What can be said about “Trigun” that already hasn’t? The groundbreaking space western anime that changed the industry, featuring top notch animation and a fine American dub, this 26-episode series has inspired countless franchises since then. Funimation has recently released Trigun: The Complete Series Box Set, featuring the entire run of the show in a convenient thin-packed DVD set, so it seems that the time is right to talk about it once more.
For those of you living under a rock for the past decade, “Trigun” was based on a manga by the same name in the late ’90’s, and was quickly adapted into an anime series only two years into the run of the comic. Meryl Stryfe and Milly Thompson, a pair of Insurance agents, have been given the task of evaluating the damage and claims of one “Vash the Stampede”, also known as “The Humanoid Typhoon.” Wherever this elusive outlaw goes, major destruction and chaos follows. When the two field agents meet Vash, they are shocked to see how aloof and simple he is, and think they have found an imposter. The Vash they have met whines, complains, eats donuts, and is bullied constantly. But as they quickly learn, wherever Vash goes, trouble follows, and the man in the red jacket with the 60 billion double dollar bounty on his head constantly has trouble tracking him down, no matter where he goes.
The cartoon series was animated by Madhouse, who have been responsible for numerous excellent animes, many of which have been equally high-risk taking in genre and breaking from the average stereotypes. There were not too many “space westerns” in that era, but after Trigun took off, plenty more followed in its footsteps. Directed by Satoshi Nishimura, this show took desolate deserts and merged them with futuristic steampunk machinations from the days of the wild, wild west. Think about Mos Eisley from “Star Wars”, but without the aliens and more crazy Japanese characters roaming the plains, and there you have it.
The animation is smooth and fluent, with unique character designs that have since become iconic, especially for cosplayers. You can not go to a comic con without running into a Vash or Wolfwood! What makes the series work so well is the character development, and how even the most seemingly goofy episodes can turn into a meaningful way to explain more about the origins and personality of Vash, and why he is the so-called humanoid typhoon. Much like “Cowboy Bebop”, small bits of his past are explained, but eventually we do get a serious flashback that introduces Knives, the exact opposite of Vash who you will see much more of towards the end of the series.
Speaking of Wolfwood, the supporting characters are all fleshed out, especially the ones that appear for just one episode. Like many old western TV shows, the episodes are often a one-shot around a single story. “Trigun” has a running story and continuity, but it thrives on these one-shot stories, and these characters deeply interact with our protagonists to tell the tale of Vash, Meryl, Millie, and Wolfwood, explaining their motives by showing and not just telling.
And thank goodness they do show, as their is plenty of high-octane shoot-outs to show in this series. Vash might often be hesitant to draw his gun, but when he does, you better not blink. A pacifist by nature, Vash does his best not to cause violence, but violence has a nasty habit of finding him on his ronin-like journey. Each episode, Vash battles some bizarre-looking and highly memorable villains, often augmented by some mecha parts. These characters are still some different looking baddies, and continue to stand out amongst other animes with their distinct looks and weapons.
Special features on this set include textless songs and original Japanese trailers, as well as the option to see this in English or the original Japanese dialogue.
It is quite disappointing the series finale was so finite that producers have said there could never be a sequel or continuation of the series (no spoilers here), but you will be happy to know that there is an OVA called “Trigun: Badlands Rumble” that is pretty spectacular, but we will talk about that another time.
You can order Trigun: The Complete Series Box Set on Amazon.com for under $25 new, which is less than a dollar per episode! “Trigun” is simply one of the best, an instant classic that will surely survive the test of time and continue to inspire new fans and new series as it grows older. Thanks to this new funimation value-pack, you can own the entire series in a very compact container and enjoy it whenever you want, and you will definitely want to have a marathon of this show at least once a year.