While there were a few “Boring!” With regards to the anime-only “Farmland Saga”, the general response has been overwhelmingly positive. And for good reason, because this is some of the best written out there and a fascinating exploration of the stigma in human history that is slavery. However, I cannot deny that Vinland Saga It takes on another dimension whenever Askeladd appears on screen. In fact, the entire first season was his story – an expanded premise of the main event stay and that it The protagonist, Thorfinn. Incredibly patient display from Yukimura-sensei, might I add.
Much of the credit for this, no doubt, rests on Uchida Naoya’s shoulders as well as Yukimura’s. He was always cool and underappreciated (Nobunaga is one of the most prominent characters in Seiyuu Hunter X Hunter 2011). But in Askeladd, he really has a career-defining role – to me, one of the defining performances of the last decade in animation. The guy will turn 70 in a couple of months, but my goodness, he brings so much world-weary energy and raw power to the role of Askelade. It’s a great on-page part any actor would love to play, but it will always be Uchida’s voice that stands out when I think about it.
Much of this episode is spent within Thorfinn’s dream world – and it’s not all nightmares. In fact, we start in what appears to be Vinland (which hasn’t been mentioned for ages), with gentle portage and gorgeous green hills. and Tours, one of the two great men who graced the cover of Thorfinn’s childhood. He feels sorry he didn’t hang in to teach his son what he needed to know – because even as a figment of Thorfinn’s imagination, Thors can see what a wreck the boy has become. He reminds Thorfinn of something very important that he managed to tell him – “No one has any enemies. There is no one who is okay to hurt him.”
There was a time, sure, that even battle otaku Thorfinn wanted to try to live up to those words. But it all goes wrong starting with the ambush on Thors’ ship, and it all leads to what might be a low tide for Thorfinn, if what we’re seeing here really does happen. Maybe it was another nightmare, or maybe it was the act of killing this little boy in cold blood that finally pushed Thorfinn over the edge (quite literally). When Taurus died, control of his son passed, ironically, to the man who killed him. And Askelade undoubtedly led the boy down a darker path.
It’s very complicated between Askelad and Thorfinn. What I think is undeniable is that Askelade knew nobility when he saw him, and he had never seen a man more noble than Taurus. He felt responsible after what happened – as he should. He tried in his own way to babysit Thors’ son through the worst of his adolescence which was driven by rage, and I have no doubt that it was only for so long out of more than his sense of duty. As for Thorfinn, Askleladd has taken complete control of his life. He lived in pursuit of the dream of avenging his father, eventually reaching the point where Askellad’s existence became the basis of his existence.
These are dreams, so one can go in any direction they like in terms of symbolism. But as Askelade described this place, “the purest form of war”, I think it speaks to the true nature of being a warrior. It’s not Valhalla, not even Hell – but maybe some kind of Hell on Earth. To kill and be killed forever, with neither victory nor defeat—this is Askelade’s (and Yukimura’s) assessment of the true value of being a warrior when the recruitment process is over. Thorfinn can let go and descend into this world until he dies, or he can climb (as his surrogate father urges him to do). But there’s another salient point here – he can’t leave those he’s killed behind. He must take them with him for the rest of his journey, however terrifying it may be.
Penance does not erase the page and forget the evils one has committed. He makes amends, earning the right to be reborn into a new person who can start all over again. Thorfinn hitting this retainer might have been deeply satisfying to Einar, but to Thorfinn it brought back everything he was trying so hard to forget. But ironically, this is a necessary step for him to take. He can never free himself from his past by forgetting it, only by accepting it. His reaction to what happened is to swear never to hurt another person again – which wouldn’t undo any of his sins, but is certainly the best response to them. Einar doesn’t really understand but he does understand Thorfinn’s pain, and what it means to be a true friend.
Of course, none of this would matter much if Keitel was going to kill both slaves for what they had done. I admit I didn’t expect the aftermath of that battle to go in that direction, as I spent almost the entire episode on Thorfinn’s karmic minions. And I didn’t expect the practical result either – Ketil let Einar and Thorfinn off the hook. This is thanks to Butter, who has found the evidence linking the servants to the crime that started it all. Pater is indeed a “tough guy,” Keitel says — he takes huge personal risks by interceding the way he does, but no one is in a better position to understand the true meaning of what happened. It’s an uncharacteristically optimistic turn Vinland Saga — perhaps marking the point where it really begins to be a story of redemption.