Trigun – Episodes 1 – 13 Review

After having watched it fifteen-odd years ago, I decided to re-watch Trigun as it was conveniently streaming on Netflix, and while I was at it I finally watched the movie, “Badlands Rumble”, which I’ve had on my shelf for years waiting for, well, when I “finally get round to re-watching the series”. The first half of the TV series is very different in tone to the second half (well, apart from Episode 12, but it’s far too convenient to split a 26-episode series into two 13 episode halves…) in that it’s mostly stand-alone stories with a far heavier comedic edge to them. Is it still good though? Let’s take a look!

Synopsis:

Vash the Stampede is the most feared outlaw on the planet Gunsmoke who has a $$60 billion (that’s “double dollar”) price on his head, but as two insurance investigators will soon find out, the man doesn’t live up to the legend…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

Vash in one of his rare “looking bad-ass” moments!

The first five episodes just establish out main trio of characters and the general setting of the show, which is very much a steampunk space western, including frequent shots of old West style towns with massive lightbulb-looking things sticking out high above them. Vash The Stampede is an outlaw with a fearsome reputation but is actually extremely nice, goofy and has a strict no killing policy, but due to his high bounty a lot of other bounty hunters come after him, often resulting in massive property damage. This leads to two investigators from the “Bernardelli Insurance Society”, Meryl Stryfe and Milly Thompson (ill-tempered and straight-laced; and really tall but incredible stupid, respectfully) to end up following him around in an attempt to slow his path of destruction. It takes a while for the duo to believe the kind blonde-haired man is actually Vash, but soon they make a good makeshift team, with Vash and Meryl doing the funny one / serious one act well, and Milly… being an airhead with a large cannon, I guess…?

Episodes 6 – 8 form a loose arc, starting with the arrival of a “Sand Steamer” to where Vash, Meryl and Milly are, where we get a glimpse of Vash’s backstory. We know he was involved with a disaster at a town called “July” and that he can’t remember it, and a survivor from the hellish town-levelling explosion tries to intentionally put Vash in one of the mysterious Plants (the big lightbulb things) and detonate it. Vash survives because he directly accesses the unknown-to-everyone-else tech and shuts it down, and then offers the survivor a chance to kill him if it would make her happy, but of course Vash is such a nice guy she can’t do it, and they both have a bit of a cry… The following two episodes are a single story set on the Sand Steamer, which gets taken over by a group of bandits led by “Brilliant Dynamite Neon”, one of the many weirdly named characters in the series. It’s a simple but fun story, with the son of the Steamer designer betraying his father, who always favoured it over him, but eventually using his knowledge to save it.

Look at those eyes, the hair, the 4:3 frame… It’s so very 90s anime, and I love it!

Episodes 9 – 11 are back to self-contained episodes, but feature a new regular character in Nicholas D. Wolfwood, a travelling priest with a smoking habit and a massive cross on his back that ends up being revealed as a place to store guns… and then eventually a massive gun itself… which is also a rocket launcher. He’s got that great laidback, sarcastic persona and pulls it off perfectly, no matter which language track you choose. This leads to Episode 12, where the bigger story arc begins. Vash meets a telepathic man named Legato Bluesummers who tells him he was die soon, just before our protagonist is thrown in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. He warns Meryl and Milly that he has a bad feeling, and sure enough he’s attacked that evening by a man in a mechanical suit named “Monev the Gale”, a member of the assassin group known as the “Gung-Ho Guns”. Vash eventually manages to defeat him, revealing that his left arm is entirely mechanical and has a hidden gun in it, but spares his life (of course!). He then leaves Meryl and Milly behind, saying his path is too risky for them to follow him any more…

Episode 13 is 90% a recap episode, sadly, though it does full-on confirm that Meryl is starting to have romantic feelings for Vash, trying to disguise them as having to do her duty but not fooling anyone. So that’s the start of Trigun, and boy it gets a lot weirder from here… not including the film, which takes place “at some point before Episode 12” due to its comedic, stand-alone nature…

The Bad:

Vash manages to not kill someone who was trying to kill him and will probably kill again… idiot.

Sometimes Vash’s no kill policy does get on my nerves, much like Batman and his constantly letting Joker live despite the fact far more people die by letting that one psychopath live than if he’d take the one life, but that’s not relevant! Vash isn’t as bad due to the more light-hearted tone of the show meaning a lot of people just “get hurt” rather than die from the bad guys, well, at this stage of the show anyway… Also having a recap episode based on 12 episodes that were mostly unconnected and unimportant was an odd and annoying decision as well…

I watched the dub as it was one of the shows I had no choice but to watch the dub in the past and it’s nostalgic to me, but much like most Gundam shows, Outlaw Star and a few other examples of the era that have the same nostalgia “problem” I’ll admit it’s not that great. In fact just like the other shows I’ve pointed out it has a few stand out performances from the most important characters (thankfully!) but you’ll notice the odd dip with guest cast members, plus it has that early days anime “try to have the actors say the script within the lip-synch rather than adapt the dialogue to match the speed of the lips” problem, leading to some people saying something either very quickly or without any punctuation. I’m sure the original voice work is superior, so if this is your first time with the show I’d stick to the Japanese with subtitles route…

Overall Thoughts:

I couldn’t leave out a screenshot of Wolfwood, now could I?

I watched Trigun an episode a day-ish, often with my breakfast, and due to its mostly stand-alone nature it worked perfectly, though I’ll admit around Episode 5 I was starting to wonder why I had such fond memories of it, though safe in the knowledge that “it goes off in a weird direction later on”. Still, things did pick up and I can say that Trigun is a fun show with some really well designed characters and locations, and well worth your time sticking with, even just with the first half of the show…

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