Anime Review - Vinland Saga

Throughout history, Vikings have made a name and reputation for themselves as warriors and raiders with a thirst for violence and adventure. 



Around 1013 AD in the time of Vikings, Thorfinn, son of Thors, one of the Vikings' greatest warriors, spends his boyhood on a battlefield and sharpening his skills throughout his adventures with Askeladd's mercenary crew in order to avenge his father.



Askeladd's company finds employment as mercenaries in the Danish invasion of London and eventually gets involved in a succession conflict between two Danish princes, one of whom would eventually lead a rebellion against the Danish King.

The story follows Thorfinn and Askeladd having to deal with this rebellion conflict and the resolution it took for them to overcome their own personal conflict by the end of the prologue.


Characters:

Thorfinn

The story shifts its focus on many different characters throughout the plot but the most ‘main character-ish’ person that acts as an entry point into the series is Thorfinn. He is a hot-headed and stubborn little boy that vows vengeance against the man who killed his father and though he has superb physical talents in strategic combat, he often resembles a teenager with a temper tantrum at times.

He constantly challenges Askeladd to duels only to lose the one and only battle thanks to the tauntings of Askeladd that angers him from thinking straight during a mid-fight. Thorfinn's fixation on wanting to win a battle against his captain has led to him even saving Askeladd from danger and death just for the sake of challenging him to a proper duel.

Askeladd

Askeladd is exceptionally intelligent and is particularly adept at predicting his opponents' moves in combat which have led to the success of his mercenary company many times during tight situations. From our point of view, Askeladd is just a lovable villain that you can't seem to hate regardless of all the misdeeds he has done. 

He has that charm in leadership for getting things done according to plans and every episode just made you wanted to see what plans he has concocted for solving a difficult conflict. Most of the time, he just manipulates Thorfinn's desire for revenge as a way of keeping the gifted young fighter in his service and uses him as a tool to win a battle that he doesn't want to fight. 

Prince Canute

Canute is the 17-year-old prince of the Danes. He is initially portrayed as timid and womanly with a feminine appearance and an inability to function without his retainer, Ragnar.

Eventually, after encountering Askeladd and his men and seeing the way they do things, Canute seeks their aid for plotting a coup to overthrow his father and take the crown of the Danes. We can kind of figure out how his arc is going to be developed as this character is based on the historical figure known as King Canute the Great, one of the most prominent Danish ruler of England.


World Setting:



Set in the Viking period throughout England, the land was mostly conquered by the Danish King; Sweyn Forkbeard. As King Sweyn nears his death, his sons, Prince Harald and Prince Canute are in dispute over his succession. As Askeladd and Thorfinn travel from villages to war territories, they came across this dispute and hoping to strike gold for protecting the prince, Askeladd aims to bring Canute back his homeland.  



Vinland Saga draws many plot elements from actual historical accounts such as "The Flateyjarbók", "The Saga of the Greenlanders" and "The Saga of Eric the Red". A great binge to learn about Viking times back in the AD period if you're ever curious to see how England history was made.


Animation and Music:



The animation was done by Wit Studio which has produced many hyped-up shows such as Attack On Titans, Kabaneri Of The Iron Fortress, Mahoutsukai No Yome and Owari No Seraph while the series is directed by Shuuhei Yabuta and Takahiko Abiru who did the character designs.

The anime doesn’t shy away from the goriness as befitting the medieval setting, even fight scenes are pseudo-realistic to the times with costumes and weapons accurately depicted from how the Vikings use them throughout the war.




If you’re a fan of hard rock, Vinland’s first opening theme "MUKANJYO." by “Survive Said The Prophet”, encapsulated high energy with preparations of combat rushing. The second opening "Dark Crow" by Man With A Mission brings you further into this combat rush as slow-animated movements are used to show the weight of a weapon being swang by Thorkell (the fight scene between Thorfinn and Thorkell is truly a bliss made in heaven).

The first ending theme "Torches" is done by Aimer, a familiar voice to some as she also did “Brave Shine", the second opening theme for Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works. This ending slows down your adrenaline at the end of each episode's cliffhangers where in contrast to the second ending theme "Drown" done by Milet, the closing instantly pumps in the curiosity of the next episode and made you crave for more as the story continues.


Final Thoughts:



At the end of the day, Vinland Saga is a medieval revenge story set around the Nordic power struggle of AD 1013. In a way, this anime can be considered Japan’s answer to HBO’s Vikings television series as the show brings in intense action, gore and keeps a strong plot progression that moves the characters forward at the end of every episode.

Oh and did we forgot to mention that the whole season 1 is only the prologue of the story? Yup that's right, all 24 episodes simply show us the backstory of Thorfinn in a nutshell and the real adventure for this Viking boy will only begin in season 2. 


So in case if you can't wait for the next season, the manga definitely provides you a longer storyline to get you started on Thorfinn's saga as an adult!

Written by KittyBoss

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