Vinland Saga – 23 – Adrift At Sea

Following the thorough and decisive physical and emotional ownage cast upon him by Askeladd, Thorfinn is quite literally lost. Limping through the mud, his arm searing with pain and the blood still on his face, he can’t be bothered to do much of anything, aside from engage in a bit of street brawling and get arrested and thrown in jail.

Canute, meanwhile, begins the intricate dance of death with his father Sweyn at the council of elders. The king embraces his son and thanks the gods for returning him and Thorkell, then appoints Canute to rule the fertile and prosperous lands of Mercia, hard won by his leal service. To Askeladd’s eyes, everything is going as he had foreseen…right up until it doesn’t.

While the king is playing nice, he adds a caveat that, intentionally or not, changes the game completely: announcing his intention to open up a new front against Wales in the Spring. This leaves Askeladd scrambling to think of a counter-move that will still net Canute the crown without setting his beloved homeland ablaze. He doesn’t come up with one here, indicating he underestimated the king’s wits. And Floki definitely notices Askeladd going pale (as Ash!) upon hearing Wales.


As for Thorfinn, he’s probably where he should be considering how he’s basically squandered the last eleven years of his life on a meaningless, self-defeating, futile quest for revenge. Leif Erikson hears he’s been locked up, and visits the jail to try to snap him out of this profound slump, first by considering it a matter of personal honor to return Thorfinn to Iceland.

That doesn’t go over so well, so Leif offers him something else: The New World: Vinland. Perhaps there, Thorfinn can gain a new, more fulfilling purpose. To his credit, Thorfinn sits up and doesn’t immediately dismiss the offer. Here’s hoping he takes it, especially if things with Askeladd turn sideways.

Sket Dance 13

I predicted that the Sket-dan would win the Bibage Tournament, it was just a matter of whether Roman or Bossun lost their challenge. It turns out, both of them lost. Roman was infinitely more charming than Uryuu, who wooed her target with a fat check. But it was just bad luck that the guy, while totally smitten with Roman, nonetheless chose the girl who was more “his type”. Roman did nothing wrong, it just wasn’t to be.

The final challenge seemingly becomes must-win when the council prez, Agata, raises the stakes: Whoever loses quits their respective club. Their challenge, Pixie Garden, is a game of wits, and the 200 (or 160) I.Q. Agata changes gears from laid back and affable to manipulative and ruthless. He disrupts Bossun’s concentration by bringing up something we’ve yet to learn: why Switch and Himeko are so trusting of and loyal to him. Why he wants to help people. Is he atoning for something?

In any case, Agata keeps Bossun tense the whole way, and is always a step or two ahead in the game. Even when Bossun remembers the order of the cards, he makes one mistake at the end, because Agata correctly predicted everything he’d do. He didn’t just lose, he lost at the worst possible time. His opponent did what he wanted to do: snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. It doesn’t matter, since the prez wasn’t serious…though it’s pretty funny how Sket-dan proceeds with a “Farewell Bossun” party anyway.

So yeah, this first half of Sket Dance was good school comedy with a lot of ridiculous side characters and a strong core trio of likable leads. The show never aims to be serious, and for the most part sticks to its strengths. It and its cast are eccentric, yet down to earth. I look forward to what they throw at us in the second half. Rating: 3.5

P.S.: For some reason, the two Bibage mascots reminded me of Panty & Stocking…