Friday, September 27, 2013

Trigun (1998) Review:


Vash the Stampede: “I'm like a hunter of peace. One who chases the elusive mayfly of love... or something like that.”

Episode 5, “Hard Puncher”

Yesterday, I watched Trigun. Trigun is a 26-episode anime done in the style of a sci-fi Western. It follows Vash the Stampede on a quest to clear his name and recover his identity. Though he’s quite the buffoon, he has a bounty on his head worth 60 billion double dollars for destroying the town of The 3rd of July. Yet, he refuses to kill anyone and dances to pop music and eats doughnuts and generally acts like a kid. The female insurance agents Milly and Meryl can’t believe this childish womanizer is the notorious criminal they call “The Humanoid Typhoon”!  

    But others aren’t so sure and challenge him in almost every town he goes. From gangsters and poor townsfolk to mad scientists in their weird mobile Krang-like bodies, (“Hard Puncher”) this leads Vash The Stampede on a mission to discover who he is, and spread love and peace while wielding two big guns, and a vicious reputation in spite of his childish nature.

   Along the way, he discovers that not only gangs, but demons in league with gangs(!) are after him and he takes a preacher with him (Who also has a tortured past!) by the name of Nicholas D. Wolfwood. Honestly, everyone of the characters is very well fleshed out. Though Vash starts out naïve and childish even…even despite his comedic moments…he grows as he must defend himself, and face The Gung-Ho Guns…a band of demons! There’s one that goes invisible, a kid, a musician who plays in the key of “pain”, and even one that sort of looks like a steampunk Hannibal Lecter with a muzzle…and many more.

Honestly, I don’t want to spoil the show, but when Vash discovers who he is, the tone of the show becomes dark and morphs into a miasma of big gunfights laced with what it means to be a brother and forgiveness. Plus, it has aliens and demons in a western sci-fi setting. That’s a heck of a mix, but fortunately the mature tone is set by about episode 12, with a demon looking for Vash (“Diablo”) so it’s not too sudden.

   Between angry villagers, and preachers with gigantic cross-shaped machine guns, and of course, 60 billion double dollars, everyone except his few “allies” are out to get Vash. But, even they begin to grow and form their own agendas. Mille is another naïve one who just can’t deal with killing, but Vash learns he has to! And that a sinister force is behind his framing! The show deals with morality in the same way most animes do…by shooting mounds of bullets at it! But, Vash is determined not to kill.

    Overall, Trigun is one of the most layered identity crises I’ve ever seen in animation. The characters almost do a complete 180 once their agendas are revealed. For example, Vash begins to think it’s strange that Wolfwood carries a machine gun. (“Hey, whatever happened to "Thou shalt not kill"? Episode 10: Quick Draw.) while Wolfwood begins to doubt that his childishness is sincere. Bottom line: Things get ugly! And Milly and Meryl struggle to minimize his damage…as insurance agents…just like Vash struggles with killing. But, the revelation of who he is changes everything…or does it?

    Seriously, the twist is so great my head is still spinning thinking about it! You go into this thinking you know the character and the setting, and then…boom! Sneakier than Hideo Kojima squeezing supernatural conspiracies in Metal Gear, it all turns goes topsy-turvy! Are you ready for this? Well, you’d better be. I’m not telling! Anyway, Trigun has superb animation, great storyline and well-fleshed out characters! And if that’s not enough, it’s got guns, aliens, and demons! Go see it! 4 out 5 stars from me! Okay, here’s a hint!

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