Vinland Saga – Anime Preview
Synopsis: Around the end of the millennium, Viking, the mightiest but atrocious tribe, had been outbreaking everywhere. Thorfinn, the son of the greatest warrior, lived his childhood in the battlefield. He was seeking the land of reverie called Vinland. This is the story of a true warrior in an age of turmoil. (Official Amazon Synopsis)
Episodes 1-3 Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Vinland Saga’s first episode isn’t the most attention grabbing. It’s clear why the decision was made to release 3 episodes in one go. Episode One is all about giving us a glimpse into the life of Thors, our main protagonist for now, as the show makes it clear it’s his son that will take the reins sooner rather than later. Thors lives in a secluded waterfront village steeped in snow, with his wife, daughter and youngest, Thorfinn, putting his life as a warrior behind him. The first episode is so self contained, focused around Thors efforts to save a runaway slave, that it feels rather pointless especially when its main goal seems to be setting up how bad ass yet noble Thors is, something that episode 2 and 3 reinstate and could have easily established even if you cut out episode 1 completely. Yes, we get a little history and background about the village that Thors is now a part of but since the show seems so heavily focused on Thors and Thorfinn that the information feels insignificant and unnecessary.
Tom: Vinland’s first episode does indeed seem pointless, save for introducing the concept of “Vinland” and the kind of man, Thorfinn’s bad ass father, Thors is. Because we don’t get a sense of who little Thorfinn is, or will grow up to be, or who the rest of the villagers are, the first episode almost feels like a self-contained story, and barely has the makings of an ongoing series. Episode 2 is where all that kicks off and things get interesting. While Thors is portrayed as a “Good Guy” in Episode 1, it’s not until Episode 2 that he really flourishes as a temporary lead, and that’s the same for the rest of the villagers. Episode 2 features so much more personality, thanks to peppering in short scenes meant to highlight Thorfinn, his issues, and the way the other villagers react to learning that Thors was once a mighty warrior. The trickling of ongoing plot details make Vinland’s story arresting, gripping you even when you can guess what the story is building towards. It’s a little obvious where things are headed, thanks in part to the opening credits clearly signifying a timeskip, and that Thorfinn, Thors’ rambunctious and battle obsessed son, is our lead, rather than his even-minded father. Still, even knowing the general direction the story is headed in doesn’t stop the characters from shining, the pacing from hooking you in, and the action from grabbing your attention.
Linny: Vinland Saga’s story is so elevated by its second episode that I’d recommend anyone less than impressed or disengaged by the premiere to atleast push on through episode two before making up their mind. Once the show injects some true drama and suspense about the fates of its likeable enough cast is when Vinland starts to truly shine. Even if the time skip has been thoroughly telegraphed, the storytelling and characters will keep you invested regardless. All of this is bolstered by solid art that holds up all throughout these first three episodes. If brutal power struggles and showdowns involving warring tribes and nations are of interest to you, Vinland Saga is a must try for this season.
Tom: Overall Vinland Saga won me over with this three in one go approach. Episode 1 isn’t awful, but it does lack the elements from Episodes 2 and 3 that actually hooked me in; namely the personality of the cast and the tease of its ongoing plot. If Episode 1 seems at least decent, I’d strongly recommend continuing onto Episode 2, because that’s where the story should really grab you. In my eyes Vinland Saga might be the best offering this Summer.
Vinland Saga is available for streaming via Amazon.