I really don’t talk about anime as much as I should. When I first got started, I did several reviews of anime shows. Sure, those reviews were fucking abhorrent, incoherent, and sometimes cribbed words and thoughts from others, as I had not found my own voice yet. But since getting past those early days and developing my own style of shenanigans, I’ve kind of failed at talking about this medium I love, which I kind of want to fix. And if you for whatever reason want me to talk more about anime, feel free to let me know. Anyhow, let’s get into this.
Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Vinland Saga” season 1!
Following the tragic murder of his father, young viking Thorfinn vows to become a great warrior and get revenge on the man who killed his father. What makes this journey a bit more interesting than your typical revenge story however is the fact that in order to become strong enough to try and take on his father’s killer, he begins traveling with the man and his gang of viking warriors, reluctantly learning from them how to be a mighty warrior, creating this fascinating dynamic that leads to a lot of interesting and quite nuanced drama surrounding Thorfinn and his prey, Askeladd (Naoya Uchida). But the show also does a great of exploring the geopolitical landscape of viking-era Europe, giving us a good look at how it always shifts through the characters’ personal drama, negotiations between various leaders, or through violent battles. If I had to compare it to anything, it’s a bit like “Game of Thrones”, but a bit leaner. And I found it all utterly compelling. Powerful, nuanced, fun, disturbing, it’s just stellar storytelling.
The characters in this are absolutely stellar, with most being given very nuanced and believable multifaceted personalities and compelling arcs/developments. I won’t go into too much detail, as I don’t want to spoil stuff (as it’s VERY easy to do so). But let’s talk about Thorfinn, our leading boy, a once bright-eyed lad dreaming of adventure, mentally brought to a dark rage-drenched place. He can sometimes seem like the typical angry, angst-protag, but there’s so much more going on with him and I frequently found myself taken aback by how compelling I found him and his journey in this season. And depending on what point in his life we see him, he’s either voiced by Shizuka Ishigami or Yuto Uemura, and both give stellar performances. Rest of the voice cast is fantastic too, filled with people like Naoya Uchida, Kensho Ono, Hiroki Yasumoto, Akio Otsuka, Hitomi Nabatame, Kenichiro Matsuda, and many more.
The score for the season was composed by Yutaka Yamada and I think the music here is fantastic. Big brass, somber strings, rip-roaring guitars, synthesizers, piano, Yamada covers a lot of ground with his instrumental and stylistic choices, and it makes for a really engaging soundscape for the show. It makes me excited, sad, scared… ’tis good shit. As far as the opening and ending songs from Survive Said the Prophet, MAN WITH A MISSION, Aimer (MVP), and milet go, they’re really solid, not a single bad one among them. The show just has damn good music, y’all.
Based on the manga by Makoto Yukimura, “Vinland Saga” was co-produced and animated by Wit Studio, with Shuhei Yabuta serving as lead director. Aaaaaaand this show is wonderfully animated. The action’s smooth yet weighty, delivering the hits with a blood-soaked, bone-crunching heft that made the fights here feel like they had a bit more impact. But that’s not to say that the quieter scenes don’t provide some eye candy, as Wit also manages to make characters animate in smooth, interesting ways, along with giving us interesting angles and some often jaw-dropping lighting. It’s just a stunningly crafted show.
Since this is an anime, we can’t expect it to have as much data on my usual sites as with a lot of western stuff. But on Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% audience score. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.8/10 and is ranked #99 on the “Top 250 TV Shows” list.
So I absolutely adored season 1 of “Vinland Saga”. It has a great story, great characters, great performances, fantastic music, and fantastic animation/direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “Vinland Saga” is a 9.89/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
My review of “Vinland Saga” is now completed.
Apparently this is only the prologue of the overall story. And that makes me excited to see what else comes in the future.