Warning! Contains spoilers for Vinland Saga Season 2 episode 2!While many popular anime rely on high-stakes action to gain popularity, Vinland Saga cements its status as a modern classic by making its viewers care about the much less thrilling subject of farming. This may seem like a big shift for the series, whose first season featured several exciting fight scenes, but even in that season, the character dynamics between Thorfinn and his surrounding characters along with the historical realism of the setting outshone the action scenes no matter how good they were.
As a testament to the show’s excellence, these aspects have combined to make viewers care deeply about the mundane aspects of farming, showing in painstaking detail the amount of work that historically went into things like harvesting wheat and cutting down trees. In episode 2, a new character Olmar, who much of this most recent Vinland Saga episode focuses on, voices a frustration that many viewers may have with this, saying that he doesn’t care about farming, he just wants to be a warrior. But later in that same episode, he is disturbed when two drunkards trample over a field of unharvested wheat. For viewers, this scene hits hard. Knowing how much work goes into the harvest makes it all the more devastating when the drunkards potentially render the product of that harvest worthless. In addition, seeing Olmar grow upset on the wheat’s behalf signals that he may not be as invested in becoming a warrior as he seems. Since the show has expertly made its viewers invested in Olmar’s character over the course of the episode, this thus has an additional emotional impact based on character as well.
Season 1 had this sort of character moments enhanced by historical accuracy as well, although they largely centered around Vinland Saga’s main characters like Thorfinn, Askeladd, or Canute. But it also had more action-packed fights to keep viewers who wanted less of a character drama invested as well. With Askeladd’s death and Thorfinn’s new status as a slave, Season 2 has less reason to feature these sorts of fights, meaning that it must rely more heavily on the subtler reasons for Season 1’s success. Luckily moments like Olmar’s care over the wheat prove that season 2 is succeeding masterfully on this front despite focusing on the less exciting topic of farming.
The fact that Vinland Saga gets its viewers to care about such a mundane topic is precisely what proves its greatness. Any show can get its viewers invested with bombastic fights. But to get a general audience of anime viewers invested in whether a field of wheat will still be harvestable after being trampled over takes true skill. It is a testament to the quality of every part of this season of Vinland Saga, from its writing and animation to the masterful performances of its actors, that the show is able to pull this off so well.
If Vinland Saga continues to deliver episodes and moments of such quality, then it will easily become regarded as a modern classic. This may be a bold statement, especially considering the flashier modern classics that aired recently, like Chainsaw Man and Mob Psycho 100. But by attaining this status Vinland Saga proves that a great anime can be about anything, as long as it has great characters that the audience can get invested in.
More: Vinland Saga Season 2 Trailer Hints at the Bleak Arc to Come
Vinland Saga is available to watch on Crunchyroll.