|Written by||Makoto Yukimura|
|Original run||April 13, 2005 – present|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Shūhei Yabuta|
|Music by||Yutaka Yamada|
|Original run||July 7, 2019 – present|
Vinland Saga (Japanese: ヴィンランド・サガ, Hepburn: Vinrando Saga) is a Japanese historical manga series written and illustrated by Makoto Yukimura. The series is published by Kodansha, and was first serialized in the youth-targeted Weekly Shōnen Magazine before moving to the monthly manga magazine Monthly Afternoon, aimed at young adult men. As of May 2022, its chapters have been collected in twenty-six tankōbon volumes. Vinland Saga has been licensed for English-language publication by Kodansha USA.
The title, Vinland Saga, would evoke associations to Vinland as described in two Norse sagas. Vinland Saga, however, begins in Dane-controlled England at the start of the 11th century, and features the Danish invaders of England, commonly known as Vikings. The story combines a dramatization of King Cnut the Great's historical rise to power with a revenge plot centered on the historical explorer Thorfinn, the son of a murdered ex-warrior who serves under a group of mercenaries responsible for the deed; the story progresses through several story arcs beyond this, eventually culminating in an expedition to Vinland.
A 24-episode anime television series adaptation, animated by Wit Studio, aired on NHK General TV from July to December 2019. A second season, animated by MAPPA, is set to premiere on Tokyo MX and BS11 in January 2023.
As of July 2021, Vinland Saga had over 5.5 million copies in circulation. The series won the 36th Kodansha Manga Award for Best General Manga and the Grand Prize of the 13th Japan Media Arts Festival. The Vinland Saga anime adaptation has been considered one of the best anime series of the 2010s.
Vinland Saga is initially set mostly in 1013 AD England, which has been mostly conquered by the Danish King Sweyn Forkbeard. As King Sweyn nears death, his sons, Prince Harald and Prince Canute, are arguing over his succession. The story draws elements from historical accounts of the period such as The Flateyjarbók, The Saga of the Greenlanders and The Saga of Eric the Red.
In the year 1002 AD, a young boy named Thorfinn Thorsson longs to see the fabled paradise Vinland while living a peaceful life in Iceland. But that changed when the Jomsviking Floki arrives at the village to enlist Thorfinn’s father Thors Snorresson for an upcoming war, Thors revealed to be a former Jomsviking who deserted during the Battle of Hjörungavágr to live in peace with his wife Helga and their children. Thors reluctantly accepts Floki’s offer, Thorfinn sneaking aboard his father's ship before it is intercepted at the Faroe Islands by a band of pirates led by Askeladd, who Floki hired to kill Thors for his desertion. While Thors single-handed overpowers the pirates without deadly force and defeats Askeladd in a duel, he submits to execution after Thorfinn is taken hostage. While the others return to Iceland, a revenge-driven Thorfinn joins Askeladd's crew and constantly challenges his commander to various duels while serving as a scout and assassin.
Askeladd's company find employment in 1013 AD as mercenaries under the Danish King Sweyn in the Danish invasion of London while the British are aided by Thorkell the Tall, Thorfinn's fight-loving uncle who served with Thors in the Jomsvikings. When Thorklel takes Sweyn’s son Prince Canute captive, Askeladd's company steal back the prince with the intent of selling him to either side for a profit. But upon seeing Canute's face while his group takes refuge for the winter in the frozen north of England near the Danish encampment at Gainsborough, Askeladd changes his plan to act on his personal agenda as a descendant of Artorius to secure his mother's homeland of Wales from being invaded. While Askeladd succeeds in making Canute assertive after killing off his retainer Ragnar and winning Thorkell to their side at the cost of most of his men, he learned that Sewyn intended for his son to die so that his oldest son Harald would succeed him and prevent a schism among the Danes. Askeladd is ultimately forced to sacrifice himself to killing Sweyn during an audience when the kind announced his plan to invade Wales, feigning madness as Canute kills so the prince could take over Dane-occupied England without question. But Thorfinn, feeling denied of his revenge, scars Canute in an attempt on the prince's life and is sentenced by an empathic Canute with life in enslavement.
A year after Askeladd's death, Thorfinn is working in a farm owned by Ketil, a rich and kind farmer who treats slaves well. He later befriends another slave named Einar who teaches him how to farm. With Einar's help along with Snake, the farm's head of security, and Ketil's father Sverker, Thorfinn learns to let go of his dark past and is encouraged by dreams of Thors and Askeladd to pursue a life of peace and away from the Vikings' violent lifestyle. As Thorfinn and Einar work to earn their freedom, Canute had become both King of England and Denmark after poisoning his brother Harald. But Canute is driven mad by being haunted by Sweyn's ghost, planning to seize Danish farmlands to fund his armies.
Canute begins his campaign with Ketil's farm, tricking Ketil's sons, Thorgil and Olmar, into justifying the seizure with Ketil's men easily defeated by Canute's Jomsvikings. With Ketil wounded and driven mad from his mistress betraying him to save her former husband, Thorfinn confronts Canute to convince him to spare the farmers. Canute renounces his claim to the farm after seeing the pacifist Thorfinn has become. With Thorfinn and Einar now freed, they say their goodbyes to Sverker and Snake before sailing back to Iceland with Leif, an old friend of Thorfinn's father.
Reunited with his mother and sister, Thorfinn explains his intent to settle Vinland and build a new life of peace. In order to gain the funding for the trip to Vinland, Thorfinn, Leif, Einar and Leif's adopted son, Thorfinn "Bug-Eyes", plan to travel to Greece and sell Narwhal horns there. Thorfinn's crew is later joined by others including Gudrid, a tomboy who wants to travel the world and is running away from her fiancé; Karli, an orphaned baby boy and his pet dog who are survivors of Viking raid; and Hild, a skilled hunter who wants revenge on Thorfinn for killing her father during his time in Askeladd's company, but is convinced to spare him long enough to see if Thorfinn has truly changed.
Thorfinn's crew then continues their journey through the Baltic sea while being pursued by Sigurd, Gudrid's fiancé, who is determined to bring her back to avenge his honor. But is captured by some Jomsvikings after attempting to fight them and ends up in service under Thorkell. Thorfinn's crew arrive at the trade town of Jelling and Thorfinn is escorted by Thorkell's men who take him to meet Thorkell and Floki. The former suggests to Floki that Thorfinn led the Jomsvikings following the recent death of the Jomsviking chieftain Sigvaldi. Thorfinn refuses and recommences his journey with his crew, but is then pursued by Floki's assassins after Floki realizes Thorfinn's identity and feared retribution for Thors' death.
Thorfinn and Hild draw away the assassins around a set of islands while the rest of the crew escape toward Odense. After using non-lethal combat to protect some villagers from the Jomsvikings, two spies among them take Thorfinn and Hild to meet Captain Vagn, the leader of a rebel camp of Jomsvikings who seek to usurp power from Floki before it goes into the hands of Floki's grandson Baldr. Vagn reveals to Thorfinn that Floki had Thors assassinated and would also have various prominent Jomsvikings killed in order to help Baldr became chieftain. A surprise attack is launched at the camp by Thorkell and Vagn is assassinated by Garm, a psychopathic warrior who is eager to fight to the death.
The surviving men of Vagn's camp swear allegiance to Thorkell who promises revenge against Floki for using Garm as an assassin. Leif, Einar, Gudrid and Karli are taken hostage by Garm and sent to Jomsburg, leaving Bug-Eyes behind to tell Thorfinn where they are. A series of battles erupt between Thorkell and Floki's forces at Jomsburg, including a duel between an unarmed Thorfinn and Garm, leading to the latter's non-lethal defeat. Thorkell's army defeats Floki and captures him and Baldr, who was earlier revealed to be Thorfinn's cousin. Baldr is uninterested in power and feels a sense of remorse for his grandfather's evil actions.
Thorfinn is temporarily made leader of the Jomsvikings and, with help from Thorkell, carries out orders from Canute to disband the Jomsvikings and spare Floki and Baldr from execution, despite protest from the warriors. Floki and Baldr are sent into exile. Gudrid, admitting her feelings for Thorfinn, talks Thorkell out of a duel that Thorfinn promised him and they're allowed to leave and continue their journey to Greece. Sigurd returns home without Gudrid, but realizes he never had romantic feelings for her and sets her free. He leaves his father's estate behind to explore the world with his first wife and their servants.
Two years later, Thorfinn's crew return to Iceland with the wealth they acquired from selling the narwhal horns. Thorfinn and Gudrid get married and raise Karli as their son. With the resources promised by Halfdan, Thorfinn begins to assemble a crew to colonize Vinland.
Vinland Saga contains a mixture of historical, apocryphal, and invented characters in its cast. The major characters are of Danish descent—Vikings brought to England to assist King Sweyn's invasion of the country.
Vinland Saga began serialization in April 2005 in Kodansha's Weekly Shōnen Magazine, where it ran until October of the same year. It then went on a two-month hiatus, resuming serialization late December 2005 in the monthly seinen magazine Afternoon, also owned by Kodansha. This switch was caused by author Makoto Yukimura, who found he could not keep up a long-term weekly production schedule.
In a January 2008 interview, Yukimura revealed that he was inspired to enter the manga industry by reading the manga Fist of the North Star as a boy. In the same interview, he said he had always wanted to produce a series which reflected the same themes of "strength and justice". He has occasionally used omake (bonus) chapters and other supplementary materials to comment on the production of Vinland Saga. In volume two, Yukimura's omake is about a research trip he took to Iceland in 2003 before beginning the series. The author's commentary sections in volumes one and three both discuss Yukimura's desire to learn about and portray the daily lives of Vikings in addition to their wars and the events of historical chronicles. Yukimura is aided in drawing Vinland Saga by four known assistants: Haito Kumagai, Kazuoki Suzuki, Tomoyuki Takami, and Daiju Watanabe.
In November 2019, Yukimura announced that the manga has entered its final arc.
Further information: List of Vinland Saga chapters
Vinland Saga is written and illustrated by Makoto Yukimura. The series was first serialized in Kodansha's shōnen manga magazine Weekly Shōnen Magazine from April 13 to October 19, 2005. The series was transferred to Kodansha's seinen manga magazine Monthly Afternoon, starting in the February 2006 issue, released on December 24, 2005. Kodansha has collected its chapters into individual tankōbon (bound volumes). The first two volumes were initially released under the Shōnen Magazine Comics imprint, and then reissued under the Afternoon imprint after the manga's serialization switch. As of May 23, 2022, twenty-six volumes have been published.
The series is licensed in English by Kodansha USA, and it is being released in a two-in-one hardcover edition. The first volume was published on October 14, 2013. As of December 14, 2021, twelve volumes have been released.
See also: List of Vinland Saga episodes
An anime television series adaptation of Vinland Saga was announced in March 2018. Produced by Twin Engine, Production I.G, Wit Studio and Kodansha, the series is animated by Wit Studio and directed by Shūhei Yabuta, with Hiroshi Seko handling series composition, Takahiko Abiru designing the characters and Yutaka Yamada composing the music. The series ran for 24 episodes on NHK General TV. The anime premiered on July 7, 2019, with the first three episodes. Due to the pending arrival of Typhoon Faxai on September 8, 2019, Episode 10 was delayed due to broadcasting news, and resumed on September 15, 2019. Due to the airing of the World Para Athletics Championship sports tournament on NHK, Episode 18 was delayed and resumed on November 17, 2019. The series finished on December 29, 2019. The first opening theme is "MUKANJYO." by Survive Said The Prophet while the first ending theme is "Torches" by Aimer. The second opening theme is "Dark Crow" by Man with a Mission and the second ending theme is "Drown" by milet.
Amazon streams the series in worldwide on their Prime Video service. Sentai Filmworks released the series on home video on August 31, 2021, with both a new translation and English dub. A different English dub, produced by VSI Los Angeles, previously launched on Netflix in Japan. MVM Entertainment licensed the series in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It will also be streamed on Netflix globally beginning July 7, 2022, as well as Crunchyroll and HiDive on select territories, and Korean streaming site KT Olleh on June 7.
When the anime finale aired in Japan, director Shuhei Yabuta wrote, “This big incident changed everything for Thorfinn, but his story will continue!”. On July 7, 2021, Twin Engine announced that a second season is in production. Shūhei Yabuta is returning as director, and Takahiko Abiru is returning as character designer. It will be animated by MAPPA and is set to premiere on Tokyo MX and BS11 in January 2023. The season will run for 24 episodes.
Yukimura drew a 7-page crossover manga chapter between the series and the Assassin's Creed Valhalla video game that was uploaded to Ubisoft's website on October 23, 2020.
Vinland Saga has been commercially successful in Japan, with combined sales of 1.2 million copies for the first five volumes as of June 2008. It had over 5 million copies in print as of 2018. Several volumes have appeared on the Taiyosha top ten best-selling manga list. As of July 2021, the manga had over 5.5 million copies in circulation.
The Comics Journal lamented that Vinland Saga had yet to be licensed for publication in a 2006 article highlighting worthy unlicensed manga and scanlation groups. Despite this, the series attracted attention in the international manga community. The first volume was reviewed by MangaCast in 2005. This review praised Vinland Saga for its fluid action sequences, remarking how well author Yukimura made the transition to the action genre from his previous work Planetes. The panel composition, realistically barbaric violence, and attention to detail in constructing the setting were highlighted and compared with those found in Kentaro Miura's long-running series Berserk. The reviewer's primary criticism was that he found he had to suspend his disbelief more often than he would have liked to in a historical fiction series. In addition, he worried that the then-upcoming switch to monthly serialization would slow series production "to a crawl".
Upon its official release, the first volume was reviewed by Rebecca Silverman for Anime News Network. She described it as a "deeply engrossing book" and praised it for its attention to detail and "fairly faithful" depiction of Medieval times, but felt the art was "a bit generic" and expressed disappointment at the lack of female interesting characters. Johanna Draper Carlson of Comics Worth Reading described the action in the first volume as "fast-paced, well-illustrated, and detailed" but "didn’t transcend its premise"; she was instead more impressed by the scenes depicting family life, saying "that's where the insightful character work I expected from Yukimura came through." In a review of the second volume, Carlson changed her assessment, finding the jockeying and intrigue between competing factions to be compelling, and praised the series for showing how "all this battle, visually astounding and emotionally exciting as it may be, has a human cost." Carlson also praised the scenes depicting domestic life as providing grounding context for the story, as well as weaving in religion and politics, finding Vinland Saga "a fascinating read on multiple levels."
The series was nominated for the 2008 Manga Taisho award. In 2009, it was awarded the Grand Prize in the manga division of the 13th Japan Media Arts Festival. It won the 36th Kodansha Manga Award for Best General Manga in 2012.
IGN listed Vinland Saga among the best anime series of the 2010s. In a poll conducted by Kadokawa Game Linkage of the most satisfying series of 2019, Vinland Saga ranked in ninth place. It won as Anime of the Year in the 6th Anime Trending Awards. The anime series was selected as "Best Drama" while receiving eight other nominations including "Anime of the Year" at the 4th Crunchyroll Anime Awards.
Rafael Motamayor of Polygon praised the anime series and compared it to Vikings. Motamayor commended the characters' development shown in its first three episodes and ultimately called it an epic story that shows "the horrors of being a Viking at the turn of the 11th century, while also serving as a coming-of-age tale set against the background of a bloody and thrilling war". Gerald Rathkolb of Otaku USA called Vinland Saga a "story of a long, brilliantly written slow-burn revenge story" and named it one of the best anime series of 2019. Rathkolb wrote: "[It] is one of those rare anime that could have appeal outside of the anime sphere because of its setting and focus on complex characters and the excellent political intrigue ever-present in the show. It comes with my highest recommendation".
it follows a band of Viking warriors through an epic story of vengeance, blood, tragedy, royal intrigue and more blood.
Makoto Yukimura's Vinland Saga, a true manga epic, captures the contradictory aspects of ancient Norse culture
Vinland Saga volumes