Vinland Saga Season 2 Thoughts

We are halfway through the anime year and season 2 of Vinland Saga is in my opinion, the anime of the year thus far. It feels like everything we get nowadays are isekai, short 11-13 episode series, and sequels to short 11-13 episode series – so when something as impactful as Vinland Saga comes out, it really makes an impact. But beyond just a good adaptation, I just want to remind everyone that the source material is just that amazing in the first place. Even before the anime started, the manga was highly acclaimed and the adaptation only bolstered the reputation of the manga, bringing viewers like me into the Vinland Saga fan club. We can talk all day about its excellence in production, whether we want to talk about music, animation, direction – all of that but you know I don’t really care too much about that stuff. All of you know that I’m a sucker for a good story, character development, and how this relates to me as a narcissist – so here are a few thoughts on Vinland Saga season 2.

I remember during the first few episodes of this new season, fans were disappointed in how slow the story was. They were used to the fast paced action and war drama that was the first season and were not happy to see a season of the anime where it was just farm life. I also remember being totally shocked at this viewpoint because I really loved the slow, methodical storytelling. People are acting like season 1 was just an action series when it was so much more. When fighting wasn’t happening in season 1, Askeladd and crew were literally going from place to place looking for the next job. Season 1, although not slow, was definitely not as action packed as fans believe it to be.

All of this to say that, Vinland Saga is not necessarily an action series, rather it is a drama highlighted by action. It’s a series based around the theme of the effects of war on people. You can see this in Canute. He doesn’t necessarily want to conquest land to own more land and further his greatness like other kings. He is doing so that he can provide a better life for the Jomsviking. It’s why the series does so much to focus on those living in peace . . . until they’re not in peace anymore because war has come to town and is affecting them. This provides more perspective on what war does to people. How the strong stay strong, how the weak try to survive, and how everyone is ultimately a victim, even Canute – the freaking king.

But back to myself for a quick second, let’s talk about “You don’t have enemies” – the famous quote from Thors, which Thorfinn keeps alive. This quote really changed my viewpoint on life and I feel like it is a perspective that many young people in particular need to hear. What the quote suggests is that ultimately, no matter how you feel about someone, it is on you whether you consider them any enemy or not. No one was born to hate, no was born to hold anger at someone else. But what about those that have a vendetta against you? Well if they also believe that they have no enemies, they wouldn’t be coming for you. There is no gene for hatred. And when I look back in my teen years and even now in my 20’s – I think about how I often look at people or society as a force that is against me. When in reality, sometimes things are just unfortunate, out of your control, and not something that really matters.

When you’re immature, it’s just so much easier to blame something or someone else for your shortcomings, than it is to admit that it might be your fault. Me failing a test at school, doesn’t mean that I’m not meant for school, it doesn’t mean that the prof hates me or that they did a bad job. All it means is that I should look forward to the next opportunity and see if I can do better. It means that I should study harder. It means that I have to learn from my mistake, move on, and see what the next best thing to do is. When you have no enemies, you live for yourself. You live for the belief that the bad things that happen to you, oftentimes have nothing to do with you – they happen out of circumstance. As much as I love The Last Dance and Michael Jordan – I don’t need to create villains and narratives AGAINST myself just to push myself to do better and make good choices. I just need to do them because for me, that’s the right thing to do.

Thorfinn accepts this in season 2, when he reflects on all the lives that he’s taken. He’s remorseful, he feels guilt, and he believes that he should be punished. In season 1 he sees others as his enemies. Between season 1 and season 2, Thorfinn realizes that he’s victimized people, that for others, he is their villain. Leading to on the farm, through relationships with Einar and Arnheid – he learns that ultimately he is also a victim of war – that he shouldn’t be anyone’s enemy. And accepting this he realizes that instead of feeling shame for himself and wanting to die/suffer for his sins, he chooses to live for himself in order to guide people to a lifestyle and a place where they have no enemies.

All this to say that the 2nd season of Vinland Saga is some of the most beautiful storytelling that I have ever witnessed in an anime. I’ve logged over 400 entries onto MAL and this one definitely sticks out as one of the best anime that I’ve ever watched. I also think that this is the type of series that you could recommend to someone who is not into anime because at the end of the day – good writing is good writing, regardless of the medium. If you haven’t already watched Vinland Saga, give it a go. If you’ve already watched it, then watch it again. I freaking love this series. If you’re an anime only fan, consider picking up the manga.

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