Coming of age and revenge stories are no strange concepts to anime. Vinland Saga takes these tried and true beats along with a dash of historical fiction to create a dangerous world of vikings and victims. The historical nature of being set in Denmark and England lends an air of realism to Vinland Saga. Traders must travel great distances to exchange goods, and poor weather conditions lead to livestock dying. While some of the characters may fight with preternatural strength or ingest special mushrooms to imbue themselves into a berserker-like state, these soft supernatural elements don’t harm the gritty setting. There are kings, there are warriors, and there are normal people caught in the middle of the grand conflict of the vikings and the Christians. Everyone pays the price in times of war.
If people fighting to survive in a harsh world and grand tales of revenge are your things, these six anime like Vinland Saga are sure to interest you.
Similar Anime to Vinland Saga
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2016 – September 2016
After mercenary leader Griffith gives up his humanity to ascend to godhood at the cost of countless lives, Guts must embark on a journey of vengeance in a world of monsters and demons. The Band of the Hawk had been his family, and with only he and Casca remaining, Guts will stop at nothing to make Griffith pay. The ritual that Griffith performed has branded them with a cursed mark that attracts dark creatures, making their journey forward and their ability to seek allies that much more difficult.
Guts and Thorfinn have many parallels, particularly in how their quests for revenge begin. Both engage in a duel with and lose to the one who set them on their path in Griffith and Askeladd. Their relationships with their targets of vengeance are equally strained, though, as both characters twistedly look up to the men in terms of their deeds. It would be easy for either Griffith or Askeladd to simply kill their would-be killers, but both allow them to live and struggle against fate for their own reasons.
2. Arslan Senki (The Heroic Legend of Arslan)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: April 2015 – September 2015
Pars and Lusitania are at war. The young prince of Pars, Arslan, goes into battle for the first time to prove his valor to himself and his father. In an untimely betrayal, Pars is sieged and the capital city of Ecbatana taken over by the enemy. Now on the run and fighting to survive, Arlsan and his few allies must rally and put together a force capable of retaking Ecbatana and restoring Pars to order. It won’t be easy for the inexperienced and softspoken prince, but Arslan knows that he will be king one day and that his compassion is an aspect of his strength that will guide him.
The strained political climate of Pars and Lusitania immediately calls to mind the greater conflict of Vinland Saga, the war between England and Denmark. While Thorfinn is no prince like Arslan, he is the son of a famous warrior and is forced to grow up quickly due to circumstance. Arslan and Thorfinn both know that life is forever changed due to the events of the war, and that home will never be the same even if they ended the conflict today. The pseudo-historical settings of both series lend to the same grounded tone that helps make the characters believable, with the light supernatural flair not taking away from the very human conflicts driving the narrative.
Arslan Senki PV
3. Ookami to Koushinryou (Spice and Wolf)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: January 2008 – March 2008
Having blessed the harvests of the small village Pasloe for years, the charismatic wolf deity Holo fades into obscurity as time goes on. Kraft Lawrence, a traveling merchant, comes to Pasloe and encounters Holo. She proposes that she can go into business with Lawrence to help him with his goal of owning his own shop if he eventually can bring Holo to her homeland, Yoitsu. As the two travel the countryside and meet different people, their own bond grows. The strife of economics and personal relationships becomes a journey of self-discovery for both of them.
The mundane facts of life are readily apparent in Spice and Wolf. Just as with Vinland Saga, we see people of a given time period struggling and living their lives. Crops are grown and harvested and goods are traded over great distances to support many different people. In Holo, there is a melancholy to her outward happiness. She is a relic of a bygone time when people needed prayers and deities to watch over them trying to find her place in a world of technological renaissance. The struggle of being lost and trying to find your way home back to the life you know is a strong shared theme connecting the two anime.
Spice and Wolf Trailer
Any Anime Like Vinland Saga ?
4. Rurouni Kenshin - Meiji Kenkaku Romantan- (Rurouni Kenshin)
- Episodes: 94
- Aired: January 1996 – September 1998
The legendary manslayer Battousai remains infamous years after his disappearance during the Japanese Revolution. Just the name is enough to inspire fear in those who know of his bloody deeds. Kenshin Himura, Battousai himself, has long since forsaken his past and strived to move on from being the killer he used to be. Using a reverse-blade sword as a symbol of his dedication to a new life, Kenshin wanders doing good deeds to atone for his sins. After encountering a Battousai impersonator threatening Kaoru Kamiya, Kenshin’s peace will be challenged by the ghosts of his past.
Ruroni Kenshin and Vinland Saga both are historical in nature, though the deeds and actions of the respective series toe the line in their realism. Kenshin’s journey of repentance may very well be a possible trajectory for Thorfinn’s own bloody path. In fact, his father Thors and the first introduction of Kenshin are nearly the same. A famous war hero who has forsaken their ways, drawn back into a conflict they wanted to leave behind. War is looming in Vinland Saga, and the war that has ended lingers still in Rurouni Kenshin.
5. Junketsu no Maria (Maria the Virgin Witch)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2015 – March 2015
The Hundred Years’ War rages between England and France, and innocents are constantly drawn into the conflict. Living in France, the witch Maria decides to intervene with her powers. Only, rather than fighting, she instead pushes for a peaceful resolution to the bloodshed. This leads to the archangel Micahel also intervening and forbidding her from using her powers to meddle in human affairs. Decreeing that she shall lose her powers with her virginity, Maria suddenly has her own problems to deal with as she continues to find a peaceful resolution to a dangerous wartime that shows no sign of ending.
Jokes about magical powers linked to your virginity aside, Maria and the Virgin Witch is surprisingly full of historical centerpieces. The arms and armor of the soldiers fighting in the Hundred Years’ war are appropriate and meticulously designed and are genuine to the time period. This war is bleak, and Maria’s interference has both positive and negative consequences. The many factions and reasons for fighting are mirrored well in Vinland Saga. The villages, the fighting men, the mercenaries, and everyone caught in between all hang in the balance. One powerful person can enact change, but every change comes with a price.
Maria the Virgin Witch Trailer
6. Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: April 2013 – September 2013
Humanity has been driven to near extinction by the titans, monstrous humanoid creatures that seemingly desire only to destroy and consume. Hiding behind great walls constructed to keep the titans out, the remnants of humanity thought themselves safe until a wall is suddenly breached by the titans. Eren Yeager, a survivor of the breach attack, joins a group of elite soldiers dedicated to fighting back against the titans and reclaiming what humanity has lost. Survival is only a slow death, and the Survey Corps will fight to give their hearts for the future of mankind.
The struggle to survive against oppressors and the desire to fight back against the enemy at any cost drive both Eren and Thorfinn to become soldiers. Suddenly uprooted from their relatively peaceful lives, they are both thrust into the loss of family and given the yoke of a terrible responsibility. Capable as they might be, they both know little of the greater world. Even their so-called allies can’t be entirely trusted. Will the answers they find bring them peace? or are they destined to walk a bloody path for the rest of their lives?
Shingeki no Kyojin PV
Vinland Saga marries its historical setting with a fantasy story that covers loss and revenge. These are themes that resonate through many different stories. Are there any other gripping anime based on history or bitter revenge that you know of? Make your voice heard down in the comments!