Anime Review: Trigun

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Thanks to @Brother_Leon for this suggestion! Trigun is a series first serialized as a manga written by Yasuhiro Nightow from 1995 to 1997. It was later converted into a 26-episode anime by Studio Madhouse, airing through the Spring and Summer seasons of 1998. While it was not very well received by Japanese audiences, Trigun found widespread recognition by airing in the United States, on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.

Trigun follows the adventures of a man named Vash, a tall young man with blonde hair wearing an oversized red coat. Commonly referred to as Vash the Stampede, he is also known as the Galaxy’s Greatest Gunslinger, being able to easily win firefights against overwhelming odds, and not getting even a single scratch. After Vash destroys an entire city prior to the events of the anime, he has a 60 billion double dollar (the currency of the world) bounty placed on his head, and is constantly pursued by bounty hunters.

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Vash himself is a bit of an enigma, generally acting like a goofball almost constantly, only showing his truly serious side in the most serious of situations. Throughout the show, he is followed by two girls, Meryl Stryfe and Milly Thompson, agents from the Bernardelli Insurance Company. Though they were initially sent to evaluate Vash and help minimize damages from his “rampages” they quickly discover that Vash is not the monster everyone makes him out to be, preferring to use words over weapons, and hating to take a life, even of an enemy. The three eventually become friends, reconciling their differences.

 

The story of Vash is a bit of a sad one, as we slowly learn more about his past, and discover who Vash the stampede really is, why he destroyed a city, why he is so reluctant to kill, and where his superhuman abilities come from. At the same time we learn more about the world that they live in, a world filled with dust and sand, an inhospitable world where human civilization can only exist with the help of the Plants, large and mysterious factories whose technology not even the engineers who fix them understand.

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It took me a few weeks to get through Trigun, a bit longer than it usually takes me to watch a series, but I did enjoy it, and am anxious to review it. So, here goes.

Art: The art of Trigun is, unfortunately, rather subpar. At best it seems sloppy and at worst almost unbearable. And many might be thinking, but wait, it’s an old show, so isn’t that pretty understandable? Well, in some circumstances, yes. But Trigun was released right along the likes of Cowboy Bebop, Cardcaptor Sakura, and Serial Experiments Lain, and i’m sorry but all three of those shows have nicer art than Trigun. 2/5

Animation: The animation of Trigun, unfortunately, falls into exactly the same pit as the art. Cowboy Bebop, for instance, boasts incredibly smooth and fluid animation, with some of the best cowboy-ish action you’ll see in an anime. Trigun has a very similar style, yet the animation is frequently choppy or unrefined. 2/5

Music: Trigun has some pretty nice music to it. The “wild western” style of the music really fits the world quite well. There doesn’t seem to be a superbly wide range of tracks in the soundtrack, but they use the few tracks they do have to their best effect. 4/5

Characters: Trigun has a very wide cast of characters, but most we only see for an episode or two. The characters that we do get to see a lot are the main characters, and they are all very well written and well defined. Vash in particular is always interesting, as you never know when he’ll switch from goofball mode to serious mode, and he’s genuinely funny in a consistent manner. 5/5

Character Development: The main cast of characters in Trigun all gets a good amount of development. There’s some backstories, some romance, some tragedy, and some shifts in perspective that happen to various characters through the series. 5/5

Worldbuilding: Trigun has a beautifully crafted world. It feels so dead, so lifeless, it really has the feel of an old Western flick, and that’s probably why so many people in America loved this show. We slowly learn more and more about the world, but there’s still more that we want to know even after the show is over. 5/5

Genre: Trigun is an Action, Sci-Fi, Western, Adventure series. And it definitely fits all those bills. There’s a copious amount of gunslinging, explosions, etc. Unfortunately it doesn’t really venture outside these genres very much, but it’s excusable. 5/5

Tropes: Trigun is an interesting case, because although it does tend to avoid the typical tropes, it seems to create it’s own. Vash’s goofiness and Milly’s airheadedness, for example, tend to get old after a while. 4/5

Personality: While Trigun definitely managed to gain a large following from North American audiences, on a global scale it was totally overshadowed by Cowboy Bebop that released at the same time, featuring beautiful art, smooth animation, the similar gunslinger-type style of show, but far higher-quality. Because of that, I can only give Trigun a 3/5.

Plot: Trigun’s plot is definitely interesting. There’s a whole lot of information buried in mystery, and we really don’t even get to see half of what is in there in the show. While the first season or so of the show seems kind of disjointed, the latter half really pulls it together and makes it very interesting indeed. 5/5

Pacing: Trigun runs at a relatively slow pace, most of the time a little too slow for my taste. I wish they had sped up the plot a little bit, as it sometimes just seems to drag on and on with very little progress being made. 3/5

Personal Opinion: For me, Trigun was an interesting show, but not necessarily one that i would recommend to everyone. If I were to recommend a cowboy/gunslinger type show, i’d recommend Cowboy Bebop, because I believe it does everything that Trigun does, but better. So i’ll give Trigun a 3/5.

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Bang, there we go. Trigun all wrapped up and reviewed. I’d honestly been meaning to watch this show for a while now, so the suggestion gave me just the excuse I needed to buckle down and get through it. So without any further chat, let’s tally the scores. Trigun gets a score of:

7.7/10

My recommendation for watching Trigun is to watch it as I did, space it out over a week or two. Otherwise the slow pacing will catch up to you, and you may become disillusioned or just plain bored with the show.

And there you have it. Please let me know what you thought of this review in the comments below, let me know if there’s anything you want me to review in the future, and please follow so that you can stay up-to-date on my latest posts!

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3 thoughts on “Anime Review: Trigun

  1. I’m glad you mostly enjoyed it. I would point out, though, that it’s maybe a bit unfair to compare Trigun and most shows of the period to Cowboy Bebop. Cowboy Bebop is very possibly THE best anime ever made. It’s an anomaly.

    I might be more helpful to compare series against the broad range of shows during their time, in which case, Trigun comes out more favorably. It gets sketchy in many scenes, to be sure, but the vividness of the landscapes and the character designs of Vash, Wolfwood, and company remain among the best anime has to offer. Look at Cardcaptor Sakura, for instance: CCS has much smoother animation, but it lacks the cool graininess and inventiveness of Trigun. You might also consider the Trigun movie, which has the added benefit of a higher budget, and thus smoother animation.

    That said, thank you for the review. You did a really great job of capturing much of what makes Trigun a special series, and how it still mostly stands the test of time. I hope more people will jump back in past and try out Trigun – it’s a great show.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. astralgemini

      Thanks for the comment. I definitely agree with you that Cowboy Bebop is one of the best anime ever made, the reason I ended up comparing it against Trigun is they both released at the exact same time, with very similar genres, so it’s very difficult to not make the comparison.

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      1. True enough! We live in a time now where we can see EVERY anime that’s out there. During that time frame, all anime fans were watching basically the same few series, so it’s hard not to compare those two, for instance, even though they may not fit real well beyond the sci-fi aspect. Outlaw Star is another one that makes a good comparison – storywise, animation-wise, etc. it’s kind of in between Cowboy Bebop and Trigun. It also was far more popular in the states than in Japan.

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