You know what’s really fascinating? The different roles Luca & Casca play in Nina’s life.
Luca seems like a very just and wise person, has a great sense of community, is sharing the few things they have and takes good care of her fellow girls. As Luca normally makes the girls work to earn some money, she even acknowledges and respects Casca’s inability to make her own decisions in the state she was in. This, for example, in some way parallels what Gambino did, making Guts work for living together with him, but neither praising nor acknowledging his contributions. Luca was different; she refused to exploit someone who is vulnerable and has no free will on their own. By the way, when Guts and Casca fell off the cliff together during the Golden Age, Guts was characterized in a very similar way.
What always struck me as interesting is that Nina and Luca’s relationship seemed distant and tense, despite of Luca evidently being a good person with a good heart, who even makes sure that Nina gets medicine for her medical condition.
There are a few key scenes that I want to take a look at for this article. They are contained in volumes 18-21.
-  Nina lured Joachim to come with her, joining the heretics in their orgy. Luca senses that she is up to something and ends up following her. When they finally meet, Nina ends up throwing stones at Luca here.
-  Right before Guts arrives at Albion, Casca and Nina interact with the other. Nina decides to flee with Casca, then both get captured by the heretics.
-  Nina and Casca are captured by the Holy Iron Chain Knights after the chaos in the heretic’s cave (“Den of Evil”) and interact with the other in their cell.
-  Nina’s separation from Luca’s group.
But Luca as mother figure…? I am not too sure. You could say Nina was a “problem teen” that turned to the local heretical cult, where she participated in occult and sexual activities taken to the extreme, in addition to her regular sex worker business. Nina’s and Luca’s relationship was difficult.
So… why is that?
- Nina is intimidated by Luca judging her silently, possibly in regards to her involvement in the heretical cult.
- Nina is scared of Luca which prevented their relationship to evolve. There is a point in the manga where Nina also threw stones at her for this reason. In that particular scene, she accuses Luca for despising her, for looking down on her, and becoming full of herself, while Luca says nothing as she treads towards her. I think you can safely say that Luca, instead of proceeding to spank her, calmly addressing her points and explaining herself could have improved their relationship. Funny how you can say something similar to Griffith and Guts during the Golden Age Arc.
Now if you look at how Casca interacts with Nina for contrast, you find that Casca actually gives Nina some warmth & a pat, something Luca didn’t give to her. Casca couldn’t judge her for what she does, precisely because of her state, and resorted to mostly positive non-verbal communication, which made Nina less tense, even cling to Casca when she is scared. This happens at least twice, for once they attempt to flee from the refugee camp, and the other time when they are captured by the Holy Iron Chain Knights and locked up in a cell. Nina didn’t feel this comfortable with Luca, so she was unsuited to give a teenager comfort, despite of being a good and caring person.
Before they fled from their tent, it conflicted Nina seeing Casca positively responding to her crying (as if she related and wanted to comfort her), while Nina considered to ditch her. She feels bad for blaming her for this reason later. Later in the cell, she lashes out on her, blames her for everything. But as she notices that Casca literally could not help the situation they are in right now, she may have realized that it was her fault alone, and then gets upset, trying to find someone to blame (in this case, Casca, but by the sound of it, it usually was Luca). She actually briefly mentions that she does this before she separates from Luca’s group.
To have Nina and sane Casca interact would have been most fascinating.
Through Casca, I feel like Nina as character possibly learned that her lashing out to someone (even if it’s someone as strong as Luca), does not help at all in principle. Nina realized that it was her own decisions and actions that brought them into this mess in the first place. She projected her anger, that was originally directed at herself, to either Casca or Luca. But she knew that she’d do this again. So instead of staying in Luca’s shadow, Nina decides to leave at the end of the Birth Ceremony.
Thank you for reading. Let me know what you think about this topic in the comments section below!
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I am really glad I am back to writing Berserk articles. A bit off topic, but I also want to announce that I actually do have a new hamster after my beloved Ricky passed away. Her name is Lilly and she is an active bundle of joy and a little princess. Am taking a lot of pics and writing down some memories, so I can remember her vividly, too.