I quit after 3 seconds.
Genres: Space Western, Action, Comedy
Creators: Yasuhiro Nightow, Yōsuke Kuroda, Satoshi Nishimura
Length: 26 episodes
Highlights: Wacky comedy and deathly serious drama
On the desert planet Gunsmoke, there is one man feared above all others: Vash the Stampede. Dubbed “The Humanoid Typhoon”, this viscous outlaw is so dangerous and destructive that he has a bounty on his head worth $$60,000,000,000 (that’s sixty billion double dollars). The Bernardelli Insurance Company, nearly bankrupt from paying for all the damages Vash has caused, dispatch two agents to find him: the tall and ditzy Millie Thompson and the short and short-tempered Meryl Stryfe.
However, the man they find surely can’t be Vash the Stampede. Vash the Stampede is a murderous outlaw who kills without remorse or pity; this guy with spiky blonde hair and a big red coat is just a weirdo who likes to eat donuts. Vash the Stampede is a criminal of the worst sort, guilty of countless crimes; this guy is just an aimless nomad searching for “Love and Peace!” And yet, as Meryl and Millie discover, this bizarre man actually is Vash the Stampede. It turns out he’s just a mostly harmless wandering fool. Tasked with preventing Vash from creating anymore mayhem, Meryl and Millie end up traveling with him, later joined by an unusual preacher named Nicholas D. Wolfwood. But why does Vash have an enormous bounty on his head, and why does trouble follow him everywhere he goes…
Trigun is a Space Western anime series produced by the studio Madhouse and based on a manga series written by Yasuhiro Nightow. The first half of the show is a perfect example of a classic shōnen series; shōnen series are those aimed at a male audience between the ages of approximately 10 to 18 or so. The series displays the classic shōnen traits of a male lead, humorous and light-hearted plotlines, and action. Trigun has tons of action; Vash really is an expert gunman, and despite his pacifistic ideals he frequently lands in situations that only a cartoony gunfight can solve. Featuring goofy humor and heavy action, the first half of Trigun is a fun and thoroughly entertaining journey across the wasteland of Gunsmoke.
The second half, however, is very different. Very suddenly and drastically, the show’s theme flips from lighthearted and goofy to extremely serious. The action, once portrayed as silly and fun, is now deathly serious. Initially Vash could easily solve problems without anyone being killed or sometimes even shooting his gun; the episode where the change occurs ends with streets full of bodies. Many people die, some of them in horrible and painful ways. While blood was conspicuously absent at first, the later show more than makes up for it. Through this, there is a serious amount of character development, and we are given glimpses and eventually the full story of Vash’s past, and why all these horrible things keep happening to him. Though the show never completely loses its sense of fun, the second half is always a life-or-death struggle for Meryl, Millie, Nicholas, and Vash.
Unusually for a show that started off as wacky shōnen action and comedy, the later episodes of Trigun examine serious philosophical questions. The show uses Vash and his ideals of love and peace to talk about Christianity; specifically, the show debates the paradox inherent in Christian thought between pacifist ideals and the duty to protect the innocent. Vash tries his upmost to never kill anyone, but struggles with the fact that he may one day face the choice between taking a life and letting someone he cares about die.
Trigun changes so thoroughly that if one was to watch back-to-back an episode from the first half of the series and the second half, you very well may not recognize them as the same show. And yet, whether Vash is saving the day from some wacky villain who looks like he just walked off the set of Scooby-Doo or desperately fighting for his life, Vash always manages to be a determined and hopeful character. In that way he never changes, and whether you prefer silliness or bloodshed and philosophical pondering, Trigun is a show that will never disappoint.