Vinland Saga (Japanese: ヴィンランド・サガ, Hepburn: Vinrando 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 boys-targeted manga magazine Weekly Shōnen Magazine before moving to the monthly manga magazine Monthly Afternoon, aimed at young adult men. As of June 2023, its chapters have been collected in 27 tankōbon volumes. Vinland Saga has been licensed for English-language publication by Kodansha USA. The story is a dramatization of the story of Thorfinn Karlsefni and his expedition to find Vinland, with the majority of the story covering his fictional counterpart‘s transition from a bloodthirsty, revenge-filled teenager into a pacifistic young man; juxtaposed against this is the rise to power of King Canute, the journey of his own counterpart directly contrasting with that of Thorfinn’s.
Inspired by the King of Norway Olaf Tryggvason, Yukimura decided to write Vinland Saga as a story about slavery. Yukimura’s editor was against the original idea of Thorfinn being a slave; so the character was changed to that of a Viking. The author agreed, as he wanted Thorfinn to come to understand the tragedy he causes as a Viking, in later parts of the narrative. Yukimura’s sensation during the Cold War and the September 11 attacks was projected on Thorfinn’s character, who is traumatized by his actions as a warrior and thus decides to find Vinland in order to make a land where people from different races are able to live together peacefully.
By August 2022, Vinland Saga had over 7 million copies in circulation. The series won the Grand Prize of the 13th Japan Media Arts Festival in 2009 and the 36th Kodansha Manga Award for Best General Manga in 2012. A 24-episode anime television series adaptation, animated by Wit Studio, aired on NHK General TV from July to December 2019. A second season, animated by MAPPA, premiered on Tokyo MX and BS11 in January 2023. The manga was widely praised, with several critics due to the handling of both violent and calm stories, as well Yukimura’s artwork.