Hello friend, and welcome back! In anticipation of the release of season 2, I started this series when I came back home after the holidays. I have not completed the series, but I have made it through the first half of season 1 (the opening changed, for reference when binging)! With this post, I'm bringing my first impressions of Vinland Saga.
To start, I should preface this with the fact that I was one of those nerds who, in a Brit Lit class, actually enjoyed learning the history of the English language and why stories like Beowulf were written the way they were, so, to some extent, I already enjoyed the culture of England before 1066. Given this particular interest, I have thoroughly enjoyed the historical accuracy put into this anime-- from the cultural shift happening in the area to the weapons, violence, and warfare during the years preceding the Normans in Europe. If history isn't your thing, and this seems like a snooze fest straight out of a history textbook, fret not! The action in this anime remains consistent, and the violence leaves little to the imagination (much to the chagrin of more squeamish viewers).
The anime begins with the backstory of Thorfinn, our protagonist, and sets the stage for the rest of the series. While we get a few minutes of action in the first few minutes of the anime, the first couple of episodes introduce the much-needed backstory for the rest of the plot. At the end of these few episodes, we join Thorfinn on his adventures throughout the area surrounding his home, Iceland.
Moving away from the plot, the animation is something I would write home about if I could. The animation is, overall, beautifully done and smooth. They utilize 3D animation frequently in this series, with every time we see the Viking ships in a wide shot being one of the most frequent instances. Like most 3D animation I have seen used in anime, it is widely hit or miss. There are scenes, like the aforementioned boats or shots with archers letting loose arrows, where the animation looks like it belongs. There are also scenes, though, such as looking out over the sea from the bow of a ship where the characters look like they are watching the 3D assets on their own screen.
Nonetheless, the animation is well done, especially the landscapes (peek at the image on the left, or above for my mobile readers, for an example of some of the gorgeous shots). The animators took the time to ensure the scenes were smooth and pretty to the eye. There is rarely a scene where the camera remains fixed on one image-- even when a shot has a character speaking with the sky above them, the clouds are moving in the background. The last thing I will say about the animation is that the environment is breathtaking. Considering the natural beauty of Iceland alone, we see many frames with snowy mountains as far as the eye can see and vast, open skies filled with stars, clouds, birds, or the occasional helmet being thrown.
I recommend you watch this anime and catch up while the second season releases this winter! Do you have questions, comments, or curiosities? Reach out to me! I would love to hear them! As always, thanks so much for reading! Don't forget: it's dangerous to go alone, you should take a friend!