In a lot of ways Vinland Saga is an anti-manga. I say this because it’s not all about the heroes killing as many foes as possible; sure the protagonist is very good at killing, but so far we’ve seen him fight for the wrong reasons and now he wants to give up on fighting entirely.
The usual manga is about a hero kicking ass after ass and showing the bad guys how pathetic they are by whooping them time and time again. Makoto Yukimura has proven he can keep our interest through violence — but now that the violence is disappearing… can he keep our interest?
Vinland Saga Book 6 (Kodansha Comics)
King Canute is on top of the world and wants to control all of the Danish world which includes what we know today as Britain. Meanwhile Thorfinn, the once unbeatable warrior is now a slave tilling the land but one step closer to buying his freedom; trouble is Canute is low on funds and the very farmland Thorfinn is working on is the land he wants to seize. This story actually spends a great deal of time with Thorfinn’s best friend’s crush Einarin who just so happens to have a husband who’s also a slave.
Why does this comic book matter?
Forget the fact that the previous five books are fantastic if you’re one to enjoy historical fiction this is going to be your jam. In fact I don’t think there’s another manga or comic that’s quite this good in terms of historical fiction drama — that’s because the settings are so vivid and real and the characters very well developed.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The Canute story is really heating up and it’s always fun to see multiple stories slowly come together. Major pieces are starting to float into place and it’s fun to see considering the last book appeared to be flying all stories off the rails. Yukimura takes the very crafty king and shows us how he operates with the common folk even if they’re rich farm owners. If you’re one for political dramas you’re going to love this. Watching these characters make hard choices that could start wars and take lives “for the greater good” is fascinating stuff.
Meanwhile the story of Einarin and her slave husband is tragic. This story works to add in action as her husband is wild, crazy and extremely dangerous. These action scenes are certainly a way to make things interesting, but it does make you forget the bigger picture of these characters’ plights; we root for him to escape with his life, knowing the likelihood is slim, but when he’s kicking ass you tend to forget. Which… maybe is the point of all of this? Either way it’s an entertaining enough aside from our main characters.
Once again the art is spectacular. At the end of this book is a brief interview with Yukimura and he actually goes over how much time goes into his backgrounds. It’s refreshing to read a creator acknowledge how important backgrounds are to allow readers to get immersed.
It can’t be perfect can it?
While the slave husband attempting to free his wife is a great example of how slavery is tragic and awful it ends up feeling like filler when all we really want is more Canut and Thorfinn. This character and his actions are definitely changing things for our characters by the book’s end, but it could have been told in a quicker way. When you realize this book is nearly 400 pages and Thorfinn has barely been explored or changed that’s a bit disappointing.
Bring on more Canute!
Is It Good?
You aren’t going to want to miss book 7 after reading this. It’s slow for sure and a lot of this feels like filler, but if you’re loving this series you’re going to need to read this one too.