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Entry updated 15 November 2021. Tagged: Film, TV.

Japanese animated tv series (1998). Original title Toraigan. Based on the Manga by Yasuhiro Nightow. Madhouse. Directed by Satoshi Nishimura. Written by Yōsuke Kuroda. Voice cast includes Tohru Furusawa, Sho Hayami, Aya Hisakawa, Masaya Onosaka, Hiromi Tsuru and Satsuki Yukino. 26 25-minute episodes. Colour.

With red trenchcoat, shaving-brush hair, Lennon glasses and the motto "Love and Peace", Vash the Stampede (Onosaka) leaves a trail of devastation in his wake, and carries a bounty of $$60,000,000,000 on his head. He is sought by sparky, determined Meryl Stryfe (Tsuru) and gentle giant Milly Thompson (Yukino) (wielder of a multi-barrelled gun that fetters its targets), two insurance company agents instructed to reduce claims by minimizing the damage he causes. They cross paths several times before Meryl realizes the weird, lanky youth is Vash. He is a pacifist, refusing to kill and prepared to accept any injury or humiliation to avoid doing so, but will also help anyone in need, being fast and skilled at using guns non-lethally (and has an arm that can destroy cities and punch a crater on the moon).

Over 150 years ago colonists (see Colonization of Other Worlds) from a Ruined Earth, travelling in Starships in Suspended Animation, reached the planet Gunsmoke. Two members of the crew were Vash and Knives (Furusawa), children raised by Rem Saverem (Hisakawa). The brothers are actually humanoid plants (the manga says they are derived from the plants that power the ships; the anime is vaguer) and were mistreated by one of the crew. His abuse leads Knives to sabotage the starships, though a sacrifice by Rem means some colonists survive. The resulting lack of resources leads to a civilization that resembles the (stereotypical) Wild West, but with higher Technology (often with a Steampunk look), such as giant desert-traversing steam liners.

Meryl realizes Vash is not deliberately causing damage: this is the result of the bounty hunters and criminals he fights – who have Superpowers and advanced Weapons. Many are sent by Knives (who has Psi Powers) to make Vash suffer. Eventually the brothers confront each other and Vash's idealism, learnt from Rem, is tried: he defeats, but does not kill, Knives. Vash learns not to blindly follow Rem's teachings, but to develop his own beliefs.

Initially an action comedy with Vash a seemingly comic figure, the show gradually makes its argument that no one has the right to take a life, no matter what crime has been committed: though events force Vash to take life at one point, it is not casually excused. Sadly Meryl and Milly become less prominent towards the end of the story, as Nicholas D. Wolfwood (Hayami) – a Priest (see Religion) for hire who carries a giant weaponized cross – becomes Vash's philosophical counterpoint (see Metaphysics), being prepared to kill for the greater good.

Aside from Vash's design, the animation is largely unexceptional. The series is a little overlong, with plot holes, and is not wholly successful in blending its frivolous and serious sides: nonetheless it is a notable Anime, with a moral heart, Humour and enjoyable action. Trigun was a bigger success in the USA than Japan. There is also a film, Trigun: Badlands Rumble (2010), set early in the Television series timeline; it had a better budget and plenty of action but was less thoughtful. [SP]


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