we review Vinland Saga, Episode 01, which introduces us to Thorfinn's childhood in Iceland, between stories about the mythical Vinland and runaway slaves.

A few days ago we had introduced Thu Vinland saga, the manga of Makoto Yukimura on the life of Thorfinn, straddling the conquest of England by the Vikings. Today, however, we focus on the first episode of the anime, Somewhere Not Here.

The plot of the episode will be summarized below and some considerations will be made on the most salient aspects of Vinland Saga, Episode 01.

Little Thorfinn grappling with cattle in Vinland Saga, Episode 01
Little Thorfinn struggling with cattle in Vinland Saga, Episode 01

The plot of Vinland Saga, Episode 01

This episode introduces us to the hard life inIceland of 1006. A cold and desolate land, where survival can only be achieved with hard work by everyone, and perhaps not even with that.

Leif Erickson's tales about the legendary Vinland

However, the little one lives in this frozen land Thorfinn and his family, and despite everything they are happy. After a long journey, the merchant and sailor returned Leif Erickson, how wonderful the children of the village reveal that they have been to a land beyond the sea. This place, warmer and more hospitable than Iceland and Greenland and inhabited by peoples that Leif has made friends, has been renamed vinland.

However, despite the wonder, it is evident that even in this peaceful place people like Leif do not enjoy the same prestige that, in the common imagination, warriors have. Nonetheless, Thorfinn can't wait to be old enough to embark with Leif on the adventure.

Even Thorfinn's parents, Thor ed Helga, seem to be interested in Leif's Vinland tales. However, their motivations are very different from those of his son: in Iceland the winters are getting tougher and the survival of the population is not guaranteed.

Thors at the bedside of the slave
Thors at the bedside of the slave

Halfdan's fugitive slave

But these concerns will soon be put aside: YlvaThorfinn's older sister found one fugitive slave, half frozen by the cold. Despite knowing that the law forbids sheltering runaway slaves, Thors welcomes the poor man into his home. However, attempts to get the slave back are in vain: it is too late for him and he has only a few hours to live.

But fate is not so benevolent as to allow him to die in peace: in the morning, the village of Thorfinn presents himself Halfdan, landowner of another valley and master of the slave. The tension on the beach can be cut with a knife, because Halfdan showed up with thirty armed men, and already some quarrelsome inhabitants are in danger of provoking a confrontation.

The strange decision of Thors

Halfdan would bring back the dying slave, so as to blatantly punish him in front of his other slaves. Thors, however, offers to buy back the slave in Halfdan, although he was usually against buying slaves. In addition, he offers Halfdan eight sheep in exchange for the dying man - an exchange so advantageous that Halfdan willingly accepts.

Obviously, the slave dies shortly thereafter and Thorfinn's family is left without sheep. However, if Ylva cries misery, Thors doesn't seem to regret his choice too much.

In all of this, Thorfinn has no idea what happened, but he is worried because Leif tells him that the inhabitants of Iceland have arrived on the island to escape King Harold of Norway, who wanted to subdue them. However, in the eyes of Thorfinn it is unacceptable that his people had fled, and that therefore they were all cowards, according to the Viking mentality.

So your father, who preferred to trade eight precious sheep for a dying slave, what is it? A coward who bent down to keep from fighting? Or a man who follows such strict moral principles as to make such disadvantageous choices, just to stick to them?

Thors, Thorfinn, Helga and Ylva at the slave's grave
Thors, Thorfinn, Helga and Ylva at the slave's grave

What is a true warrior? Vinland Saga, Episode 01 lays the foundation for the future

In Vinland Saga Episode 01 we can see some of the fundamental issues all Vinland saga, so introducing them was a great idea.

First of all, with Leif and Thors we wonder about who or what a real warrior is. Leif is accused of not being a true warrior, as he is a merchant, yet Leif points out that not all warriors fight and that his work is equally dangerous.

Thors, on the other hand, contrasts with the attitude of the rest of the village. Indeed, where the young men, who never went to war, would like to fight Halfdan's men, Thors, a seasoned warrior, prefers to avoid any bloodshed. There is a clear difference between those who have lived through war and do not want to repeat it, and those who have been raised thinking that war is glorious, exciting and desirable.

Yet, in the eyes of Norse society, who would be the least understandable or acceptable: the reckless youth or Thors? We see this dilemma very well in Thorfinn, who greatly admires his father, but does not understand his methods. Also because, apart from Helga, nobody in the village knows that Thors was once a fearsome warrior.

Finally, with the exchange of Thors we meet another leitmotiv of Vinland saga: doing a good deed is not easy, is not without consequences and is not always beneficial. So are we doing the right thing, pursuing our concept of good to the end?

Thors being disarmed (or disarmed?) In the initial battle
Thors being disarmed (or disarmed?) In the initial battle

The initial scene of Vinland Saga, Episode 01: an unprecedented battle!

For those who have read the manga (don't worry, we won't spoil!), He knows well that the story of Thorfinn opens in the present, during a siege. So, the first scene of Vinland Saga, Episode 01 will definitely be one surprise.

In fact, the first few minutes of the episode are dedicated to a flashback on the life of Thors, when he was still a warrior, although already already tormented by doubts about wanting to continue fighting. Precisely for this reason, we see Thors pretend your own death during a violent naval battle, during which he falls into the sea.

Surely, seeing this scene (not present in the manga!) Right at the beginning of the first episode can only cause surprise, when later we see a much more peaceful Thors in Iceland. In his way, adds tension to Thors' self-control and non-violence. In fact, so his choice not to resort to force is immediately dictated by his morality, and not by his inability to do harm to others.

The initial battle scene deserves praise for introducing us, albeit briefly, to the character of Thorkell the Tall, who knew Thors and who would later be introduced into the manga. The presence of Thorkell in Vinland Saga, Episode 01 is one of the elements that bodes well for a second season, in which this character can be reintroduced thanks to this prefiguration.

One of the initial frames of Vinland Saga, Episode 01
One of the starting frames of Vinland Saga, Episode 01

Animation, backgrounds and colors of Vinland Saga, Episode 01

There is little to say: the White Studio did an excellent job, worthy of titles like The attack of the Giants.

THEanimation it is fluid and natural, even in complex combat scenes. The shots help a lot to make the dynamic clashes initials, creating the impression of a continuous sequence at the Daredevil (whose third season is reviewed Thu). The fights are over the top and spectacular, just like in the manga, resulting in the least historically accurate part of the work. Yet when I see Thorkell chopping a mast and four men with an ax, I am so happy.

Particularly beautiful are the backgrounds and the shots of the landscapes, whose colors and details are a pleasure for the eyes.

even the character design renders very well on screen. Even the unnamed secondary characters are well cared for and diverse. The only sore point, for me, are the two tufts on Thors' forehead. In fact, where in the manga we have two small short locks escaped from the ponytail, in the anime we see a couple of very thick and very stylized curls, which I would expect to see on JoJo.

Final frame of the theme song
Final frame of the theme song

The theme song of the anime

I'm not a big fan of song chosen as the basis for the acronym, Mukanjyo of Survive Save The Project. I would have preferred something more particular and with a Nordic flavor.

However, in general the song has a good crescendo and, above all, it is accompanied by a series of beautiful animations, with very few still images. Some of the landscapes presented in the theme song will also be shown in the four episodes of this season, but it is more than acceptable recycling.

Like the presence of Thorkell in the first scene, here too we see many of the situations and characters that, in the manga, will appear only later. Indeed, we can catch a glimpse of King Sven, Prince Canute with his advisers and, above all, adolescent Thorfinn. This does further hope well for a second season, maybe longer and fuller than the first.

Final thoughts on Vinland Saga, Episode 01

Overall, Vinland Saga, Episode 01 is a good starting point for telling Thorfinn's story in chronological order. Surely, if you want to make the first four episodes a compact narrative block on the childhood of the protagonist, it is right to start in this way.

The initial flashback offers a lively and exciting opening, allowing the viewer to better orientate themselves in Thors' psychology. For the rest, the story proceeds at a fast pace (or at least, tight by anime standards!), Remaining very faithful to the manga and without filler scenes. There is at most a small sequence added after the battle, in which the hard daily life of the Icelanders is shown, giving a better context to the situation. In general, this episode corresponds to chapters 3 and 4 of the manga.

From a technical point of view, there is nothing to say: Wit Studio did a great job and I can't wait to enjoy the next episodes. Vinland Saga, as anime, looks very promising!