Posted by Lenlo on 20 August 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Vinland Saga

Welcome to the true start of Vinland Saga, as this week adapts what was originally the 1st Chapter of the manga. This week Thorfinn hits puberty, Askeladd makes bank and the French get laughed at. Lets jump in!

Starting off, this week was a series of highs and lows for Vinland’s production. I said it before, but the CGI is really starting to stand out. You need only look at the ending shots of the ships sailing down river to see that. With how beautiful the backgrounds are, the CGI ships just don’t fit. Alternatively look at the CGI soldiers on the battlefield. There are splashes of good there, and it cuts to 2D when it matters. But it’s very noticeable and doesn’t fit the rest of the art style. That said, Vinland did have some good CGI this week. The first person cut of Thorfinn fighting his way through the soldiers looked great. They kept the detail on the planks and decided to make the soldiers in the first person shot 2D. So as critical as I am of CGI, its very much a mixed bag.

For the actual content itself, I enjoyed it a lot, though once again there are issues. First though I want to address some concerns I have seen, that being Askeladd’s plan/actions. The simple fact is that it was an exaggeration of something Vikings actually did. It was not uncommon for Vikings to portage ship’s over land, between rivers or lakes and such. That said, they did not carry them on their backs, but rather used logs and rolled them over land. However what makes this okay to me is that Vinland has been selling this idea all season. The idea of “Viking Heroes” and “strong Norseman” has been a part of the narrative from the beginning. So the exaggeration here is grounded enough in reality that I don’t mind embellishment for a great entrance. That said, there are plenty of other issues with the episode.

As I said at the start of this post, this episode adapts Chapter 1 of the manga. This was the original entry point for the series. It is because of this that I don’t think it actually works with Wit’s new order. For instance, the tone of the series has already been established at this point. As has Askeladd and Thorfinn’s relationship, how he got there and the political situation of the world. So this takes all of the initial conversations between Thorfinn and Askeladd and changes their context. There is no mystery about why a child is fighting for him or risks his life. We also already know that Askeladd is a clever commander, so as much as I enjoy the scenes, the strategy just reinforces things we already knew. It’s not terrible, the episode is still enjoyable. But I feel it works better as an introduction than filler.

Continuing this, Vinland Saga also seemed to take issue with its own style this week. The big one of course being General Jabbathe. The man completely breaks the body proportions and character design established so far. The realistic body proportions being replaced for a caricature of the “fat nobleman”. In an opening chapter, this is fine for a one off character. It’s getting character traits across quickly to establish which characters we should care about. As a mid-season episode however, its very jarring with what we have seen until now. The jokes surrounding him also feel out of place after the tragic history of Thorfinn we just witnessed. Seeing him grow up into the monster he is today and then this… blubbering joke. Yes, downtime to de-stress between emotional high points is important. But you can make jokes without completely abandoning that tone. For instance, Askeladd.

Askeladd was a lot of fun this week, and if anything this was his episode to shine. He showed his strength as a leader and intelligence, looking out for his crew. Going to where his services are wanted. Knowing he doesn’t need any long lasting relationships in France, he just takes everything instead of making any legitimate deals. He continues to manipulate Thorfinn into working for him, baiting him along farther and farther, all the while finding excuses not to. Simply put I found Askeladd a lot of fun this week and think Vinland did him justice. Giving him just the right amount of menace while still keeping the fun of a pirate living his life. Wit also did a great job with his expressions throughout the episode, from him riding the boats over land to the kingly robes he was wearing. A good time all around.

Of course the last thing we have to talk about is the upcoming duel. Thorfinn has finally earned it, though I say finally, it’s only been a few episodes. Regardless, next episode will be our chance to see just how much he has grown against an opponent he has fought before. Is this their first duel since then, or has Thorfinn had a number? Based on the time skip its been 10 years since he first joined the crew. Thorfinn is a young man now, and clearly an accomplished warrior. We need only take a look at his performance on the walls to see that. From the Olympic level jump to his actual combat against the crossbowmen. It makes me think that Askeladd is going to end up using brains over brawn to win this fight. Though as a manga reader, I already know the answer to that I suppose.

So all in all, how was this weeks Vinland? For me, it was the weakest one yet. The CGI was obvious and the story doesn’t fit the new order. That said, I still enjoyed it. Let’s be real here at this point, I am a Vinland fanboy. It would take a pretty massive screw up for me to dislike an episode of this show. Because I am just happy that it exists. Especially because the meat of the series is starting. Thorfinn is getting his duel, Askeladd is branching out in his raids and soon new characters will start to be introduced. Its wild if you think about it, the last time we really met a new long standing character was episode 2. Back when Askeladd was first introduced. Soon though… soon we shall meet Best Boy Thorkell. And I can’t wait.

5 Responses

  1. Avatar shivamg says:

    Again with the welcome.. But I guess I’ll excuse it since I haven’t seen it since my last comment.

    • Avatar SuperWooper says:

      You’ll “excuse it?” What are you, our copy editor? It’s one line at the start of a 1000 word post, my man. Let it go.

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      See, I tried to vary it up for. It was a small ask, if anything it was probably a good idea to make the introduction more varied. But what it seems like is your effectively asking me to never welcome my readers to any of my posts ever again. And I refuse. I don’t know why you aren’t ok with being welcomed, and I tried to accommodate that a bit.

      To be frank though, I find this to be a rather rude demand now.

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