Vinland Saga Episode 1: Recap & Review

Thors in a dream state

Episode 1: Somewhere not here

If you watched Game of Thrones then you may have felt some instant similarities in this series. Generally, I don’t watch a lot of Historical Seinen anime. Actually, Vinland Saga is my first. This episode begins with Thors (everybody seems to be named after the god Thor) daydreaming in a wheat field. Turns out he’s on the battle field. We get a glimpse of the stunning animation and brutal violence. Thors dominates, killing enemies with ease as he travels from boat to boat. In a fury of slashes and blood, Thors appears to be unfazed and unafraid. At the end of this scene he washes up on shore, leaving the burning boats behind.

Thorfinn listening to Leif

We move forward to years later on Iceland. Thorfinn is doing chores. We hear a likely false or exaggerated story from his Grandfather, Leif Erickson. Thorfinn lives with his father Thors, his mother Helga and his sister Ylfa. The next morning Ylfa and Thors begin shoveling the snow off of their room. Ylfa falls off and lands on a slave that was under the snow. The man is malnourished, badly scared and seemingly has frostbite on his limbs. Thors tries to save him from death. Meanwhile, Grandpa Leif tells Thorfinn a probably true story of being marooned on ice and having 6 of his crewmates die. He also explains why they left the warm Norway for the freezing Iceland.

The slave

They fled from a strongman named Harald. Thorfinn calls him a “lair,” and runs home. The slave begins to speak and explains that he’s from Halfdan’s. Halfdan arrives to collect his slave. When one of his men steps out of line, Halfdan wraps his chain around his face and pulls. The man is severely disfigured as a result. The slave talks about his family as he becomes delirious. When Halfdan comes to get him, Thors offers ewes for the dying slave. He ends up trading eight for the slave. He quickly dies, leaving Ylfa distraught . . . over the sheep. It was a dark moment but a funny one. Finally, we see a boat with a blond man with a scar approaching what we can assume is Iceland.

King of Norway, Harald

Like many of the series I’ve review this summer, I really liked Vinland Saga. I’ll review the other two episode released in the coming days but this episode was well done. The animation was amazing, and so far I like the characters. It’s hard to know the tone of this series just yet, but it feels like there will be a combination of dark themes (slavery) but also humor. I already know that Thors isn’t going to live very long. That’s why I referenced Game of Thrones before. The warrior with a heart of gold dies early in the series. The characterization of Thors had such an powerful effect on me I’m already dreading his death.

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The Summer Anime Series I’m Looking Forward To

As the summer arrives, new anime series debut. Many of these series will appear on many streaming services Amazon, Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Netflix. Several series like Carole & Tuesday, Fruits Basket and Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba will continue from the spring.

Vinland Saga

Studio: Wit Studio

Genre: Action, Drama, Historical

Premiere Date: July 6

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime

What’s it About: Following the story of a band of Vikings, Vinland Saga is based on the manga of the same name. Thorfinn aims to get revenge on Askeladd for murdering his father. Askeladd’s Vikings gets involved in a battle over succession between two princes.


Dr. Stone

Studio: Toho Animation

Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

Premiere Date: July 5

Where to Watch: CrunchyrollFunimation

What It’s About : Thousand years after humanity is turned into stone, a student named Taiju breaks free. He finds his old friend, Senku that was freed before Taiju. Senku aims to use his scientific knowledge to free the others and rebuild human civilization.


Fire Force

Studio: David Production

Genre: Action, Psychological, Supernatural

Premiere Date: July 5

Where to Watch: CrunchyrollFunimation

What It’s About: From the creator of Soul Eater, Fire Force takes place in an alternate Tokyo where fire fighters battle against fire monsters called Infernals. The main protagonist, Shinra is a “third generation infernal.” He can control and create fire. He joins the Special Fire Force Company 8 that aim to stop Infernals.


To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts

Studio: Mappa

Genre: Action, Drama, Military

Premiere Date: July 1

Where to Watch: Crunchyroll

What It’s About: A young woman Nancy, looks for a Beast Hunter to avenge the death of her father who was turned into a monstrous beast to help win a civil war. I’ve never heard of this series and it looks interesting.


Vinland Saga to get anime in July

On July 6th, Vinland Saga will debut on streaming services. The series is set to have a 24 episode season. Based on Makoto Yukimura’s manga series of the same name, Vinland follows the historical periods depicted in the two saga’s from Iceland, The Saga of the Greenlanders and the Saga of Eric the Red. The story mostly recounts the rise of King Cnut the Great.

Wit Studio (Attack on Titan) will animate the series. Directed by Shuhei Yabuta (Director, Inuyashiki Last Hero) and written by Hiroshi Seko (Banana Fish) and Kenta Ihara (Saga of Tanya the Evil), the series will be streamed on Amazon Prime. The series is often compared favorably to Berserk and has been praised for its “fluid action sequences,” “realistic violence,” and “attention to detail.”