4 Reasons to Read Vinland Saga Before the Anime Airs

Back in March, announcements about an upcoming Vinland Saga started popping up around the web, but it’s only in the last couple months that the reality of it has started to sink in for a lot of folks (myself included!).  For those unfamiliar with the series, Vinland Saga is mangaka Makoto Yukimura’s second major work following Planetes (also highly recommended, but slightly outside the scope of this blog), following protagonist Thorfinn as his life falls apart around his ears and gets built back up again in the latter years of the 10th Century.  Although fictionalized, Thorfinn and a significant number of other characters are real figures; his companions throughout the manga include Cnut the Great, Leif Erikson and Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir, among others.  If you know nothing about Viking history, it’s a great, action packed read.  If you have an interest in Viking history — like Yukimura himself does — Vinland Saga is a must read.  It’s hands down one of the best pieces of Viking or Viking-adjacent fiction I’ve read and has grown volume by volume into one of my favorite pieces of fiction, period.

But just in case that’s not enough of a sell, here are 4 reasons you should definitely read Vinland Saga.

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July 2018 Community Game-Along: JRPG July

It’s time!  JRPG July is here!  Okay, technically I’m a little late, but the first week of July was pretty well consumed by Anime Expo.  I had a great time there but thanks to that, I haven’t played or watched much for a few weeks.  I did complete a second playthrough of Vampyr (despite saying I didn’t plan to play it a second time) and after an initial, somewhat disastrous run in Hakuouki, I did successfully smooch not only Okita but also Saitou (a particular win, since I got us both killed the first time I tried to smooch Saitou).

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Anime Expo 2018 Retrospective

Although AX continues for one more day this year, prior engagements mean Saturday is the last day of AX for me.  It’s been an eventful weekend.

I didn’t talk to all these people, but it feels like I did.

The organizers made a lot of changes this year to account for hiccups and problems they ran into last year (one of the biggest changes being badge mailing, which is a great way to help ease the burden of the pick-up lines at the convention) and overall they did a good job smoothing out a lot of the wrinkles from 2016/17.  The heat slowed things down and caused its own problems, but that’s out of everybody’s hands.  Sure, Los Angeles in July is hot, everyone expects that, but it’s impossible to know weeks and months ahead of time that a massive heat wave is going to happen during the convention weekend.  That said, despite triple digit (Fahrenheit, anyway) temperatures, the organizers did their best to keep things moving smoothly so people could get out of the heat. (I don’t envy volunteers working outside, and I’m glad AX limits volunteers to working 4 hours at a time — though considering the circumstances, I kind of hope they further shortened shifts for outdoor stations.)

I wasn’t able to make it to any of the viewings this year, which I’m a little sad about (I would have liked to see the My Hero Academia movie!), but I made up for it by speaking to so many people.

Seriously.  Soooo many people.

This accidentally turned out to be the year of meeting new people, which means I spent a lot more time walking the various halls than I did going to viewings or panels (which is kind of a shame? I did want to go to several panels that I ultimately missed because I got caught up in an equally interesting conversation. So not really a loss in the end.)

Goodnight, AX! We had a good year. Here’s to the next!

The artist’s alley was top notch this year; AX usually has a wide range of excellent artists, but this year I felt very much spoiled for choice.  There were the usual prints, t-shirts, charms and so on, but I’m delighted to see that there are other goods on display as well.  Plushes and amigurumi seem to be more popular than ever and not only that, there were multiple people this year selling handmade soap as well. (My personal favorite is Nosy Dog Soaps, run by @breadborks, though I will admit to being biased, as she and I make soap together from time to time.  If you buy from her, tell her I sent you!  You won’t get a discount, but you’ll make both of our days.)

The exhibition hall was similarly great, as usual.  The larger booths were as crowded as expected, but that made it easier for me to tuck in close to some of the smaller, more niche booths, and get a chance to chat with the people involved.  At an event like AX, it’s normal to find people with similar interests, but it’s still a delight to see their eyes light up when you say “Oh, I love that thing, too!”

That’s the real joy of conventions for me, honestly.  While I definitely go to see what’s new and find out what titles I can look forward to in the upcoming year (and to buy stuff, I won’t lie, more on that over on Instagram), the real pull for me is talking to people and watching them sparkle at the chance to talk about the things they love.  And with the anime/manga industry being a multi-billion dollar enterprise, there is something for everybody to love.

Extra thanks this year to the staff at MangaGamer, Axsys Games, Volks, and Yen Press for taking time to chat with me. I had a fantastic time talking with the people I met at those booths. And now that I’m home from the convention, I’m enjoying going through the AX2018 hashtags on Twitter and Instagram — I may not be attending tomorrow, but I can live vicariously through everyone else’s pictures!