The second half of Trigun can often be completely unrecognisable compared to the first half, with a sci-fi heavy backstory for our main protagonist and a general story arc flowing through most of the episodes. This of course isn’t by any means a bad thing, I just remember being taken aback by it all the first time watching through the series! … well, let’s take a look then!
Vash’s past has come back to haunt him as Lagato and the Gung-ho Guns begin to stalk him, leaving death in their wake. Behind all of them is Vash’s brother Knives, finally getting his revenge…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
… Yep, this is a thing that ends up happening.
Episode 14 is pretty much our last stand alone episode, as Episode 15 sees Vash encounter Dominique the Cyclops of the Gung-Ho Guns, followed shortly by two other members in E.G. Mine and Rai-Dei the Blade. The latter proves problematic for our protagonist, but before he can do anything else about his trademark handgun transforms into a weird space weapon that covers his arm as he screams in pain and for the Blade to escape. Vash can’t hold it back and fires a massive canon blast not only levelling the city but punching a hole in the “Fifth Moon”. This isn’t the first time this as happened, this is how Vash destroyed the city of July that has been referenced several times…
We then get a whole episode of backstory, with the revelation that Vash and his brother… *sigh*… Knives Millions… were picked up by travelling human colony ships and raised by a girl named Rem. Vash grew up loving the humans that looked after him, but Knives soon grew to resent them, leading to his attempt to sabotage the colony effort and crash all of the ships into a dusty wasteland planet later named Gunsmoke. Rem manages to save both the brothers and a few of the ships, which then landed and became the towns seen in the series. Eventually a young Vash shoots Knives in the shoulder and runs, living amongst the struggling humans and only finding more respect for them. He soon finds a SEED ship that continues to fly in the sky and lives there for a while before eventually finding his way to July, where Knives kills some of his friends, takes off one of his brother’s arms and forces him to active the weird gun thing, but Vash points it at Knives in the last moment. Vash is saved by the floating SEED ship and given his cybernetic arm, while Knives has to be … I don’t know, reconstructed, explaining why roughly a century passed before he began to re-emerge (that’s right, among everything else Vash is ageless, meaning he’s wondered around Gunsmoke for many decades, explaining why he was able to actually access and control the large Plants that everyone else classes as lost technology.)
Vash and Knives during their childhood as God-like beings on a Earth colony ship. Didn’t see THAT coming, did you?
So with all that out of the way Vash goes into hiding, but is soon found by Wolfwood, who brings him back round to the idea of facing off against Lagato and the Gung-ho Guns. They end up going to the remaining SEED Ship so Vash can get a work-over, but sadly Leonof the Puppet-Master follows them on board along with fellow Gung-ho Guns Hoppered the Gauntlet and Gray the Ninelives (love the Gung-ho Guns’ names!), the resulting battle leading to the SEED ship crashing and a good portion of the population dying. Vash and Wolfwood meet up with Maryl and Milly and the quartet meet some orphans in a desert town that’s under attack from giant sandworms, and soon Wolfwood shots a child in the head… because the child was actually Zazie the Beast, one of the Guns who was controlling the killer worms. This child-killing puts a bit of a strain of Wolfwood’s relationship with the others, and we soon find out that he was actually working for the Guns, specifically his mentor and member of the faction Chapel the Evergreen. He is given orders to kill Vash, but of course he goes against that order, and as Vash takes on Caine the Longshot Wolfwood takes on his mentor in a weird worship-icon-shaped weaponry battle. Wolfwood then gives Vash a bit of advice, heads into a church and shouts at the heavens how crap it is that his life would come to an end in such an unsatisfying way… before succumbing to his injuries.
Vash, Meryl and a grieving Milly (she had a quick fling with Wolfwood before his death) then encounter the last of the Gung-ho Guns, Midvalley the Hornfreak (a reference to his saxophone, not that he’s highly sexually charged), who eventually commits suicide after he loses. Vash finally confronts Lagato, who uses his mind manipulation powers to force the towns people to threaten Merly and Milly’s lives, telling him the only way to save them was for Vash to kill him and go against his code. It goes down to the wire, but Vash eventually does pull the trigger, saving Meryl and Milly but taking a human life directly, something he promised he’d never do. Episode 25 sees Vash slowly come out of his depression, and 26 sees him go face-to-face with Knives, the two using guns, their weird “Angle Arms” and more during their duel. Vash ends up winning by shooting his brother in all four limbs, but not killing him, carrying his unconscious brother into a nearby town to meet with Meryl and Milly, and what happens after that is a mystery…
Well… if they had to kill off the cool laid back character, at least they did it in style!
Not much! It’s a weird and wonderful twisty plot. I’ll admit that Vash hesitating so much to kill Lagato annoyed me, no matter how much he wanted to keep his code he should’ve realised sooner there was no other way out of it… Ah well.
Also, “Knives Millions” is one of the worst names ever. Seriously sounds like manga author Yasuhiro Nightow just picked two English words at random…
A crashing SEED ship… an odd screenshot to end on, but I like the design, so… there.
I love Trigun’s final half. The Gung-ho Guns were a fun and weird mix of characters, Lagato is a good, if not emo, villain and Vash and his brother’s sci-fi backstory is always good fun, as is their final showdown. Throw in some great and emotional moments with Wolfwood and you have a high-quality story arc, and a great end to a series that was already a fun little distraction. Top marks.