Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

A Retrospective

Thorfinn is the protagonist of an end anime prologue directed by Wit Studio entitled Vinland Saga. He is an Icelandic with a complex personality, driven by ambition after his father’s death. He becomes a warrior, an individual who will do anything for revenge. In addition, the series is the most well-known work of mangaka Makoto Yukimura besides Planetes. The anime adaptation has remained faithful throughout the series, but the director noted, “there will be adjustments to the manga.” With such in mind, the audience need not worry because the anime is an adaptation for fans of the original series. In the modern era, the audience must understand how barbaric life was in the 11th century: an adventure where opportunities are almost limitless every day.

The series is very engrossing with a rich culture and teaches elements of historical fiction. The anime adaptation adapts a story to make the audience familiar with the Viking Age, the harsh life of the protagonist, and the meaning of survival. From the first episode alone, it takes off in showcasing the barbaric and violent nature of the 11th century. The weather was harsh to the point of bloodshed. The study wanted to make the anime feel as accurate as possible. Therefore, Wit Studio manages to bring high-caliber production quality across most series. The studio illustrates landscapes and ocean views with gorgeous visual quality, enhanced by its realism. The scenes in the specific episode also contain elements of photorealism, a characteristic that makes the visual quality of the series no less than a masterpiece.

Viking Age

There is a Viking culture where the audience must adapt quickly, such as historical weapons, rough ships, or rough clothes. Horses replaced vehicles, and human hands made technology. Vinland Saga maintains a beautiful setting with dark elements from the complex end of the prologue. Back to the protagonist, the anime’s story discusses Torfin’s desire for revenge for his efforts to establish a settlement in Vinland. The Vikings often referred to the settlement as North America. The route brings him to meet other historical characters like Canute or Cnut the Great. However, many of the original characters are interesting despite mainly being works of fiction. Little is known of Thorfinn’s life outside of his Vinland’s expeditions.

While the audience still has not started on the manga as it is ongoing, it is still investigating historical events such as the Viking conquest of England. It is always not just great because the art is detailed and beautiful. The action, therefore, also the studio performs well. There is no such reason because the anime becomes a poster on how to narrate well. On the other hand, Yukimura’s development is the same as the character Askeladd in the first to eighth volumes. It is strange might for a work about the Vikings is a great merchants and a culture where death on the battlefield the people glorify. Honor is also a big issue. The series is an anti-revenge, pacifist, anti-war narrative, but not surprising for a Japanese work with both Miyazaki and Shinkai.

Thorfinn and Askeladd

Thorfinn is the main protagonist as the audience focuses on his rebellious life in the character’s mind. In his childhood, he was happier like an ordinary child before his life changed forever. In the present day, even in the manga, he carries a vengeful attitude with a rebellious nature while trusting almost no one but himself. He is what people describe as a real warrior, a realistic survivalist, wildly opportunistic, and unpredictable. He is a good person; despite his various actions, the audience constantly questions throughout the series. It is hard to judge his overall character in the adaptation. However, based on his actions, the audience can say he is far from a heroic protagonist.

Most importantly, his relationships develop with other people, particularly Askeladd, who manipulates Thorfinn to serve him. It becomes a complex relationship because one of the elements contracts Askeladd to kill Thors, Thorfinn’s father. As the leader of his band, Vikings, he is an important figure because of his influence on Thorfinn. The more the audience watches the series, the more the audience will realize the significant influence certain characters have on other people. While a slight step back, audiences should also become familiar with Thors. As one of the most powerful characters in the franchise, Thors is a symbol of the warrior. Despite not having many other characters, he teaches the audience about being a true warrior.

Character Studies

It is easy to assume that the Vinland Saga is just an end prologue about Thorfinn. However, it was not much different from such a truth. Thorfinn’s life is only an echo of Askeladd’s own life. He is a man who is willing to sacrifice anything to advance his enigmatic ambitions. He is strong, charismatic, and intelligent. However, it is of no importance because he is still a slave to the past, the boy whose ashes cover himself. He tries to avenge those who treat him and his mother like stars. In conclusion, Askeladd is a complicated character, just like his counterpart, Björn. In the first arc, his wit and charisma seduce the audience. He felt different from the average Viking as if there was some sympathy still alive in him.

However, there is also violence. At a specific moment, Askeladd and his band are trapped in the depths of winter. Finally, he decided to take shelter in a small snowy village where he killed almost every child, woman, and man. As a result, a young woman survived under the white-blue moonlight. For Askeladd, she is nothing and only a guarantee. The tragedy is that he did not overcome his hatred, but the ashes achieved his “victory.” Askeladd dies in Thorfinn’s arms, urging him to look beyond the battlefield. On the other hand, Thorfinn also implicitly learns the true meaning of being a true warrior and an unarmed warrior, confirming that he dramatically admires Thors. Therefore, he wasted his life trying to escape his past only to repeat it, like Askeladd.

The Hero

In the meantime, four episodes become the focal point, not full of denial. A hero seeks to rise above all with a vast landscape. However, his sacrifice and death in episode four changed everything. Askeladd, the mercenary, has killed Thors and given what he contracted to do. The audience knows how such things work correctly. However, there is a twist. Audiences should hate Askeladd in the first place; it is easy to hate his character. He killed the early hero, toyed with, and used the new young hero. Askeladd’s scheme over everything, multiplying other characters using pawns.

He ignores innocent people. Each time Thorfinn grew older and deadlier, he kept asking for a duel again and again. Askeladd is always obedient but usually humiliates Thorfinn by pointing out the distance between the protagonist and antagonist. The series continued to repeat such a pattern for more than a dozen episodes. Thorffin used to be a supporting character and only a background during the time. Although he is the protagonist, his circumstances are no longer an essential element of the series. Audiences can say the series following Thorfinn’s journey is technically correct. Thorfinn joins the journey like an audience watching the anime. He always talks about killing Askeladd but follows him into battle without a doubt.

Ashes to Ashes

Thorfinn always complains about Askeladd’s orders, but he almost always does his orders too. From the vital point, the audience realizes how Thorffin is not a reason to invest in the narrative. In essence, Askeladd is constant, but one cannot escape. Notably, his influence and presence are above all else. He will also be easy for the audience to perceive as the main character of the first season. Personally, there is a code where his character is so easy to say that he is a villain upon his arrival. However, it is unconventional at a specific moment. Audiences only see bad guys getting backstories all the time, making each interesting character three-dimensionally.

Askeladd is not a real hero anywhere in the audience’s mind, which means the villain is not either. Too many days with lots of villains and no heroes at all. Unlike the end of the prologue, Vinland Saga is different. Each character has a faulty understanding of how the world works based on the horrors each character sees. For exception, Thorfinn also did not support himself to fall further into the pit of despair. None of the characters get a happy ending, not Askeladd, Thorffin, Canute, or even Thorkell. Beyond the scope, the world is full of danger, the world where the audience’s character is. No one understands much better than Askeladd than beating Thorfinn again and again. It appears suddenly crouched in a moment and lectures Thorfinn on why he can never beat him in a duel.


Apart from Thorkell, a barbarian man with inhuman strength and widely other characters consider him one of the most brutal warriors. He loves the thrill of fighting, always finding a solid opponent and testing his strength. After meeting Thorfinn, he came to respect him because of his strength and deep determination. He even felt respect when facing a worthy opponent, preferring to settle it in a fair fight without distraction or bias. He is a breakout. Bloody revenge for the honor and glorification of the warrior figure became a big thing in Japanese culture. By using Viking culture, many people can discuss the subject concerning the culture itself and understand a culture still exotic culture.

The conquest of the kingdom creation setting also allows him to create a less artificial context for the philosophical battle between achieving peace through peaceful methods versus war to end the war. Such striking occurs in the confrontation between Canute and Thorfinn, not just a philosophical debate. Yukimura was very clear about responding to the disastrous consequences of war, not just between kings and warriors. Instead, it was also the case for civilians, children, and women who suffered terrible losses, including the slave trade. Regardless of which, the series tackles the issue of slavery very well by making the audience unable to accept it.

Female Characters

Even when audiences throw good narration under the bus, owning a human is wrong no matter what. Audiences cannot remain completely good people if they do that. When it comes to realism, manga is a visual medium, so a work of art must be beautiful and present a story. The art corresponds to its task of serving the narrative. It could quickly become a glorification of horror and violence, going against what the anime is trying to tell the audience. If the audience does not know anything, the archers hold a contest using the victim’s head as a target and have fun. The one thing that is not just any head belongs to the character the audience recognizes. While using the severed head of a character the audience recognizes more than anyone else makes the horror more real.

War kills people and is not a nameless figure but a person. So, there is no glorification of violence found in Vinland Saga and its end prologue. Yukimura, in specific moments even decided not to show the audience certain acts of violence. However, he is just trying to imply it, not to make it any less terrible. All are disturbing for the audience to watch, especially when the villagers are horribly and coldly trying to hide. In such situations, the author believes there is no need to show more blood to make his audience understand. As a general rule, he is never tense or edgy, as one example never depicts a female character in an overly sexual manner. Apart from not being too much, Yukimura never portrayed female characters as sexually and functioning in real terms.

The Beginning

Again, as an end prologue, the Vinland Saga lets each character have an emotion, a purpose, and a personality. In essence, each character has its arc and redemption. Regardless of knowing all the characters have gone through, the audience loves or hates each character, a dilemma, in other terms. However, the fate of each character touches the audience, even the antagonist. As the story progresses, audiences want to see each character at peace, a powerful way to carry a pacifist message. The anime is a powerful story, told with great art and characterization.

Despite the explicit but dangerous playing moments, the consistency of the history-based genre is highly recommended by people personally. Moreover, because Yukimura takes a risk with his story, the first arc gets emotionally authentic with lots of confrontation. To understand what the audience was saying, he deliberately slowed the story down to the second arc. While it is odd, the story must accelerate again without forgetting the character’s motivations. Even when the arcs go slow, it pays off well. Thus, such a choice alienates its readers for neither glory nor blood, not realizing how the story is so at odds with other things from the beginning nor the end of the arc.


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