Reality is brutal. In the episode titled “Slave” appropriately, we see how life can take a turn in an instant that breaks you into a thoughtless zombie. All I remember is “Curve that warmth into me“, a line from the Viking poem at the beginning of the episode.
The story follows a nobody living as a farmer in northern England with his mother and sister. He liked to talk big like training and protecting his home. But the sudden invasion of ruffians & Vikings broke him into a spineless slave. Fire engulfed everything in sight: the crops, the houses, the woods; there was no escape.
Einar’s mother tries to flee with him & his sister, but an arrow pierces her heart from behind. At that point, Einar faces the harsh reality that he is completely useless. Even her sister fights back even if it costs her life. All he thinks of is what his mother said: live as long as possible.
Later he is taken as a slave and during that time, he witnessed more brutality. How the slaves are treated & tortured, if someone had any defects e.g., broken teeth or sick, they are thrown overboard. He tries to run away but gets captured and made an example out of, what would happen if anyone tries to run away. He later thinks about where would he go even if he escaped, he no longer has a home. He then thinks he could live one if he tries his best as a slave.
Someone shows up in the slave market to look for Thorfinn, the story’s main protagonist, and Einar thinks how lucky Thorfinn must be that a relative is still looking for him to free him. He then gets sold to a landowner named Ketil, there he sees golden crops field as far as eyes can reach. Soon, he gets to meet Thorfinn, who is working as a slave but trying to find the purpose of his life.
It’s amazing how it hooks you into it. We were following someone who then has nothing to do with the main character or plot. It’s just some regular dude who was thrown into the chaos and we watched him getting turned into a slave. He was beaten till he couldn’t stand and learned the hard lesson of being a slave. Yet we looked forward to seeing where he would end up through the breathtaking visuals, background music, & character animation. It connected to us on a deeper level. When a character dies, we felt is as though we lost someone of our own. It’s as if we were pulled inside the anime. We are not even in the main story yet, but it still managed to get us greatly engaged. Considering season 1 was only the prologue, who knows how much massive story we are diving into? All I could say is that it is mindblowing. Studio MAPPA is doing a phenomenal job.
The opening & ending are pretty decent too. The OP had interesting visuals like drowning in the water, then light reflecting from the water, then the sequence played in a kaleidoscope-like visual, then finally breaking the ice, it’s all eye candy. The song “River” was equally appealing too. The lyrics conveyed the MC’s thought process, to take them away from the hollow world to out in the ocean, meaning freedom. The ED is great too. It has a warmer tone compared to the cold water, with the golden crops swaying in the wind, the sun setting, the moon & starry sky appearing & Thorfinn having nightmares from the past, and finally waking up to the sunrise on the horizon. And yeah, the new character Einar is also present. Both OP & ED is in English.
So far, Einer has proven to be useless, but I think he puts a contrast between him & Thorfinn. They both ended up in the same place but have a different world view. Given the world that was built, a hell of a story is about to unfold.
If you are still sleeping on Vinland Saga, then WAKE UP! Stop watching trashy shows and watch some good shows. Watch something that has stunning visuals, epic battles, intriguing characters, and a mind-blowing story. In other words, watch Vinland Saga.