Going back to the chronological order of the story, Episode Seven features the battle of the fortress in the Frankish Kingdom, which is the very first story written in the manga.
- I'd discussed it beforehand with my editor, and we had decided to start there because it had everything—it was a bombastic sequence that didn't greatly affect what came next, and it really showed the readers what Vikings are all about. It shows the readers the Viking way as well as Thorfinn and Askeladd's strange relationship, right from the get-go.
I wrote about Thorfinn's childhood after that, but since I'd started out by showing him at sixteen, it meant that no matter how much danger he fell into, the readers knew he would survive. That's an issue with telling a story out of chronological order. [Grimaces.]
- Oh, I wouldn't say that. We have the series outlined this way because we wanted to make the anime in chronological order, but the way you started the manga serialization really had the power to capture the reader’s attention. It's the time when Askeladd's band was at their peak, and it's an incredibly fun story to read.
- Definitely. The manga has a far stronger hook. I read it in Shonen Magazine when it was first published and thought it was the start to one hell of a manga. If there were a contest for the best manga starting chapter in the world, it would definitely be one of the Top 3. But since the manga was already being published when we started the anime, I decided I wanted to follow Thorfinn's story chronologically after considering the course of events written after that opening. That all comes together in Episode Four.
- When considering the structure of a long series, working with a story that's already been largely mapped out is a big advantage. It gives us the luxury to outline the story in a balanced manner and pick what to prioritize based on later developments.
Yabuta, what did you keep in mind when drawing up the storyboard for the surprising cold open in Episode One?
- I realized that laying out the storyline chronologically would mean it would have a much weaker hook than the manga series, so we made that scene to ensure the viewers' interest. I also thought that showing Thorfinn's growth had to start with Thors, so we tried beginning with a scene featuring Thors to make it clear that Thorfinn's tale began there. Oh, and I just really wanted to see Thors and Thorkell fighting side by side. [Laughs.]
That opening battle scene was a wonderful sequence that really gets the viewers excited for what's to come.
- The manga has a surprising dearth of naval battles, so we decided that if we were going to show the fans something completely different, we might as well fill that niche. I made the 3D CG with the action and camerawork as a set, then had the animators animate it. I put a slight spin on the methods I'd used previously as a 3D director and tried applying them to the action scenes.
- I wanted to see the Battle of Hjörungavágr, too. In this work, it was a battle where Thors was supposed to be dead, and in the historical fact, hail fell, so I thought that it would be quite dramatic. As far back as the outlining phase, I’d been thinking that if we were going to arrange things in sequential order, we should start with that scene.
- We spoke a lot about how the scene would develop. My vision of the scene got bloated as I was drawing the storyboard, so I completed it after consulting Seko again. This is only my second project as a director, and that scene really showed me just how hard it can be to convert the manuscript into the storyboard.