The next addition to the Assassin’s Creed franchise, Valhalla, will look at the Viking invasion of England in the 9th century, giving players the chance to explore a world run by battle axes and ruthlessness. While the game isn’t set to release until late 2020, those wanting to whet their appetite for Viking carnage before Assassin’s Creed Valhalla goes on sale should sink their teeth into Vinland Saga, one of the most acclaimed anime series of 2019.
Created by Makoto Yukimura, Vinland Saga centers around a young man named Thorfinn, whose father was killed by the leader of a small group of powerful Vikings named Askeladd. In order to carry out his revenge, Thorfinn agrees to become a member of Askeladd’s band and continually tries to take the leader’s life.
Violence runs amok in Vinland Saga. There are neither supernatural abilities nor magic in the series, but brutal and realistic fights where skill and experience mean the difference between life and death. All characters involved rely on a mix of brute strength and vicious cunning to get an edge in battle. Thorfinn utilizes his small frame and natural agility to overcome bigger opponents, while Askeladd uses his skill with a blade, as well as an indomitable charisma, to lead his band into battle. However, no character epitomizes the thrill of battle quite like Thorkell, a towering 6-foot goliath of a man who relishes in spilled blood and bodies flying. He can wield huge battle axes with ease, and even outright kills a horse with one punch.
Vinland Saga‘s characters are complex and interesting, which is one of the things that makes the series unique. Seeing Thorfinn transform from a cheerful boy into a revenge-driven killing machine is heartbreaking, yet mystifying, as with each conquest he makes in the name of his father’s killer, he comes closer to enacting his revenge. Askeladd, for his part, is far from just being a villain for the sake of being a villain. While viewers are initially made to hate Askeladd, they eventually come to understand just why he does what he does. He also possesses the infection charm required to lead a Viking band into battle, which makes him hard to hate despite his atrocious behavior.
Thorkell is also quite noteworthy. While the Viking himself may appear to be another typical “battle-hungry” kind of character, Thorkell is far more complex than he initially appears. During the first duel between Thorkell and Thorfinn, the former outclasses his opponent, but not before losing two fingers. Instead of flying into a ceaseless rage, Thorkell relishes the opportunity to be bested.
The world depicted in Vinland Saga is harsh and unforgiving, yet strikingly beautiful at times. Viking anime, especially one that is steeped in historical realism like Vinland Saga, is rare. There are few Viking-centric manga or anime that are handled with such care, attention to detail, historical accuracy and respect like Vinland Saga. The series offers everything that fans of medieval warfare crave: emotion-driven storytelling, fantastic fight sequences that bounce between gritty and over-the-top and well-detailed visuals.
There are a lot of reasons the series would appeal to those looking forward to Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. The game series has often taken steps to providing some level of historical accuracy while giving players an action-filled adventure. In this case, the similar settings and styles will help slake fans’ appetites until the Ubisoft game finally releases.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is slated for release in 2020.
Those eagerly waiting for Assassin's Creed Valhalla to release should check out Vinland Saga, one of the best anime of 2019.