‘Vinland Saga’ Season 1 Anime Review

Based on the bestselling manga by Makoto Yukimura, Vinland Saga is a 2019 Viking anime directed by Shūhei Yabuta and animated by Wit Studios. The first season covers the “War” arc of the manga series.

Taking place during the Viking invasion of England in 1013 AD, Thorfinn (Aleks Le) witnesses the death of his father Thors (Greg Chun) at the hands of mercenary Askeladd (Kirk Thornton). Vowing revenge, he followed him for eleven years working with his unit with the promise of a duel to death if he acts as a scout. Things change when they encounter Thorkell (Patrick Seitz) who captures the Danish Prince Canute (Griffin Burns). Askeladd and Thorfinn manage to rescue Canute. Shortly after, they realize the Danish King ordered the death of his own son, not seeing him as a subtle heir. As they work to escape through Wales, Thorkell continues to pursue them and Thorfinn plots his revenge on Askeladd.

First of all, the animation is amazing. Wit Studios has produced amazing animation for shows like Spy x Family and the first three seasons of Attack on Titan. They definitely bring on the A-game for this series and I am disappointed that they did not do the second season for Vinland Saga… or the final season of AoT.

I was also enthralled by the story. While the primary focus is on Thorfinn’s quest for vengeance, it does not skimp on the details. The main characters are given depth and personality. Soon it becomes clear that there are no solid heroes or villains. There were a lot of characters who were just human and had their own dreams, desires, and motivations. It was also about how hate creates emptiness. The English hate the Vikings for invading their homeland and the Vikings hate the English for refusing to surrender. Likewise, Thorfinn hates Askeladd for killing his father, but that is the only thing driving him. Even his father’s dream of seeing the mystical Vinland is no longer in his heart.

Going into this, I did not know what to expect. Yet, Yukimura did his research. He approached the story of 11th Century Europe with respect and honor. While he did show the brutality of the war between the English and the Vikings, he showed everyone with depth and did not fall back on caricatures.

I was also impressed with his portrayal of Christianity. He showed how many in Europe were prejudiced against Christians, sometimes violently, and oppressed them. Largely, it was shown in a positive light, though its adherents were not often done so.

Finally, I would like to note that the English dub produced by Netflix and VSI Los Angeles was well done. The actors all had a grasp of their characters and I was impressed with how they did. You could feel their emotions which often matched with the character’s behaviors and expressions. Everyone did a solid job and truly brought it to life as well as the Japanese voice cast. I know this is the second dub done for this anime, so I am curious to see how the other one compares.

Check out the trailer below:

PARENTAL CONCERNS: Suggestive humor, Foul language, Brutal violence and gore, Sexual content

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my reviews of the first seasons of The Saga of Tanya the Evil and Chainsaw Man. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.

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