there is an element that you fail to mention, regarding guts and griffith.
when you think about it, everyone in the band of hawks was suffering from a kind of inferiority complex towards griffith. none of them felt equal to him. he inspired them all with love and admiration. and in many ways he had qualities that others lacked severely preventing them from achieving any kind of greatness:
corkus, lacked any real dream or ambition. griffith had a massive ambition
casca was a woman, her gender preventing her from reaching the kind of greatness a man could in that world
pippin was not a great talker, griffith could move masses with his speeches
judeau was, in his own words, good but never great. Griffith was great at.
the entire band of hawks felt that they could never reach griffith's level. be it caska's love that she felt could never reach him or the rest of the gang's belief that they could never rival griffith in combat or personality.
Guts, however, didn't believe in this. the moment he heard griffith's talks of what a true friend would be to him, Guts decided to become his equal. this was something that no one else in the band felt was possible. Guts however believed he could. that's why he left the band "to find my own dream". this was shown best when after the win in the 100 years war, caska stood at the tower and watched griffith saying he was unreachable; only for guts to pick her up and take her to him.
then came the point where Guts wanted to leave the band. at this point, we have the complexity of Guts/Griffith relationship. Griffith viewed Guts as the most important proponent, the vital piece of his vangaurd dream. despite their comradry, Guts was to griffith a vital soldier. nothing more. For guts, however, griffith was someone he considered a friend. their entire fallout stemmed from this dissonance in each's presepective on their relationship. After all, friend (in griffith's own words) is an equal. griffith, probably too used to the worship of admirers, didn't believe in guts was his friend.
at the same time one might argue, that griffith's dream wasn't fullfilled yet, and so he wasn't ready to be anyone's friend yet. yet another prespective is what griffith said himself: that some dreams smother thousands of others. his own was that large. and in fact, it's ironic that griffith's own monologue on friendship should ring so true: guts, in fighting him for his own dream, materialized the ideal on friendship that griffith had so eloquently spoken on. In fact, i think it's at that moment, that some part of griffith realizes that he's begun to consider guts a friend. that could explain the shocked look on his face (aside from being his first defeat, this was also the first time griffith realized that he has someone that he considers a friend).
that's why griffith is so surprised. unlike the thousands of comrads in his band, guts and only guts, was a man who was his friend. who was his equal. griffith realized it then.
with that realization, came the shock that HE wasn't the one worthy of gut's friendship. friends are equals and friends are those who fight eachother for their own dreams. Griffith fought gut's dream but he lost. their dreams collided and guts' dream proved to be stronger than his own. not only that, but his dream relied too much on guts being a part of it.
just thought i'd point it out.
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