Vinland Saga

Vinland Saga

Vinland Saga anime series cover art
Vinland Saga

Overview

I thought about doing some “best anime of the 2010s” type post today to commemorate January 1st, 2020, but that just seemed too forced. So instead we’re starting off the new year with a review of the best anime from the summer/fall 2019 seasons, Vinland Saga (ヴィンランド・サガ).

Vinland Saga was one of those manga series which is extremely beloved by its readers, and yet considered “unadaptable” to the medium of anime — like Berserk, though that hasn’t stopped people from trying. Luckily, Vinland Saga didn’t end up like Berserk, and got a proper adaptation from Wit Studio.

You’ll know Wit as the studio which which created Attack on Titan, so they’ve proven they can take on challenging projects. My main concern going forward, however, is that they may fall into the same bad production schedule as they did with AoT once again. Remember, that’s the reason Wit won’t be returning for the final season of AoT.

Thorfinn as a child holding his father's knife from the anime series Vinland Saga
Thorfinn as a child holding his father’s knife

But enough about the production of Vinland Saga, let’s get into the story. The series follows a boy named Thorfinn, who’s just a little kid at the beginning, as he goes on an epic journey of vengeance and self discovery. This season focuses mainly on the vengeance aspect, but as I’ll discuss later on, a shift appears to be on the horizon.

There’s also the fabled Vinland always lurking in the background. I’ll spoil this right now, Thorfinn never makes it to Vinland in this season — I don’t know if he ever will, but that’s not the point. The point of Vinland (which is somewhere in Canada) is to say that there’s somewhere better than wherever you currently are now.

It’s the embodiment of the vikings’ thirst for exploration.

Characters

I won’t say that the characters are the most important part of this series, but they are extremely important. Some series are character driven, and some are plot driven. Vinland Saga hits that sweet spot right in the middle.

Thorfinn is the protagonist, and as such is one of the fan favorite characters of the series. However, I actually find him to be one of the least interesting of the characters, at least so far. Once he’s not a little kid anymore, he’s just angry all the time and always wants to fight because that’s the only way he knows how to solve his problems.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As the series goes on, he’ll grow more as a character, and that transformation is what will turn him into one of the better characters of the series.

Askeladd from the anime series Vinland Saga
Askeladd

Askeladd is my personal favorite character of the series. He’s the main antagonist so far, but he’s not exactly an antagonist you hate. Initially he comes off as someone who doesn’t care about anything other than money, but as we learn throughout the series he’s actually much more complex.

He has his own goals, motivations, and a mature view of the world which starkly contrasts with Thorfinn’s.

The third and final character I’ll mention is Thorkell, who I don’t think is introduced until perhaps the second half of the season. He’s around the same age as Askeladd, maybe a bit younger, and he formerly served in the military with Thorfinn’s father.

What makes Thorkell unique is that he has a different outlook on life than both Thorfinn and Askeladd. Thorfinn is all about vengeance, Askeladd is the schemer, and then there’s Thorkell who’s almost the stereotypical viking. He simply loves war and fighting strong opponents.

End of the Prologue

What you learn at the end of this first Vinland Saga season is that this has all simply been the prologue of the story. And when you look back at everything that happened and all the characters who we’ve seen grow along the way, it really puts the scale of this series into perspective.

If you don’t want this season of the anime to be spoiled, skip down to the conclusion now. I’ll be discussing where the series looks to be going from here, and to do that I’ll have to spoil some fairly major events from the first season.

Now that you’ve been warned, at the very end of the season we get to see some of the new places Thorfinn’s journey is going to take him as well as some of the new characters we’ll be meeting along the way. So with this in mind, it seems safe to say Thorfinn won’t be sticking around with King Canute.

After the death of Askeladd, his purpose for fighting is gone. He can no longer avenge his father by killing Askeladd, so what’s the point in staying around? Now, the best way for him to honor his father’s legacy is to travel with Leif and make his way to Vinland, which I think is what’s going to happen.

However, there’s no way it’s going to be that simple. We can’t just throw out all the buildup throughout the prologue with Thorkell and Canute. My assumption is that before long, Thorfinn will find himself fighting against those two as Canute expands his influence across the Northern seas.

And, he’ll probably come to learn that even the shores of Vinland aren’t entirely protected from the ravages of war.

Conclusion

For me, Vinland Saga is a solid 8/10. I’m looking forward to the next season of this series, and I really hope it doesn’t get rushed as Attack on Titan was towards the end. However, at the same time I hope it doesn’t take four years like the second season of AoT did.

If you enjoyed this review, or found it helpful in any way, let me know by clicking the like button ❤ down below. Also follow me over on Twitter @DoubleSama so you don’t miss out on the latest content and updates. And, join our Discord server if you’re interested in discussing anime with other members of the community.

Finally, I’d like to thank HeavyROMAN and CaptainRainbowPizza for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika and Sensei tiers respectively this month. To learn more about how you too can become a supporter of this blog, check out Patreon.com/DoubleSama.

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