Character Data 008
Affiliation: Illya's Servant
True Identity: Hercules
Image Color: Lead
Talents: - (Nothing, since he is mad enhanced)
Likes: - (Nothing, since he is mad enhanced)
Dislike: - (Nothing, since he is mad enhanced)
Worst enemy: Gilgamesh
Nasu Kinoko & Takeuchi Takashi • Character Discussion
>The Catalyst for Berserker's birth
Nasu: Berserker's concept basically didn't change at all from the old "Fate" days. He essentially had to play the role of a stepping stone for Saber, but the player knew Berserker's identity was Heracles so it was hard to convince anyone that such a powerful titan should ever be portrayed as weak in any way. Saber may have an unparalleled set of abilities, but in terms of sheer strength and skill as a warrior, Berserker is far superior to her. The whole point was that we wanted the player to feel helpless when first encountering Berserker, as if they had just hit an insurmountable wall.
>Designing Berserker's outfits and armaments
Takeuchi: He's totally like the main character you'd find in a Western game, like Kratos from "God of War". Berserker's concept may have remained the same since early development, but his visual side went through quite a change.
Nasu: Did it?
Takeuchi: We went through a lot of trial and error before arriving at Berserker's current form.
Nasu: When you take a hero of Greek mythology and put him in a giant body, you're pretty much always guaranteed to end up with a design like this. Still, it can be pretty embarrassing to work with this "genre" of designs... especially the whole loincloth business. Takeuchi seemed to struggle the most with preventing Berserker from coming off as a simple barbarian.
Takeuchi: I even considered going with a sharper image at one point.
Nasu: We also tossed around the possibility of basing him on Talos, the bronze giant of Crete... but that didn't sit quite right with us in the end.
Takeuchi: Even Nasu suggested making half of his body out of stone or metal because he's supposed to be a superhuman existence, but we eventually settled on him being a superhuman existence in a relatively humanoid form. The protrusions on his elbows are remnants from the days when we were toying with the idea of making him a non-human character.
Nasu: We wanted the player to feel like a jackhammer on legs was barreling down on them, and you need a certain amount of power behind a character in order to pull that off. The tricky part was drawing a hulking, intimidating mass of a character without making him look like a common barbarian.
Takeuchi: I think Berserker became such a formidable presence in "Stay Night" because his colouring and shading made him look really dense, and everything about him portrayed him as a god of destruction. In the Japanese entertainment world, characters like Berserker are almost always designed to be defeated. Everyone loves that "David and Goliath" feeling you get from taking down a behemoth. Working on Berserker definitely taught me a thing or two about the different techniques and instincts you need to employ in order to build up a character who can pull that off successfully.
>The unequaled might of Berserker
Nasu: Shaping an event where the player encounters a powerful enemy in the middle of the night can be a bit difficult when the setting is a residential area. Can you imagine heading home one night only to run into a giant, half-naked man standing in your path? You would barely have time to scream "pervert!" before getting crushed under his massive heel. (laughs)That scene hasn't changed at all since old "Fate"... well, I suppose it changed a bit.
Takeuchi: Yeah, because Illya wasn't present in old "Fate". At any rate, I wouldn't worry too much about it. Most urban legends thrive on the notion that just about anything can happen in residential neighbourhoods at night.
Nasu: Maybe in Shinjuku. (laughs) If you're playing Saber's route, you encounter Berserker on your way home from the church, on a hill in Miyama town. Rin's route, on the other hand, sees you encountering him in Shinto. The Shinto setting is a little better since it's near the church site, with almost no residential homes in the area.
Takeuchi: Can you imagine seeing a giant like Berserker strolling through a residential zone in a place like Miyama Town?
Nasu: No one saw him strolling! (laughs) He materialised on the spot from his spirit form. But still, I want everyone to imagine what it would be like to come home and see that thing standing in front of your house... That's a total "Yep, my life's over..." moment if I ever heard one.
Takeuchi: I don't know... I doubt most people would even register seeing a sight like that.
Nasu: True enough. I imagine most people would avert their eyes or do whatever they needed to in order to "not notice" something like that. (laughs) In old "Fate", Berserker's master was a slightly psychotic hitman sent in by the Holy Church. But Takeuchi suggested making Berserker's new master a Lolita character, I have to admit I was really excited by the idea.
Takeuchi: Berserker is like a blank state when it comes to his master, isn't he?
Nasu: You could say that. When we crafted the Noble Phantasm God Hand, I knew I didn't want a man who had accomplished such great feats to do anything below his dignity. Among all the summoned Servants, Heracles was a true hero. While Berserker still had a bit of awareness as Heracles, any thoughts he had spinning around in his head were constantly being channeled toward destruction. His new existence was consumed entirely by his Master's commands.
Takeuchi: I do wonder why Einzbern chose the Berserker class for Heracles. I'm pretty sure there was a special spell for the Berserker class, so does that mean it was a conscious choice. With Heracles as the Heroic Spirit, he would have been equally formidable as Saber or Archer.
Nasu: It's probably because Einzbern thinks the Berserker class is the best. When you take into consideration what happened during the previous Holy Grail War, it also makes sense that he might have wanted a pawn who wouldn't be burdened with the distraction of personal thoughts and feelings. I'd guess the selection was a result of Eizbern's notion that both Master and Servant are mere tools and nothing more. With Berserker's God Hand promising victory for 11 battles in old "Fate", and only six other Servants participating in the Holy Grail Wars, it seemed as if Berserker's Noble Phantasm all but guaranteed his victory. This theory was proven wrong in old "Fate" by Gil, who was able to counteract Berserker's God Hand with a Noble Phantasm that guaranteed Gil would survive. Due to the paradox created by a clash between an entity who "cannot lose" and an entity who is "certain to live", Berserker did not technically lose the fight but he did lose his life. When we were working on "stay night", we decided to change God Hand's effect to one that essentially casts a revive spell 11 times. Even with this change though, Berserker is still a pretty overpowered servant.
Takeuchi: That's why Rider was evading him. As with Saber, Rider had a way to kill Berserker for sure in Bellerophon, but she knew that Berserker would kill her as soon as she killed him. Because of this, simply killing Berserker once or twice would not be enough to ensure true victory for Rider.
Nasu: Though they existed at different times in history, Rider was also a Heroic Spirit rooted in Greek mythology, so she knew Berserker was Heracles. Due to this knowledge, one glance at Berserker was enough to tell Rider that she would not be able to defeat him, and she therefore decided to target his Master instead.
Takeuchi: Do the 11 stacks of God Hand recharge over time?
Nasu: Yes, since Illya's prana pool is absolutely ridiculous. If Berserker's Master was instead a mage of common power, they could spend their entire life generating prana and still fail to muster up enough to power even a single revive spell. For this reason, a less formidable master would mean Berserker would have to fight his way through the Holy Grail War with only 11 revivals. Of course, that's still plenty of lives by any standard. With a Master of Illya's caliber, though, Berserker is able to be revived 11 times in a single encounter. On top of that, once Berserker has been wounded by a specific attack, that same attack will not be effective a second time.
Takeuchi: What an annoying ability...
Nasu: Another thing that was briefly mentioned by Rin in Saber's route was the fact that there was a Servant who was said to share its life force with its Master. This was actually a reference to an early concept we had for Berserker. The idea was that Berserker and Illya basically shared a life pool, which essentially meant that targeting Illya instead of Berserk was a futile tactic. As long as Berserker was alive, Illya could not truly be killed. Of course, all logic dictated that Illya and Berserker formed an invincible pair in this case. It didn't take us long to realize that this would completely destroy any semblance of balance in the game, so the idea was ditched. This alteration to Berserker's concept is something that we can reveal now.
>The message Berserker carries as a character
Takeuchi: I guess it would be, "Muscles for the win!"
Nasu: No... it's more like "Mass times speed equals destruction." Fighting games and the like have instilled us with the preconceived notion that power characters have to be slow and ponderous in their movements. We wanted everyone to feel a very real kind of terror at the prospect of a mammoth-sized muscle man moving super fast. When the strongest enemy is also the fastest and is capable of attacking multiple times, the usual tactic of taking down the behemoth with agility and rapid strikes simply will not work.
Takeuchi: The combination of physical strength granted through birth and masterful skills acquired through training truly does forge the ultimate warrior. Add to that the fact that only A-rank attacks or above will be effective, and...
Nasu: Hacks. Total hacks. In a normal game, it's like the legendary artifact you'd expect to find right at the end... You basically can't so much as damage Berserker without a legendary weapon.
Takeuchi: On paper, I imagine there are many Servants who can't even touch Berserker under normal circumstances.
Nasu: It does take an EX rank Noble Phantasm or the A rank Saber to defeat Berserker in a square fight. He is quite literally a killer of mediocre heroes.
Takeuchi: Yeah, you'd have to be a top class hero to stand toe-to-toe with Berserker.
Nasu: Back when I wrote old "Fate" and indeed for quite a duration between the '80s and '90s, Heracles was the most popular and well known Greek hero in Japan. I first head of Cu Chulainn through "Megami Tensei" and took an interest in Irish mythology, but Greek mythology was more commonly known, and within that Greek mythology Heracles was of course hailed as the strongest hero. I was actually quite surprised when I recently found out that some of our "stay night" players didn't know who Heracles was . Even more shocking was when I found out that some players had never even heard of King Arthur.
Takeuchi: guess they fell through the cracks when the entertainment industry started diversifying their cultural sources.
Nasu: "Saint Seiya" was one of the most popular animes of our generation, but it had plenty of predecessors who referenced Greek mythology as well. Don't you remember getting excited over Harryhousen's "Jason and the Argonauts" as a child? Caster's Dragon Tooth Warriors were an homage to the skeletal soldiers I saw in that movie. I just loved the unsettling movements of those skeletal soldiers and found them very inspiring.
Takeuchi: With Greek mythology enjoying another boom of popularity in 2010, it's easy to see how history and the entertainment industry's fads repeat in cycles.
バーサーカー - 破滅と狂気を誘う黒い戦神
Character Data ００８
奈須 きのこ&武内崇 • キャラクター別対談