Monday, October 28, 2013

Trigun Anime Review

Complete Collection - 4 discs
650 minutes - 26 episodes
$39.98 (2013)
$49.98 (2010)
$29.98 (2006-2007) Remix Vol. 1-6/ea.
$89.98 (2006) Limited Edition Parts 1-2/ea.
$19.98 (2004) Geneon Vol. 1-8/ea.
$199.98 (2001)
$19.98 (2000-2001) Vol. 1-8/ea.
ISBN 704400097850
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Satoshi Nishimura
Studio - Madhouse

Synopsis: Two insurance agents, Meryl Strife and Milly Thompson, have been dispatched from the Bernardelli Insurance Society to find the wanted man named "Vash the Stampede".  He is also known as the 'Humanoid Typhoon' and has a ridiculously high bounty on his head (sixty billion double dollars) earned after destroying an entire town.  The two women are charged with investigating and trying to prevent further losses to the company from the sheer amount of destruction left in Vash's wake.  What they soon discover is Vash's reputation casts a long shadow, but bears no resemblance to actual fact.  He's really a pacifist, lecher, and all-around buffoon who just happens to get into incredible trouble with dangerous people.
This guy's the deadliest outlaw on the planet?
The setting is a strange desert planet with two suns and towns clustered around giant power sources which look like light bulbs.  Humanity barely ekes out a living in this desolation, but outlaws and trigger-men still exploit the weak.  As Meryl and Milly soon discover, Vash is not the cold-blooded killer they were led to believe.  Quite the opposite in fact, he's a complete idiot and they refuse to accept him as the real deal.  How can the deadliest man alive preach non-violence?  One thing is for sure, he's incredibly skilled and manages to survive deadly gunfights without killing anyone while miraculously stopping the bad guys.
Vash shows his skills as he takes down a killer robot without even looking
Vash's past is a mystery and he's blamed for the destruction of the town called July which sparked off his deadly reputation.  He bears incredible guilt for the incident, but can't remember exactly what happened. During any crisis of conscience Vash dreams of the beautiful Rem Saverem who was his friend and mentor when he was a child.  She taught him to cherish life and he tries to live up to her teachings every day.  It's rough going in this violent world and Vash has paid the price to keep his ideals.  One man in particular wants to see Vash destroyed - Millions Knives.  What was his role in July's annihilation and his strange link to Vash's past?
Vash dreams of the gentle Rem whenever he gets into a crisis
Meryl and Milly wind up traveling with Vash to keep him from getting into too much trouble and causing more damage.  It doesn't work as Vash seems to be a trouble-magnet no matter where he goes.  If it's not deadly assassins from the Gung-Ho Guns sent by Millions Knives then it's people trying to cash in on the ridiculously high bounty for Vash's head!  Along the way Vash makes many friends and learns more about his past. He meets a travelling preacher named Nicholas D. Wolfwood who carries an enormous cross as a sign of his penance.  Wolfwood is also more than he appears and highly skilled with weapons.  He and Vash hit it off instantly, but their fundamental views of violence and killing are at odds which makes for interesting conversations.  Will Vash finally confront Millions Knives and what is Wolfwood's terrible secret?  What is the Trigun and what really happened in July?  It's a fight to the finish on planet Gunsmoke!
The psychotic Millions Knives will stop at nothing to destroy humanity
Pros: Music was good - especially opening theme song with riffing guitars, decent dub and Vash's voice actor sounded appropriate, great dialogue and sarcastic jokes in the script, some cool sci-fi themes like the SEEDS project, fun and lighthearted comedy moments had me laughing several times, Vash and Wolfwood are awesome together, a few good plot twists, cool character designs for the main characters, ending finally gets serious
Milly and Meryl follow Vash around to keep him
out of trouble.  It doesn't work.
Cons: Animation looks dated by today's standards, Vash is an incredibly goofy character and his non-violence code can be annoying, some of the bad guys are pretty silly looking (Monev the Gale, the family of giants with the huge foreheads), #13 is the dreaded recap episode, inconsistent story bounces from light-hearted slapstick comedy to extreme action
Vash and Wolfwood get along just fine!
Mike Tells It Straight: Trigun is based on the manga by Yasuhiro Nightow and was adapted as an anime before the series was completed.  It was released in the late-'90s/early-'00s when anime was hitting its peak in North America.  This series was definitely one of the more popular releases owing to the plentiful action and unique character design of its main character, Vash.  He looks like a badass, but acts like a muppet!  I watched this series many years ago and remembered not liking it very much due to Vash being such a goofball.  At the time I was really into action-based anime (usually with giant robots) and couldn't get into the groove of this series with its many comedy moments.  Why couldn't he just blow away some dudes with his awesome skills?  Despite Vash's silly nature and rule against killing I liked the ending as it got really dark.  Vash is put through the gauntlet of the Gung-Ho Guns and the ultimate test by Millions Knives.
"Road trip!"
The character designs are great with Vash and Wolfwood in particular.  It seems like everyone had a gimmick to their style, even Meryl and Milly!  Wolfwood's cross was truly impressive.  The Gung-Ho Guns were impressive right up to the top.  I really enjoyed the science-fiction elements of the story and the slow reveal of the underlying plot of Vash's past.  Millions Knives was a truly evil villain and perfect foil for Vash. Heroes are only as great as their villains and they don't come any nastier than Knives.
"That cross is awfully heavy."  "That's because it's filled with mercy."
My theory on Trigun's major popularity in the domestic market is its striking similarity to superhero comics in mainstream pop culture.  Vash has a no-killing policy just like Superman or Batman.  He has superhuman fighting skills and wears a brightly-colored red uniform.  His past is a mystery and he fights a rogues gallery of misfit bad guys with freakish deformities.  If Vash is Batman, then Millions Knives is the Joker.  Americans are already wired for superhero comics and Trigun puts a new spin the hero story.  Maybe I'm reading into this theory too much, but it makes perfect sense to me.
Vash and Knives have identical and vastly powerful guns
I decided to rewatch Trigun for this review and came away with a much different impression than the first viewing all those many years ago.  The story hadn't changed, but my perspective and preferences had changed considerably.  I had previously disliked Vash and his antics, but now I found them to be more entertaining.  His trials and interactions with different characters held more meaning.  Wolfwood was even more awesome!  I wasn't as interested in the flashy fight scenes and the villains were a little less appealing.  The story was pretty good and it was a hellish journey of self-inflicted pain to uphold cherished ideals.  Interesting stuff as it turns out.  I recommend Trigun if you like a heaping dose of comedy, plenty of action, and don't mind a broodingly dark ending.  A movie was released in 2010 called Trigun: Badlands Rumble which is a side story to the anime series.  I'm looking forward to seeing the cast of characters again after all these years.  Look for the review in the near future!
"Love and peace, love and peace!"
 TO BUY and Recommendations: