Revenge is a typical concept that you can find in virtually ANY form of art. It’s such an inner part of the human self that everyone experiences it at some point in their lives. Whether it is something small like leaving a prank on the chosen victim or something extreme like murder, revenge is an emotion that people can all relate to.
But here is the question that I’m going to ask you. If revenge is such a general and well-known emotion to mankind, why do people still react to them when they should already have a basic idea what’s going to happen next?
The answer? Its quite simple actually. All revenge has a story behind it and it is to those background stories and small details that capture the audiences attention. There isn’t just one method of exacting revenge nor is there one story that corresponds with it.
In mangas that i know where revenge plays a key role, I’m going to focus on Berserk and Vinland Saga. They are two completely different stories placed in two different worlds, but both of their main characters are fueled with an immense desire that basically drives them to continuously take action to get closer to avenging whatever they held dear and lost. While their goals are similar, their individual journey results in a major change.
Here is some background story on the two so that you will know what I’m specifically going to focus on. In Berserk, the main character Gut tries to avenge the deaths of his friends by journeying across the lands and killing off demons, trying to get closer to a specific group who call themselves the “god hands”, the main source of his suffering. But mainly, the readers can tell that it is Griffith (one of the god hands and former friend of Gut) whom he feels the most anger towards because of the betrayal he felt due to a certain event. In Vinland Saga, the protagonist Thorfinn travels with Askeladd and his party, jumping at every opportunity to duel Askeladd to avenge the death of his beloved father who died protecting him. He continuously places his life at risk, solely focusing on his desire to kill Askeladd.
As both continue their journeys with the same avenging spirit, the two characters end up in drastically different situation. For Gut, he was always a loner ever since as a child but he ends up with gaining many allies and in the readers’ eyes, becomes more caring. Even though he warms up to his new friends, Gut doesn’t lose sight of his goal nor his revenge. However, for Thorfinn, he manages to revert back to the kind and caring self that he was before he was consumed with rage. He lost sight of his goal because his goal, Askeladd, was killed by someone else before his eyes. By comparing and contrasting these two specific mangas, you can notice quite easily that revenge constantly alters with time and how different methods can end with unknown results.
With time, new people and new factors come into play within one’s story and that in turn, changes the course of the whole story. Revenge is one of those stories where the avenger changes depending on the situation and surrounding he or she is constantly placed at. The novel Count de Monte Cristo is a classic that also portrays this characteristic of a revenge-based story. The Count changed from the hopefully, happy younger version of himself that he used to be, but still never stops changing and growing as a character. His views in politics and just the world in general also take a turn that the younger version of the Count would have been immensely shocked at.
There are so many various ways revenge can start, affect, and be carried out that no wonder people haven’t gotten tired of seeing it in the arts!
-The Diamonds ♦