Thursday, October 10, 2013

[Comics] Vinland Saga Out In English This Week

Yeah this is a gaming blog and all but I like to take time to bring attention to things I think are under the radar, on occasion they may be things not actually related to gaming. I don't think I've ever devoted any post here to comics, much less manga. I'm not a huge manga reader by any measure -- I only read a handful, and one of them is Vinland Saga, which just hit shelves in North America with the official English version this week.

The first thing that caught me about this series is that it's about Vikings -- a historical setting that's surprisingly under-utilized in non-fantasy storytelling. The second thing was a shot from the very first chapter depicting a bunch of dudes carrying a longboat across land in order to access a river to flank their enemy.

From my perspective it seems like taking an actual historical look at the Viking Age (roughly between the ninth and 11th centuries AD in Northern Europe) has become slightly popular between that History Channel series, Brian Wood's (DMZ) Northlanders, and this manga. While Wood gave the setting a very gritty "HBO treatment," Vinland gains a heap of colorful attention to detail from Makoto Yukimura, they guy behind Planetes.

If you haven't read Planetes or seen the anime, it's a true hard sci-fi series about late 21st century astronauts. Yukimura goes into deep detail about the structures behind how the astronauts work and the organizations they work under, and he does the same for early 11th century Northern Europe. The series crosses together the journeys of guys like Leif Ericsson and Cnut the Great with slightly fictionalized figures like Thorkell the Tall, starting with the backdrop of the 1013 Danish invasion of England.

The first part of this series -- basically what this first book begins to cover, is pretty much devoted to showing readers how badass and absolutely vicious Vikings were. It's here we see Yukimura juxtapose fight scenes that look slightly shounen-style with varying shades of morality on the part of the protagonist and the people around him. A lot of the series is about examining Viking morality and how insane it seems to our eyes.

In more recent chapters that probably won't hit North American shelves for a while, Vinland has transitioned to inter-family politics and slavery in Denmark but looks like it's starting to heat up again and enter some new territory. The name "Vinland Saga" refers to the actual Norse Vinland Sagas about how Vikings landed on North America (huh), so fans have speculated that's where they're going. I'm just happy to have found another serious historical manga after Blade of the Immortal ended. Maybe historical comics are a thing for me

Anyway, if you want to read a comic that goes satisfyingly in-depth about a relatively unexplored setting with a good amount of action to boot, then Vinland Saga has been one of the more talked-about things in the manga world as of recent. It's also one of the things I think non-manga readers might like a lot.


* is doing a government shutdown promo.Furloughed workers can even get some free games.

* Man, Call of Duty system requirements are actually kinda demanding. That GPU costs around $600, and the game requires 50GB of hard drive space. I guess it really is next-gen.

* Crazy Buffet 2 - Taking a Stand by John Pading -
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