Summer 2019 Anime First Impressions – Vinland Saga

Viking. Anime. What more could you want?

Before the Summer 2019 anime season started we ran a poll asking you, the reader, what shows you wanted us to investigate for you. Over the next couple of weeks, our team of writers will be watching the first episode of the poll’s top 3 shows and telling you if they’re worth putting into your queue. Our winners were Dr. STONE, Vinland Saga, and given, and Vinland Saga’s first episode debuted over the weekend.

Amazon describes it like this:

“Around the end of the millennium, Viking, the mightiest but atrocious tribe, had been outbreaking everywhere. Thorfinn, the son of the greatest warrior, lived his childhood in the battlefield. He was seeking the land of reverie called Vinland. This is the story of a true warrior in an age of turmoil.”

But what does the preview team think?

Kaley Connell

Vinland Saga is a violent, bloody mess of a show, and I love it.

The episode opens up with animation that completely blew me away and a setting that hooked me within the first minute. Fans of Attack on Titan, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Tokyo Ghoul will find a lot of similarities in tone in the first episode, and any fan of ancient history/historical fiction anime is sure to like this as well. Because what’s better than getting fanatically attached to characters in the middle of a war where their chance of survival is akin to that of characters in Game of Thrones? Crying over said characters when they die, that’s what. And boy, does this show give me the feeling that I’m gonna need a couple boxes of tissues.

Even though there isn’t a lot revealed about the plot in the first episode, the snippets were enough to give me an idea of where the show is heading and make me feel for the characters. Their situation, their struggles, their hopes: I want to see it all unfold. The storytelling feels like a finely tuned page turner that knows how to pace the show so you never want to stop, and the music that accompanies the show gets two thumbs up from me.

Vinland Saga definitely won’t be for everyone; if you’re faint of heart, squeamish, and/or don’t enjoy violence, I highly suggest you stay away. But for fans of the previously mentioned shows, this may be your next favorite series. And I, for one, will be watching out for the next episode.

Daryl Harding

If there’s one thing Wit Studio (Attack on Titan) are known for, it’s for making a kickass first impression. Vinland Saga follows in the colossal footsteps of its older sibling series and makes one hell of a good impression. Shuhei Yabata (3D Director on Attack on Titan, ACCA, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress) takes the reigns of Vinland Saga for his first voyage as director of his own series and brings forth everything he’s learned in his career.

You can tell from the first few minutes of the episode that he’s learned a lot from his past works, creating an outstanding one shot sequence that mixes 2D elements, 3D backgrounds, some noticeable 3D foregrounds and dynamic camera work to give viewers a shot that could rival Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix. The whole episode shows us that we’re in a golden age of 2D character animation with blended 3D backgrounds. Though, it’s a shame that some of the 3D character models still look worse than the 2D traditionally drawn counterparts.

Personally, I loved everything about the first episode. Stepping back from the crazy production values, the show has real heart. I was drawn into the world of Vinland Saga and was instantly connected to all of the characters. Thanks to Hiroshi Seko (series composition on Mob Psycho 100, Ajin, Banana Fish) being on board, I know that Vinland Saga will be as gripping thematically as it is visually. I’m glad the first three episodes were released at once, cause I can’t wait to watch more.

William Moo

I have lived to see the day we finally have a full blown viking anime. While there have been vikings in shows before, seeing one with a focus on Nordic culture is refreshing. A lot of what the first episode does is introduce us to the father-son relationship between Thors and Thorfinn. Thors is a farmer who wants nothing to do with war again after fighting in one himself. He’s a badass character who can hold his own against other brooding characters in the series and isn’t afraid to make bold decisions when he needs to. It’s an effective start to a story with massive world-building to explore.

His son Thorfinn doesn’t get much focus, other than to spotlight his innocence and admiration for his father. I’ve heard some things that’ll happen to him later on, but I’ll avoid talking about those because of spoilers. The first three episodes have been released, so check out the other two if you’re interested in epic viking tales.

Vinland Saga is streaming exclusively on Amazon Prime.

Be sure to check out our other Summer 2019 anime first impressions:

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