Vinland Saga Season 1 Anime Review

Vinland Saga is a historical adventure anime released in July 2019, which is set in 11th-century England, conquered by the Danes. Thorfinn, the primary character, is the son of Thors, a great Danish warrior who is murdered in a battle against pirates while protecting Thorfinn. Hence, Thorfinn, consumed by wrath, joins Askeladd (the pirate commander) with the sole intention of slaying him in a duel, as any honorable warrior would.

Vinland Saga’s Cruel Main Characters

Vinland Saga's portrayal of realistic characters.
Vinland Saga’s portrayal of realistic characters.

The prevalent theme of shonen anime involves a morally correct main character who inspires and promotes righteousness throughout the anime, no matter the struggles. However, here Vinland Saga drops a twister; all the primary characters are flawed, making the anime realistic and engaging. Thorfinn, right upon watching his father’s death at the hands of Askeladd, becomes a malicious character. A boy was driven by pure anger and rage, which is very different from the philosophy his father advocated. In this anime, almost everyone who follows a righteous path is seen to be slaughtered by mercenaries or the army. Canute, the Danish prince who was a strong follower of religion, is portrayed as going against his own set of morals to obtain his ultimate goals. Such is the reality of life – it brings out the worst in the kindest people. This theme remains consistent throughout Vinland Saga’s plot.

The Fallacy of War – Vinland Saga

War is a common occurrence in the history of the world. Although it is fought between two armies, the brunt is borne by the common citizen. However, in Vinland Saga, villages are raided with no mercy. Destroying houses, crops, and families reminds us that honor and achievement gained through war is simply a fallacy. Meanwhile, the warring kings sit peacefully on their thrones, issuing orders and living in the shadow of their crowns.

Thorfinn lives with the burden of guilt!
Thorfinn lives with the burden of guilt

At the beginning of the series, Thors tells Thorfinn that nobody has enemies. Humans make enemies through prejudice and actions. One should not seek violence but forgiveness because violence only gives birth to more violence. As seen in Thorfinn’s case, he only wanted a duel with Askeladd, but in the process, he turns into a murderer who kills without rhyme or reason on the battlefield. Indeed, he’s a disappointment in the light of what Thor tried to instill in him.

Man’s Longing for Peace – Vinland Saga

Thor's dream of Vinland Saga
Thor’s Dream in Vinland Saga

Thorfinn’s original desire, before he became corrupted by revenge, was to live in Vinland. It is a place with golden pastures and warm weather, where there would always be plenty of food. A safe place free from violence and brutality they could call home. However, Thors had the same dream, which he could not achieve. This demonstrates that what men genuinely require is peace, solace, and, as said in the series, the ability to exist as good men in a world full of monsters.

Vinland Saga’s Prologue

Season 1 of Vinland Saga is only the prologue, as mentioned in the final episode. The real story unfolds in Season 2, which was released on 17th April 2023. This first season tells the backstory of the characters and the reason for their behavior and their ideologies. It is a treat for fans of historical animes!

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