we review Vinland Saga Episode 02 and let's see how Thors' past will return, with a proposal he cannot refuse!
Below we will summarize the plot of the episode, Swordand then some judgments will be made on the most relevant aspects.
The plot of Vinland Saga, Episode 02
The episode opens with a short scene set in Northumbria, that is, in the English territory already conquered by the Normans for almost two centuries. Thus it turns out that the British treacherously attacked the Vikings, even killing King Sven's sister.
In the meantime, everything is going on in Iceland as usual and we see the village children busy play the war with swords and wooden shields. It is quite evident that, despite the joking context, this is considered by the community as a necessary training in what will inevitably be the life of a Norse man. Thorfinn is not particularly good at the game and it turns out that he is often among the first to "die".
The arrival of Floki and the Jomsvikings
However, the calm of the country and Leif Erickson's plans to leave for Norway are suddenly turned upside down. Indeed, a warship of the gods has been spotted on the horizon Jomsvikings, the king of Norway's elite fighting corps. The ship is commanded by their leader, Floki, who came to Iceland to find Thors, who turns out to be a former Jomsvikings commander.
Floki announces that King Sven will declare war on the British and asks Thors to join them again to fight. In fact, the Jomsvikings leader requested that all members of the group get together again, including one deserter like Thors. The conversation, predictably, is overheard by Thorfinn and Ylva, who are thrilled to hear their father called a "deserter" and walk away when they are discovered. Away from prying ears, Floki points out that he cannot return to his general empty-handed, suggesting that if Thors does not go to war, the Jomsvikings will pillage the village.
Thus, Thors must accept and Floki announces to the entire village that anyone of them who feels brave enough can join Thors, on the ship with which he will reach the Jomsvikings. Obviously, the village celebrates the announcement, with all the young people delighted with the opportunity to go to war and earn riches. We see families pulling out their family arms and armor, with the proud parents of their soldier children.
Everyone loves to go to war!
Thorfinn also gets carried away, but finds himself frustrated by the fact that he is only six years old and not being able to go to war with his father. Thus, he brutally vents himself in the war game, breaking an arm of one of his peers. Thors is mortified when he finds out, but ironically the other adults tell him not to worry, and that indeed, if he can beat up older children, Thorfinn will become a great warrior.
Thorfinn, meanwhile, has been stubborn in wanting to find a weapon at all costs, so as to fight the enemies. Rummaging in his father's trunk, find a dagger, which for him is as big as a sword. However, Thors finds out and, asking him who he wants to kill with that dagger, tries to explain to his son that nobody has enemies and nobody deserves to be hurt. But Thorfinn doesn't believe him: after all, Thors was going to war tomorrow, so he was going to kill, so he was just lying to him.
The following day, in fact, Thors prepares to leave on his warship together with five boys, followed by Lief. But in the meantime, we find that in the Faroe Islands, in a Christian village that is being sacked, Floki has met with the leader of another group of warriors, Askeladd. The reason? But obviously pay Askeladd to assassinate Thors!
The theme of the enemy in Vinland Saga, Episode 02
And, finally, here we are at one of the most important scenes of the entire manga: Thors' speech to Thorfinn.
My heart always hurts when I read these passages. I have to bring them back, because it is a beautiful example of speech between father and young son. I quote from the manga published by Star comics:
Thors: “Do you want a sword, Thorfinn? A sword is for killing. Who do you want to kill with this [dagger]? "
Thorfinn: "... my ... enemies ..."
Thors: "And who are your enemies?"
Thorfinn: "... Halfdann and ..."
Thors: “Listen to me, Thorfinn. You have no enemies. Nobody has any. There are no people in the world who are allowed to harm. "
When killing is described as something serious
This passage has always struck me a lot, because in manga (but also in a lot of western literature), the severity of killing is overlooked. Whether justified or not, killing someone is an action of enormous gravity, which should never be taken lightly.
And although in some cases it is logistically impossible to give the right literary weight to every single death, flattening murder to mere praxis makes the whole thing rather superficial. We often see it in RPG too: how many times we kill enemies in combat without batting an eye, without the players even wondering if another way was possible.
Conversely, however, when we are committed to rendering horror and the severity of deaths, we have much more powerful stories. We also think only of the terrible 8 × 05 of Game of Thrones, The Bells (which we reviewed Thu!): although the whole affair had no logical justification, the horror of the people slaughtered and burned alive in the sacking of King's Landing was felt. This is because the director was committed to make it all dramatic: what dies are people, not ugly and anonymous orcs that we can shred at will.
Well, a seinen manga who, in his talk of war and massacres, takes time to make it clear that, with that sword, people will be killed, not anonymous enemies, for me he has won everything. And believe me, Thorfinn at some point this concept will understand it, and it will not be beautiful. But it will be important, because it will change his life.
When the enemies are such because we are convinced of it
The part about not having enemies, on the other hand, should be understood as follows: none of us have enemies to go out and kill. I doubt Thors intends that everyone will like us and that no one can try to harm us. Thors will be seen more than once fighting to defend his comrades. But you will never see Thors attack first, or decide that violence or murder is the only way, because the other is too bad / different / infamous.
In fact, actively indicating someone as "the enemy" is often not alone distorts reality, taking humanity away from the other and making it only something other than oneself. This too Thorfinn will understand on his skin, after a long journey of growth.
Loyalty to the manga by Vinland Saga, Episode 02
One thing that is making itself clear about this anime is that when it can, follows the manga tables very faithfully. Many scenes were taken from Yukimura's drawings, often following their breakdown in frames.
Very little of the original manga has been discarded, and almost nothing has been added: the episode proceeds quickly, very faithful in the dialogues and without ever pulling it for long. Basically, we follow the plot of Vinland saga from chapter 5 to chapter 7, just adding some uncovered Viking butt to the Northumbria massacre.
Only towards the end can we notice something different: in fact, the meeting between Askeladd and Froki would only have taken place in chapter 9. Probably, this change is due to the desire to conclude Vinland Saga, Episode 02 with cliffhanger, comprehensibly. And anyway, who would ever complain about seeing Askeladd for an extra episode?
The only flaw of this frame-by-frame transposition is the fact that many intense close-ups of the characters' faces have gotten a bit lost. This feeling, however, is probably due to the fact that Yukimura, in my opinion, draws very expressive eyes, difficult to reproduce. But not only: some of the more intense tables of these chapters benefit from a completely white background, which increases the pathos of the scene. However, in an anime so attentive to the details of the backgrounds, scenes of this kind could hardly have been justified.
Final thoughts on Vinland Saga, Episode 02
Vinland Saga, Episode 02 carry on the plot, indicating a threatening front that threatens to upset the village and the lives of our heroes. Floki introduces himself
for once as a serious enemy and the Jomsvikings have decidedly effect alongside the Icelandic villagers.
In the meantime, we also have deepened the conception of war as a positive and coveted event in the community, noting the contrast between Thors and the young warriors. Additionally, we have seen Thors plant the seeds of his own worldview in Thorfinn.
Finally, we had the looting of a village, presented with a disturbing mixture of goliardia and pure horror, which shows the difference of views between victims and executioners. And then we had the privilege of laying our eyes on Askeladd. Yes, there will be a lot of talk about Askeladd in the next few episodes.
In short, Vinland Saga, Episode 02 it's not as transitional as expected, and it was generally very nice. Hopefully this continues!