Vinland Saga Premiere: Episode 1-3 Review

Title: Vinland Saga
Length: 24 x 24 minute episodes
Genre: History, drama, action
Year of release: 2019

Vinland Saga made the curious decision to air its first three episodes at once, and then go on break for the next two weeks. While this may sound like a curious decision, it makes sense why. Put simply, Vinland Saga’s first three episodes are prologue material; various sequences in a middling level of connection as the bits and pieces gradually come together to catalyse the plot going forward. If it was airing this opening trio weekly, it might be a rough watch as there’s not a hook fully formed.

That’s not to say that Vinland Saga doesn’t have the goods, it’s just a bit slow. Some of the clear setting-up sequences are found in extremely tense, biting dialogue, and the world is setup with a genuine sense of realism. Even if the story is struggling to get off the ground at the moment, the attention to detail of the historical setting – a unique, European setting – makes Vinland Saga a unique prospect for sure. WIT Studio, too, are putting on quite the production, that manages the dourness with strong storyboarding and strong animation.


This is going to be an epic story, I’m sure, but it could use some fat-trimming. The scene of saving a slave felt like an exercise in rushed, forced development of Thors (and in exchange, his son, Thorfinn, who learned from this example), that also melodramatically went on a little too long. It’s with these detours that Vinland Saga feels more slow than it should. Even at its skinniest, it would be very, very slow. 

The real protagonist, Thorfinn, has yet to escape his childhood, so he tos-and-fros from mindset to mindset without ever becoming a substantial character. It doesn’t help that his sister coddles him in some weird, incestuous-bait scenes. His father, Thors, is a battle-veteran with a soft side for pacifism and a love for his wife, and while his development is human, it’s insignificant. The major antagonist that seems to have been set up near the end has a powerful haircut and a well-whipped battalion of soldiers that are worth reading into, but has a bit of an immature motivation. These sorts of things would be acceptable as the story goes on, but right now, in this crawl to get through the synopsis’ main draw, it’s making for middling TV and an awful lot of promises.

It does seem like the storytelling is kicking into overdrive as of the next episode, so there might actually be a story for me to discuss – and not just a lot of setup. It really is good setup, but it’s revealing cracks that hopefully the actual storytelling will cover up. Will it? I’m not sure. In any case, I’m on board for at least a few more episodes, if only to see the story start!

Rating: 3.5/5

Return to Summer 2019 Premiere Report

2 thoughts on “Vinland Saga Premiere: Episode 1-3 Review

    1. It does seem like a really great anime, but it’s hard to say too much about it with its SLOW speed. I hope you enjoy it, and I don’t see why it wouldn’t turn around, ramp up and become great.


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