Trigun – episodes 23 to 26

July 25, 2004 on 11:24 am | In Trigun | Comments Off on Trigun – episodes 23 to 26

That ending was quite odd.

There was an interesting question raised about Wolfwood: just what kind of holy man is he? I was going for Catholic, but there’s something about him that goes against that – perhaps he’s just a flawed man who can’t always conform to his faith, or perhaps the rules of Catholicism changed to meet the necessity of the barren planet. The way he turned out, however, was highly compelling and he was definitely one of the better characters of them all. The way they paired him was a total surprise.
He was weaker than Vash, while appearing to be strong. This idea of strength and morality was part of what made the interplay between Wolfwood and Vash, and Knives for that matter, was ultimately the series’ backbone.

The other aspect is that Meryl was allowed to come into her element. The one truly tear jerking moment of the series came with her bathed in a golden light. And, while it hadn’t seemed like romance, that’s exactly what came up. Because it was so tender and unforced, it blossomed naturally.
Again, Milly’s feelings were largely unexpected. What was taken as joking turned out to have serious undercurrents.

One thing that I had always forgotten to mention, beyond Hayami Sho’s Osaka-ben, was that the mysterious Rem was voiced by Hisakawa Aya. This is layered by the fact that Hisakawa Aya and Onosaka Masaya were both Kero-chan in Cardcaptor Sakura and here their respective characters share the same philosophies.
Another thing about Rem is that her relation to Vash is completely unexpected and subverts story types to a high degree. Vash’s final lines represent both the growth and limitations that had been imposed on him by this mentor, creating several of the more complex issues of the series.

Finally, the ultimate episode is weird. One would think that it would cover the present, but half of it was lodged firmly in the past. The final duel was very quiet, and Knives is someone who I will perhaps never completely understand, but the excitement ran rampant nonetheless. The last scenes, continuing into the ED (new animation, but still that awkward old song) are a fitting ending. It was abrupt while encompassing the spectrum of emotion and situation, and quite satisfactory.

Trigun was a highly enjoyable series, that made one crave manga. It has a definite, hopeful ending. It’s exactly what one could hope for, but its shift from high comedy to high drama might put quite a few off along the way.

Trigun – episodes 14 to 22

July 19, 2004 on 6:10 pm | In Trigun | Comments Off on Trigun – episodes 14 to 22

Trigun isn’t very funny anymore. In fact, one episode has some of the most horrifying moments I’ve seen in a long while. Admittedly, I’m not much of a one for horror and have different standards … but still, pretty damned horrific!

The thirteenth episode was supposed to be a turning point, but there’s an episode about Milly and Meryl before the biggest drama ever comes into place. It’s the sort of episode in which Vash does something, says “That’s all I get?!” and then disappears for the remainder. The insurance girl scenes are funny and sweet, but the Nebraska family are clearly among the worst villains written for this or any other series. They’re hideous and bad and once was enough, even if these are the female members. Even if the writers were going for the family motif, it didn’t work. The rest of the episode was more than good enough, however.

Then the Gung-Ho Guns come about and damnit they’re fierce. Vash doesn’t kill, regardless of the weight of sin … but they end up dead if they fail. That’s what they call real lack of mercy.
Because of the different backgrounds of each of these Gung-Ho Guns, Trigun gets to play with genre and once again it becomes clear just how alike the samurai and western genres are. The interchangeable imagery has been one of the many joys of watching this. Generally the whole thing is now high on the drama front, and Vash can’t do too much to change that; however his retort to Dominique the Cyclops’ ‘I could have killed you three times’ was some pretty good comedy right there.
However, even if Vash can’t read Japanese, Legato is evil all the same and it comes to light how tortured his existence might well have been.

Possibly the most horror inducing episode of things produced is Rem Saverem, which details Vash’s past. Seeing the humans and seeing what Knives did is hard to go into, but it confirms some of the darkest fears that one might have had for the series. It’s important that this episode was entirely set in space, as the Western side is starting to wind down and the science fiction is kicking in. The confined space of the ship and the uncertainty as to whether it was genuine malice that fuelled the character’s motives or if he was provoked is too hard to fathom.
Everything about the episode was compelling in a truly discomforting way: it makes one sympathise with Vash more, but also makes his own philosophies harder to understand. Pacifism can’t always be strictly enforced; the inhuman don’t believe in mercy, so Vash really shouldn’t show it to them. One simply can’t compromise him, I suppose, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he did have to kill someone. At least one.

The rest of the episodes have more of that sci-fi flavour and make for more interesting viewing with few moments of comic relief; Meryl’s undecided feelings for Vash and Milly coming full circle to not being the sharpest agent still shine every now and then. Wolfwood is welcome as he’s a priest but can see that everything can’t be defined as clearly as one would like to think, and he knows when he has to kill. He’s the smartest, most realistic thinker of the characters, but at the same time the guiltiest and probably least worthy or capable of redemption.
Finally, montages of dead characters who were only around for two episodes are hard to produce, so Kuroda Yosuke must be commended for that.

Good characterisation, some genuine moments of terror, suddenly very few jokes … Trigun is almost over, and how different has become. One knew from the outset that there would be darkness, but this dark? A true surprise. (Well, not now …)

Trigun – episodes 6 to 13

July 11, 2004 on 11:39 am | In Trigun | Comments Off on Trigun – episodes 6 to 13

Trigun is turning out to be anime that is very hard not to love. The comedy is very funny, and because of this the drama doesn’t jar but is actually intensified. Vash is a great protagonist because he’s a goofball but totally understands the gravity of situations.
At times, the situations get very dangerous indeed, and when Vash is deadly serious Onosaka Masaya shines even more than he does at when Vash is acting coquettish, and he’s pretty damned good at that.

While definitely a road anime, it’s one of those that still manages to keep a continuity. The episodes frequently bleed into each other, allowing for great cliffhangers or simply logically continuing the situation. Every time something happens, a little more of Vash comes out. Almost all of these episodes have great Vash moments and if they don’t, they have great Wolfwood moments!
Nicholas D Wolfwood – voiced by perennial favourite Hayami Sho, who has been consistently securing work for more than twenty years with his deep and smooth delivery -is a character who comes and goes, frequently where Vash and the Insurance Girls happen to be. He also happens to be a pistol packing priest with a portable confessional and a weapon loaded crucifix that he carries on his back (you see, just as Vash has a dark past, Wolfwood has … a cross to bear. Wahaha). He’s another great comedy character without resorting to Vash’s foolish antics, and despite all of his drinking and smoking he’s quite dedicated.

Sometimes the drama gets really heavy, and Vash almost always defuses these scenes without becoming annoying. One of the most hilarious of these scenes is the discovery of Vash without a shirt on … and how he reacts when the Insurance Girls see him. There’s another of those sorts of incidents, and really far too much more tomato sauce than is acceptable, but there are two points when no one can escape the heavy drama.
Lost July is one of the best episodes so far. Here one can really start to understand Vash.
Then in episode 12, there come the eyes. It’s a well known fact that if an anime character has a dual personality, each has different eye colours. Quite how they do this is never explained, but it’s damned cool. Vash can do that. Even when he becomes The Humanoid Typhoon, he still feels like he is Vash. His internal conflict is handled very well. I don’t think it’s possible for him to cut loose and murder, even out of revenge.
This episode also introduced Vash’s telepathic powers and more technology, which will no doubt become important.

Episode 13 is a recap, probably the first I’ve seen since Gundam Wing. The events of Trigun so far really haven’t seen connected or complicated enough to really warrant one of these episodes, but Milly’s meditations on Vash are worthwhile enough.

Also worthy of note is that Ishizuka Unsho, traditional villain and all around nice guy, has a two episode appearance as Big Dynamites Neon. It’s always nice to hear him.

Trigun is compelling anime, a rare mix of perfectly balanced comedy and drama. It can be compared to so many things, but still it feels incomparable. Even if Vash does seem to have a Julia.

Trigun – episodes one to five

July 4, 2004 on 3:40 pm | In Trigun | Comments Off on Trigun – episodes one to five

Now this is like something! These first episodes of Trigun show great promise: a series with a comedic start that will grow to gradually reveal plot elements and dark pasts and unleash its dramatic core! At least, that’s the impression that one gets. Then episode five comes along and they’re proven right.

Vash the Stampede, The Humanoid Typhoon, the man with the $$60,000,000,000 (that’s pronounced “double dollars”) bounty on his head. He’s being chased across a desert planet, not only by bounty hunters, but also by insurance agents. The first four episodes show Vash being hunted by a variety of miscreants and the insurance agents, Meryl and Milly, not believing that he is who they say he is. The fifth decides that maybe it’s time to bring in the big plot.

Vash is the series’ drawcard. He’s one of those great heroes with a repertoire of hilarious faces but also can be serious. Whenever there’s a big pinch, he expertly handles it while looking like he’s bumbling through it. At some memorable times, he can look like he’s contemplating serious things, and is about to voice them … and then he throws up. There are some hints in his dialogue as to what his intentions are, but presently they’re few and far between. He’s also a lech, constantly trying to get into fan service situations, but nothing ever comes of them except perhaps a kick to the head. If Vash isn’t getting his peeks in, neither is the audience. Quite an admirable approach to the issue.
Vash is really made by the performance of Onosaka Masaya. I started watching Trigun based on his work as big Kero-chan in Cardcaptor Sakura, and his Vash is even more impressive. As with the character himself, Onosaka’s voice runs the gamut of emotions. At first, Vash has a very effeminate voice. He soon starts to speak normally, but he also has these blistering moments of pure drama. Vash is most often compared to Rurouni Kenshin‘s titular character, and Onosaka’s range is somewhat similar to Suzukaze Mayo. They may share some themes and character elements, but they’re still independent.

Thusfar, Milly and Meryl are not too heavily involved beyond turning up at every incident that Vash is at. It appears that their mission, as agents of Bernardelli Insurance Company, is to politely ask Vash to stop causing so much damage as his legendary tendency to destroy towns has caused a spike in claims. Failing to believe Vash is who he really is, despite his always turning up at just the right time and doing just the right thing, is something that hinders them.

The character designs vary. Vash has his hilarious faces, but he also has a disturbing tendency to come over all bishounen from time to time. Meryl is compact and cute, and her temper is fiery without coming close to shrewishness, a disease that beset anime women in the late nineties. One of the big turn offs in looking into Trigun, however, is Milly. To look at her, she’s very tall and masculine. Watching the series itself, you quickly grow used to it when it becomes apparent that that’s the kind of character that they were aiming for, and it’s not an accident of design.
The colour pallette is fairly dull, as one might expect of a Western anime set on a desert planet. The building designs are closer to Westerns set in Mexican places, and as a result almost all of them are white. It’s not enough to make the series boring, however. The rest of the setting remains a mystery – what’s the giant lightbulb? What is a plant? – these are questions that will hopefully be answered, as the story of this world is just interesting enough to be explored.

It should be noted that the OP is fairly generic, and the ED is … not very nice to listen to.

Trigun has a lot of potential and has been quite enjoyable in these first five episodes. When it reveals more of itself, it’s sure to become even more entertaining. The setting in particular looks to be very promising.

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