving her, because it was her who took care of her. Farnese has redeemed herself.
And if Farnese is able to redeem herself, so is Guts for whatever mistake he has done trying to get Casca safe. I feel like Casca already knows about Guts’ mistakes and is not resenting him for it at all.
Casca is a skilled fighter as ever
Casca then proceeds thanking Schierke as well, who states that she merely played her part in the group. Then we see Isidro making comments about Casca carrying a sword as a woman. She mentions how she has probably gotten rusty.
A few notes about her sword: The hilt of her sword is very similar to the Dragon Slayer’s hilt. This sword is also is longer, heavier, has a broader blade and thicker grip compared to her Golden Age sword. Perfectly suited to wield with two hands! If you really look at how she fights, she is using a mixture of typical Guts’ swings and her own moves as well.
Dannan offers her a opportunity to practice her swordsmanship on golems that wear viking gear. Casca is very grateful. She is not missing a chance to show her gratitude and is being very formal about it, too. Her politeness is also shown during her encounters with Princess Charlotte during the Golden Age. Still the good old Casca!
Casca’s combat skills are still excellent – she is blocking her opponent’s attacks skillfully and lands very precise counter-strikes too, cutting off limbs and heads in the process.
The party is looking at her abilities in awe – I like Roderick’s and Azan’s comments in particular (“More skilled than I am”, “She has experience fighting armored opponents” ). Casca is surprised she still memorized all of her moves.
Because of her impressive display, Isidro is fanboying over Casca quite a lot and asks her to train together with him. What I also find noteworthy is that our cheeky Isidro is approaching Casca in a respectful tone too (even Puck mentions this)! I can also see a bit of admiration in the way he speaks.
Casca and Farnese decide to turn away from the scene – but there is someone else waiting to see Casca…
Casca’s brief interaction with Guts
Farnese thinks that Guts should perhaps go greet her instead. Guts however insists he stays where he is. Instead he is taking comfort in the fact that Casca appears to get along well with his comrades.
Guts is being extremely humble here and expects nothing. He deeply understands his appearance hurts Casca, because he made that experience first hand during volume 23. Can I just say and appreciate how much of a good and pure man Guts is, despite of everything he’s been through?
Little side note: I included this experience of his in the fancomic I created for their reunion before chapter 359 was released. But in my version he stated it out instead – here in the actual chapter he is acting on it. I am very fascinated by this. Not he only thing that is similar either!
What Dannan says here next is, in my opinion, important foreshadowing.
“Will she face it? Or wait for time to fated bonds to heal her? No matter how deep her wounds, Casca can now decide for herself”
Remember how Guts repeatedly picked Casca’s safety over getting his revenge? By the way Dannan words this, it looks like Casca is going to face a similar decision now and her conviction will likely be tested repeatedly as well!
Going to the next page now.
We see how Farnese goes to tell Casca that Guts wishes to speak to her.
Well… Look at Casca’s reaction. This is most fascinating because she looks pleasantly surprised, with her eyes widening, as if she’s thinking something like “he really… does?”. Judging by that expression and her gesture (her holding her the practice stick close to her body), it appears there is an underlying feeling of warmth behind this. She still has feelings for Guts.
She loves him, too. But she cannot be close to him, even though it appears like she wants to be. This will be a burden to her in the future as well!
Dannan mentioned it will be her choice from this onward right? Well, Casca chooses to speak to him here. This is the second decision she is making to his favor – The first being when she wanted to see him after she woke up in chapter 355.
What I also find interesting is the follow-up. Farnese mentions that when Casca was scared being caught in her dream or nightmare (meaning, the corridor of dreams), it was her who put her heart back into place. She recalls how they departed with the promise to allow Casca to see Guts. This sounds a bit like this is what Casca truly wishes for: to see Guts in the eye without being triggered, scared or terrified of him.
Then Casca walks up to him. The way she speaks to him seems like the old Casca we always knew. Her tone seems soft and nostalgic, at least that is the vibe I’m getting from her. She has a couple of things to tell him – and given she thanked each member of Guts’ party so far, she most likely intends to thank him as well.
Note how her glance seems so soft in this next panel: her eyes not fully opened and her head tilted softly to one side. She acknowledges that he should stay behind the tree for obvious reasons – as if she knows that he’s not trying to harm her. She knows why he is hiding behind it.
For christs’ sake my heart aaaaaaaaa
Note how fondly she talks about his companions. It appears like they already are family to her.
Note how she acknowledges that Guts has become someone a young boy would be able to look up to (“Isidro is very attached to you”); That he’d take a young boy in to teach him and show him a direction. She’s chuckling at the mere notion of this. Here, she acknowledges that Guts has changed.
The following panel is also interesting. Casca says how headstrong Isidro is and how similar he is to him, Guts. At the same time she says that Isidoro isn’t as stubborn as his teacher was. If the translation is anything to go by, I like that she is talking in past tense – as if she knows that Guts isn’t like this anymore. Another hint that Casca knows Guts has changed.
I’m personally amused by Guts just going “…” at this notion. I hope he took it as compliment at least!
Casca feels quite nostalgic with the way Isidro fought and is reminded of Judeau’s fighting style. Which instantly triggers her.
She is just so overwhelmed with the images of Judeau dying flashing in her mind.
The interesting thing about this is the fact she is holding her lower belly as she goes down.
God, is this an effect of her being raped? Literally her uterus hurting maybe? Remembering this (nsfw-ish) page from the Passage of Dreams it might be the case, given the cracks run up from her lower abdomen. However, it might just be her stomach aching extremely, because mental illness screws with your intestines a lot.
Guts’ of course, is extremely worried. He is calling her name… and I DO REALLY HOPE I AM WRONG HERE but it appears like his voice is triggering her, too. Look at the “twitch” effect that directly follows to him not even completely speaking out her name. Look how Guts stops fully speaking it out, too.
Is this why he didn’t speak a word to her before this???
Casca just collapses to the ground fully after this. Her eyes are empty and expressionless – and also the way she falls here actually reminds me of the eclipse.
And as Casca is reliving the eclipse in her mind, she sees Guts standing before her, staggering with his tall and black figure, displayed in a beastly fashion with his white eye like we haven’t seen in a very long time.
The interesting part is that Casca associates Guts with the apostles. Those apostles around him are NOT the apostles that charged or assaulted her during the Eclipse.
Is this a relevant detail…?!
Is Casca viewing Guts as monster somehow? I feel like that would make sense, given that Dannan turned down Guts’ desire to take part in the dream ritual, because deep down she is terrified of him. To me it seems like her consciousness knows he is a good person (or can be, if he wants to), but her subconsciousness is absolutely terrified of him.
As a result of her subconsciousness surfacing as she is reliving the trauma, she is screaming in terror:
You can see just by the look in Guts’ face that this scream of hers is piercing through his heart like a dagger. But it’s not just that. The tragic part is that he didn’t even mean to make it worse by intuitively turning around to help her. You can also tell that by his expression, which also seems to convey regret, as if he’s thinking “Crap, I fucked up – I’m sorry”. He always gets so worked up when her safety or well-being is involved. He still cares for her a lot after all.
Because he is understandably unable to deal with this situation he just walks away. I can only imagine how he must feel after this. That anguish of going through every hardship for someone you deem irreplaceable and not even being able to interact with her when she gets back.
I was actually under the impression Casca was talking fondly about how things have changed, and how he has changed in a positive way, too. I really hope Guts will cling to this bit of hope he was given here.
We see him walk away after this in a panel that looks very similar to the panel where Guts leaves the Hawks during the Golden Age.
And who’s benefiting from all this? Of course – Skull Knight, who is getting his way from a pained Guts, who will definitely reconsider going after Griffith.
I am extremely suspicious of Skull Knight and his intentions after this panel. To my knowledge, his is the only instance of Skull Knight being depicted as shady as this. Even the editorial text is hinting that something is up, but we do not know what it is yet. From my experiences with releases, that is usually a very strong hint that he is up to something shady.
A Progression between the two Guts and Casca Encounters
What I find most interesting is the way this is going down. As Casca is having her flashback, Guts’ appearing before her is making it much worse. She’s not triggered by him directly – it was her bringing up Judeau after all – but her seeing him still causes her to scream.
Remember that before this in episode 355, it was solely seeing him that triggered her directly. That’s already a progression right there from a writer’s perspective, which means it can only get better from now on, at least in the long-run. But it may get worse before it can get any better. It entirely depends on how Guts copes with his pain… See the next headline!
Guts must be extremely hurt over hearing her scream repeatedly over his appearance. Imagine going through all the hardships, trying to cling to someone you consider irreplaceable, just to be not able to grieve together with them and keep on hurting them instead. He must feel so helpless and useless right now, especially now that Casca can defend herself instead.
By the looks of it I hope that Schierke will make attempts to comfort Guts in a similar fashion like he did comfort her on the beach before arriving at Vritannis.
We already see Farnese trying to bring Guts and Casca to talk together. Her efforts sure as hell won’t stop there. I can picture a scenario where Guts and Casca are within hearing range, but completely out of viewing range from each other, so they can still talk about things at the very least (e.g. having curtain or wooden wall between them). This is what both Guts and Casca need so much right now. They may be able to achieve this through thought transference using Schierke’s hair. I can also picture them exchanging written notes to allow to speak their minds, but I am not sure if Miura would use such a thing as plot device.
How will Casca react? How will she react now, remembering how Judeau has died for her? What will she do knowing she is involuntarily hurting Guts in the process, too? I can imagine it will conflict her so much as well and what makes this worse is that she cannot even go to tell him that she doesn’t mean to do this. Or vice versa, Guts cannot openly tell her that he doesn’t mean to trigger her, either.
How PTSD is handled in real life – and how Miura may make use of it
In fact, PTSD can be treated through means of Group Therapy, which involves sufferers of PTSD talking about their experiences to heal. I am very sure Miura has considered other real life treatment options when deciding on taking this direction, as well: I also think Farnese is going to do something to Casca that will resemble one of these approaches, e.g. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Prolonged Exposure Therapy.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy:
“While exposing people to the very events that caused their trauma may seem counterintuitive, Rothbaum emphasizes that it’s done in a gradual, controlled and repeated manner, until the person can evaluate their circumstances realistically and understand they can safely return to the activities in their current lives that they had been avoiding. ” [Source: apa.org, emphasis by me]
Farnese has already started doing this by trying to expose Casca to her trigger, aka Guts.
I also believe that the severity of Casca’s PTSD will ease off over time, until it reached a point when Casca will at most be hurt seeing Guts, but not actually be triggered. PTSD is an mental condition of which symptoms can be reduced to a minimum with a very high chance of success after all (Reminder that Guts isn’t as affected by his trauma as he used to be, too!). Modern psychology has ways to treat it rather quickly as well.
Just because Casca is extremely upset right now, doesn’t mean it will stay that way. From this point onward she can only get better.
Not all is lost! While this chapter seemed quite the ride, we are also given hopes for Guts and Casca to fully speak their minds and perhaps regain some of the more nurturing parts their relationship once had. By the looks of it, just by how tenderly Casca speaks to Guts in this very brief interaction, it really seems like Casca’s PTSD is really the only wall that truly separates them.