Genre: Historical, Action, Drama

Season: Summer 2019

Episodes: 24

Score: 9/10


Review Overview:

Vinland Saga is a deep and complex tale about the horror of war. It shows the corruption in which revenge could bring upon a person. In fact, there are many depictions of deep and philosophical messages that will no doubt create controversies. What is a true warrior? Is revenge always the correct answer? And most importantly, what on earth does Vinland represents?

Plot Overview:

One day, Thors was suddenly visited by the Jomsvikings. Turns out he was once their commander, and due to circumstances, deserted the battlefield years ago. Threatened and blackmailed by his former men, Thors was forced into returning to the battlefield. However, the seemingly sudden request was simply a clever plan plotted to assassinate their former commander. Although Thors fought valiantly, his son, Thorfinn, was held hostage by Bjorn. To save his son and legacy, Thors agreed to trade his life to save everyone else. Ironically, Thorfinn had different plans. In fact, he swore to seek revenge for his father. And begin obeying Askeladd’s orders in order to fight him in a dual… Something that Thorfinn believed to be the honors of ‘true warriors’.

Character Development:

Essentially, Thorfinn’s sole purpose for living is to seek revenge. Despite this, he ironically became Askeladd’s obedient dog. Though the young man wanted to be a true warrior, similar to his father, he failed to understand the core meaning of a true warrior. Evidently, Thors’ words seemingly haunted and corrupted Thorfinn:

“A true warrior doesn’t need a sword” – Thors

In the case of Askeladd, the old pirate is yet another complex character. He holds the utmost respect for Thors. And though his sudden desire to work under the former Jomsviking seemed like a bad joke, Askeladd genuinely meant it. Like most great leaders, Askeladd’s personality borderlines that of psychopathic behaviors. He showed utmost love and care for his men, yet in reality, hated and despised them all.

Essentially, Askeladd became an important father figure in Thorfinn’s life. The young man, after living his life solely for meaningless duels, ultimately became an empty shell upon Askeladd’s final moments. Sadly, throughout the series, the pirate was Thorfinn’s only means to seek out the meaning of a true warrior. Truthfully, Thor’s initial words haunted Thorfinn. This leads to his desire to serve justice for his father, and ultimately, resulted in his downfall and corruption.

True Warrior:

Viewers have been introduced the concept of a ‘true warrior’, but what does it really mean? A warrior is someone who fights for a specific country, person or value in which they believed in. However, there is truly a blurry line between fighting for destruction and fighting for peace. To solve the meaning of a true warrior, let us go back to the important symbol of Vinland.

Throughout the anime, the reference of Vinland has occasionally popped up here and there. Leif Erikson claimed to have found Vinland and is the first one to land there. Surprisingly, both Leif and Vinland are actual historical facts of the Norse Vikings. The alternative implications suggested that Vinland is yet to be discovered, but is a dream-land for farmers and villagers alike. Evidently, Vinland represents a symbol of peace and stability, describing an open, grassy land that’s perfect for a serene life.

According to Leif, Thors wanted to experience Vinland for himself. Once, he was a military man with vast experiences in slaughtering his enemies. However, over time, Thors realized something that other so-called warriors failed to. And that is the lack of meanings behind his battles. His desertion from the battlefield was not seen nor depicted as an act of cowardice. Rather, it was a calculated and vigilant realization of the ultimate ‘truth’.

A true warrior is someone who fights to keep the peace of their loved ones. In addition, they also fight for their beliefs. In Thor’s case, he believed that meager tools, such as ‘weapons’, merely undermine the true meaning of a warrior… Since, these weapons only represent mass destruction, brutality, and nothing more. Essentially, Thorfinn failed to understand these fundamentals. Furthermore, this only allowed viewers to sympathize with the pitiful and shallow life of the young man.

“Not all warriors fight on the battlefield with a sword in hand. A sailor makes his living battling the sea” – Leif Ericson

Mistaken God:

Shifting our focus away from Thorfinn and Askeladd, prince Canute is yet another interesting and complex dynamic character. Initially a soft and pathetic character, Canute transformed into a ruthless ruler who fights in hatred for the so-called God. Someone who he believed to imposed wreckage and destruction upon his country. His first goal? To dethrone his father, a King who actively seeks conquest and war. And thus, resulted in the living fear for the people of Denmark.

Prince Canute’s hatred for God was especially controversial. Some might argue that indeed, God has carefully planned everything and that particular events occur for a specific reason. Arguably, Sweyn’s death served its purpose in drastically transforming the Prince. As well as war and conflicts, which served to reform and pacify Denmark itself. Nevertheless, in the name of God, Prince Canute was a pitiful sinner who deserved to be sent to hell. Perhaps his hatred for God was the correct choice all along. The Prince’s action might as well be the first step transforming Denmark as a whole. Hopefully, for the better!

Conclusion:

Vinland Saga was not all about gruesome action and blood. The show posed complex and meaningful philosophical questions, challenging us to seek out the vague answers showed throughout the anime. Essentially, Thorfinn’s journey to becoming a True Warrior was nowhere near its goal. Vinland was nowhere in sight, and Denmark continues its era of chaos and fire. However, perhaps Canute becoming the ruler was the first step in its ultimate reform. In which hopefully, Vinland Saga season 2 will have its answers!!

So what did you all think about the first season of Vinland Saga? Were there any more specific images and references that were memorable within the show? Feel free to discuss in the comment section below!!

Keni
An anime enthusiast who writes about things he likes