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Vinland Saga Author Explains Why Thorfinn & Einar’s Handshake Was Changed In Anime; Praises Pacing

Makoto Yukimura Vinland Saga

Vinland Saga author Makoto Yukimura has kept up with his tradition of posting Twitter threads littered with his thoughts on each episode of Season 2 of the anime. After the latest episode of the anime aired, he once again posted an in-depth thread talking about the handshake between Thorfinn and Einar and also the pacing of the anime as a whole.

The handshake in question (it’s yet to feature in the anime) was actually supposed to happen in the previous episode considering how things progressed in the manga. However, not for the first time, director Shuhei Yabuta and the production team working on Vinland Saga Season 2 decided to re-arrange things a bit to add more depth to the plot and its progression.

This was pointed out Yukimura in his latest thread, who in a way, felt that the way anime depicted the things was the “correct answer”.

About the rearranged handshake and the pacing:

According to the author, there were two pivotal scenes in when it came to Thorfinn’s character development: the scene where Thorfinn solidifies his determination (the handshake), and the conversation with Canute.

By pushing the handshake between Thorfinn and Einar, Yukimura felt that the Thorfinn’s mindset was properly explored. It also encompassed their dialogue with Canute, which was otherwise not done in the manga.

“The scene that concludes this entire chapter [farmland saga] is the handshake scene between Thorfinn and Einar. It signifies the emotional state Thorfinn has reached after his experiences on the farm. It explores what kind of mindset he has ultimately arrived at. ‘Let’s go to Vinland’. The conversation with Canute is also encompassed within this scene,” Yukimura said.

He also felt that the rearranging of the scene had a huge effect on the pacing of the anime, especially when it came to Einar’s rapid shift of emotions, a transition which he felt was too abrupt in the manga (original source material).

But watching how the transition was handled in the anime, he felt that this was the way a normal human being would have handled the narrative.

“Another aspect to consider is the rapid shift in Einar’s emotions. In the original source material, the transition may have felt too abrupt. With Arnheid’s death, it wouldn’t be strange for him to feel downhearted for around a year. However, right after the burial, there is a conversation with Canute, and due to scheduling constraints, as the author, I needed Einar to adjust quickly,” the author tweeted.

In the anime, Einar did not immediately get up and go with Thorfinn to confront Canute. Instead he learns of Thorfinn’s resolve from Leif, which then prompts him to go after his friend. This sat better with his character, and was a more natural development than what was portrayed in the manga, according to Yukimura.

“When I watch anime, I am struck by aspects such as the pacing, the effective use of time, and the natural flow of emotions. It’s not so much that I’m being told the correct answer, but rather… how can I put it…it’s a testament to how a living, breathing human would create such a narrative,” he added.

Other than that, the author also praised Olmar’s VA Yu Hayashi for portraying Olmar’s growth very convincingly. Since Olmar was born a Viking, there was no way he could have honestly said that he is afraid of fighting. There is no value in a cowardly man, and men are terribly afraid of being seen as cowards.

In that sense, Yukimura felt that it was actually quite courageous of Olmar to confess that he is a coward.

About characters not listening to him:

Another point that Yukimura talked about in this twitter thread was how hard it was for him to make his characters listen to what he wanted. He once again explained his thought process by using Einar’s example.

According to him, around 10 years back, he was able to portray characters the way he wanted even if it meant having some forced developments in the story. However, if he were to depict Arnheid’s burial right right now, then Einar would probably have reacted in a different way, even with the scheduling deadlines hanging over his head.

“Well, you know, if I were to try and portray the scene of Arnheid’s burial right now, I have no doubt that Einar wouldn’t stand up in front of the grave. Even if the editor were to clap his hands and say ‘Hai hai, let’s change gears, you have a conversation with King Canute coming up’, Einar would probably say ‘I’m not in the right mindset at the moment’. Something like that.”

He felt that as time passed, the characters have stopped listening to him to the extent that he couldn’t coerce them into doing something. In fact, he felt that his characters barely moved (progressed) anymore.

“Manga artists often say, ‘Characters move on their own,’ right? Well, I don’t experience that phenomenon at all… I can only say that ‘my characters hardly move’. Even if I try to make them do something they don’t want to, it’s no use,” Yukimura said.

Even when there is a request from the editors for a character to move in a certain way, Yukimura feels that the characters don’t agree with it, which frustrates him. He felt that they should listen to him as he was both their “manager and their god.”

But instead, he is forced to create scenario, by complying to the wishes of all his characters.

So, in a way, my current job is something like this…

Me: “Where should we go on our next day off?” Character A: “I don’t want to go anywhere other than the beach.” Character B: “I want to go camping.” Character C: “I prefer a hot spring.”

And then, I listen to everyone’s requests and plan a trip accordingly, considering options like a beachside location, a campsite, or a hot spring… It’s like being a person who creates travel plans based on everyone’s desires.

Makoto Yukimura in his recent Twitter thread

Vinland Saga Season 2 released in Japan on Jan 9, 2023.

It is being streamed on Netflix, Crunchyroll and others outside Japan.

Season 2 of the anime is confirmed to have 24 episodes. Though the studio in charge of animating Vinland Saga Season 2 changed from WIT to MAPPA, the staff working on the anime is same as Season 1.

Vinland Saga is a Japanese historical manga series written and illustrated by Makoto Yukimura. The series is published by Kodansha and was first serialized in the youth-targeted Weekly Shōnen Magazine before moving to the monthly manga magazine Monthly Afternoon, aimed at young adult men.

As of May 2022, its chapters have been collected in 26 tankobon volumes. Vinland Saga has also been licensed for English-language publication by Kodansha USA.

An anime adaptation by WIT Studio premiered on July 7, 2019, to December 29, 2019, consisting of 24 episodes.

MAL describes the plot as:

Young Thorfinn grew up listening to the stories of old sailors that had traveled the ocean and reached the place of legend, Vinland. It’s said to be warm and fertile, a place where there would be no need for fighting—not at all like the frozen village in Iceland where he was born, and certainly not like his current life as a mercenary. War is his home now. Though his father once told him, “You have no enemies, nobody does. There is nobody who it’s okay to hurt,” as he grew, Thorfinn knew that nothing was further from the truth.

The war between England and the Danes grows worse with each passing year. Death has become commonplace, and the viking mercenaries are loving every moment of it. Allying with either side will cause a massive swing in the balance of power, and the vikings are happy to make names for themselves and take any spoils they earn along the way. Among the chaos, Thorfinn must take his revenge and kill Askeladd, the man who murdered his father. The only paradise for the vikings, it seems, is the era of war and death that rages on.

Source: Makoto Yukimura’s twitter account.

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