Home > Manga Reviews, Reviews > Vinland Saga, Vol. 5

Vinland Saga, Vol. 5

Before we get to my midweek manga review of Vinland Saga, Vol. 5, have a few news items that caught my attention in what seemed like a rather slow news week.

And now onto this weeks review of Vinland Saga, Vol. 5!

VinlandSaga5Vinland Saga, Vol. 5
by Makoto Yukimura
Kodansha Comics, 448 pp
Rating: Teen (13 +)

Makoto Yukimura’s Vinland Saga enters into a new phase as, what fans have dubbed, “The Farmland Saga” gets under way with volume five! Thorfinn, once a deadly and determined fighter driven by a need for vengeance is now a broken man, serving as a slave on a farm working day to day with nary a hope or dream to sustain him. Filled with Apathy, Thorfinn finds himself attracting some unwanted attention from the farm’s overseers, attention which forces him to confront his past if he has any hope of a future.

Yukimura’s decision to slow down the action was a brave one. Up until now we’ve been eyeball deep in the carnage of the viking invasion of England, but as Vinland Saga moves into its new arc the action is all but absent as the focus becomes Thorfinn’s struggle with his own demons and his need to find a reason to live. The radical shift in the tone and action content could easily lose readers, but Yukimura’s characters and his tale of the trials and tribulations of Thorfinn are so solid and engrossing that I can’t imagine anyone jumping boat at his point. The father and son theme which has appeared throughout the earlier volumes is present here and continues with the sharp contrast and simmering conflict between the farm owner and his returning warrior son. These relationships and the generational conflict between father and son have been at the core of the series from the start and the’ve molded many of the characters and I’m really curious to see where the series is ultimately going with this idea.

Among the myriad of new characters in the Farmland Saga, Einar is currently the most important and interesting one. He’s a very different person form Thorfinn, despite their shared situation. The contrast helps motivate Thorfinn as he experiences friendship for the first time and it allows him to open up after he’s been emotionally shut down for years. It’s also interesting to see their friendship develop as it’s really the first relationship Thorfinn’s had which isn’t based on exploitation. Everyone else in the series, with the exception of his family, have been using and manipulating Thorfinn for their own aims. It opens up a whole new side to Thorfinn’s character and, frankly, there’s a pretty enjoyable chemistry between two.

Yukimura’s artwork continues to be absolutely fantastic! His attention to detail in both clothing and setting helps makes Vinland Saga an incredibly immersive read. Every character oozes personality, ranging from the animal like freelance guards to the rough and tumble returning son, to the softer and doughier look of the farm owner himself. The action scenes, though few and far between in this volume, are effective and entertaining, while also being incredibly brutal and violent at times. The sequence when Thorfinn has a vision of his old comrades and their victims was particularly well done and wasn’t something I expected to see in Vinland Saga.

Vinland Saga, Vol. 5 continues to show why this is one of the best series out there today, from any country. Makoto Yukimura’s thoughtful characterization, detailed artwork, gripping story and emotional gut punches make this one of my most looked forward to reads. I know the series is slated for a hiatus and I can only hope that it returns as soon as possible, because I’m dying to find out what happens next.

Vinland Saga, Vol. 5 is available now from Kodansha Comics.

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  1. January 30, 2015 at 8:59 am

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