Notes on Streaming: VINLAND SAGA, Between Peace and Brutality

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas (@peteramartin)
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Notes on Streaming: VINLAND SAGA, Between Peace and Brutality

A man of peace is drawn back into warfare.

Vinland Saga
Now streaming on Amazon Prime.

Chopping men in half is not my thing, so the opening minutes of Vinland Saga raised my personal 'too much violence' eyebrows, but then the opening credits rolled.

When the show proper begins, it's some years later and we find Thors living in a small village with his family: wife Helga, teen daughter Yiva, and 6-year-old son Thorfell. It's very, very, very cold in Iceland, and the villagers are very, very, very cold, but soon enough it will warm up and the villagers will find another reason to shiver: the past.

Thors, who looks mighty indeed, although he presents a calm and peaceable demeanor, will have to face his past, which affects not only his family, but also the entire village. And what does all this have to do with Vinland, the Old Norse name for coastal North America, where Leif Erickson first landed in the year 1000?

Well, Leif Erickson is staying in the village as our story begins, and he has shared tales of his discovery with all who will listen, so we can expect to hear more about that in due course. For now, however, or at least the first three episodes -- which all began streaming on Sunday, July 7 -- we can happily enjoy the vim and vigor on display in this very appealing, action-oriented series.

I like the pacing, and also that relatively few characters are introduced in the first three episodes, in contrast with other Summer 2019 anime series that I've been watching this past week. Right now, the show feels blissfully free of Cute Girls, Angsty Boys, and Magical Things; instead, the lean storyline makes it easier for a newbie like me to find a proper footing with the narrative.

(Editorial aside: After 15 years of occasional sampling, I'm finally digging down this month and trying to watch as many shows as I can fit into my viewing schedule so that I can take full advantage of a one-month free trial of VRV.co, which offers a variety of geek-oriented streaming services. That, in turn, led me to realize that both Amazon Prime and Hulu include simulcasts of new anime shows from Japan among their offerings.)

The series is based on a historical manga written and illustrated by Yumimura Makoto, first published in 2005. Wit Studio animated the series; 24 episodes in all have been produced. Yabuta Shūhei (Inuyashiki) directed.

New episodes will be available every Sunday.

Summing up: Watch out for that blood! Stirring family drama appears to be unfolding.

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