Netflix Fantasy Anime Is A Thought-Provoking Slow Burn Unlike Anything Else 

By Sckylar Gibby-Brown | Published

Looking for an anime series with exceptional world-building, thought-provoking characters, immersive storytelling, violence, and a little bit of fantasy? Um, yes, please. Thanks to Netflix, you can now watch Vinland Saga, a Viking anime that checks all the boxes.

Thorfinn’s Viking Journey

Vinland Saga is a Japanese anime television series that has captivated audiences worldwide with its gripping story, complex characters, and stunning animation. Based on Makoto Yukimura’s manga of the same name, the anime was produced by Wit Studio for its first season in 2019 and by MAPPA for its second season in 2023. The series chronicles the journey of a young boy named Thorfinn, who becomes entangled with Vikings in the wake of his father’s demise.

A Story About Vikings

The first season of Vinland Saga introduces Thorfinn, a young boy from Iceland who dreams of becoming a warrior like his father, Thors. Thors, a retired Viking, is forced back into battle but is betrayed and killed by mercenaries led by Askeladd. Thorfinn witnesses his father’s death and vows to avenge him, beginning a journey of rage and revenge, amidst the brutal realities of the Viking era.

In the second season of Vinland Saga, the story shifts dramatically. Einar, a farmer whose family is slaughtered by Vikings, is captured and sold into slavery. He is bought by Ketil, a landowner in southern Denmark, and meets Thorfinn, downtrodden on his luck after the events of the first season. 

Thorfinn’s Violent Past

As Einar learns about Thorfinn’s violent past, the two form a bond. This season of Vinland Saga focuses on Thorfinn’s internal struggle as he confronts his past actions and seeks redemption. The sophomore season dives deep into themes of slavery, mental trauma, and personal growth, offering a stark contrast to the revenge-driven narrative of the first season.

Animation Challenges Met With Flying Colors

Directed by Shūhei Yabuta, the first season of Vinland Saga was produced by Wit Studio. Yabuta, who had previously worked on projects like Attack on Titan and Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, brought his wealth of experience to the series. But that didn’t stop the animation team from facing challenges as they tried to replicate the detailed artwork of the manga, particularly in the dynamic fight scenes and the intricate Viking ships.

The second season of Vinland Saga, animated by MAPPA, continued under Yabuta’s direction with a focus on Thorfinn’s psychological state and the themes of slavery. Character designer Takahiko Abiru returned to ensure continuity in the visual style and to oversee that the art team placed extreme emphasis on the animation of Thorfinn’s facial expressions and the detailed depiction of the setting, which were critical in conveying the emotional depth of the story.

Historically Authentic Anime

Both seasons of Vinland Saga have been widely acclaimed by critics and audiences alike. The series is praised for its handling of Viking-era violence, character development, and thematic depth. IGN included the anime in its list of the best anime series of the 2010s, while Polygon praised its character development and historical accuracy. 

Vinland Saga distinguishes itself from other anime through its historical authenticity, mature themes, complex characters, realistic action, and narrative subversion. By offering a fresh and nuanced take on familiar genre conventions, the series stands out as a compelling and thought-provoking addition to the anime landscape. Stream it now on Netflix.