REVIEW: ‘Vinland Saga’ Season 2 Episode 1 – “Slave”

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Vinland Saga Season 2 — But Why Tho

Vinland Saga Season 2 Episode 1, the action-adventure drama anime, returns after nearly four years since the renowned fan-favorite series premiered in 2019. The anime is based on Makoto Yukimura’s historical award-winning manga series. 

Vinland Saga Season 2 is animated by Studio MAPPA and directed by Shuuhei Yabuta (Attack on Titan). The voice cast of Vinland Saga Season 2 includes Shunsuke Takeuchi as Einar, Yuuto Uemura as Thorfinn, Mayumi Sako as Arnheid, Kensho Ono as Canute, and Youji Ueda as Leif Erikson. 

Vinland Saga takes place around the end of the first millennium. Thorfinn, the son of the greatest warrior, has lived his entire childhood on the battlefield. Raised by the Vikings who murdered his family after they raided his land, Thorfinn becomes a terrifying warrior, forever seeking to kill the band’s leader, Askeladd, and avenge his father. Unfortunately, before Thorfinn can avenge, Askeladd is slain by another. Thorfinn’s journey through pain, suffering, and revenge continues as he searches for the meaning behind his father’s words. 

In Vinland Saga Season 2, Episode 1, a young man named Einar enjoys a peaceful life in Northern England as a farmer with his mother and sister. Tragically, their quiet lives end when their village is raided. Einar and his family try to escape the carnage, but Einar’s mother and sister are brutally murdered right before his eyes. The incident leaves Einar traumatized and shocked. He struggles to accept his new fate as an enslaved person with nowhere to go and no one to turn to for help. Meanwhile, Leif Erikson continues his search for Thorfinn. 

Episode 1 gives off the vibe that Season 2 of Vinland Saga will have a slightly slower pace than the previous season. However, it seems to be laying the groundwork for more of the story to unfold slowly but surely. If you, like me, were expecting more action in the premiere, then you would be wrong. That is not to say Episode 1 is a flop. It is more of a slow burn and starts very differently from where I expected the story to pick up following the Season 1 finale.

For example, if you were hoping to see more Thorfinn immediately, you would be sorely mistaken. That’s not to say he does not make an appearance in the episode at all. He does not show up until the very end. Additionally, Season 2 also opens following a brief time skip following Canute’s crowning and Thorfinn being sold as a slave for attempting to kill him. Nonetheless, Episode 1 introduces Einar, whom we can assume will be the secondary main character for Season 2. 

It was an interesting way to focus the story of Episode 1 on Einar’s perspective to lead the focus back to Thorfinn eventually. Einar and Thorfinn share similar life experiences and make different choices but still end up in the same place. For example, like Thorfinn, Einar’s life is up-ended when Vikings slay his family. However, their paths slightly diverge. Instead of seeking revenge for his loved ones’ deaths, Einar quickly loses hope and accepts his new fate. In contrast, Thorfinn chose the path of vengeance after Vikings killed his father. However, his bloodlust for revenge still led him to same life of servitude as Einar. 

I am interested to see if Throfinn and Einar’s mirrored experiences and shared perspectives will continue to be a primary focus of Season 2. The scenes in the ending credits suggest that they may eventually become friends. I am intrigued to see how their friendship will come about and develop. Perhaps both men feel defeated and hopeless because they are at a point in their lives. They could re-spark their hope in one another. 

I am curious to see what else Vinland Saga has in store for Einar as a character. Although Episode 1 did a decent job introducing him to the series, I don’t have much of an opinion of him at this point. Sure we have seen where he has come from and the traumatic events he has endured due to his enslavement. However, we still need something from this character that can make his role feel more impactful to the series. Granted, Season 2 has only just started, so there may be more to come from him as the season goes on. 

The opening theme and music are stunning and do right by the Vinland Saga series. I love how MAPPA uses the imagery to tell a brief and abstract recap of the events that transpired in the previous season. As well as give a slight refresher on some characters’ motivations through symbolism. For example, Thorfinn is dragged underwater by skeletons in the opening credit scenes. A possible symbolism of how Thorfinn’s desire for revenge has anchored and or consumed most of his life. 

The first episode of Vinland Saga Season 2 truly brings the trauma and drama with the introduction of a new character, Einar, to the series. The animation, music, and use of symbolism are amazing. Most of Episode 1  is a slow burn, and the action is brief, but I do not mind the change of pace and tone for Season 2’s storytelling. Episode 1 is laying the groundwork for the story to unfold further, slowly but surely, and I can not wait to see what is in store. 

Vinland Saga streams weekly on Netflix and Crunchyroll. 

Vinland Saga Season 2 Episode 1 - "Slave"
  • 7.5/10
    Rating - 7.5/10
7.5/10

TL;DR

The first episode of Vinland Saga Season 2 truly brings the trauma and drama with the introduction of a new character, Einar, to the series. The animation, music, and use of symbolism are amazing. Most of Episode 1  is a slow burn, and the action is brief, but I do not mind the change of pace and tone for Season 2’s storytelling. Episode 1 is laying the groundwork for the story to unfold further, slowly but surely, and I can not wait to see what is in store. 

%d bloggers like this: