So, I’d been wanting to watch Vinland Saga for a long time but had a hard time finding it online.
Then, when I got Amazon Prime to watch the adaptation for Wheel of Time, I was delighted to see that the anime was there, so I could finally watch it.
And it did not disappoint.
Adapted from the manga by Makoto Yukimura, directed by Shūhei Yabuta, and developed by the great Wit Studio, Vinland Saga tells the tale of Thorfinn (Yūto Uemura), a young man from Iceland, looking to avenge the murder of his father, the former Jomsvikings warrior, Thors (Kenichiro Matsuda).
However, this is not your typical revenge story because, while most stories of this nature would have the main character tracking down the antagonist to get their revenge, Thorfinn does not do this.
No, instead Vinland Saga goes in a completley different direction from any revenge story I have seen, with Thorfinn actually accompanying the man who killed his father, Askeladd (Naoya Uchida), in the hopes of dueling him to the death one day.
This makes none of our central characters good people, as they’re all the type to do the raiding and murdering commonly associated with the Vikings of history.
Speaking of that history, it’s interesting to note how many of these characters are interpretations of real people, with creative liberties taken.
The best example of this is Askeladd, who is based off a folk tale character, and is also by far the best character in the show.
He is whitty and charming, despite being an absolutley terrible person, and how his backstory is woven in and expanded upon is excellent, especially with how it ties into his actions at the beginning of the story.
Even the conclusion of his character for this season is amazing, making his overall character seem like both an antagonist and an anti-hero, while being neither at the same time.
Make no mistake, though, Askeladd still regularly commits atrocities, despite him being the best character in the show.
Thankfully, his horrific actions and those of the other characters are never glorified.
This leads to some pretty bleak episodes, like Episode 14, “The Light of Dawn.”
I am going to remember many scenes from Vinland Saga, both the uplifting and the bleak, with many of the stories’ characters developing from these scenes, not just Thorfinn and Askeladd.
Most notably we have Canute (Kensho Ono) and Thorkell (Akio Ōtsuka), both historical figures who have great importance to the story, especially Canute, who goes on to serve as a fantastic parallel to Thorfinn in the manga.
Speaking of the manga, the section that the anime adapts is actually a prologue to the true story of Vinland Saga, with the final episode literally being titled “End of the Prologue.”
The manga then goes in a direction that I honestly was not expecting, yet still quite enjoyed.
I do perfer the story telling of the first season, though, primarily because of Askeladd’s excellent development as a character.
The entire story of Season One is also aided with some fantastic animation and music from Wit Studio and composer Yutaka Yamada, tying everything together into an excellent adaptation of the manga.
Vinland Saga is an amazing anime, and I will soon be reviewing the manga and then Season Two, whenever that releases.