Posted by Lenlo on 14 October 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Vinland Saga

This is a big week for Vinland. One of the best episodes, not just of the season, but the year for me. So many things just came together to really nail it. As this week Askeladd makes us question who we are rooting for, and really throws the brutality of war in our face. Let’s just get right into it though.

Right off the bat, I think this episode looked fantastic. Wit really nailed the snow effects. Especially the wind blowing off the hills, flakes of snow scattering in the air. The lighting of the torches in the dark night, all of it really helped to fully realize and base the world. Which was very important for the actual contents of the episode. Vinland Saga also really upped the detail throughout the episode. Such as on the axes, characters faces or their hands. Really trying to ground it and push how real the characters are. I think Wit succeeds here, dialing in on the life of a peasant and focusing on them more than our leads. So that by the inevitable end of the episode, you are more connected and care more about them than our villainous leads. And boy, are our leads the villains this episode.

Getting into the actual details, I want to start with the Peasants. As I think Wit really nailed what Vinland Saga was going for here. You can see it in the detail put into just their hands. The broken fingernails, the dirt and rough skin, showing how hard they work to survive. The deep lines in their faces and the simplicity of their lives. How a single ring can bring so much joy and strife to a single peasant girl, when our leads plunder more than that in a single day. The scene around the dinner table, praying and breaking bread as a family. It was simply done, but it was another look into the day to day life of Vinland Saga and the effects of the war at hand. Its also an interesting juxtaposition of the Vikings and Christian value system. Such as honor in battle and all that.

Rewinding back a bit to the start of the episode though, we open up on the Priest. Continuing his discussion on love, as the Vikings try to figure out exactly what he means. Even coming up with more interpretations, such as the brotherly bond in battle. Yet the priest makes it clear they would not do the same for him, and so it cannot be what he seeks. Until they bring up Thors and his words. I mistakenly attributed this in last weeks post, so apologies there. Sometimes being a manga reader it blends together. So my recommendation is to go read what I wrote then, about Agape and the sort of Love the priest seeks. Still, what I found most interesting about this bit was the opening of the church. Really driving home how the whole world is Gods church, and need not be constrained by location.

Sadly though, it appears our leads do not really share the Priests conviction for Love. As Vinland reminds us this week just what kind of people we are following. Before I get into the details there though, I really enjoyed the characterization of most of our cast. With how Ragnar and the Prince disapproved, and made it known to Askeladd. Showing that not everyone was completely on board with the plan, though it was mostly on religious lines. Meanwhile the Priest went out of his way, at personal risk, to try and warn the village. Screaming at the top of his lungs. It would have felt out of place I feel for him to have not done so. As to sit back and accept it would be to tacitly agree to effectively murdering a village of innocent Christians. It helps draw the line in the sand between the two parties.

Meanwhile, our norse friends waste no time gathering the village up. I do have some minor complaints, continuing along previous lines of the language barrier. Everyone speaking Japanese really doesn’t make it clear who understands who in each scene. However it didn’t effect it to much, as Vinland presented it all beautifully. I really thought the series would hold back or censor some aspects of this part. But no, Wit goes full bore into the brutal murder of the villages, bloody axes raised, frozen corpses and everything. Having the villagers beg to keep some of their food before Askeladd, only for him to deliver his chilling line. I think it does a good job, as the last few episodes have really built Askeladd up as a sort of tragic hero for Wales. With his whole Artorias bloodline and all that. But that’s not who Askeladd is.

Askeladd is the kind of man to kill anyone in his way for his goals. And while he may have good intentions, for *Wales*, everyone else is just a roadblock. Including English countrymen, whom he has freed from this winter and every winter to come. Vinland Saga makes it very clear that he had this planned ahead as well, as his soldiers dug a hole to fit all of them in before the raid even started. I realize I am starting to repeat myself at this point, but this is one of the few times I just want to gush about a series. Where everything is presented so well and so straight forward that my usual long rambling is unnecessary. Making it so I can instead just sit back, enjoy it and trust you all will get it without my usual spiel.

So yeah, all in all, I really liked Vinland Saga this week. It was one of the best short segments of the manga, presented fantastically. It wasn’t an animation showcase like Kimetsu no Yaiba or Mob Psycho 100. No, Vinland Saga was a very different kind of episode. Slow paced, just sure in its steps. Each one taken with care and purpose, every aspect of it meticulously placed for the maximum effect. For me, it was virtually perfect in every respect and is possibly my episode of the year. So tell me, what did you think? Am I just fanboying all over Vinland Saga at this point, or did this episode hit you as much as it did me?

5 Responses

  1. Avatar Alex Jol says:

    you are absolutely right. best episode so far. made me cry a bit. my fav serie of the year!

  2. Avatar jimtim says:

    That episode hit so hard. After SnK I knew Wit was the perfect studio for Vinland Saga.

    Now what I want to know is what Anne meant with the last thing she said. About how she was elated such people that didn’t care about Gods punishment existed.

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      It was a bit clearer in the manga, where the translation was closer to “My heart beats so quickly”. It was like… How bad can stealing a ring be if people like them exist? Will a ring send me to hell, if monsters like them roam this world? That was the general gist of the line at least.

  3. Avatar Amagi says:

    I was always of the opinion that villains are, per definition, the more interesting characters so just make them the MCs from the getgo or show us a reforming villain slowly turning good, nice to see people that have the guts to do actually it.
    The thing is that most authors are simly too afraid to make a MC morally problematic for real (unless it happens unintentionally due to bad writing) so MCs with a “dark past” are usually just victims themselves or misunderstood and the premises are just false promises. In other words, I really loved the message and content this episode has(and the upcoming Vinland part as well) and this doesn’t count in how well it was executed. I already loved the manga but this is even better. And again you could tell that the directors really care about the series they adapt here. Another thing that is way too rare.

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