Vinland Saga is one of the most popular and highly anticipated seinen series nowadays. The anime was released back in 2019 with a season filled with 25 episodes, while the manga which was authored by Yukimura Makoto was already beginning in 2005. One special and unique identity of this series is the basic theme and setting of the story, it is something that rarely has been dug deeply by the Japanese anime and manga industry, and that is the historical life of the Vikings.
As the year has turned to 2023, the second season of the anime is approaching. The premiere will hit on January 10th soon, and before diving back into the cruel and cold life of Thorfinn, let’s take a quick look back at what the first season has brought to its viewers and fans.
A Fearsome Warrior Named Thors
The story begins with a peaceful life of a retired fearless warrior named Thors who abandoned war in his past and now lives in happiness with his wife, daughter, and son in the land of Iceland. All of the peace is then disrupted when an old friend of Thors named Floki leads his Jomsviking army to Iceland, finds and asks Thors to join a battle to invade England, and at the same time conspires with a band of pirates led by a cunning man called Askeladd to assassinate Thors.
After debating with himself due to his refusal of violence, Thors eventually takes the offer and sets sail with a navigator named Leif Erikson and a few Icelandic young men. Little that Thors knows that the sail is actually a trap by Floki and his son named Thorfinn is actually following his cruise sneakily on his boat. When the assassination begins, Thors who was feared by everyone on the battlefield can show off his strength and defeat Askeladd. But since Thors has a son to protect and a code to honor, sly Askeladd takes the leverage to murder Thors in front of his own son.
Thorfinn’s Hatred & Ambition
The death and the guilt of burdening his beloved father mixed with the anger and hatred toward Askeladd consume and control young Thorfinn. He decides that in order to seek revenge for his father, he will become a fierce and strong warrior and kill Askeladd on his own. He leaves everyone and everything in his life and begins his lonely warrior path as a revenger by becoming a pirate in Askeladd’s band.
Askeladd understands Thorfinn’s hatred, so by utilizing the feelings for his own sake, he tells Thorfinn that once Thorfinn becomes stronger and succeeds in finishing his tasks, he will grant Thorfinn a duel with himself. This promise and ambition are kept for the whole of Thorfinn’s life ever since he was just an innocent child until he becomes a ruthless and cold teenage fighter.
A Monster & A Weak Royal
A few years later, Askeladd’s crews are involved in the invasion of London by the Danish army. Askeladd’s crews help the siege, and one of the actions is by sending Thorfinn to beat the man who guards the city with his monstrous physic and strength, Thorkell. While Thorfinn is overpowered by Thorkell who only loves blood and fighting, the siege that was previously led by the Danish king himself, King Sweyn I, is shifted to his spoiled younger son, Prince Canute.
The proposition of the leadership brings the Danish weak, thus the army is defeated and Prince Canute is kidnapped by Thorkell and his army. This situation is easily flipped over by Askeladd who senses the benefits of saving the prince. With his smartness and skillful men, Askeladd manages to save Prince Canute and his guardian named Ragnar.
Prince Canute’s Growth & Goal
But when Askeladd manages to save the prince and hopes to see a presence of a leader in him, he gets nothing. Canute is a weak and spoiled royal who can’t even take care of himself without his protector. So, in order to make the prince awake and mature, Askeladd decides to get rid of Ragnar.
On the other hand, this situation is worsened due to the chase of Thorkell’s army which wants to take back their hostage. Askeladd and Thorfinn must deal with Thorkell who is claimed to be the strongest Viking until suddenly a matured Prince Canute who has been awakened by the words of a priest that accompanied him ceases the battle. He finally understands what he has lacked all this time, and thus he sets a new goal which is to be the king of Danish. He comes to the battlefield, brings a treaty to both sides, talks to every Viking there, and turns everyone including Thorkell and Askeladd into his subordinates to begin the crown’s takeover from his father.
Askeladd’s True Mission
The story goes on as we see Thorfinn who acts as a bodyguard in Prince Canute’s army along with Thorkell who is in charge of the attacking squad and Askeladd who becomes Prince’s advisor begin their quest to assist their leader in raising the glory. Along the process, turns out Askeladd is a Wales man, and everything that he does in taking care of and protecting Prince Canute is simply to keep his origin country safe.
The final act of the first season is the meeting of the more-matured Prince Canute and his father, King Sweyn I. King Sweyn realizes that his son has grown up and is now after the crown. The battle of strategies is then begun until suddenly King Sweyn understands the weakness of Canute’s army, which is Askeladd’s love towards his country.
A Death That Brings No Joy
King Sweyn abruptly says that the Danish army will invade Wales soon, and the only option to cancel the siege is for Askeladd to execute Prince Canute at the moment. This difficult option where he cannot pick any of the choices is quickly handled by Askeladd who sacrifices himself. He beheads the king’s head who stands right before him so he can be executed by the Prince himself and nobody must bear any consequences from King’s option.
This decision makes everyone shock, especially Thorfinn who arrives late since he is not allowed to be in the meeting. While crying, Thorfinn strangely does not feel happy and asks Askeladd to hang on. But not long after that, Askeladd stops breathing, and it makes Thorfinn’s lifetime target and ambition taken away. Thorfinn’s frustration explodes as he wants to jump to Prince Canute, but he is quickly overpowered and outnumbered by Prince’s army. They easily manhandle and carry angered Thorfinn out of the meeting tent, and thus, the first season of Vinland Saga is over.
What To Expect from Season Two?
The first season of Vinland Saga adapted the story from the first to the eighth volume of its manga, which specifically spanned from chapter one until chapter 54 and a bit of chapters 55-56. The sequel which is now animated by MAPPA Studio will obviously pick up where the story is left off.
The synopsis of the sequel informs us that the story will heavily bring up the theme of atonement and salvation where Thorfinn is going to be a slave who works on a reclamation land along with a new character named Einar and begins to realize the sins that he committed. So far there have been plenty of key visuals and trailers for the continuation of Thorfinn’s story, and it has been one of the most awaited upcoming anime in 2023.