Posted by Lenlo on 30 October 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Vinland Saga

Apologies for the lateness on this, I let my break with Mononoke affect Vinland Saga to and got a bit to relaxed, haha. This week Askeladd’s band starts to fall apart, meanwhile Thorkell finds his playmates and auditions for the Olympics. Let’s dive in!

Starting off, this was a bloody week for Vinland. If episode 14 wasn’t enough, this week we continue to see just how far Askeladd is willing to go. Quite literally torturing a man to get information on those coming after him. What impressed and surprised me though was just how willing Vinland was the actually show it. I suppose after some previous episodes, I shouldn’t have been. But something about those bloody stumps in the snow was just so… raw. It was one of those scenes I think the anime nailed, truly representing the manga in a way that most anime never reach. On top of this, we are also starting to reach the main “combat” bit of the series. With perhaps the only major fights that actually exist in what is not a “combat” series.

Getting into the meat of the episode, there were a lot interesting things throughout. One of my personal favorites this week was our history lesson with Askeladd. Walking us through the different peoples who have lived and ruled in England, all the way back to the Celts. In a way, it sort of puts the Danes into perspective for what they are doing. The only real difference being that we are actively watching them rape and pillage across the land, instead of just hearing about it. And once you learn about the actual basis for King Sweyn’s war in England, it gets even more muddled. As what triggered it was the St. Brice’s Day Massacre, where King Æthelred ordered the murder of all Danes living peacefully in England, including I believe Sweyn’s sister. So at this point, its irrelevant who started this war. Both sides suck, and the peasants die.

Meanwhile, Askeladd doesn’t exactly endear himself to even his own side. As he continues to force Canute to grow up, and fast. Even going so far as to basically slap some sense into him. Forcing him to abandon Ragnar’s corpse and such. Of course one has to wonder, how good of an idea is this? If/when Canute does grow up, how will he remember Askeladd for all this? What are the odds of being able to control a King who hates you? This sort of goes back of course to men “choosing who leads them”, and perhaps Askeladd is trying to mold him into someone he would choose. We already saw Askeladd choose one leader earlier in Vinland Saga in Thors. So it’s not terribly unreasonable to think he might do it again. Still, that is asking a lot of our boy Canute.

Another big moment this week was also Askeladd’s men turning against him, a mutiny if you will. I have always enjoyed the slow build Vinland Saga put into this, even in the manga. Growing discontentment among the ranks as the chase went on. This wasn’t just a one and done sort of decision, it has clearly been building for weeks. Their faith rising and falling with Askeladd’s fortunes, and the writing on the wall for those to see it. We can also see clear attempts by Askeladd to keep that faith, letting those who want to leave. While those who still believe continue to follow him. Until at the very end, all he has left are Bjorn and Thorfinn, both staying for very different reasons. One revenge, the other possibly his only actual friend in the whole band. Good stuff, I think.

As for what happens to those deserters, well, sticking with Thorkell’s general attitude its nothing good. He, and by extension his whole culture/band, don’t respect them. After all, how can you trust them to fight with you and watch your back if you just saw them desert another man? The only real thing Thorkell got out of those deserters was Askeladd’s name, finally learning who he has been chasing this whole time. Really, I appreciate Thorkell’s purity of purpose through all of this. Some might find it bland, or uninspired, but personally I disagree. His purpose as a character is to embody all of the worst traits of Viking culture, yet even with that there are some sparks of twisted honor. His respect for those who challenge him as equals, distaste for those who don’t fight for their lives. A wolf who respects wolves, so to speak.

And a wolf he definitely is, because after this episode, Thorkell could compete in the Olympics. Even for me, that spear throw in the manga was always a bit wild. He threw it like an artillery barrage basically. Even in London, he just lifted and dropped a log on people, or threw rocks. Still, as an embodiment of a Viking Legend I think he at least fits that bill. Still, all things considered, how was this episode? Well like always with me, I enjoyed it. I think Wit is doing a good job adapting Vinland Saga and we are about to enter a whirlwind of action, before the big finale in a few months. If Wit can nail these next 2-3 episodes, then there really is no question it will be on my Anime of the Year shortlist.

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