This is a show that took a while before I knew what it was I had even started watching. You have the growing conflicts of Christianity and the Norse Religion, a story of a kid trying to get revenge for his father, harsh winters for many people, and a former Viking who wanted to leave a life of violence and death behind him. All of this is going on and, in the background, you hear of this mythical land across the sea called Vinland.
At first, I thought the lead character was going to be Thor, the Viking who abandoned his former life and is now being forced to rejoin the Vikings in their war against England or else the village in Iceland will be slaughtered. However his son sneaks aboard the ship he sets sail on, so I figured we'd have an interesting father-son story going on, but coming on to episode three or four Thors ends up getting killed by a group of Pirates who were hired to kill him.
Refusing to go back home, Thorfinn (Who is Thors son) follows after the pirates and eventually joins them when their leader, Askellad, promises Thorfinn that whenever he accomplishes something great in a battle that he will honor him with a duel. You would think that at this point the main character would be Thorfinn, but it's Askellad. He speaks a lot of the legends of Wales, who believe that one-day Arturious will return and lead them to reclaim all of Britannia, as well as dwelling constantly on Ragnorok of Norse Myth. He has some greater scheme in mind when he meets the prince of the Vikings, but it's some time before it finally comes to fruition.
It's at the end of the Prologue, which is what the first twenty-four episodes of the anime cover, that I really kind of get what kind of show this is. It's not the story of one character, but the actual 'Saga' that will lead to some grand event in the future. And it's not just one thing or one character that leads to an event. This was the tale of the first cause, one that centers around the actions of Askellad. So many things are currently in place right now. The future in store for Prince Canute, his brother who has yet to be seen in the actual show, Thorfinn having to deal with his anger as well as the family he left behind, and both England and Wales seem like they have parts to play as counties. And all the while in the background there are still the tales of Vinland, the peaceful land across the sea.
This is backed up with some great action. The actual fight of Askellad and his troops fighting Thor was great, any time you see Thorkell the Tall in action is an absolute treat to behold, and you get some of that old school high-end violence. It's nothing compared to the likes of Bastard from back in the day, but it's still nice to see a show about a bunch of hyper-violent individuals have a level of blood and violence that feels appropriate.
I don't want to get into too many more details, but the biggest issue with this show is after twenty-four episodes I kind of fear we hit the peak. The best characters are not going to have nearly as much to do in the future, the reasons for which I can't get into here, and there is obviously going to be a lot of focus on Thorfin in the coming season, and he is honestly the weakest part of the entire show so far. We also have Canute himself, whose character growth felt way too sudden to feel real. It's a decent character arc he's had so far, but as someone who is going to be important in days to come, it's a bit hard to get into him. We are in this odd situation in which we had a fantastic show, but it left off without anything as interesting as what we just witnessed to look forward too.
Vinland Saga is a show with few flaws and a lot of high points. Great action, a lot of great characters, and the show portrays the violence in a way that isn't just there for the flair, you feel the real horror at times of what these Vikings and pirates are doing. While it may not do a great job at keeping you excited at the coming conflicts, it remains a great watch. Definitely one to pick up if you aren't too squeamish about the blood.
Also, don't forget I am running a Fan Art contest with 35 Steem in prizes, the theme being Fan Art of any games that made my Top Ten of the Year. Assuming I get entries, I plan to do one focused on my Games of the Decade and anime of the year as well, but that won't be for some time. So if you are a Steem Artist, feel free to check out the contest and submit an entry! I'll include a link for both the Steemit and Steempeak pages depending on which front end you prefer.