Vinland Saga is a manga series written and illustrated by Makoto Yukimura. The manga was first serialized in Weekly Shōnen Magazine in 2005 and has since been published in 25 tankōbon volumes. The series has gained a dedicated fan base both in Japan and internationally and has been adapted into an anime series which has been produced by MAPPA Studios.
Vinland Saga has been well-received by both readers and critics, who praise its intricate storytelling, and well-developed characters. The manga has won several awards, including the 36th Kodansha Manga Award for Best General Manga and the Grand Prize at the 13th Japan Media Arts Festival.
Being called one of the “Big Three” of Seinen Manga, alongside Berserk and Vagabond. Vinland Saga amassed a huge fan base during its time and when it was announced that it would be getting an anime adaptation, fans were thrilled. And as the first season came to an end, the series had garnered even more fans than before.
The Story So Far
The series is set in Europe during the Viking Age, which spanned from the late eighth century to the mid-11th century. The series follows the story of Thorfinn, a young Viking warrior who seeks revenge against the man who killed his father, the mercenary leader Askeladd. There is also a mirroring story arc laid out for Prince Canute who is the Danish prince and soon to be king of the Danes.
The first season follows Thorfinn, throughout his childhood as a mercenary working under Askeladd who is also the same person Thorfinn seeks revenge against. With Thorfinn witnessing the death of his father, he makes his own goal in life to get revenge. And through it we are treated to a look into the lives of Vikings and their culture at that time.
The first season ends with us seeing Askeladd not being killed by Thorfinn but instead being killed on the command of Prince Canute who has now become King. This leaves Thorfinn empty knowing nothing else except revenge for years and knowing nothing else.
The second season shows Thorfinn working as a slave on a farm alongside Einar another slave. The second season has not yet ended but it looks like the second season will cover the farmland arc of the manga completely.
Why Does It Feels So Different?
The first season showed Thorfinn’s outer struggle and focused more on combat and showing Vikings who would pillage and fight in wars as guns-for-hire. Because of this the first season was action-packed and had a clear sense of urgency, driving the plot forward at a fast pace. This brought in new fans who loved the first season for this and expected more of the same as season 2 was announced.
But instead, in the second season, the story takes a different direction, focusing more on character development and exploration of inner conflicts. Thorfinn has given up his quest for revenge and is instead in a spiral of emptiness not knowing what to do and even being forced into slave labor where he is forced to work as a farm hand. And with it Thorfinn instead of being focused on an outward enemy, is instead left to face his inner demons.
Suffering from heavy PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) leaving him screaming while he sleeps and unable to motivate himself to even do the bare minimum, rather feeling that he would rather just lay down and do nothing.
This leaves viewers with a different style of story-telling as well. While there is still an overarching goal of the Danish army fighting against the English, there are also many subplots and character arcs that are intertwined with the main storyline. The second season explores themes such as redemption, forgiveness, and the price of war. These themes are not as straightforward as revenge, and they require more time to develop and explore fully.
And I, along with many readers of the manga, believe that this slower pace season 2 has adapted is intentional as it shifts the story from war to the effect war has on people from both sides. The second season is building towards a conclusion that promises to be emotionally impactful and thematically resonant.
In conclusion, the slower pace of Vinland Saga season 2 can be attributed to several factors, including the shift in focus from action and battles to character development, the difference in storytelling style, and the intentional pacing to build up towards a more significant climax. While some viewers might find the slow pace to be a drag, I can assure you the payoff for this slow pace will most likely be worth it to everyone who sticks with the anime.