Vinland Saga Manga Review

Until a few weeks ago, I read the Vinland saga intensively. I have read this series twice, and it is one of the best historical manga ever written. Vinland Saga stands side by side with classics like Berserk and Vagabond.

Story about Vikings?

The story in the Vinland Saga manga is set in 1013 AD when most of England was under the rule of the Danish king Sweyn Forkbeard. The story’s main hero is Thorfinn, whom we follow on the path of revenge for his father, which will culminate in his redemption and aspiration. This manga tells us the story of the protagonist Thorfinn. He witnessed his father’s death as a very young boy; he saw the antagonist Askeladd kill his father in front of his eyes. From that moment on, the main character is driven by pure hatred and the desire for revenge. The story becomes tenser when the boy decides to join the gang led by his father’s killer just so he can take revenge on the infamous Viking Askeladd. Thorfinn can’t just kill his father’s killer; he has to defeat him in a fair one-on-one duel, which represents the ancient Viking context. This situation development introduces us to an entirely new context of the story, which are historical events that make this series even more enjoyable.

We have already mentioned before that the Vinland Saga is set in the golden age of the Vikings. A time when the bloody law of red-hot axes ruled. This time was marked by the rapid spread of the Vikings through northern Europe. This historical aspect of the manga is told with great care. It is noticeable that the author took care of the details and does not overwhelm the readers with too many extra points. Thus, only events that are of great historical importance and which are necessary for the development of the story are included in the story.

This storytelling style leads to one problem, which critics often point out when talking about the Vinland Saga: the sudden development of characters, extensive time skips, and the lack of gradation in storytelling. I am fine with this way of storytelling, as it leaves me much room for refinement and requires a more intense engagement from me.

The narrative, and this should be emphasized, is focused on more than just the main protagonist. To a large extent, Vinland is a saga and the story of the antagonist Askeladd. And this aspect of the story is very convincingly told, as it allows us to gain an insight into the relationship between Thorfinn and his greatest enemy, and at the same time, shows us how significant and demanding the revenge Thorfinn decided to be. A large part of the narrative deals with the historical picture of the 11th century and the depiction of society and its characteristics. It was made clear to us that this period was marked by a large number of rapes, robberies, burning of villages, merciless murders, as well as bloody battles that were presented very convincingly through the visual aspect of the story.

This intense pace with which the story is told could only remain at such a high level throughout the story, with certain omissions and errors appearing. The author wisely slowed down the speed of the narration at one point. He skillfully oriented certain arcs towards the characters of the story. In the slower parts of the manga, certain characters, the dynamics of their relationships, and their history are homogeneously presented to the readers. In this way, the story remains fascinating; it does not lose its quality, while simultaneously, it manages to slow down the pace at which it moves.
Not a small number of critics and fans point out that this is the weakest part of the Vinland Saga series, but I would disagree for several reasons. First, this part gives us a break necessary to put all the pieces of the story in front of us in order. The development of the characters will have a decisive influence on the further development of the plot itself, which is crucial for the end of the story. And finally, in the “slower” arcs, we are given additional insight into the social and political character of the 11th century, which complements the main story excellently and makes it even more enjoyable.

Characters of Vinland Saga

This is the best part of Yukimura’s work, despite the mentioned time skips resulting in sudden character development. It is fascinating how carefully the characters are introduced into the story.
The author consciously opted for this procedure because it gave him enough time to develop relationships between the primary and secondary characters through the main level. Each of them is integrated into the story and freed from meaningless phenomena. As the story develops, the reader can follow the changes that follow the main characters, so in the psychological sense, the author of the Vinland saga has done an outstanding job.

Vinland Saga’s main character Thorfinn is one of the most exciting and well-built characters in the anime world. We follow him as he turns from a young, innocent, cheerful boy into a vicious, merciless, brutal killing machine. Such was the impact on him of his father’s death and the hatred and anger that followed his father’s death.
Besides him, there is the antagonist, as mentioned earlier, Askeladd. A great leader, a witty and intelligent Viking, who, despite being a villain, has charm and a mysterious background, arouses sympathy in the reader. Askeladd is also one of the most intriguing villains in the manga world. At the same time, he is fascinating as a character, and his motives for acting are very well justified by his background. Another character of great importance to the Vinland Saga narrative is Prince Canute, who also goes through a significant change and is presented with a profound difference in his character, almost the same as Thorfinn.

Complex and plunging characters are impossible without good supporting characters: this plays a significant role in the main character’s development. These characters’ ideals, such as the priest or the landlord, are essential to reproduce realistic character behaviour and deep character development and intricate interactions. Their behaviour significantly affects the development of the main characters and their characteristics.

Art of Vinland Saga

The manga’s art style fits very well with the historical perspective covered by the Vinland Saga manga. The brutality and gore of the battles are drawn very well and realistic. This applies both to the visual background on which the story takes place and to the landscapes on which the devastating Viking battles occur. The evolution of art is noticeable, especially when manga started to be published monthly instead of weekly. It can be seen that the artists focused on quality rather than quality, which resulted in the recognizable visual aspect of this manga.

The most outstanding part of the art is facial expressions. This faithfully shows how the characters feel at certain moments. And this is not only the case for the main characters; even the secondary characters are very convincingly portrayed. The combat scenes are also drawn spectacularly, mixing well with the characters’ facial expressions.

Conclusion

Vinland Saga was a fantastic reading experience. I enjoyed every aspect of this manga. Its intriguing story, excellent character development, and perfect drawings grab you from the first moment and don’t let you go until the end. The Vinland Saga is one of the best historical manga ever written and is a must-read for all who want to know more about the Vikings and their lives.

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