Trigun is a hard show for me to recommend or really write about in terms of a review. Not because it’s bad or anything, good god no, but… There’s no real way to express how good it is without giving away something about the show, at least in terms of tone or later plot developments. But hell, I’ll have a go anyway. After all, if I can somehow get deep and emotional when describing freaking Hetalia: Axis powers, I’m sure I can do just fine with this. Hopefully.
Trigun revolves around the story of Vash, a talented gunman who has managed to garner the nickname of the ‘Humanoid Typhoon’ and has had the price of sixty-billion double-dollars (I don’t really know how much that is in any other currency but I assume it’s a lot) placed on his head. Tales of his violent antics catch the attention of two women, Meryl and Millie, who are determined to find him, not for the reward, but to put him under twenty-four hour surveillance due to the amount of damage he causes to the insurance company they work for. However… he’s not exactly what they expected. Instead of the fearsome gunman they’d heard about, Vash is instead a goofy, childish pacifist who has sworn never to take a human life. Despite this, they decide to stay with him and come across another character named Wolfwood, a travelling priest who’s much more than he appears, and they try to keep Vash out of trouble as Vash’s past begins to catch up with him as his ideology is put to the ultimate test.
Trigun’s animation tends to be fairly hit and miss. It does have some striking moments but is really starting to show its age, for the most part. Character designs can go off-model fairly often and can look fairly strange in some shots and still-frames are used fairly often. That being said, it looks good when it needs to and the fight scenes are a ton of fun to watch. And even when it gets trippy, the animation shouldn’t detract much from the experience. Not a whole lot else to say.
Trigun’s music fits its environment to a T. Since the environment is very westernized, the same thought was given to the music, with lots of guitars and random noise. As good as it is though, only a few tracks will really stick in your head and make you want to download them. The opening also deserves a mention since it really grew on me as I went on and by episode twelve, I was watching it every time I loaded a new episode, which is rare for me. The OST 'Rakuen' is also particularly beautiful and is by far one of my favourite anime tracks.
In terms of the voice acting, preferences will just go the way they always do. The Japanese voice cast is very good and the seiyuu really bring their characters to life, particularly the seiyuu’s for Wolfwood and Milly. That being said, the English dub is also a fantastic effort, with Johnny Yong Bosh absolutely excelling in his role as Vash in probably one of my favourite roles of his in his dubbing career and I would even go as far as to say he exceeds his Japanese counterpart. All in all, terrific work in both languages.
So I mentioned before that this was a show that was kind of hard to recommend to an audience due to the nature of the plot and the reason for that is mostly because the plot doesn’t really get going till about halfway through the series. Until roughly episode 12/13, Trigun is mostly just episodic, comedic stand-alones. Sure, they had a few dramatic moments but they were mostly just the goofy adventures of Vash and the other characters in order to establish them. However, when the plot does begin to creep in at the sides, the tone of the show changes completely. And it’s here when Trigun really starts to earn its status as a classic.
The first half of Trigun is mostly just character interaction and character introduction. The second half, though, is much harsher and it all begins to centre on Vash’s vow of pacifism and whether it actually hurts more people than it helps. And this is where Trigun really shows its strengths. It seems easy for Vash to state that he’ll never take a human life but, when faced with a decision that will most likely stay with me for a very long time (people who’ve seen it know why); Vash’s seemingly charming ideology is thrown into hell in his efforts to keep it.
The thing that makes Trigun so great, for me anyway, is not how excellent the story and characters are (though believe me, those things do help). It’s how unbelievably passionate the show is about its message and what it has to say. As you’ve probably guessed, the message is love and peace, something that’s been done quite a few times. But the way it’s portrayed and represented in this series is truly what makes it special. The best point of this, I would say at least, is the second last episode. That episode pretty much hits at the crux of what this anime is trying to say and, as violence and war are becoming more commonplace in our world today, messages like this should never be forgotten.
Another great thing about this, however, is that Trigun is a series that never flaunts how smart it truly is, giving the comedy a much greater purpose than just being there to lighten the mood as that comedy is what it uses as a mask. Like I said, the dark stuff doesn’t show till roughly episode thirteen and, even then, I would say it doesn’t hit full force until episode twenty-two. That being said, I do know a few people who say the tonal change is a bit jarring and feels out of place and I guess I can see that side of the argument.
Despite my praise of it though, the story doesn’t get a perfect score simply for the reason that the ending is fairly open. In fact, not even that. It just sort of stops. Also, I felt the last episode could have been handled a little better. It wasn’t bad or anything, it just felt a little rushed. Like better effect could’ve been achieved if the writers had dragged it out for maybe one or two episodes more.
Most people would point to Vash being the most complex and memorable character and, while I certainly do see that and I fully recognise him as a fantastic character (and believe me, he is), he wasn’t my favourite. Weirdly enough, that position belonged to Wolfwood. I know that’s strange since I’ve barely mentioned him in this review and he only gets roughly half the screen time of Meryl and Millie but I honestly could identify with him a lot more than Vash and I think this is because Wolfwood goes through his own dilemma throughout the story with the question;
'Is it okay to kill someone if you know for a fact that they’re a bad person?'
That, to me, was a much more identifiable dilemma and it really gives him a great sense of purpose as well as acting as a contrast to Vash. They both fight for the innocent but Wolfwood is more interested in justice while Vash focuses more on mercy. I won’t dare give away anything more about his story arc but let’s just say the ending to it may very well bring you to tears (did for me anyway).
Meryl and Millie also act as great contrasts to each other as well. Meryl is the more logical and organised one but Millie is a much better judge of character and is much smarter than she lets on.
Also Legato, one of the antagonists of the show, also deserves a mention. Yeah, I know he’s not the main villain but he’s much more interesting. Just his appearance is unnerving and, while his character is explored more in the manga, he’s still a force to be reckoned with his complete opposite view of Vash’s ideology (he’s a nihilist, basically).
Trigun is a classic, and rightfully so. While the animation and open ending can be distracting at points throughout, Trigun has one of the most passionately told stories I’ve ever seen and I would highly recommend it for that fact alone but the wonderful characters and moral dilemmas cause this series to go above and beyond the call of duty. This should be seen at one point in your life. You won’t regret it.