Vinland Saga feels like the story is really just beginning, and yet it’s hard to imagine how it’ll outdo its prologue. The prologue is roughly half of the available chapters and it presented an incredibly compelling story that interestingly can be thought of a self-contained legend of one of the most badass characters I’ve ever come across: Askeladd.
I won’t spoil the details, shit’s too good. Let’s leave the detailed spoilers in the comments discussion. Instead I’ll talk about what makes this character so incredibly badass by comparison with some other notable characters in anime (although Vinland Saga is a manga). Those familiar with the characters I compare him with will deduce a potentially awful spoiler so if you are averse to such then stop reading this post and read the manga.
I put it off for years and read 78 chapters in one sitting. Holy crap it was awesome. The second part of this post goes a little bit into the beginning of the story proper and has fun with the seemingly bad rap it’s gotten. Without further ado, lets attack this shit.
Askeladd in this narrative exceeds the combined awesomeness of Sigfried Kircheis of Legend of the Galactic Heroes and Kamina of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. He has the tactical ability and wisdom of the former, and the charisma of the latter. There are better examples of tactics, cunning, and charisma out there but anyone who’s familiar with all three will understand why I make the connection.
I also mentioned that Askeladd exceeds both. Yes, indeed he does because in part of his age… he is a more experienced human being. The dynamic of this can be understood in terms of how more interesting and awesome Fate/Zero is relative to Fate/stay Night due to the presence and focus on older, adult characters. While the subject of manga and anime will continue to focus on juveniles, adolescents, and comers-of-age; adult, mature characters bring with them more fleshed-out pasts, regrets, and higher stakes.
Askeladd is a perfect example of this – bringing heritage, geopolitics (what makes for it in the Dark Ages), and a long career. It gives his words and actions a dignity and weight that exceeds those I compare him with. His role influenced, galvanized, and gave purpose to the main protagonist. In a way he trained Thorfinn to actualize what he needs to become, despite their adversarial relationship. He did this less with talk but with such inspired acts of daring that makes me pump my fist in the air as I flip through the pages.
His part of the story ends, whetting my appetite for more epic violence; and then…
The next 30 or so chapters put our protagonist Thorfinn in a farm, clearing trees, and planting wheat.
While I don’t think this is bad in any way, as it serves as a very patient way of telling a story of recovery and self-discovery. But I can only imagine the sheer adrenaline dump and blue balls readers must have felt when this started happening after the manga switched from a weekly format to a monthly format way back in 2005. Oh yes, this farming storyline must have been running for at least the past three years.
But that’s a saga for you. It used its incredible prologue to deposit capital of faith in our minds that the long story will be worth waiting for, worth sticking with to the very end. Difficult it may be to come up with another character as awesome as Akeladd, Vinland Saga may not even try to. He had his role to play and now it’s Thorfinn and Canute’s turn to find themselves on the same path of discovery and redemption.
The First of Two Posts:
- The Legend of Askeladd, & Farmland Saga [you are reading this]
- The Trap of Comparing Vinland Saga With Berserk