Manga in Minutes: Vinland Saga, Vol. 3

Welcome to another Manga in Minutes! Sakura-Con was held this past weekend, and there were some rather interesting licensing announcements to come out of it, so on with the news!

And now, onto this weeks review of the upcoming Vinland Saga, Vol. 3!

Vinland Saga, Vol. 3Created by Makoto YukimuraKodansha Comics, 454 ppRating: Older Teens (16+)

Vinland Saga reaches a turning point, as multitude of threads converge and overlap in a bloody and brutal showdown between Askeladd’s and Thorkell’s forces, with the fate of Prince Canute hanging in the balance.

It’s fascinating to see how Yukimura has layered motivations and plots on top of each other, each building up and ultimately snowballing into a rather fantastic and unexpected climax which promises to take the story onto a larger stage than we’ve seen so far. Not only that, but there are some wonderful character moments strewn throughout the volume as well. Askeladd’s luck abandons him and forces him to make an all or nothing stand, as he publicly states something he’s only admitted privately in the past.

This volume does a lot to drive home what the over arching themes are going to be in the series as well. There’s quite a lot going on involving fathers, family, inheritance, the nature of love and what makes one a true warrior. Canute and his relationship with Ragnar, and his estrangement from his true father, King Sweyn are interesting to look at against Thorfinn’s relationship with Askeladd and his own father, Thors. Through circumstance both young men have found themselves with father figures not of their blood, yet both are shown in this volume to be expected to act or perform in a certain way due to their blood.

Visually the book’s rather stunning. Yukimura does an amazing scene at conveying emotion through the eyes and facial expressions of the characters. His action scenes are absolutely fantastic and hugely entertaining as well, with each blood or swing of the sword conveying weight, heft, tension and impact. Speaking of impact, one of things Yukimura doesn’t shy away from is the gore that comes with battle. While nothing is terribly graphic and he doesn’t luxuriate in torturing the audience with uncomfortable or explicit violence, he doesn’t hesitate to show the results of a sword to the arm, or an axe to the head. He also doesn’t mind indulging in some gloriously over the top moments, like say… Thorkell uppercutting a charging horse.

A few a weeks ago on Twitter, I asked “If Attack on Titan is Japan’s Walking Dead, does that make Vinland Saga Japan’s Game of Thrones?” After this volume I’m inclined to say yes. The story starts off rather small, but it’s quickly growing and opening up into a much larger tale, a saga if you will, full of feuding families, vengeance driven children and scheming royalty. Characters have their own motivations and desires, which lead to unexpected alliances and backstabbing, all peppered with enjoyable characters, bloody action and complex universal themes about power, love and family. Hell, this volume even has a beautifully over the top moment of man on horse violence. Vinland Saga is quickly becoming one of my favorite reads and should appeal to fans of Game of Thrones, Brian Woods Northlanders, Vikings and good stories in general.

Vinland Saga, Vol. 3 will be available on April 29th, from Kodansha Comics. Review copy provided by the publisher.

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