The world of anime and manga is a broad one, covering all manner of genres and tropes. Manga artist Makoto Yukimura looked to medieval Europe for inspiration and decided to retell the story of the real-life figure Thorfinn Karlsefni, King Canute of Denmark in his epic tale, Vinland Saga.
The story takes place in the early 11th century, with northern Europe at war. In the middle of the chaos, an Icelandic boy, Thorfinn, sneaks onto his father's ship, seeking adventure, only to learn what a Viking's life is really like. This story is a heartbreaking, bloody, touching and awe-inspiring tale of the push and pull between revenge and peace. It's one every anime and manga fan should get into.
The Story Of Vinland Saga
Vinland Saga is equal parts an intensely personal journey and a broad, sweeping historic saga about Vikings, medieval England and the Celtic folktales surrounding King Arthur and the mythical land of Avalon -- not to mention Vinland itself. This expansive story places its hero Thorfinn right into the middle of a brewing war between Danish Vikings and the kingdoms of England, and Thorfinn is there when his father, the mighty Thors, is assassinated at the hands of the Viking raider Askeladd. Thorfinn setsout for revenge but, oddly enough, he and Askeladd develop an uneasy, intense father/son relationship, with Thorfinn learning eye-opening lessons about the world from Askeladd.
Despite the escalating conflict and expanding cast of characters, the story of Vinland Saga never strays too far from Thorfinn's hurt and confused feelings. He wants Askeladd dead, no matter what, but violence and hate merely keep him alive, rather than give him true purpose. He doesn't even know what he'll do once Asekladd is actually dead. Thorfinn will eventually have to face those questions head-on, and also face his growing guilt over the trail of bodies that he's left behind. But perhaps the fabled, peaceful realm of Vinland will give Thorfinn the absolution he seeks, as wells as a way to carry on Thors's legacy.
Where to Read the Vinland Saga Manga
Makoto Yukimura's Vinland Saga was originally released Weekly Shonen Magazine and is still ongoing, publishing new chapters monthly in Monthly Afternoon. The series has been collected into 23 volumes, 11 of which are available in English. These print releases are hardcover, two-in-one omnibuses only, with no other editions of the series yet available. Vinland Saga releases new chapters rather slowly, and volume 12 of the hardback omnibus series is slated to release on October 5th, 2021, which is a result of previous delays.
Those interested can find the eleven Vinland Saga omnibuses in Barnes & Noble's online catalog and digitally on NOOK and Kindle. Similarly, Rightstufanime.com and Amazon.com also carries the books.
Where to Watch the Vinland Saga Anime
Compared to other action anime, Vinland Saga has rather few streaming options -- in fact, it's only on Amazon Prime video, where all 24 episodes are dubbed in Japanese with English subtitles. This is the sole season of Vinland Saga, covering the first four omnibus manga volumes. While that's only about a third of the existing material, the Vinland Saga anime does end neatly at the end of a major story arc.
For home video, Vinland Saga only has a Japanese Blu-Ray release, with no international release currently available. So far, the only way to watch Vinland Saga is through Amazon Prime video, but that does make Amazon a nice one-stop-shop for all your Vinland Saga needs. Between the two, the manga is definitely the better way to experience the Vinland Saga story, but it's one worth experiencing, no matter how you do it.