Vinland Saga, Omnibus 8

Vinland Saga, Omnibus 8Creator: Makoto Yukimura
Translator: Stephen Paul
U.S. publisher: Kodansha
ISBN: 9781682335406
Released: December 2016
Original release: 2014-2015
Awards: Japan Media Arts Award, Kodansha Manga Award

For a time it seemed as though the fate of the English-language edition of Makoto Yukimura’s epic award-winning manga series Vinland Saga was in question. Happily though, Kodansha Comics has been able to continue releasing the series. While the seventh omnibus reached a satisfying conclusion to one of the series’ major story arcs, it was still obvious that Yukimura had more to tell. I honestly believe that Vinland Saga is one of the strongest manga currently being released in English. It is also a personal favorite of mine, so I was thrilled when the eighth hardcover omnibus was finally released in 2016, collecting the fifteenth and sixteenth volumes of the original Japanese edition published between 2014 and 2015. Unlike the past few omnibuses of Vinland Saga, there is no additional content directly relating to the series (I was sad not to see the continuation of the “Ask Yukimura” section), but it does include an extensive preview of Kazuhiro Fujita’s The Ghost and the Lady, another historically-inspired manga available from Kodansha.

Finally free from his life of slavery but still bound by the violence of his past, Thorfinn travels back to Iceland in order to briefly reunite with his family before setting into motion his plans for the future. Accompanied by Einar, Leif, and “Bug-Eyes,” Thorfinn intends to colonize Vinland in an attempt to create a peaceful settlement far removed from the wars and violence seemingly inherent to the Norse way of life. But before that they must first secure the resources and supplies needed for the venture and support from others will be hard to come by–Thorfinn has very little to offer a potential investor except for ideals and his own life. Initially it seemed that they could secure the aid of Halfdan, a wealthy landowner who was already planning to become a relative of Leif’s by marrying his son to the widow of Lief’s brother, but then the wedding doesn’t go quite as planned. Thorfinn and the others may very well have gained themselves a few new enemies when they flee Iceland with Gudrid, the runaway bride.

Vinland Saga, Omnibus 8, page 50From the beginning, many of the women in Vinland Saga have been strong, memorable characters (Thorfinn’s sister and mother in particular are marvelous), but for the most part the focus of the series has been on the stories of the men. However, with the eighth omnibus there is a notable change in the manga with he introduction of Gudrid who becomes one of the main characters of Vinland Saga. In fact, a great deal of the plot currently directly revolves around her. I absolutely adore Gudrid. Like Thorfinn, she is struggling against the constraints of what is considered acceptable by the culture and traditions of their society. She has absolutely no interest in marriage or in behaving like a “proper” woman; her heart has always been set on exploring the world around her and expanding her horizons. Gudrid repeatedly proves that her worth is equal to or even greater than that of a man. Eventually, her persistence and brashness pays off although the circumstances surrounding her becoming a sailor are admittedly less than ideal.

Gudrid isn’t the only great female character to be introduced in the eighth Vinland Saga omnibus. Among others, there is also Astrid, Halfdan’s wife, and Hild, a young woman who proves once more that Thorfinn can never truly escape his past misdeeds. While many of the previous omnibuses have been battle-oriented, the eight omnibus tends to pay more attention to the characters themselves and their relationships. However, there are still a few excellent action sequences and Yukimura’s artwork continues to be dynamic and dramatic even when physical violence is not as prominent. For example, Halfdan exudes an aura of intensity and power–the way he is drawn and visually framed is frequently reminiscent of the way King Canute was portrayed, emphasizing his status and influence. This, of course, makes it even more satisfying when Astrid calmly, quietly, and fearlessly puts her husband in his place. (I really hope to see more of Astrid in the future.) Vinland Saga remains an incredibly well-done manga. With a growing cast of fantastic, complex characters, an engrossing story exploring themes of freedom and violence, and excellent artwork, I can’t wait to read more.


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Comments

  1. I am so, so happy to see Kodansha continue publishing this series in English. I know some fans of the series were turned off by Thorfinn’s insistent pacifism and the shift from action into a sort of ragtag adventure, but personally I love it.

    • Ash Brown says:

      I love it, too! It’s a really fascinating series, and the character development is tremendous. Even the quieter story arcs still have intensity and action. I know that we’ll be getting at least one more omnibus (which I believe will mostly catch us up to the Japanese edition), but I really hope that Kodansha can continue releasing the series after that as well.

Trackbacks

  1. […] since my last in-depth review, but over the weekend I actually managed to post one delving into the eighth omnibus of Makoto Yukimura’s Vinland Saga. I really love this series so I am thrilled that Kodansha Comics was able to continue publishing […]

  2. […] a few months. However, I re-found some of my inspiration to write after reading and reviewing the eighth omnibus of Makoto Yukimura’s Vinland Saga after which I finally started to post long-form features a little more regularly again. Other […]

  3. […] to the English-language edition of Vinland Saga. “Ask Yukimura” was absent from the eighth omnibus, so I was very happy to see its […]

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