Critic's Log - Earthdate: December 28, 2012. Review #28: Trigun
Life is a journey, I think most people would agree on that. There are endless possibilities on whatever path a person chooses to walk in. Some paths may be filled with light, love, and happiness while some other paths may be filled with darkness, hatred, and despair. I chose to walk to a path where I live an extraordinary life. There will always be challenges in life and we eventually have to overcome these challenges and we have to confront our destiny whether we can control it or not. Some people try to find the meaning of life but I do believe that life has multiple meanings.
With that said, I shall set the philosophical stuff aside and do a review like I always do. Let's stampede on this gun-toting classic and gunslinging ride that which is Trigun!
Oh! And get your air guitar ready for these "90 seconds of AWESOME"
Vash the Stampede is a outlaw gunslinger on the run with a $$60 billion bounty on his head which has made it hard for him to go anywhere without being chased and shot at. Every town he ever visits ends up being destroyed because of his pursuers, but miraculously no one ever gets killed. Meryl and Milly are agents for the Bernardelli Insurance Society that have been sent to find Vash the Stampede and keep him under surveillance so no more damage is caused. Meryl, who leads the pair, refuses to believe that the man they have met can possibly be The Humanoid Typhoon that they are looking for. This spiky haired, gangly, young man is extremely friendly, a pacifist, hates blood and suicide, absolutely loves donuts, he is also silly and a crybaby (far from a notorious outlaw). But there is more to Vash and his past than meets the eye.
To be technical, this is a Studio Madhouse production and Madhouse is known for their great quality in animation. Trigun however does have some nice cool looking animation from time to time, but most of the time it's a bit hit and miss. Some of the earlier episodes didn't look impressive on some parts. Luckily, the first episode didn't have much problems with animation quality. Also, This anime came out in the same year that Cowboy Bebop did and that anime had great quality in animation for its time and Sunrise isn't a studio known for top-notch quality animation like Studio Madhouse tends to get an acclaimed reception for. Maybe Trigun didn't have the budget like Cowboy Bebop did, who knows. Honestly, I have no problem with the animation. I know it's hit and miss in some areas, but it's not too disappointing when it comes to the action scenes which I do think that Trigun has some awesome gun fights. All in all... The animation isn't terrible by any means, it's mostly good but not as top-notch as you would expect from Madhouse, it's just sometimes off in some areas.
What makes the show great are the characters, they are the heart of the show and they are pretty unforgettable. Vash the Stampede is hands down one of the most memorable heroes in anime because of his somewhat bizarre appearance as well has his mysterious personality. He doesn't carry the story alone. There's Nicholas D. Wolfwood, a priest that is fascinating to watch with his reflection on Vash's nature and an intense opposition of Vash's way of life. Meryl Strife and Milly Thompson are also fun to watch, even though Meryl is short-tempered, she is compassionate toward others. She's a nice character. Then there's her co-worker Milly Thompson who happens to be very muscular which she physically towers over Meryl. She's a character that looks up to Meryl and she appears to be rather simple yet she shows genuine optimism as well as a kind heart. I like her too. The minor characters as well as some characters that only appear in one episode as well do handle the greater part of this little deceptive bugger. I'll explain more of that later. Who else is left? Oh! How can I forget about the sadist with the malicious use of his psychic powers?. That's right, I'm referring to Legato Bluesummers. He is by far one of the most memorable villians in an anime and even though he's not the main villian, he was still fascinating to watch from his first appearance to the last. Then there's Knives Millions which has got to be the strangest name for a fictional character. In fact, some of the names in this series are a bit weird. I'll give some credit to Yasuhiro Nightow, it is a pretty unique and original method for naming characters. Anyway, Knives Millions has a immense hatred toward humanity and he doesn't really appear all too much until the end. Knives was a bit interesting at times. The characters really make the show memorable. Also, keep an eye out for a black cat in any episode of the show because this black cat appears in a brief scene in every episode of the show, maybe just for sight gags.
The music is done by Tsuneo Imahori and he happened to be the guitarist for The Seatbelts (the band that was formed by Yoko Kanno for the soundtrack of Cowboy Bebop). The soundtrack for Trigun is a bit under-appreciated except for the awesome kickass opening, and the catchy closing theme. The music does bring life to the world of Trigun (A desert planet named Gunsmoke if I'm not mistaken) and the soundtrack is nice to hear from time to time. Even Legato's theme is a little eerie. The music is pretty good on its own.
When it comes to the voice performances. The Subbed version is pretty good for the most part, but I do find Trigun rewarding while watching it Dubbed. There are times where I do prefer the English voice over the other. Some characters were performed well on both sides as well. Masaya Onosaka is great as Vash but there are times where he overacts a little bit, not too bad. Johnny Yong Bosch on the other hand was terrific as Vash The Stampede and this was his debut anime role and he sure had more than amateur's luck at the time. Sho Hayami is pretty good for the most part as Nicholas D. Wolfwood, but Jeff Nimoy really gives Wolfwood a voice of likability. Hiromi Tsuru was okay as Meryl while Dorothy Elias-Fahn sounds just right as Meryl. Satsuki Yukino is great as Milly as well as Lia Sargent. Aya Hisakawa is also great as Rem, same goes for Bridget Hoffman. Tohru Furusawa and Bo Williams are both alright as Knives. Toshihiko Seki and Richard Cansino are both terrific as Legato. There are some worthy seiyus to mention that were pretty good in Trigun. Unsho Ishizuka was great as Brilliant Dynamites Neon. Akio Ohtsuka voiced one of the Gung-ho Guns, Rai-Dei the Blade. Atsuko Tanaka voices Claire, and Norio Wakamoto voiced Gofsef. As far as worthy Voice actors to mention, Joshua Seth was terrific as the younger Knives. Mona Marshall voices Kaite, Kirk Thornton voices Rai-Dei The Blade, and Steve Blum voices Professor Nebraska, Mr. Blum was a bit over the top on this one compared to his other roles. I guess in a way you can't go wrong with either version and even though the dub isn't really an all-star dub, it still is a very likable dub and I really like the dub to Trigun.
I mentioned earlier that Trigun is a little deceptive bugger, well I wasn't kidding when I said this because this show starts off as a wild west comedy with some over the top action scenes and it gave Trigun the popcorn entertainment treatment, or so we think. As the show gets right to the middle, we delve into Vash's past which is pretty sad and surprisingly thought-provoking as well. As the series nears its end, it jumps from being a comedy and spirals downward to a drama. Episodes 23 and 24 are undeniably the most cruel episodes in the show. One particular episode ends on a sad note while the next one has a nerve-shattering moment that I guarantee will send chills down your spine if you're emotionally invested in the characters. However, is the transition from comedy to drama a bad thing for Trigun? Honestly, in Trigun's case... No! When Trigun comes in full circle, it is saved by the depth of humanity of the cast of characters. Remember Neon Genesis Evangelion? 2/3 of the show was more on action while that last third was all philosophical and psycologically complex and not many viewers complained about the change of direction. Trigun does the same thing except with comedy then drama. Vash's philosophy of non-violence is charming to begin with and easy to cheer on about, but once it's put into a cruel context, Vash has to wonder if it's killing more people than it saves and struggles far more against himself than Legato which makes for a surprisingly emotional moment as well as a deep one as well. When it all comes down to story, Trigun is mainly episodic and there is no line of blatant exposition at all, which makes a somewhat interesting experience from the storytelling. However, there are some questions that aren't answered in the anime and I've been told that there are questions answered in the manga. To be honest, interpretation is nice to think about because it makes a good conversation regarding a certain topic in a show. There's really not much room for interpretation if you decide to read the manga alongside the anime, but as the show on its own, whatever questions that have not been answered is all up to your imagination. What really works for the story of Trigun is the believability of the characters, its originality in characters, settings and even character designs even if some character designs do look a bit bizarre. I also like the symbolism in Trigun. Vash's red coat is a pretty significant symbol to the story. I thought it was there for show Rem said something about red geraniums (a type of flower if you don't know) in the flashback episode. A highly notable use of symbolism in Trigun is references to Christianity. Religious or not, the usage of this symbolism really doesn't throw it at your face and shove it down your throat, it gives Trigun a nice touch. The reasoning behind the Christian imagery in the show is because Yasuhiro Nightow (the creator of Trigun) is a Christian (Roman Catholic from what I've looked up). That's what works. What doesn't work in the show is the show's pacing near the end as well as the ending. The pacing of the show was pretty average for 20 some episodes until it starts getting pretty dark, that's when the show starts wrapping up in a rushed pace. I do think there were a couple of moments where the music does not fit in certain scenes but that's a minor nitpick. However, the last episode could have had better direction because I did like how they were showing Vash's past in full circle, but the first half of the final episode mostly shows that and then most of the second half shows the big showdown between Vash and Knives and the fight itself was pretty cool and well... After that, the show ends two minutes later. I felt the show's ending was a bit rushed. It's not really a terrible ending to say the least. I just thought the final episode could have had better direction. But the directing by Satoshi Nishimura is still mostly good. This shouldn't really stop me or anyone else from enjoying Trigun because there are some things to like about Trigun. It is an anime classic that still gets mentioned today.
Trigun was available from Geneon until they went under. It is available from Funimation after they rescued it a few years back. The manga by Yasuhiro Nightow is available from Dark Horse. The Trigun movie "Badlands Rumble" is available from Funimation. A video game called "Trigun: The Planet Gunsmoke" was in the works by Red Entertainment and SEGA has not made any recent comments about it and is believed to be cancelled.
With all that said, Trigun is a gun-toting anime classic that does have hit-and miss animation but it has effective secretive storytelling since the story is moving at times, the music compliments the show and its settings, and the characters are believable in their own ways. I do think the cool appeal is very high in this show. It isn't perfect, but it still remains an anime classic to this day.
I give Trigun a 9 out of 10. It is EXCELLENT!
Feel free to comment below, and repeat after me...
THIS WORLD IS MADE OF... LOVE AND PEACE!