Vinland Saga, among others, has proven through their quality and other attributes that this is one of the best anime to come out in 2019. With the year winding to a close, and the season well into its progress, it is fair fair to say that the series has cemented itself in that category of success.
In fact, the argument can be made that Vinland Saga is among the best anime to come out in several years. It isn't like the bulk of the new anime that has come out in the past year, but that is not at all a bad thing. In fact, this works to its favor. Having said that, here are 10 reasons why Vinland Saga is a must-watch anime series.
10 The Setting
First and foremost is the setting of the anime series. Setting is definitely among the first things that define a series, any series, anime or not, to its audience and can determine whether they are invested in that particular piece of media.
Vinland Saga sets the stage by mostly taking place in the 1,000s in Nordic, and very much into Viking, culture. Considering that Viking culture is bathed in action and violence, to put it lightly, that makes for a very exciting and continuously engaging setting for anime fans.
9 It's More Grounded Than A Lot Of Popular Anime
For those that are fans of realism in their media or, in this case in particular, anime, Vinland Saga is a relatively grounded story, with exceptions, of course. This means that those that are fans of more realistic but thrilling settings and stories like, say, Monster, will likely appreciate Vinland Saga.
Granted, the series takes creative liberties in areas like its action for instance--who can forget Thorkell the Tall's introduction where he absolutely eviscerates multiple soldiers with a single axe throw--but it is a far more grounded setting and narrative compared to a lot of popular anime and manga.
8 It's A Seinen Masterpiece
It is fair to say that anime and manga has proudly done a good job of managing to generally break into mainstream media, even outside of its country of origin, Japan. However, while not at all a negative judgment on anime and manga as a medium, it is also fair to say that a lot of popular series of this medium can be classified in the "shonen" genre. That is, anime and manga that is appealing to teens and all ages.
In the shonen genre, multiple series come to mind, with a few being My Hero Academia, Naruto, One Piece, etc. All great in their own right, but the "seinen" genre, that is, anime and manga geared more toward young and older adults, don't get the same treatment, at least in anime form, that shonen do. There are several seinen standouts, including amazing manga series like Berserk and Vagabond. Vinland Saga can stand in similar regard as a seinen genre masterclass, thanks to Makoto Yukimura.
7 Thorfinn Goes Through Deep Character Development
This one doubles as--in addition to why the anime is a must-watch anime series--a must-read manga series. Any good, thrilling, and enthralling piece of media looking to achieve the status of those adjectives must have character development of their biggest characters high on their to-do list.
While we've seen only some character development on Thorfinn's part in this first season--that is, going from a happy-go-lucky, optimistic, and inspired little kid to a vengeful, angst-ridden teenager with a lust for Askeladd's blood on his hands--the story of Vinland Saga evolves over time, and Thorfinn evolves along with it.
6 There's More Than One Main Character (For Now)
Another big part of any piece of media including anime is for the respective series to have a cast of characters that audiences can get invested in. Vinland Saga definitely has that and will continue to have that in the future whether the series gets subsequent seasons or you read the manga ahead of the current anime. Right now, however, Vinland Saga is going through a very specific phase in these early arcs.
At the moment, while Thorfinn is mainly just motivated by rage and revenge, he's taken more of a supporting role in the current arc, possibly due to the fact that right now, Makoto Yukimura knows that he isn't very deep just yet. That's because, right now, it's mostly about Askeladd and, later, Canute. While Thorfinn takes time to develop as a character, Askeladd has proven himself to be an exciting, deep, and interesting character.
5 The Action Is Intense And Exciting
Makoto Yukimura's anime and manga series Vinland Saga prides itself on being a lot of things. It is a seinen genre series, it is an intimate and personal story about a character facing gargantuan odds and complications starting at a young age, it is also a grand story of adventure and war and turmoil on continental proportions. However, having said that, it is, or at least contains, action as well as drama.
Considering the time period the series takes place in and the Norse, Viking culture it involves, the action is going to be a big focal point of the anime. Especially so with skilled warriors like Thorfinn, Askeladd, and Thorkell in the cast. Thankfully, when the action is built up and reaches the climax, it is exciting as it is brutal.
4 The Art And Animation
This, in part, also ties into the previous entry, being the action. The action is one example of excellent work in art and animation. It engages the viewer, keeping them on the edge of their seats. Considering this is anime, the art and animation can be the difference between a top tier and bottom tier anime series. In fact, the same applies to any manga series, minus the animation.
Those well enough versed in anime shouldn't be surprised that the art and animation are of such high quality, either. After all, this is Attack on Titan studio, Wit Studio.
3 It's More Than Just A Revenge Story
Of course, at the moment, Vinland Saga seems like your typical revenge story or plot if all you have been doing so far while watching the anime is focusing on Thorfinn solely. If so, that would be a mistake, as there are other characters in the series that are more than interesting and are helping drive the plot forward.
Right now, Thorfinn is definitely only motivated by getting revenge for the death of his father, Thors, because of Askeladd and Floki. However, right now, we are also seeing some great writing in character development for Askeladd and Canute. For those who read the manga, Thorfinn eventually grows into more than just the angry boy he is now.
2 It Starts As A Slow Burn, But It's Perfectly Paced
It's true that the very beginning of the series is a slow burn, but that doesn't equal "bad." The story and writing take the perfect amount of time in each episode to do world-building and character development. You take time to learn about how Thorfinn started; a happy-go-lucky and inspired young boy to a revenge-driven teenager.
The anime also takes time to set the scene of the situation of the world the characters occupy. The pacing allows for the perfect amount of time to develop the characters, particularly so for Askeladd and Canute right now.
1 The Score Does Well In Setting The Scene
Just like with any piece of visual media, music or score is vital to that given medium. And Vinland Saga has that and then some. The series' score is beautifully well done and does well to compliment the visuals of the series; that being the art and animation.
Vinland Saga's music sets each scene perfectly and injects the appropriate amount of tension and/or emotion depending on the context of the scene. Some of the highlights of the series' use of music, or score, is when the slower, more melancholy scenes where a soft piano is playing, emphasizing the emotional impact of the given scene.