2019 wrapped up with an anime series that put itself on my list of anime to recommend to non-anime fans. That anime was Vinland Saga – and even better, it was on Amazon Prime, a streaming service that generally a lot of non-anime fans subscribe to.
Vinland Saga is based on a manga from the creator of Planetes, Makoto Yukimura, and this is not even remotely SF or Fantasy. It’s a straightforward historical action drama set in 11th century Europe and Iceland. The part of the manga adapted in the show follows Thorfinn from his childhood into his mid-to-late teens. Starting from his childhood where he sneaks onto his father’s longship as he heads off to war, and sees him murdered by a Viking named Askeladd, through his quest for revenge while also fighting alongside Askeladd – as Thorfinn doesn’t want to see Askeladd dead, he wants to kill him in honorable combat.
So, as you can imagine from a manga from the creator of Planetes, everything is exhaustively researched, from clothing, to weapons, to landscapes, to how people clear snow from the roofs of thatched huts. This is a manga where I can see prospective cosplayers from this show discovering the Society for Creative Anachronism while researching how to make the costumes – or some SCA member dusting off their presentation materials from how to make 11th-century Danish garb from some past Ithra, and re-tooling it to present at an Anime convention
On top of all of this, Vinland Saga is animated by Studio Wit – the studio behind Attack on Titan and Kabernari of the Iron Fortress. This is a studio that has a track record at pulling off fast, dynamic, fluid action scenes, and this show is no exception. While it isn’t quite as stylized as the manga gets in scenes, this show just visually works.
In all, Vinland Saga was one of my favorite shows from last year, and I really hope this gets a second season. If it doesn’t, then this show is 1000% going into my to-read list.
As mentioned earlier, Vinland Saga is currently available for streaming through Amazon Prime, and if you want to get a free 30-day trial, you can get one through this link. Buying the trial or anything else through that link helps to support the site.