When one asks a long time viewer of anime what shows they would recommend, chances are high Trigun will be among those listed. Yasuhiro Nightow’s mixing of spaghetti western and sci-fi soap opera has demonstrated amazing staying power over the years, maintaining its popularity more than ten years after its initial airing in Japan. The series was only just recently rescued from the depths of limbo by Funimation after Geneon closed shop.
For the uninformed, Trigun follows the adventures of Vash the Stampede, also dubbed the humanoid typhoon. The character doubles as one of anime’s most recognizable and popular characters, allowing him to reach icon status alongside other notable names like Goku and Spike Spiegel; seriously, it’s almost impossible to attend a convention without seeing a Vash cosplayer. It’s difficult to pinpoint what exactly fans love about the character. Perhaps it’s his goofy attitude, always preaching love and peace, or maybe it’s the red overcoat that just screams “cool”. More likely it’s a combination of several things. Vash has served as the model for several others that have come after (Abel Nigthroad anyone?) who demonstrate similar characteristics but have never caught on in the way he has.
Taking place on the fictional planet of Gunsmoke, Trigun see’s Vash ducking and diving from numerous bounty hunters hoping to collect the ridiculously high bounty placed on his head. Stemming from incidents in the past, Vash has gained an unattractive reputation of being a walking hazard, leaving chaos and calamity in his wake despite his numerous attempts to avoid violence. Later on, Vash finds himself joined by a wandering priest named Wolfwood.
Unlike Vash, Wolfwood isn’t a pacifist. Toting around a giant cross-shaped gun handed down to him from an assassin and killing those who would threaten the peace, Wolfwood doesn’t stray from violence. The two immediately find themselves at odds due to their differing views of life though their bond slowly grows to resemble that of brothers by series’ end.
Whereas the first half of the series can be considered light-hearted, the second half treads into darker territory with the exploration of Vash’s past and the arrival of his brother Knives. Vash’s philosophy of protecting life is a result of past confrontations with his brother, also responsible for the devastation caused in his name and the bounty placed on his head. Determined to see Vash suffer, Knives sets a gang of murders after he and his loved ones in a bid to drive the hapless hero into a killing frenzy. There are definitely biblical undertones reminiscent of Cain and Abel though these aren’t played up to their full effect, with the series instead opting to focus on Vash’s successive battles with Knives’ subordinates with the back story sprinkled in between.
The animation is supplied by Studio Madhouse and as such is a quality production for its time. Unfortunately there are noticeable instances where shortcuts are taken and others where the series’ age is prevalent. Considering how old the series is, this should hardly come as any surprise. Trigun was and still is a glowing example of stellar animation. Still, it would have been nice if Funimation took the effort to digitally restore the series for a newer generation of fans who are more used to the HD era of television.
As is the norm for Funimation’s re-releases, there are no extras to be found on this set save for clean opening and closing. Considering Funimation’s plans to market the newly licensed feature film, one would think there would at least be some sort of feature or perhaps a retrospective with Vash’s voice actor, the much renowned Johnny Yong Bosch.
Trigun is an essential series for any one claiming to be a fan of anime. The series relevance has transcended its network lifespan and managed to accrue a substantial fan-base made up of devoted followers. Regardless of whether you’re an already established fan of the series or a new comer yet to immerse yourself in the world of Trigun, this is a series that should hold a spot in every anime fan’s shelf.