I had originally wanted to do an in depth analysis of the anime series Trigun (Yasuhiro Nightow creator, 1998) rather than a review. Instead, I think that I am going to try and hit both.
Trigun is a space western set on a desert planet about a hundred thirty years after humans colonized the planet. The series protagonist is Vash the Stampede, a “humanoid typhoon” with a ridiculously large bounty on his head. Vash is joined by Meryl Stryfe and Milly Thompson of the Bernadelli Insurance Society (as his frequent companions) and Nicholas D. Wolfwood (an occasional companion). Together, they travel the world seeking to non lethally right wrongs and create as much mayhem as possible.
Don’t get me wrong, the series is wonderful and I love it. But there are some nagging issues that just weaken the experience of watching Trigun.
The story is a good one with a great built in challenge for Vash: he refuses to kill and will go out of his way, even to the greatest level of ridiculousness, to avoid giving fatal injury. Honestly, this is a great means of making things harder for a perhaps too powerful protagonist. But it also causes as much problems as it solves when the choice to not kill is both shoved down the viewers’ throats as the only way and creates a rather silly (in my opinion) conflict between Vash and his twin brother, Knives.
But the worst, the absolutely most annoying, element of the series lies with the villains. I’m not talking about BDN and some of the earlier antagonists, they were very well done. I’m talking about the Gung Ho Guns and Legato Bluesummers and Knives in particular. They just make no sense to me. Of course Knives does not care about the lives of his subordinates given that he hates humans and they are human (of course that raises the question of why they even work for him or Legato in the first place). Legato in particular comes off as frustratingly puzzling. In the end, what really were they after? Not a whole terribly lot. And the final confrontation between the brothers is disappointment alley.
The strongest and most interesting characters in the series are Meryl, Milly, and Nicholas. The strongest stretch of episodes lie roughly before “Rem Saverem.” The succeeding episodes are on the whole not generally as good save for “Paradise” and “Sin.”
Personally, I think the problem comes down to the series being rushed. The first episodes are largely episodic with a few arcs appearing while the final episodes form a darker arc. Either the series should have been more episodic or devoted more to the central arc of Vash and Knives.
Trigun is the anime adaptation of the manga series Trigun and Trigun Maximum. However, given that the adaptation came out in the late nineties and the series did not end until 2007, it is understandable if the adaptation splits off from the manga story line (X, Fullmetal Alchemist, Nabari no Ou, etc. all have deviated from the manga). To be honest, I think more episodes than twenty six are needed to do the narrative justice.
In the end, I still enjoy Trigun and rank it highly on my list of favorite anime series. But I also recognize that it has numerous flaws that hamper the execution of the show.