Reviews

Aug 11, 2019
AstralBread (All reviews)
Preliminary
Every. Damn. Time.

You hear a ton of hype for a series, assume it must be good, check it out - and it’s a “transitional” (aka midwit) shlock. Meaning, a series that 15 y.o. think is really smart and mature because its themes are more complex and nuanced than the kids show they’ve experienced so far, yet at the same time is familiar (read: cliched and primitive) enough to not alienate its target audience. Which in the end makes it the same juvenile cheese-fest anyway. Here is a bunch of its massive flaws:

1. The title would make you think this is a story about vikings. Yeah, sure, it technically is - the same way Marvel’s Thor is about vikings. In truth, it’s a dime-a-dozen battle shounen featuring an edgy teenage boy that shouts a lot, and also superpowers. No, not like My Hero Academia, where superpowers are incorporated into the story, no, sir, that wouldn’t be dumb, and we can’t allow that. It’s just the supposedly normal people in a supposedly historical setting doing nonsensical shit that is the definition of “cheese.” Now, I know what the counterargument here is - “it doesn’t have to be realistic.” Which is true, a story doesn’t have to be realistic - it has to make sense within its own established rules. Let’s use another series, Berserk, for contrast - because that’s a series that Vinland Saga has absolutely nothing in common with. In Berserk’s chapter 1 we see Guts cut a dude in half with his BFS. It’s not realistic at all - “that thing was too big to be called a sword...” etc. But it is believable - if someone is strong enough to swing that (which Guts is for plot reasons), it totally would cut a dude in half. And it actually looks cool, thus passing under the Rule of Cool. Meanwhile, here in Zombieland Saga we have Axe Guy, a regular human who cuts four people and a mast with a single axe swing. Four people standing in a square formation 2 meters away from each other and the mast in the middle of the square - with a single swing of a regularly-sized woodcutter’s axe. Which does NOT make sense. Unless it’s a magical 4-dimensional axe that cuts through space-time continuum. Which wasn’t established at any point. Which makes it cringy bullshit. I know, I know - “just turn your brain off...” No.

2. The so-called “vikings” are blatantly 21st century Japanese culture-wise. Quoting Sun Tzu, doing ninja moves, Naruto-running - it’s surprising they aren’t eating yakisoba with chopsticks, that would fit right in. This is actually an example from quite a bit further in the story, but at one point a character says “I like playing on hard mode.” Yes, these are the actual words. For anyone not seeing a problem - videogames with difficulty modes weren’t a thing in 900 A. D.

3. The “if you kill your enemies you’re just like them”-level moral preaching. I’m not even going to dignify it with refuting. There is one of the main characters, let’s call him DIO (you’ll get it soon) who preaches this sort of 21st century first world pacifism, despite it being literally insane in his cultural context. Same deal, the problem isn’t that character having insane morals isn’t realistic - the problem is that it isn’t believable. If a character acquires morals that contradict his environment (contradict not being dead in his environment), there is gotta be adequate development showing how this would happen. Of which there is jack shit. No, the “tell, don’t show” exposition that even knows itself that it’s a damage control attempt does not count as an adequate development.

4. Godawful, I-threw-up-in-my-mouth, CLANG-level CGI. It’s not bad looking in the same technical way as CLANG 2016, it’s just on the same level of incompetence. Just to rub it in, we’re treated to this eye-rape from the very first scene of the series - you know, the scene that is supposed to be literally the best looking part of the show to entice the audience. There we meet DIO and Axe Dude who casually slaughter two (historically inaccurate) longboats worth of people. DIO is DIO because he uses ZA WARUDO - i.e. 30 people stay frozen in time while he moves between them, cutting people vertically in half with movements that have so little weight behind them, realistically he wouldn’t cut paper. Like, completely frozen in time - that is, they are non-animated 2D stills slapped right in the middle of a 3D background that is doing all sorts of dynamic camera movements. The result is so jarring, the dudes look like they were photoshopped in after the fact, with zero effort put into making it look seamless. It’s literally a textbook example of how not to animate. Yes, literally, they teach this in animation courses. Axe Lad somehow got it even worse - he moves. That is, his 2D still moves through 3DCG, the result looking pretty close to poorly done paper cutout animation. Also 3D environment is what makes his hyperdimensional slash stand out in such a bad way, cause you clearly see distances between objects and how geometry-defying his superpower is. I could continue, I just really don’t want to.

2/10 for “lowest common denominator schlock.”